400K Calendared Rando Ride
Since March 25th I’ve done a calendared RUSA ride every weekend except the first weekend in April: 3/25 (200K), 4/8 (360K), 4/15 (100K), 4/22 (300K), 4/29 (200K), and now today 5/7 (400K). I’m now pretty tired as I write this blog post. It took me 21 hours and 5 minutes to complete today’s 254 mile rainy ride in the hills of Virginia. So far this year I’ve ridden RUSA rides in the following states: NJ, PA, NY, and VA. By year’s end I expect to add to that list of states with MA, NH, VT, CT, DE, MD, and NC. The first 4 states would come by doing a 600K out of Boston in July. DE and MD would come from doing a certain 200K ride put on by PA Rando late in the year. And NC would come from the 1200K ride I want to do in October.
Today’s ride was the first one I have done that was put on by the DC Rando club. Most of my RUSA rides this year have been put on by the PA Rando club, one was put on by the Long Island Rando club, and another was put on by NJ Rando. Each club seems to be a little different in organizing their events.
I drove down to Warrenton, VA from Princeton, NJ yesterday (Friday) afternoon and tried to get a reasonable sleep before the 4 AM start time for the Saturday ride. Got up at 2 AM and prepared the bike and me for the 3 AM ride registration. At 4 the ride started in the dark. The temperature was somewhere in the 50s, and stayed there most of the day. A local cop stopped us as we were departing the Hampton Inn parking lot and delayed us for a minute or so. He seemed curious about the cluster of 20 cyclists with headlights and taillights illuminating the city street, and wanted to know what we were doing. Nothing else going on. So why not stop us?
I was not particularly happy with this ride. I’ve been riding too much the past month, and I’m pretty much burned out on riding. Mentally I was tired. And the long drive yesterday, and crazy sleep pattern over the night didn’t help. Also, I’ve never done a 254-mile bike ride before. So the event was a bit of unchartered waters for me. At least I was healthy!
I knew four riders who were also participating: Greg, Joe, Steve, and Matt. They have ridden with me several times on PA Rando rides. Matt dropped out early in the ride. I spent the first 60 miles with the other three. Then Steve dropped off the pace. Greg and Joe dropped me by mile 80, but I caught them soon thereafter when they stopped at a convenience store. When we left that store Joe soon thereafter dropped off the pace and I was left with Greg to proceed forward. We rode together until there was about 80 miles to go. Greg’s endurance training is far superior to mine, and endurance is critical when tackling a 250-mile ride. Funny thing was Greg kept telling me he was hoping for a 21-hour ride, and I kept saying I was looking forward to a 22- hour ride. By the end Greg caught Scott F and Gary R (who we had ridden with much of the day) and they finished in 19:45. And I finished alone in 21:05. Both of us accomplished our goals.
The loneliest part of the ride for me was between contoles 7 and 8. I’d been riding alone since before Controle 6. I rolled out of Orange, VA (Controle 7) at 8:15 PM and the sun had gone down, and there wasn’t much light left. I was using my headlights to make sure I could be seen (but not to see by). Seemed like there were a lot of drivers who refused to turn their bright lights off when approaching me from the oncoming traffic lane. At least it was that way for 25 miles or so out of Orange. The closer I got to Warrenton the motorists seemed to be much more considerate. But that was a long 5 hours of riding in the dark all alone.
There was a short period during the ride after sunrise, but before the rain started, that I was able to look at the countryside and enjoy it. There were several really nice views of the Blue Ridge mountains. Everything was so rural compared to what I’m used to seeing. The vegetation was much more along in Virginia than it is in NJ at present.
The amount of rain we had was a surprise. The weather forecast had indicated it might rain for 2 hours around noon. However, it started to rain around 8:30 and didn’t let up until 2:30 or 3. Not the best of riding conditions! The guys I was riding with is what made the ride enjoyable. We all suffered equally through the dampness. By sundown I was all dry again, and that is when the temp started to drop. By 10 or so I was riding in temps between 40 and 45 degrees. I had planned for that. So the temp drop was not a problem.
Click on the map image below to see the route at RWGPS. CLICK HERE to see the preliminary results page. I need to do a 600K ride sometime over the summer so I will qualify to enter the 1200K ride I want to do in October in NC. I’m leaning toward doing the one out of Boston on April 15th.