PHL -> BKLYN

Yesterday I embarked on my local bike club’s annual ride from Philadelphia to Brooklyn, the Peter O’Dell Memorial Ride. I struggled with the decision to go, having a few very low days emotionally and wasn’t sure I’d be up to the challenge not only of pedaling (I chose the 90mi route) but also of being upbeat and mentally ready. My last significant rides were 110mi in early July and a metric a few weeks ago – so I’m not exactly in All Day Epic shape. In the end I decided I would regret not going more than regret going (and I could always take the train back home if I felt it necessary). 

What a great day! 

After waking entirely too early (5am!) and picking up my friend Ken, we arrived at the New Hope, PA starting point right at 7am. Many other cycling friends were also milling about, making final preparations for the ride – Kurt, John, Catherine, Phil, and Jeff (who was SAGing this mostly-unsupported ride for us), among others. We loaded our shower bags into the bus and started the journey about 7:30am under cool but humid cloudy skies. 

The first thirty miles were mostly rural, passing fields of pumpkins, corn, and apple orchards. 

New Jersey Farmland
New Jersey Farmland

We stopped in Raritan, NJ at the local Wawa-wannabe (Quick Chek) for bathrooms, ice water and a brief snack. The lunch stop was “only” 12 miles later so we didn’t feel the need to refuel too much. 

Those 12 miles included a hill that just. kept. going. Every turn, the incline kept going – about a mile at a 6% grade. Ken and I had swept up another cyclist on the ride, Adam, and stayed with him through the hill. He ended up staying with us until just after lunch. At this point we were literally dripping with sweat and sipping our electrolyte-enhanced beverages frequently. 

Lunch in Lyons, NJ at a Subway. Apparently New Jersey doesn’t have any good local hoagie shops? Food is good and so is air conditioning, which we relished as the sun had burned through the clouds and the temps were climbing into the upper 80s. 

A quick jaunt north to Basking Ridge to see a 600+ year old tree. It was pretty impressive. 

this tree is over 600 years old and in a church's side-yard cemetery.
this tree is over 600 years old and in a church’s side-yard cemetery.

By this point, Ken had switched off with Dave, who had been piloting a tandem with our friend Catherine, who happens to be blind. Adam hooked back in with a larger group of cyclists. So I pedaled off to catch up with Ken at the next rest stop in Kenilworth, NJ. And oh, was this the most delicious part of the ride. 

I zipped along, unencumbered by others. It’s not that I don’t love riding with my friends (I prefer it, actually) but sometimes the solitude is exactly what is needed. As I turned on to Sky Top Rd, I knew this was going to be an excellent hill. I didn’t attack it but I didn’t submit to it either – it was almost effortless. The road curved and rose (it was about a mile of 5% grade) in front of me, lovely forest hugging the edges. 

sky top rd. the only way is up.
sky top rd. the only way is up.

It was truly a transcendent experience, one that I can’t adequately express to you dear reader in words. 

A few miles later, I was bombing down another rd, twisting out of the Watchtung Reservation and into Echo Lake Park. I ran into a few other cyclists taking a quick break so I opted to hook in with them for a bit (and refill water). I dropped back off in Kenilworth where Ken and Catherine were waiting (with others). Dave went back to captaining the tandem and Ken was back riding with me. 

At this point, the ride turns more urban as we meander through Elizabeth and into Newark. We rode through the Newark Port, which was mercifully devoid of vehicles (and unfortunately trees) after navigating city streets. We met up with another group and got Mike to drive behind our cycling groups to get over the Route 1-9 bridge into Jersey City. Craziest bridge to negotiate – I do not recommend attempting alone/without a car behind you to keep the New Jersey drivers away from you. A large swath of the bridge was open grate, which can be extremely slippery for cyclists. 

More city streets as we navigated our way to Hoboken and the ferry terminal. About a mile from the terminal, the skies opened up and we were doused with a torrential downpour. As in, we couldn’t see Manhattan across the river (and it’s not that far). After the hot and humid day we’d had, I can’t say the rain wasn’t welcome. Ken and I sought refuge under a few trees (which is totally not what you should do in a thunderstorm but we didn’t have any other options) until the rain let up enough to continue to the ferry. 

The ferry ride was a ferry ride – although we did see a beautiful rainbow over Manhattan. 

Once in Midtown, the sun came back out and we pedaled down the Hudson River Greenway. A lovely separated cycletrack with separate signals! We mused that this would be perfect for the I-95 corridor in Philadelphia, with the new development happening on the abandoned piers. 

