Monday, April 30, 2012

riding out to southern NY for SSAP

In continuing with this theme I scrambled this past week to get everything I needed together for another 100mile ride to another race. This race would be the Darkhorse Cycles 4th annual Singlespeed-A-Palooza. I've been participating in this particular event since its inception in 2008. The past two years have been very wet and throughout last week it appeared that theme would continue. I decided that if it is raining I would drive out there as 100miles in a wet chamois would not be desirable at this point in time. Layering up with rain gear would work but I'd be uncomfortable it would detract from everything I am trying to do and turn this into a chore.

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.
View Home to Darkhorse Cycles2 in a larger map
Knowing Western CT is mostly hilly terrain I knew I wouldn't get a perfectly flat ride so I studied google maps with the topography on for many hours trying to piece together a ride with a reduced amount of climbing. The end result is what I laid out above. Little did I realize that my route from Hartford up through Litchfield would be nothing but climbing...
Cue sheets written, iPhone charged, good to go...

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.
Had intents to go to bed by 10 on Friday night but that slipped away. Asleep sometime  just before midnight and awake around 6am. The wind was howling on Friday and they said it would die down by Saturday. I woke up Saturday and the wind was still blowing but probably at a lesser degree. Still out of the west. I was dreading a headwind and worrying so much about this I made myself a bit stressed.

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.

"Wonderful. 30miles into a 100mile ride and I am about to crack."

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.

"Do I stop for food or keep going?

There's got to be something coming up. Its not even lunch yet either."

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.
Saw this on the side of the road. Nice classic bicycle display.

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.
3.5hours and 44miles in and now I was finally starting to feel okay. Okay because the backroads shielded the wind a bit and the scenery was beautiful. Mentally I was coming around. It was also warming up finally. This newfound confidence fueled me as my next goal was the NY border.
My route also took me on a short section of dirt road alongside a lake. Strictly stunning. I need to do some road rides in NW CT as the scenery is beautiful.

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.
Lots of old manufacturing history in New York.
I am now about 60miles (5hours) into the ride, drank three and a half bottles, ate two snickers bars and three or four rice cakes. Sun is out and keeping me somewhat warm yet I am still riding straight into the wind. Haven't stopped for lunch like I have on my ride to Thom's and there really isn't anywhere I can stop. Timed things wrong but felt I wasn't digging too much of a hole in my fitness to keep riding.

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.

Not so bad, right? This picture does not do it any justice. I actually did walk just about the entire climb. Walking on pavement with Shimano 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:
All I could do is laugh. Hell yeah that is a steep fucker. If I wasn't 5hours into a ride I might have a shot at riding up this with an unloaded bike and maybe my 61.6inch gear.

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.
What goes up must be rewarded with a descent. I rolled through that saddle in the middle of the picture. 28mph of dirt and paved descending whilst stretching my hamstrings and other muscles.

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.
Whoa! My walking of Blackberry Rd got me 6th place. Hahahahaha

Somewhere in eastern NY. Oh-So-Smart-Phone battery dead. No idea where the next town would be to get food and water. Written cue sheet fuzzy as I got lazy with writing directions after the mountains. Guess all I could do was pedal. I knew I'd ride through Fishkill and then Beacon which were near the Hudson River so there had to be something there.

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?).
 No toll plaza for me. Bike path is FREE!
Newburgh in the distance..
Beacon.. where I just came from
Knowing I could get lost in Newburgh and knowing that probably would not be a wise idea I decided to try and keep I84 parallel to me. That would ensure I am riding west. I also remembered that state road 300 runs north and south and intersects 17K which runs east and west. 17K was the road I needed as Darkhorse Cycles is on that road. With this knowledge I felt I had a plan.

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.

"Go up rt52 the way you are going and turn left onto Rock Cut Rd. Turn Right onto 17k. Rock Cut Rd is a few miles up. 5 or so. Its far."

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.

Now... where on 17k am I? Do I turn right or turn left? 

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.

Home for the night before Singlespeed-A-Polooza

Next up... My cold evening sleeping in a hammock and the 28mile [fast] race the following day.


Post a Comment

<< Home