riding out to southern NY for SSAP
Luckily the weather held out from a precipitation standpoint and we had sunny skies. We did have some wind though. Wind coming out of the west and northwest. Lovely, that is the direction I have to ride. Sure enough, 95% of my ride had a stiff headwind that averaged 10mph or so. It was pretty [metal] brutal.
Lots of turns so I had to pay close attention to the cue sheets and periodic checks of where I was on google maps on my phone. I missed a few turns in Farmington and later missed a few turns in NY but overall the ride went as planned.
I had another stressful week at work and thought I had a plan to get everything together for this trip/event. Tuesday night I figured out my tire situation. WTB Nano 2.1s to give me extra volume for the trail yet roll well on the road. Wednesday we rode bikes offroad. Thursday the Superfly was converted back into bikepacking mode for the trip to NY.
Friday night was left to cook more rice cakes and get all my clothes and stuff together. Bring a tent or bring my hammock? Tent adds 3.5lbs so I left it home. Knowing the hammock is exposed and temps were around freezing at night I brought many layers to wear as this was easier to do with my 32F sleeping bag than my 15F bag (15bag is much larger). Fit everything in the dufflebag on the handlebars or split it between that and my Ergon backpack? I tried hard to not need the backpack but the backpack won. Camping and race gear was split between the handlebar dufflebag and my backpack.
On the bike by 7:30am and immediately felt the wind and the cold (40F). Ugh..
Once into Farmington it felt like I was constantly riding uphill and my feet were frozen. With a steady headwind I could not tell if it was the wind or terrain. This also made me work much harder than I wanted to and I was sweating like mad and couldn't figure out the best way to regulate heat. Wool t-shirt, wool jersey and Bike29 insulated jacket were too much. Jacket came off, plastic bag under my wool jersey to keep wind off my chest and arm warmers on under my wool jersey. Felt okay but the wind still seemed to go right through me.
A hill or two in Burlington that I knew yet still hurt as my speed fell down to 5mph and my 61.6inch gear was difficult to pedal at that speed. Kept on going..
Riding out 118 I'd eventually cross rt8 but little did I realize I had a long climb just west of rt8 which would take me up into Litchfield. The good news is that it was a large road with a giant shoulder and the pavement was smooth. The bad news is I was standing up for something like 20 minutes at an average of 8mph. Very slow cadences and I felt my arms and legs fatiguing fast.
Then came the last little up into Litchfield center. I saw that and mentally died yet somehow pedaled up it. I then sat at the light in the center for quite a few light cycles as I tried to figure out what to do.
After eating some more rice cakes and finishing my first bottle I kept going. I was now heading slightly southwest so the wind was somewhere at my side or at my tail. I felt superhuman as now I am up to 18-20mph and the high cadence felt great on my legs. I was paralleling another mountain range I had to cross but I had faith in my google maps searching that I would be crossing this range at a saddle or low spot.
Things got rural again and now I was worrying about food and water. Once I get over this range I am no where near towns for a while. A gas station came up so I stopped for gatorade and a few snickers bars. Back on the bike and within 10miles later I came to my turn to get over the mountain. It was just as I thought, not that steep and short. Felt comfortable riding over it and now I was on backroads with very little cars.
Came down out of the mountains to cross rt7 and then back into the mountains towards the NY border. 4.5hours in and about 55miles I am crossing the Appalachian Trail and entering into New York State.
That goal done. Next goal is to get through one more mountain range and then to the Hudson River.
My cue sheet also said "R onto Blackberry Rd (STEEP)"
Last big mountain range to cross and I opted for the shorter, steeper approach. This saved probably 5 miles from my ride and I was not ashamed to have to walk if need be. Half a mile long and 400ft of elevation gain.
M240 mountain bike shoes is not easy. I was wishing I had my M162s on but wanted to race on the stiffer M240s.
Once I crested the top I turned around to see what I just spent twelve minutes walking up and saw this:
From here was another dirt road which still climbed but I was able to ride it, albeit slowly as my legs were pretty beat up and I was now desperately in need of a stop for lunch.
Now I really needed to eat and my iPhone couldn't really tell me where I could eat. I felt like I was in no-man's land in terms of towns but just farms and lots and lots of housing developments. By this point my iPhone battery was also dying. It had a full charge when I left but the battery was draining due to the Strava app running.
I slogged on and eventually rolled into Fishkill and saw a Subway. Time to stop...
80 or so miles in. My body felt like it was starting to shut down. I ordered a footlong ham/turkey/roast beef and some potatoe chips and a Coke. It took everything to eat that sandwich. The roast beef wasn't feeling good so after a few bites I took it off the sandwich. 30minutes later the sandwich and a medium Coke were in my stomach. Hoping the Coke would help a lot I was starting to feel reguvinated. Filled my two empty waterbottles up with water and hopped back on the bike.
Having no map but vague cue sheets that said "Rt82 into Rt52 into Fishkill. cross 84. Bridge. 17K west to Montgomery" I kept on riding Rt82 and eventually got into Beacon.
Looking back there were a few shortcuts I found on google but forgot so I wound up riding into the center of Beacon and rode through some outdoor block party on main street. The found the automobile directions to the bridge so I followed them. Having no map and following signs was a sure fire way to add more mileage than necessary. I was learning a good lesson.
Lucikly the automobile directions took me to the entrance of the bike/walk path on the Newburgh/Beacon Bridge. (or is it the East Fishkill Bridge?).
90 miles in and if all went well I had 10 miles to go. No map or anything could make that 10 miles 20 or more. I had to be smart about this. I was playing the 'grid' game negotiating through Newburgh and found myself heading west on South Street. That intersected rt52 and rt52 cut over 84 so I figured that was the way to go. Looking at a map today I see I was a block or two north of 17k. So close yet no idea! aghhh!
Riding rt52 northwest (into the wind still) I crossed 300 but could see 84 to my left and the road looked straight so I opted not to turn onto 300. [more poor decisions] I rode past a rescue squad open house and decided to stop and ask directions. I needed confirmation I was heading in the right direction as these gradual uphills were taxing me and my body was telling me that I am done.
The rescue squad looked at me like I was crazy wanting to ride to Mongtomery.
I nodded and thanked them for the directions. Did not tell them I just rode 95miles so another 5 or so was not a big deal. Easy directions though so I got back on my bike and kept on pedaling. Once I saw the sign for 17k I felt like I was golden.
This is another critical decision which could cost me miles I don't have left in me. The headwind has destroyed me. I took a right and before the big descent I stopped and looked around to see if I recognized anything. I saw a large building and a traffic light up ahead so I decided to ride up to that. That light should be a road to 84 which would mean I'd recognize it from the times I've driven out here. Sure enough, that light was one major light east of the shop so I was heading in the correct direction.
100miles even and I am pulling into the driveway of Darkhorse Cycles. 4:30ish pm or something like that (8 hours after I left my home). I did it! I said hello to everyone and had a beer whilst sitting on the pavement resting. 15 minutes later the Bike29 Vermont crew arrived and I still haven't left my spot on the pavement. Not bad timing. I then decided to get cleaned up and start figuring out food and what-not and lots of resting.
The remainder of the afternoon was spent hanging out at the shop, drinking beer and chatting with the other people camping out and the Bike29 Vermont crew. Darkhorse George, Mike and Mike were out setting up the course. I never laid down to take a nap like I wanted. We had dinner at the restaurant across the street and then I retired around 10:30pm.