Following the signs for cyclists getting to the Brooklyn Bridge we navigated the city streets. Always brings out the aggressively-defensive cyclist in me. 

The Brooklyn Bridge is beautiful. It’s also full of pedestrians who seem to think the bike lane is also for walking, taking photos, etc. It’s also got a wooden deck and after the rain, I was skiddish about needing to stop suddenly – so I employed my best “Get Out Of The Bike Lane” voice to clear the path. 

There are SO MANY PEOPLE in New York. 

We negotiated the final city streets, arriving at the hotel about 9 and three-quarters hours after we set out. We grabbed a cold beverage and a bag of chips while we waited for the showers to be available so we could clean up and change. Dinner at a local restaurant (MooBurger) before climbing on a bus to take us back to New Hope. 

 

Dropped off Catherine and Ken before getting home to my own family around Midnight – tired, happy, a little saddle-sore but tremendously thankful for the amazing experience. Philadelphia won’t be home for much longer and New York (although not Brooklyn) will be home soon – I can’t think of a better way to go out. 

 

See you on the road! 

PS – if you like stats and route maps, click below : 

New Hope to Hoboken 

Manhattan to Brooklyn

Dialed In

My earlier post and poll was a barometer for my gut. I had signed up for an event through my cycling club that would take me from pastoral Pennsylvania in the early morning hours through northern New Jersey for lunch and into Brooklyn, New York for dinner. I’d get a shower and then dinner with friends, marveling at the fun we’d had all day, before boarding a motor coach bus back to the small river town where we started. It wasn’t cheap and came highly anticipated by newcomers like myself and repeat riders like my friends.

It was going to be awesome.

Then my husband had to book a business trip back to Colorado. He decided to stay the weekend to see our friends and relax a bit. He didn’t think about the plans I’d already made.

I admit I was mad at first, then disappointed. I struggled with whether or not to leave my kids at home while I headed out on the ride. They are certainly old enough to stay home alone for a day and we have wonderful neighbors who would gladly be there for them if they needed it.

But I couldn’t shake the feeling that I needed to stay home with them. What if what if what if.

So I decided to listen to my gut and not ride. Like most cycling events, this one comes with a no-refunds policy so I reached out to the organizers to ask if I could donate my spot to a cyclist who wanted to go but couldn’t afford the fee ($75). They loved the idea so I posted to our social media outlets. I had a taker very quickly who was overjoyed at the opportunity. Another cyclist was so moved to donate his spot as well due to a last-minute change in plans and I was able to put the second cyclist who responded to my post in touch with the organizers.

Beautiful how those things work out. I no longer felt upset about missing the ride because some very deserving folks were able to go now. But I was still a little sad to miss the ride all my friends are going on today.

I studied Kabbalah for three years under the excellent Dr. David Sanders at Kabbalah Experience in Denver, Co. There are so many layers to Kabbalah but one of them is being in tune with the universe and paying attention to the signs of what you need to be doing. I am a firm believer that when once you have tuned in to the universe the signs of what you should do become clearer … And the most in tune you are, the clearer the signs become. For example, when was being laid off and the job in Philly opened up at the last possible second, I knew in my gut moving my family across the country was the right thing to do for us. It would be hard and was probably one of the more difficult things I’ve had to do in adult life but I know on another level that we need to be here for now. I don’t know why but that will come in time.

To that end, I was taking a lunchtime walk with my bike commute friend and explaining my dilemma. I mentioned that for whatever reason I probably should stay home, that I didn’t know why but I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the ride knowing my kids were home without anyone if they needed someone.

Sure enough, this is the week my middle dog got very ill. She stopped eating, she lost her energy, and she was drinking a lot (and peeing a lot too). A trip to the vet yielded nothing. A second trip to the vet yielded her to be hospitalized for a day for intravenous fluids and pain medications. She perked up and we brought her home. She spent Friday much like her old self. But yesterday she woke and wouldn’t eat. She moped. She started to drool excessively. I called the vet and they gave us an afternoon appointment.

I rode out to meet some friends for a fun ride, knowing I was on a time crunch. I made great time into the city, where we met up with a woman my commuter friend works with. We invited her to join us on the trail and she agreed. We took the speed down and enjoyed a social ride to the cycling themed coffeehouse where we met up with another cycling friend who is recovering from an IT band injury. I was explaining how no one knows what’s wrong with my dog but I had to get back to take her to the vet.

