Monday, April 23, 2012

Ronde V3 and the ride home

Now that I have arrived at Thom's....

Thom and I were up at 6am to gather our things for the Ronde V3 race around Boston. In typical Thom fashion he was asleep for maybe three hours. I had about four to five hours plus a two hour nap a few hours earlier.

Stumbling around his lakefront property we managed to get all our gear into the Miniature Boogie Van and high tailed it out of Wrentham enroute to some really good breakfast place Thom knew. Thom's idea of a breakfast involves coffee (and only coffee) so first stop was Dunkin' Donuts as the homebrewed coffee wasn't enough. Next stop was my idea of breakfast: egg and cheese sandwich.

This is where my story will suck for the remainder. The second we left the driveway of Wrentham is the second I completely turned off in terms of trying to figure out geography. This is contrary to how my mind typically works but when I tend to travel lately I have pulled away from having to ensure every single detail is planned out in advance. Perhaps I started doing this to piss Dicky off as he is one to follow in Clark Griswold's footsteps? Who knows. Either way, the rest of this story will be vague on locations.

Being the only all-mountain-bike all-29er-singlespeed team registered we drew some attention at the start. Actually, we arrived right as teams where leaving. The format of this event is what I refer to as
Open roads. Open bike paths. Open trails. Open yards. There is nothing 'close course' about this event. We will be sharing all forms of ridable medium with every Tom, Dick and Jane out there that Sunday. This is what I call a fun race. In order to keep things somewhat managable each team started in heats like a time trial. As we were signing in and finding our team other teams were starting off down the road.
Photo: Chip
Yes, none other than Mike Ramponi! Thom also recruited Will Crissman to be on our team. The last time I saw these two was at the 2010 Vermont50. I remember hearing Mike's distinctive voice in the dark at the start and met Will that day as he and I were both on singlespeeds in our age group. Will beat me by five or so minutes that day. Sounds like Thom put together an all-star team and I felt lucky to be a part of it.

With a perceived handicap, so I thought, I knew I'd have to work hard to keep up with everyone if we were to function as a team. Right out of the gate both Will and Ramponi were at Mach 1 speeds. Ramponi was having so much fun with his new Hi/Low gearing on his Firefly it was no wonder we were off at Mach 1 speeds.

Throughout the day I realized our team of four were riding as one. Any one of us would pull on the road and Thom or I would lead the group through the trail sections. Our first flat was changed in record time as a NASCAR pit crew. We were a well oiled machine and haven't really ridden together before. This was fun!
As we made a clockwise loop around Boston we'd ride stretches of paved or dirt road to get to off-road trail sections. I started loosing my legs around mile 60 but somehow recovered a few miles later. Next thing I know we're rolling up over the last hill and coasting to the finish. We were out there pedaling, purchasing food, refilling bottles for something like 5 and a half hours and 70 miles. I felt a fairly consistent level of energy throughout the entire ride. Something I was surprised to pull off after riding 100miles the day before.
The next day, Monday, I was up at 5:30AM and on my bike by 6AM heading back home. My legs were very heavy but I managed to turn the pedals over one by one. The slightest incline forced me to get out of the saddle, something I did not have to do on the ride out to MA.

Needless to say, I kept on pedaling and enjoyed the empty roads before Monday morning rush hour. 25miles into my commute my legs finally started turning around and I knew I had a chance of making it back home.
By now I was somewhere in Rhode Island and I desperately wanted out of that state. All I could think about was riding the rail trail and being off the pavement. Just like with the longer mountain bike races I started setting short term goals to achieve which would pass the time. Next stop:
Putnam CT was the next goal. 30miles covered in a few hours and I was hungry. Guess my banana at 6am was expended. This was my last town before the rail trail for a few more hours so I knew I had to get some food. Upon stopping at a gas station for water I stumbled upon a breakfast joint and sat down for a good breakfast.
With a full belly and two full waterbottles I was back on the bike.
40 miles into a 105mile day and I was back on dirt. Temps were also starting to climb. I think it was around 9am and pushing 70F by now. Weather forecast called for a hot day. Unfortunately the trees are not in bloom yet so I did not get much tree cover from the sun but did remember to load up on the sunscreen when I stopped for breakfast.
Fairly straight for as far as my eyes could see
Knowing it was a Monday and knowing a friend of mine near Willimantic could, potentially, be off from work I sent him a txt seeing if he was around and wanted to get a long ride in. Donal was around and was looking for another bike ride so arrangements were made for he to join me on my ride across CT.
Donal found me just north of Willimantic and we rode down to Willi to stop by our friend's Mika and PR's house so I could refill my bottles and say hello (PR's been traveling the past few weeks and was back in town).

