Last Kilometer – Paris-Roubaix 2017

Last Kilometer – Paris-Roubaix 2017

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Track Cycling: What is the Madison?

Track Cycling: What is the Madison?

I never rode many of these when I was a competitor. They are cool to win, though.

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Track Cycling: What is the Omnium?

Track Cycling: What is the Omnium?

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My Thoughts About Participating in a Rando Fleche

My Thoughts About Participating in a Rando Fleche

I’ve just recently signed up as a member of RUSA.org. I think I sent my membership fee in back in late November (2016) if I remember correctly. My original reason for signing up was to force myself to do some long bike rides for my “training” needed to be somewhat competitive this summer (late June, 2017) at the USA Cycling masters national track championships. I plan to enter the two TT events then: 500m and 2k. But after signing up I noticed the Awards link on the RUSA Web site, and I got to thinking I would like to pick off some awards. The main three I want are Honor Roll on the PA_Rando Web site for the SR series and the R12 series (these would get me SR and R12 awards at RUSA), and the RUSA Cup award (takes 2 years usually to get). Participating in the PA Fleche this past weekend was something I needed to do in order to get the RUSA Cup award.

Before this past weekend, the longest ride I’ve ever completed was 150 miles which I did solo in 2015. And that ride was a complete aberration for me. Before that the longest ride I’d completed was a 130-mile road race as an amateur CAT-2 competitive cyclist when I was age 18. I’m now almost age 55 (in June). So long distance cycling is not something I have ever done much of.

I found the Rando Fleche to be a fair amount of planning and work compared to other Rando rides I have done so far this year. I’ve completed three 200k rides which will help me qualify for the R12 award I mention herein above. For those rides all I had to do was enter, show up, and ride. Which is a sharp contrast to what I had to do to participate in the Rando Fleche. For the Fleche I had to find a team to ride with, then I had to get accepted as a member of that team, then I had to help with the route planning (this involved a bunch of back and forth via email), and then I had to figure out what to pack for a ride that would last 12 hours in daylight but also 12 hours in darkness with a temperature drop. The last thing I had to do was help coordinate the transportation issues before and after the ride. Rando Fleches are not Point-of-Departure equals Point-of-Destination. My team’s point of departure was Lawrenceville, NJ. And the point of destination was Quakertown, PA. At the end of the ride we had to get from Quakertown back to Lawrenceville.

After having completed the Rando Fleche I must say I am glad to have participated in all the ways that I did. The funny thing about the ride was that it felt incredibly similar to the many group rides I have gone on with friends over the years – just longer and partly in the dark. We were not out to decimate our fellow riding buddies, and we had a policy of
“nobody will be dropped.” This is in sharp contrast to the 200k rides I have done earlier this year where the strongest riders push on and drop whoever will fall off.

I have to admit that I have never been a fan of rest stops during a bike ride. I suppose this dates back to my competitive cycling days during my teen years. I push pretty hard during a training ride, and when I stop to relax my body really shuts down. It’s quite a struggle for me to wind myself up after a break. This is true if I’m out for a 50 mile ride or a 240 mile ride. I don’t particularly like the process of getting wound up again. Participating in a Rando Fleche requires me to relax and allow my body to shut down several times. The only thing that made the rest stops better for me during the Rando Fleche was I was never really pushed during the ride. Allowing the weak link in the group to not be dropped forced me to ride at a relatively leisurely pace the entire ride.

Was all the extra planning and work outside of the ride worth it? Yes, and no. I’m glad I did this one, but I’m not sure I really want to do another. However, I didn’t dislike the experience. If I were to be approached by the right people at the right time, then I am sure I would agree to join their team. I’m just saying I didn’t feel like all the extra effort required for this ride was worth doing it over and over again. I suppose saying “Been there done that” is how I feel about the Rando Fleche.

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360K+ Calendared Rando Ride

36oK+ Calendared Rando Ride (The Fleche Event)

Well, I’m kind of tired after having spent 24-hours on my bike since yesterday starting at 8 AM. This year I have taken on a new challenge involving cycling, and that challenge included the completion of a 24-hour team bike ride whereby I had to pedal a minimum of 225 miles (360 kilometers). Now tired, but not particularly beaten down, I can check off another goal successfully completed.

The ride pretty much played out perfectly. Four of us started and finished together: Rudi, Greg, Aleksey and me. CLICK HERE to see some pixs that Rudi took during the ride. CLICK HERE for the preliminary results page. Nobody on our team got a flat tire or had any other sort of mechanical difficulty. Greg lost part of his headlight and therefore we had to make a stop to buy some extra batteries for his backup headlight. But that was really the only glitch unless you consider the Pt Pleasant Food Store (Controle #8) not being open when they were scheduled to be open at 6 AM on Sunday morning.