We departed a little later than intended and once we got to the end of the trail and back on city streets I realized I needed to book it home. We kicked up the speed but our other friend couldn’t keep up so my commuter friend agreed to stay back with her and he’d catch up to me later.

I’ve never ridden so hard ever … A total sufferfest. Heat, humidity, cranking a solid 22-24mph for almost 8 miles mostly uphill (my Garmin averaged each mile around 18-20 mph). I thought I was going to puke. Got home in time to take a very quick cool shower, shove a protein bar in my mouth, and get my dog to the vet.

This visit gave us the reason she was so ill with no hope for recovery. I had to make the difficult decision to allow her to move on. I gathered my kids and we said our goodbyes. I stroked her ears until she stopped breathing. She was 10 or 11, we don’t know. We rescued her from a shelter that told us she wasn’t getting any visitors because nobody wants a hound dog. She was the right dog for our family. She is survived by our two other dogs.

This is why I couldn’t go on the ride. Because my kids needed me to be home today as we work through our grief.

 

our last few moments with Nixon
our last few moments with Nixon. RIP girl – we loved you

 

See you on the road.

 

Longest Day, Longer Ride

When we last connected, dear reader, I was troubled by my health issues. The good news is I connected with my nurse practitioner and she agreed I’ve done everything I should, wrote me a script for full-strength acid blockers and told me I should see a GI doc if I don’t feel better in four weeks.

Of course, I was thinking “dude, if I’m not better in four DAYS there are going to be issues.”

The good news is the full-strength meds have worked. I don’t have to think about WHEN I eat anymore, although I am still careful about WHAT I eat. I’m off coffee until I’m done with the four-week course of meds. I’ve noticed some positive things since kicking coffee to the curb in the last month but I do miss it terribly.

But this is not why I am blogging, although thank you for asking about my health.

No, friends I am going to tell you about the most epic thing I’ve done yet on my bicycle. I rode 150.4 miles with my friends in one day.

I didn’t train very well for this ride to be totally honest. In fact, I had only ridden 143 miles this month over four days. None had been more than 60 miles or so. Lots of reasons why not but none of that matters the morning of your ride. I will note that my brain was totally all over this ride. I was so pumped thinking about it. There was very little doubt in my mind that I couldn’t accomplish this epic journey bicycling down the Shore.

Friday morning, I left my house about 6:30am and met my friends Howard and Ken at Ken’s house. Ken and Howard are preparing for a 7-day bicycle tour in upstate New York next month so this is a perfect training ride for them. Ken was even riding his commuter with a pannier (which I stowed my sunscreen, trail mix, and ziplock full of extra sport nutrition items) and trunk bag. Strapped to my top tube was a day’s worth of Cliff, Honey Stinger, and SportBeans in my Serfas Stem Bag that I won from All Seasons Cyclist’s blog contest. Shortly after arriving at Ken’s, the three of us set out to meet up with our other intrepid friends Andy and Rebecca, who are training for a 4-day charity ride in central Pennsylvania, closer into the City.

gorgeous morning to be riding
gorgeous morning to be riding

We met up, we crossed the bridge (RIP, Howard’s bar-end mirror that fell into the Delaware), and pedaled into New Jersey.

Everyone says it and you don’t really get it until you experience it:

  • Long bike rides are just a mind game. The first 50 miles were by far the hardest part of this journey – but not because it was a terrible grind or hilly or anything. Only because you have more miles in front of you than you have behind you. We stopped for lunch around mile 55 and celebrated that we had “only” 95 miles left to go. Break it down even further: we had rest stops about every 25-30 miles – mostly because we were pedaling through sparsely populated farmland.
  • Long bike rides necessitate eating on the bike. Humidity was low but it still got up into the mid-80s with brilliant sunshine. We were blessed with a few shaded roads but many more were out in open blueberry farm country. I forced myself to eat something every 10 miles or so and drained most of my water bottles to keep from bonking or cramping. Lunch was half a turkey wrap, a few fries, part of a pickle, and a Pepsi. At a gas station stop in the middle of nowhere, I picked up a Coke that I carried in my jersey pocket for the rest of the day. Later on we took a break at a Wawa and I split a hoagie with Ken (whole wheat shorty, turkey, provolone, lettuce, tomato, pickles, little mayo, yellow mustard, oil and vinegar, salt and pepper – Super Yum).
  • Long rides are only better with friends. Everyone had someone to ride and chat with. No one was dropped. Everyone regrouped at key rest stops. Singing songs about falling in love on the way to Cape May or bitchin’ Camaros. 80s rock ballads. We had it all – and the miles rolled on by.
  • Long rides mean metering your energy. I feel I did well but one can tell I hadn’t trained: my initial rolling speeds were 18-20 mph; around mile 108 they were down to 16-18 mph; the final 20 miles were 13-16 mph. At a certain point the pedals just keep turning as you watch the odometer tick off the miles. I was tired as we left mile 130 – I downed a Cliff Energy Gel but 10 miles later I was running out of gas. I am very thankful for Howard and Ken sticking with me. I had a few more Cliff Gel Blocks left so I downed those and was able to finish out the day in positive spirits.

