It’s been quite a while since my last rando. The weather has been unpleasant and other pursuits have kept me busy this winter. I’ve even delayed my blog entry longer than usual. I’m looking forward to some predictable weather. A pop-up calendar notice reminded me of the first ACP event in this year’s Super Randonneur Series. “DOH! That arrived quickly!” 😯 I hadn’t ridden nearly enough miles this year to feel ready for a 200k this early in the season. Regardless, I wasn’t going to miss this ride just because I’m overweight and out of shape. I packed my things and prepared to grind out a long, slow ride.
This is Tidewater Rando’s first year with a Regional Brevet Administrator (RBA). As a result, we’re hosting our own 200, 300 and 400 kilometer ACP events from Suffolk, VA. We rode our Suffolk-Skippers 200k, which we did as a DC Randonneurs ACP event last year, on March 22nd. We had a good turnout of about a dozen riders. I opted to ride my new bike, which is about five pounds heavier than my Domane. The heavier bike, combined with the extra weight I had become unaccustomed to carrying, meant I was in the other riders’ dust almost immediately after the start. I expected to be slow since my last significant ride was in mid-December. The headwinds from the west didn’t help, either! 😉
That’s okay. My goal was to spend a long day on the new bike and test my stubbornness, or what we randonneurs call “tenacity.” 😉 It was 45°F at the start and expected to climb to over 70° degrees. Since I like to be warm, I wore tights, a synthetic short-sleeve base layer, arm warmers, a vest and a balaclava. It seemed like a bit much. However, the first half of the ride was expected to provide stiff headwinds. I knew I’d want additional protection since I would not have the benefit of drafting other riders. The decision paid off. I think I wore the vest for only 20 miles, removed the balaclava at 40 miles (first control point in Boykins) and rolled down the arm warmers at 55 miles. I arrived at the turnaround control (65-miles) at close to 1 pm. It was nearly 70 degrees by then and time to remove all but the shorts and jersey. I managed to stuff everything into my large Arkel handlebar bag after some creative rolling or folding of apparel. I ate a PBJ sandwich and some cookies; then I applied some sunscreen before hitting the road for the return to Suffolk.
I managed to experience my first stomach ache during a rando. It’s hard to blame that on PBJ. The cookies? Maybe. But that seems unlikely as well. About all I could do was slow down a tad to stay beneath the “UGH!” threshold. 😉 I was never nauseous… just uncomfortable. The WSW winds provided me with a welcome crossing-quarter push that provided easier riding. There were still a few points, especially the “climbs,” where my speed dropped like a stone. By “climbs” I mean rollers of less than 3%, almost nothing, really. Still, it’s early in the season and I was tired. Later, I learned that the total weight of my bike, including the stuffed handlebar bag, was 38 lbs! Combined with my own (over)weight, I was hefting 260 lbs on those “climbs.” Experience tells me the same climbs should be at least a little easier in April and May when I ride the same stretches during the 300 and 400 km rides, especially if I don’t have to carry as much cool-weather gear. There were a few photos I would have liked to have taken. Unfortunately, I left my camera in the car. Yup, the first rando of the season is often the one were something is forgotten. At least I remembered the mandatory equipment (water, shoes, lights, reflective gear, etc) and forgot only the camera.
There’s not much left to say about this ride. “Slow and lonely” just about sums it up. I was visited by plenty of dogs. But I lacked the speed to make myself interesting to them. HAHA! Since this was a calendared ride, it was nice to see friendly faces at two of the controls. “RecumBrent” checked on me as he passed me on his motorcycle. He was on his way to staff the first control point. RBA and organizer Keith Sutton was at the turnaround control in Skippers. The 90-mile control was the same as the 40-mile point. I opted to get a real meal and enjoyed the company of the shop owner. My stomach was still feeling uneasy, so I passed on the ice cream cone. 😦 I returned to Suffolk around sunset. I had already donned my reflective vest and had been burning lights for about 30 minutes. I completed the ride in just under 12 hours. It wasn’t my slowest 200k. But it was substantially slower than last year’s run on the same course. My average rolling speed was 14.5 mph. My overall average was 10.9 mph. I’m confident that will improve as the season progresses. I ride better in the heat. Bring it on!
Slow and Steady,