It’s been a while since my last permanent. I’ve been fighting a skin problem along with a bad reaction to medication. However, I was insistent upon keeping my R12 endeavor alive. My weekends have been shot. So I planned a day of leave to ride the Two Rivers 207 km permanent on Thursday the 22nd. I chose this route because it’s relatively close to home and because I had not ridden it before. I was not fond of the prospect of riding in the hills. Still, I figured it was a worthwhile trade-off for being near home. I had the added benefit of a surprise guest rider, my cycling buddy Jennifer. We’ve ridden thousands of miles together over the past two years. She joined RUSA two weeks ago and was tackling her first perm. Carpooling and loading bikes took longer than I planned. We arrived at the starting control point in West Point, VA at 6:50 am. The route organizer met us to deliver our control cards (thanks, Tom!).
We took far too long getting ready to roll. I was not too concerned. Finishing in 13.5 hours was not going to be an issue. Finishing by sunset was a goal. We both had lights mounted and I packed enough reflective gear for both of us just in case. This was my first time on Two Rivers and it was my first weekday perm. The traffic was surprisingly dense, likely in support of the town’s paper mill. The first five miles or so had me wondering what I had gotten us into. Thankfully, traffic thinned out as we left primary roads. We ran our flashing tail lights to ensure we were seen earlier as we were under lots of tree cover. We were expecting heat, humidity and periods of rain. We didn’t see a drop of rain. But the heat and humidity was suffocating! We were dripping with sweat in no time. We moved along at steady speeds and got into some hills. Yep… slow and steady… just as I remembered from other encounters with hills. Jen is a strong rider and about 60 pounds lighter than me. She climbed quite well. My extra weight made me the “better” descender. 😉 I usually caught her on the other side of each hill. When the descent came before a climb, I’d shoot ahead on the descent with the full expectation of being caught on the climb. We spent a lot of the day leap-frogging. I know she was holding back during some parts of the ride so we could stay together. 🙂 I suspect we were equally tired by the end of the ride.
I took on the vast majority of the navigation role. My rando mentors did the same for me on my first perm even though I followed along on the cue sheet. For this ride, I was using my Cue Sheet app for Android which read turn-by-turn directions through my bluetooth device. I watched the paper cue sheet to check for app errors. I only found two, one at an awkward intersection and the other at an out-and-back section of the ride. Otherwise, Cue Sheet was flawless! You may recall I’m on a new bike with a “endurance” riding position. I use a 25° stem on this bike rather than the 40° stem I had on my other bike. My headlights fit differently on the lower stem, leaving no room for both a handlebar bag and headlights until I develop a solution. Therefore, I mounted my Arkel rack and Tailrider Bag since I wanted my headlights. I didn’t want to give up the cue sheet holder afforded by the handlebar bag. So I fabricated a crude holder (see photo). It worked well except for some creaking. Improvements are already in progress. 🙂
The official cue sheet warned us of several long stretches without services. It was easy to carry enough food and fluids for 35 mile spells without civilization. However, I have to admit the control points were sparsely stocked. Sure, we got our Gatorade, snacks and receipts for our control cards. But there were no real meals to be had on this ride. One of the stores didn’t even have a public restroom. We’ll be sure to bring better food next time. Restrooms? Yeah, we can work around that. HAHA! We met a number of very nice people at our stops. Jen was surprised by how many drivers waved at us on the road or honked their horns as they passed the control stops. One gentleman even stopped to thank us for visiting his small town. It was good to know we weren’t far from good ol’ country folk! 😉
Jen did NOT like our encounters with a few dogs. She usually sprinted away, leaving me behind as if she had dropped a slice of bacon on my bag. Most of the dogs were “escorts” and didn’t seem interested in harming us. We donned reflective vests as the sun fell behind the tree line. We were on track to finish before sunset. Still, the vests made us much more visible on the shaded roads. We left tree cover about eight miles from the finish and had plenty of sun. The roads also flattened out a bit, putting me in my comfort zone and allowing me to up the pace. We reached the final control at 7:15. Our rolling average speed was a hair under 15 mph. Our overall average speed was quite a bit less due to our delayed start and lollygagging at the control points. Regardless, we had a really good ride. I don’t think Jen has the “rando bug.” But I’m confident she’ll join me on at least a few other permanents or populaires.
Four More to Go!