One of my favorite moments: we were stopped at a light in Ocean City, maybe ten blocks from the end, and Howard looks at me and says “Have you been drinking?’

My first thought was “when the hell did we stop at a liquor store?” so I said “No, of course not.”

I panic for one second thinking my speech must be slurred or something.

Then my brain went “UM – DUH. WATER.” So I said “Oh wait – YES. Yes I have – my bottle’s almost empty.”

We rolled up to the B&B we were all staying at around 8:20pm. I proudly announced “To all the haters, SUCK IT! That just happened!”

Yeah. Stay classy, Laura.

Cathy (Ken’s wife) and my own family had just pulled up. We got checked in, I showered and changed, and then joined my fellow riders on the porch for some of the best pizza I’ve ever had in my life. Crashed in bed by 10:30pm.

And that, my friends, is how I spent the longest day of 2013.

I then spent the next day walking around the boardwalk, relaxing on the beach, and generally having a great time with my family. I felt no guilt about the funnel cake or gelato or fudge that I ingested. I was pleasantly surprised to only feel marginally sore in my quads and minor soft-tissue swelling on my sit-bone area (another topic for another post). More than anything though, I felt tremendous happiness at our accomplishment. Certainly the longest single-day ride I’ve ever done.

Like Stats? Here they are on Strava, fresh from my Garmin 510: http://app.strava.com/activities/62059109

See you on the road.

Oh yeah, I think I’m gonna go down to the Shore …

Strava had a challenge this past weekend: use your base miles and see if you can ride a century. You have a choice of Friday, Saturday or Sunday to accomplish 100 miles in one ride.

I stared at the challenge. I hemmed and hawed. It’s early in the year. I’m riding, but not as consistently as in the summer. I haven’t been “training.” But I’ve done a couple of centuries before and I’m pretty sure I can do it again. I finally took the plunge and clicked “join” … and then reached out to my cycling friends who might be crazy enough to think riding 100 miles in February is an awesome idea. My caveat was “Weather Permitting.” I’ve had enough fish sticks for toes this off-season, thank you very much.

One friend took me up on the offer. Not surprisingly, he’s also the one who rode over 11 thousand miles last year (yes, you read that correctly). He asks where I want to go. I suggest Saint Peter’s Village – an out-and-back but very hilly. He suggests we head down to the Shore – an out and FLAT. And we take the train home. I like that idea much better. We decide Sunday is the best day to ride.

The whole day before I check the weather report and it’s going to be acceptable: high of 45, partly sunny/cloudy, and more importantly, no rain. I’ve got Dead Milkmen‘s “Bitchin Camaro” stuck in my head all day.

Waking up the day of, I am a wreck. Like straight up a wreck. I start to panic. I can barely eat my breakfast. I think I’m going to throw up. I packed a backpack of gear and nutrition and laid out my attire the night before … but now I’m thinking I am going to somehow bonk in the middle of New Jersey or get run over by some Jersey Bro with a vendetta against cyclists. Oh and yeah – this will be my first ride on the new saddle.

None of this is true (except the saddle part – that’s totally legit) – it’s just my brain going batshit crazy. Even as I roll up to my friend’s house I am in full-on panic mode. This is a terrible idea. What the heck was I thinking?

 

And so, under partly cloudy skies we set out to see if we could get to the Shore.

 

 

It was a great day on the bike! I’m so glad I did it and didn’t let my brain get in my way of achieving – a century! Unsupported! In February! I can’t even begin to describe the sense of accomplishment I have.