High Noon and we've got bottles full and the temp is climbing into the 80s with the sun blaring at us. What a good time to ride a bike..

maybe not.
Back on the rail trail climbing every so gently across 30 or so miles from Willimantic up to Bolton Notch. 60 miles in for the day, temps at a relatively recent record high, and a stiff headwind. Just the way I wanted to end three days of riding. We mustered on and I made sure to stay ontop of my water so I'd stay hydrated. Hydration is key and I was doing a great job of it all weekend. Knowing the route home from here and where I could get more water was perfect as it allowed me to not be so conservative with water consumption.
Donal turned around just near Bolton Notch and rode home with some local-to-him singletrack for good measure. A good 50 or so mile day for him. I rode through Bolton Notch and was stoked for some every so slight descending.
Mid-day on a Monday and I was making great time so I added in an errand on the way home. I would be riding past Pedal Power in Vernon CT and Matt had a set of disk brakes for me. Pedal Power's Vernon store is a five minute detour off the rail trail and I was consuming water at a rate where I'd need more by the time I got near Vernon so it was an easy choice to stop by.

After 45minutes or so of hanging out in Vernon and filling up my waterbottles I strapped the brakes to my handlebars and hit the trail west back to my home. A few short miles on the rail trail and then I was back on roads to my house. Roads that suck. Suck in terms of having to ride across Hartford.

After spending 90 miles on empty early morning road and the majority of the day off-road to myself having to ride across the city just prior to the evening rush hour was not desired. It actually took a few miles to remember what it is like to ride with cars buzzing you at 30-40mph while you are pedaling along at 15mph. It was surprising to have these thoughts as I did not leave much of the populated areas of New England on my ride yet here I felt as if I've been in the back-country for days on end.
More like strange things happen to your mind as you're pedaling away for most of the day without headphones or music playing. I distinctively remember how the thoughts would run rampant whilst racing 100 offroad miles. One reason why I kind of liked not having music.

4:30 PM I am rolling into my driveway. Three days from when I left.

Another 100 or so miles for the day. 282 cumulative miles for the three days.
Self Portrait immediately after returning home.
I was now tired and ready to clean up, eat and rest. Ate a large bowl of shrimp fried rice, drank more water, showered and fell asleep on the couch until dinner time. Called out of work the following morning to let me sleep in. I slept in for about an hour and then was wide awake and catching up on chores including mowing the lawn. At work by noon.

I proved to myself that I could ride my bike quite a distance, race and ride home. Certainly enough to make you tired but somehow I found a way to keep going. I dug into that philosophy that keeps me going through stage races and it seemed to work. Definitely a big mental game. You have to mentally prepare yourself for something like this, in my eyes, more than you have to physically. Without that feats like this are not possible.

This was my own personal stage race and I proved to myself it is possible without having some organized 'event' to get me to ride multiple days in a row. It also felt damn cool to arrive at an event on the mode of transportation and compete with said mode. Especially when the only thing that really difference in the mode of transportation is attached bags.

I am looking forward to doing this again this coming weekend with Darkhorse Cycle's SingleSpeed-A-Palooza in southern NY. Especially knowing that I am not going to touch my bike upon showing up. All I plan on doing is removing my bags and bolting on my water bottle cages.

Run What-cha Brung


Blogger CB2 said...


4/24/2012 11:41 AM  
Blogger Fxdwhl said...

Yeah, that's pretty awesome.

4/25/2012 7:58 AM  

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