I had been looking forward to riding in my first ACP event, the Tappahannock 200k, from Ashland, VA on February 16th. It was rescheduled to the 23rd due to snow and ice. The 23rd was still cold and rainy. No snow, though. The advice I received regarding how to dress for a cold, rainy event left me a bit apprehensive. My winter wardrobe is limited, especially for my legs. I didn’t want to find myself 100 miles from home, hypothermic, unable to complete the ride and in need of distant rescue from home. Luckily, the local rando group opted to ride a 200k permanent the day after the Tappahannock 200k. It was forecast to be much warmer with no rain after 10am. I opted to make this ride instead of the ACP event. I’ll have other chances to ride an ACP 200k. To clarify for my non-rando friends, I must complete ACP-sanctioned events of 200km, 300km, 400km and 600km in order to complete the Super Randonneuring series. Permanents do not count.
Five of us departed on the permanent: Jacob, Ron, Keith, Brent and me. The roads were wet. But it was not raining. We stayed together for about 10 miles. Then I was on my own as usual. My goal was to minimize my rest stops and breaks at the control points. I caught the group at a Hardee’s control point (22-mi) and joined them for a snack. In retrospect, I probably should’ve continued without them. The long stop made me cold. We might have spent some time “leap-frogging.” They ride faster than me. But we might’ve stayed closer together if my breaks were shorter. I rolled into the other control points as they were leaving. I guess my average speed was only marginally slower than theirs.
I still can’t find my camera. So I didn’t take many photos. One phone shot had to be taken, though: I was riding along, content to be alone with my thoughts, when I saw an orange figure way in the distance. I thought the other riders might’ve been returning from the out-n-back control point in Woodland, NC. Then I could see orange-over-black, meaning the recumbent rider was on his feet. Standing 6’9″, he’s not hard to spot from a distance. Then I saw his bike on the ground. I figured he was fixing a flat. Unfortunately, he stopped because his rim failed. He suffered minor scrapes. But his ride was over. He had to wait a couple of hours for a ride, the scenario I certainly didn’t want to experience in the cold rain the day before. There was nothing I could do. So I continued riding to arrive at the midway control point in Woodland at 12:20 (59-mi). I removed my knee warmers, had a snack and continued back.
As I returned through Murfreesboro, NC, I tried to recall where the group was stopping for lunch. It was ~1:30 as I passed a Subway. They weren’t there. So I continued with the hopes of finding them at another restaurant. However, there was NOTHING else along the route until the final control in Newsomes, NC (91-mi). I caught them as they were leaving the tiny grocery store. They had a very light lunch or snack there. The only prepared items left in the store were hotdogs, pork sausages and pimento cheese sandwiches. I went with the pork sausage, a really gross idea to many randonneurs who recommend against eating meat on long rides. I haven’t had any problems yet. Sausage, supreme pizzas, chicken sandwiches and pulled pork sandwiches have all worked out so far. 🙂 It was 3:15. The sun had JUST come out and it was 57 degrees. I removed my coat, switched to lighter gloves and donned a vest.
Later, I made brief stop for a snack and was surprised to see how much grit was collected on my seat stay. My SKS Raceblades are not full coverage fenders. I lack the tire clearance for that. Instead, their coverage stops just short of the rear brake caliper. The “detritus cake” is ugly. But it has to be better than “sharing” it with my fellow riders. I’ll fine tune the adjustments to see if I can get that debris to pass under the caliper. As I rode, I did the math regarding my pace versus my chances of riding in the dark. My 14-mph rolling average had slowly declined to 13. And my 11.8-mph overall average had slowly declined to 10. I was still two hours ahead of the minimum speed required to finish on time, leaving time for a flat or two. It was clear I’d be riding in the dark for about an hour. With just seven miles to go, I realized I was off course! “Yay! Seven bonus miles!” My mistake was simple enough. I returned to where I left the course and returned to the DQ at 7:30. I put away my bike and got my receipt by 7:45.
Riding 133 miles in 12:20 is an overall average of 10.8-mph. However, we left 10 minutes late and I get no credit for extra miles or addressing personal matters before getting my ticket punched. So my real average was just 9.9-mph, only marginally faster than the 9.3-mph minimum required. That, fellow newbies, is why time management is especially important if you’re like me and not as fast a rider as you think. 😉
By the way, I mounted a camera to the handlebar to shoot short video reports, a video blog of sorts. I recorded a report at the top of each hour or whenever something interesting happened or crossed my mind. This photo was captured during a stop where I was commenting about my new fenders. No, this isn’t a “duckface” photo. I was talking to the camera. HAHA! Unfortunately, the video clips were ruined by wind noise. I’ll come up with a wind screen solution and try again another time. The next ACP ride is “The Wilderness Campaign 200k” from Bristow, VA. I hope to be there.
Just Under the Wire,