Highlights of the day included:

  • Gliding over the trail and hammering up the hills in upper Pennypack Park
  • Admiring the beautiful bridges we were passing under
  • Slogging through thick mud and glass in lower Pennypack Park, passing the prison
  • riding in the middle of State Rd in the “scenic” waterfront district
  • flaunting the law by NOT walking our bicycles across the bridge to New Jersey
  • Starbucks break at mile 27 (I was so freaked out I forgot to enjoy the cup of Off The Chain coffee by our friends at Sip, Clip, and Go! Coffee for Cyclists I had brewed at home)
  • Riding on the wide shoulder of US-206 and feeling very unsafe
  • Lunch at mile 55 in Hammonton. Feeling shredded.
  • The miracle of ibuprofen. Feeling like a superhero.
  • Being ogled by the teens working the cafe where we stopped for a bathroom break as I nonchalantly suck down a goo
  • Riding on the quiet side streets next to the river/watershed, admiring the houses
  • Riding through quaint farms with horses, goats, and blueberry fields
  • Contemplating the state of disrepair of the houses and open space as we got closer to the Shore
  • Riding the bridges into Ocean City
  • CROSSWINDS (20+ mph)
  • Getting lost in Ocean City
  • MORE CROSSWINDS (WTF)
  • Fighting to stay upright on the bridge to Longport … and then being prevented from benefiting from the descent
  • Cycling past the ocean, watching as the waves crash on the beach
  • Why yes, it can take almost an hour to go five miles!
  • Getting to the train station in Atlantic City with only ten minutes to spare
on the bridge going into Ocean City, NJ.
on the bridge going into Ocean City, NJ.

Things I learned:

  • Worry is useless. Take it one mile at a time.
  • Lunch break after the half-way point is brilliant.
  • Plan to get to the next rest break. It’s only (15/20) miles away.
  • Do not under any circumstance think you can break in a new saddle on a 100mi ride.
  • I can do an unsupported century with a friend and have a truly amazing day on my bike.

* * * * *

Click Here to see the route and my stats on Strava

 

CBBC Covered Bridge Tour Recap

Rain and a high of 50 degrees.

Definitely not the weather report you want when you have a ride planned but off we went anyway. My oldest son joined me on a ride to see some of the last covered bridges in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. We chose the flat 20 mile route mostly because my son hasn’t trained for distance riding but he can usually pull 20 miles with little issue.

I gave him all of my baselayer and cool weather gear to ride in. Against my better judgement, I opted for shorts instead of my thermal tights. Probably not an issue if I was riding fast and far but this ride was purposefully low miles and low speed.

We arrived, checked in and grabbed a doughnut and warm beverage (apple cider for him, coffee for me) before heading out on the towpath of the Delaware Canal.

The only covered bridge on our route was in the first two miles so the rest of the ride was simply beautiful path riding.

image
My son by the bridge

After the bridge we walked our bikes across the Delaware River into New Jersey.

image
Welcome to New Jersey

The rest of the way to the rest stop was on-road and relatively unremarkable. The rest stop was well-stocked and we took a break. The route back to the start was on the trail.

image
Trail Riding

Almost as soon as we left the rest stop it started to rain. Our thoughts turned to fleece pajamas and naps on the couch. My son’s legs were starting to feel depleted so we stopped for a few minutes and then walked a half-mile to re-energize. back on the bikes and four miles later, we were at the finish.

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Tools of the Trail

We picked up our long-sleeve commemorative shirts and hot lunch (beef bbq for him, veggie burger for me) before loading up our bikes and driving home. Heated seats have never felt so indulgent.

Overall a great ride – one that I look forward do doing again next year!

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100 Miles to Support Finding a Cure – BikeMS: City to Shore Recap

I originally signed up for this ride because I’d heard it was the premiere ride in the area, an amazing experience, something every cyclist in the area should do at least once. For many it’s their annual Big Ride. When my company sent out an email saying they were picking up the registration fee, it became a no-brainer and I signed up for the company team.

No one else at the office is a Crazy Bicycle Lady like myself – many of my fellow bicycle-loving denizens live in the city and commute 2-3 mile on a single-speed to the office – so despite my best efforts to get someone else I know to ride with me at work, no one took me up on it. A big part of that was also the $300 minimum fundraising requirement. Not everyone enjoys fundraising – myself included. I don’t personally know anyone with MS – but I do have friends with loved ones who have been diagnosed.  I figured it’s a small part I can do for the benefit of a fully-supported ride across New Jersey.