The weather was about as good as could be expected for early April. No rain, clear skies, and not too cold. I had expected temperatures to vary between 4o and 55 degrees, and planned accordingly. However, I’m almost certain the low temp Saturday night and early morning Sunday was somewhere in the 30s. There was a stretch during the ride that my fingers got quite cold. My feet never became a problem. My biggest problem during the whole ride was getting through the time between 11 PM (Sat) and 1 AM (Sun); I really wanted to get in bed and have a nice night’s sleep. My mind was doing a number on me! But I got through it (not fun). I think it was the 24-ounce hot chocolate I got at a Wawa in Browns Mills that saved me.

The ride started out very fast since we had a pretty good tailwind pushing us along to the first checkin point (controle) at the ocean. It was a Dunkin Donuts, and we didn’t waste much if any time there. Riding down the coast through the shore towns we had a sidewind pushing at us from inland. It was a substantial wind. Didn’t really mess with us, though. When we got to the next checkin point at Ortley Beach the McDonalds that we were supposed to use was closed for renovations. So we checked in at the ACME supermarket that was located next door. I got a large Gatorade and shared what I didn’t use or want. Then we moved on.

Moving on required us to ride into the strong headwind we had known was coming. And the road we used was pretty busy. I had no problem with it, but some of my co-riders don’t like roads that are heavily trafficked. Had a nice shoulder on it for the most part. So what was there to complain about? I guess I didn’t like the amount of grit and debris in the shoulder, but it wasn’t all that bad actually. Especially considering part of our route to come was going to be off-road in the middle of the night. Greg was probably the only guy on the ride without bigger than normal tires. I was riding my CX bike. I love that bike.

The two off-road sections in the route came between miles 157.9 and 164.0 (between NJ-72 & NJ-70), and between miles 186.7 and 189.6 (the towpath after leaving Bordentown). The stretch of road/trail starting at mile 157.9 was pretty firm, even partly paved at times. But there were a ton of potholes. As we got deeper into the woods the potholes got bigger and bigger, and even became full of water. My headlights only lit up just so much of the road. I could not go fast at this time for fear of dropping into one of the water-filled “craters” and getting wet. And the towpath at mile 186.7 we did single-file; it was a pretty narrow dirt path. The tree cover made the near-full-moon pretty much worthless. We slowed here, but not much.

My most unenjoyable stretch of the ride was between controles 4 and 5 (Lakehurst and Little Egg Harbor). It was a classic stretch of road through the pine barrens of South Jersey. You can see far in front of you and it’s all blacktop and/or evergreens in your view. And when you get around the bend in the road you’re faced with the same view you just left. To top that off as a downer, we weren’t far enough into the ride to have really accomplished all that much. So I didn’t have anything really positive to tell myself as I plodded onward.

I enjoyed the roads between controles 5 and 6. As we were riding along the owner of the Lower Bank Tavern (controle #6) pulled his car up beside us rolling his passenger side window down on the road and asked us which Fleche team we were. That kind of threw us for a loop. Didn’t expect that. Supposedly he is a randonneur, too. Not really sure I am, but maybe some day? But we got to his tavern before dark and stayed for close to an hour while we rested and ate. When we left it was dark out. So night riding was about to begin. I’ve ridden after dark lots during my life. But NEVER before have I ridden a whole night at a time. I was looking forward to the experience.

We made good time to Controle #7 and even all the way up to the Denny’s we had planned to stop at to kill time and rest (not to mention, eat). We spent some time hanging there in Bordentown. When we left I was actually feeling pretty good. We rode through a stretch of the D&R canal towpath (that I mentioned previously herein above) soon thereafter and then into Trenton. We had originally planned to ride a bunch of towpath up the Delaware to Pt Pleasant, PA. However, we changed our mind and rode River Road in Pennsylvania from the Calhoun Street Bridge all the way up to the Pt Pleasant Food Store (Controle #8) where we arrived at roughly 5:45 AM. We departed from there at 6:15 and I think we finished the ride at the Youth Hostel somewhere around 7:40? Click on the map below to see the route we took at RWGPS.

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Wed Mid Afternoon Solo Ride

Wed Mid Afternoon Solo Ride

Warm day today. Got up to 69 degrees and sunny. But there was a significant wind to contend with on my ride. It’s been a long time since I rode from Princeton toward Belle Mead, but I finally got around to it today. Nice ride. Just spun along. Was riding the CX bike. Passed quite a few bike riders out enjoying the nice weather. CLICK on the map below to see the route I did.

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Sunday Morning Solo Ride

Sunday Morning Solo Ride

I showed up at 6:53 this morning at Village Park to ride┬áthe PFW B ride I had offered to lead. At 7 it was around 40 degrees and clear, but there were no takers for the ride. I headed out by my lonesome on the route I planned. I actually was glad nobody showed up since I didn’t want to wear a helmet, and I especially didn’t want to have to push myself at all. I didn’t pass any riders for the whole 40 miles I rode. Click on the map below to see the route at RWGPS.

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