My commuter friend did take me up and rode with a woman from the Pennsylvania Center for Adapted Sports together on a tandem. My commuter friend is seriously a miles machine and a great person all around – he inspires me every day. And the woman he has ridden the last couple times with has a hilarious quick wit about her. Together they are one fast tandem team! And yes, they did the full century route too. Props!

We got on the road to the start point about 5am for what should have been a 45min drive – plenty of time to make the team meeting at 6am, team photo at 6:15, and hit the road at 6:30am. I think we spent 40 minutes on the off-ramp waiting to park! My commuter friend was supposed to roll-out at 6:15 – totally missed that. We got parked around 6:35am – he went his way to catch up with the tandem teams and I got my stuff together and checked in at the team tent. The line for the port-a-potties was incredible but I decided it was better to start a little later than spend the next 20 miles wishing I had.

The weather was perfect cycling weather – partly cloudy, high rose to the upper-60s. I had light arm warmers on all day.

I didn’t realize exactly how many people do this ride until I got there. We are talking thousands of folks. The mass-start-in-waves was suboptimal for individuals but once you got out on the road, you quickly understood why. There was no way to ride single-file – we took the whole lane and stretched for miles. Like Critical Mass only sanctioned. Police were stationed at lights and intersections to allow us to flow through – so very little stopping outside of the rest/aid stations.

People of all cycling abilities were there – on the shorter 25mile route, I saw a woman in her 70s cruising along on her old-school mixte-style bike. Kids with their parents. Friends on their hybrids. A few people on their recumbent bikes. The only time I found myself alone on a road was on the back end of  the century loop – and even then, I’d pass at least one person in each mile.

Each rest stop was a party – the DJs were blaring upbeat music, massive food tents, plenty of port-a-potties (but always a line), friendly folks wandering around with jugs of water and Gatorade to fill your bottles away from the crowds at the food tent. The end of the route party had a live band, food, raffles, and access to the Ocean City boardwalk. Which boggled my mind as I was riding the last few streets, the beach just on the other side of the berm. I really wanted to get a picture on the beach with my bike.

The roads were very well marked (no cue sheet needed). Volunteers, families, and those affected by MS lined the streets and manned the corners, yelling “Thanks for riding!” Signs were posted with messages from those affected by MS lined the streets as well – very powerful to realize exactly what this ride means to them.

All in all, this really is the premiere ride in the area. Very well organized, supported, and marked.

100 miles to support finding a cure.

ON A PERSONAL NOTE: This was the first ride event I’ve done truly by myself – I didn’t know anyone other than my commuter friend, a handful of people on the company team that I met once on a training ride and I didn’t see any of them along the route or at rest stops. I didn’t get on the road until 7:45am. I found three other guys in my company team jersey and we chatted briefly at the start before they quickly zoomed off.

100 miles is a long time to spend in your head and has benefits and pitfalls. This is definitely an event that begs to be done with friends and it would have been more fun to hang out with someone on our bikes all day. But I also wasn’t constrained by having another person with me – moderating pace, chatting while riding, lingering at rest stops. As it was, my rest stops were kept to a minimum: bathroom, food, water refills, and back on the road. And I cranked hard – easy pedaling was 16-17 mph, pushing was 20-23 mph … spent most of my time rolling 18-20mph.

FUELING: I packed a lot of my own fuel and I’m glad I did – the rest stops had a lot of Clif bars which is fine, but not what I wanted in the moment. The first rest stop was 20 miles in – grabbed part of a banana to supplement my goo. Mile 30 rest stop meant grabbing a PB&J on white and Sport Beans. Mile 45 was another part of a banana and another goo. Mile 55 I realized I needed more – when I got into the bathroom line I was hit by a wave of nausea. Nibbled on my Honey Stinger peanut butter bar until my blood-sugar levels stabilized. Took a bit longer at this stop to make sure I wouldn’t bonk later. Switched my beverage from Skratch Labs (hydration, sodium) to Propel Zero (B vitamins and electrolytes) and noticed an improvement in my overall disposition. Miles 65 and 75 were another goo break each. Mile 87 I grabbed some fig newtons with my goo. The closer we got to the ocean, the higher the winds.

TIMING: Started at 7:45am. I made it to the century loop turn-off with only 10 minutes until it closed at 11am. At mile 55, I’d been pushing 20-23mph over the last five miles into a headwind. My average was 16.9 mph. I did a fair amount of passing, but was also passed a lot. Saw the aftermath of a couple accidents. The last 8 miles were slow because everyone converged and had to get up over two bridges (NJ 152 bridge and then the Ocean Drive bridge) across the Egg Harbor Inlet. Definitely impacted the overall speed average – I was at 16.2mph average going into the final 8 miles but ended with a 15.6 mph average. Finished the ride at 3pm.

SOCIAL: I can’t say I enjoyed being alone all day. It seemed that everyone had at least one other person they were there with and I’m very much a social person. I tried to re-fame the day as a way to be friendly with others so I said “hello!” or “Good morning!” as I passed. One older guy hooked on to me and we chatted for a bit at one of the few stop lights where we had  to stop. He was telling me about his RAGBRAI trip and how I should totally go do it. One guy complimented me on my bike. Three guys rode up – all on Felts – and said “Lookin’ good!” (That was pretty sweet – there were a lot of Felt bicycles on this ride) – I latched on to their group for a bit just based on our chosen brand of bicycles. I complimented a guy in the new Fat Cyclist kit on his choice of attire. Another guy yelled at me as I passed …

“You make this look easy!”

The hardest part socially was seeing all the families and friends lining the streets to the finish line, clanging cow bells, cheering and shouting. I really wished I had someone to share the end of a long day with me. I found my commuter friend, who had been at the finish for an hour at that point, so his group was off to get showers and dinner. I opted to head home on the bus – got my shirt and finisher’s medal (although I must have dropped it somewhere because I don’t have it any more). The three guys I’d seen at the start got in line behind me for the bus ride back to the start so we chatted for a while.

As I’m thinking about how I felt all day, it occurs to me that this is what it feels like to be diagnosed with something that is not currently curable, only manageable. You feel alone in a sea of thousands. This is what we were riding for – to help find a cure and break down the feelings of isolation and loneliness by connecting with others. It’s such a powerful message.

INTERESTING METRICS (to me at least):

I achieved a new high mileage total for September even though I didn’t ride for two weeks (354 miles for the month – 99mi for transportation, 254 for sport).

New personal best on 100km (62miles) 3:57:35.

The odometer on my bike indicates I’ve ridden 1,016 miles on my bike. I started riding her in April this year.

Overall an amazing experience. A touch stiff today, but nothing an Advil and plenty of fluids won’t handle. This is my second century ride within a month and I can honestly say now that conquering 100 miles is all in your head. If you can do 75, you can do 100. Obviously terrain played a huge part in yesterday’s final stats (final ride time was 6:24:30 as opposed to my earlier ride of 7:40:24) – the hillier the route, the longer it takes because you can’t just hammer through it. Yesterday’s route was a gentle downhill to sea level and my time clearly shows that terrain advantage.

October is heating up for fall riding and I’m looking forward to my next few rides to see fall foliage from a two-wheeled vantage point.

See you on the road!

Cycle Bucks County Recap

When is a 25 mile ride an absolute joy?

When you ride at an average of 10 mph on your hybrid with your kid.

 

Yesterday my oldest son and I drove an hour northeast to participate in Cycle Bucks County, a non competitive, organized fund raising bike ride presented for the benefit of Doylestown Hospital and Girls On The Run. Because my oldest rides a mountain bike, I chose to ride my hybrid to better match his speed and exertion level. I pre-mapped the 25 mile route (based on the previous year) and noticed the first 15 miles looked like rolling hills with a nasty hill right before the rest stop. The last 10 miles were flat along the Delaware River as it divides Pennsylvania from New Jersey.

Turns out I was slightly off. Check out the final route over at MapMyRide. There were four big hills that many participants were walking. Some were lamenting their compact cranks and other extolling the virtues of their triples. This hill in particular just kept going UP … but this was the one that had a few people just turn in their numbers and head home.

My son and I were the only ones we saw on non-road bikes, which really makes me that much prouder that we finished with a ride time of 2 hours and 40 minutes (about 3 hours total time including rest breaks). He’s becoming a solid cyclist (didn’t train for this ride – just did it and ended up tired but happy with the ride overall) and I think it’s time to change out his equipment for a road bike now that his mountain bike doesn’t fit him anymore (he’s now 5’10” and growing). I have been training and the ride was an enjoyable saunter through the countryside with my kid.

We also saw a tiny fox towards the end of the ride – he was so timid and apprehensive. We stopped and allowed him to run by us at a wide berth.

Overall, a great ride with great company.

See you on the road!