Friday, May 11, 2012

Pine Creek 200K - Jersey Shore Start

Beautiful - this can not be argued with.

This is an absolutely beautiful ride through the land of Eagle, Bear and Snake. Called the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, the Pine Creek Rail Trail is a crushed limestone walking and biking path that runs 62 miles End to End, from Jersey Shore, PA to Wellsboro, PA if going south to north, which is the uphill direction.  Of course, uphill is 3600 feet, end to end, at about a 1% grade, so it's not noticeable. 

I started the ride at 7:30 from the Weis Mart parking lot in Jersey Shore. It was about 40 out, and I had both water bottles filled, and was wearing my rain jacket because it was still a little misty out. You have to travel the roads from the parking lot for less than a mile till you're on the Rail Trail. Except for the short ride to the 3rd control, at the top of the trail, and some road crossings, this is the only spot that you encounter vehicles. 

The trail runs along Pine Creek for the most part, or within a few hundred yards of it for the complete time you're on it. Along the trail you can see some of the original New York Central Railroad mile-markers. The “L” references Lyons, New York, a major railroad juction 168 miles north of Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania.

The reason I chose to start in Jersey Shore which is 2 hours from home for me instead of starting in Galeton, which is another option, because I figured it would be all uphill for the first half of the ride, and then I would turn around, and it would be all downhill back to the car. Excellent, right? The problem is, with little to no grade, it quickly became apparent that one issue would be the fact that you never get to stop pedaling. You never climb that hill to coast down the other side. You don't HAVE to stand to climb, you have to remind yourself to stand for a bit to keep the blood pumping. It's not a hard ride really, it's just a taxing ride. You have to keep pumping, the whole time. 

About 20 miles into the ride I saw a black thing up ahead through the trees. As I rounded the bend, I see it's a black bear about 80 yards ahead of me, walking the trail, heading the same way as I am heading. So I stop the bike, and quietly take a picture. Then I start pedaling again to see how close I can get. I get about 50 yards away and he glances back and takes off running away from me down the trail. I chased him to see if I could get a better picture when he ran off the trail, and do end up getting within 25 yards, but the weeds are deep, and he's hell bent to get out of there.  Very cool! 

About 5 miles further down the trail I look between myself and the creek, and see two Bald Eagles sitting high in a tree watching the river. Also very cool!  Now, I am just hoping to see some Rattlesnakes. Something the trail is known for. There are educational signs all along the trail to keep your eyes open for them, and what to expect. Unfortunately, I never did see any.

The first stop is in Cedar Run at the Cedar Run General Store, which is a really cool little store at mile 33 in the ride. You pass through a couple of other small towns, and pass a store in Slate Run at mile 27 which is the last Control of the ride before the finish line on your way back. I got to Cedar Run around 10:00, and unfortunately the store doesn't open until 11! SO - I will have to swap this Control to be the control on the way back down the trail, and have the Slate Run stop on the way up. Anyways, the Cedar Run Inn was open, and the lady there gladly signed my card and I was on my way. I still had 1 full water bottle, so I figured I was OK. 

About 2 hours later I run out of water. Of course there is a creek right next to you, but I didn't have any iodine tablets, and don't like to trust creek water, because if you're wrong, you can end up very sick. There are also bathrooms at spots along the trail, but the same thing there, I have read that the water tastes like rusty pipes.. I figured, I would just push on, and be fine. It was up to about 72 or 73, and still a bit cloudy, so it was tolerable. When the trail ends, you can cross a bridge on a grass lane, and get out on Route 287 which quickly joins Route 6, and ride a mile down the road to an Acorn, where I was happy to drink a whole Big Gatorade, and fill my water bottles, grab some pretzels, and relax for a few minutes before I got started on the downhill section! It MUST get easier going downhill, even though it's only slight, right? 

Wrong. The whole trail is covered with fine crushed limestone. It's pretty, sure. It's smooth, yeah. It's even resurfaced in spots! But - it's not fast, and you never roll smoothly and get any speed up. I pushed along fairly consistently, and my average moving speed was right around 12 mph. 

The sun came out in the second half of the ride, and there was much more action on the trail and in the river. A lot of folks canoeing, kayaking, and rafting. There had been rains for a few days before and the river levels were around 3 feet when I checked online after the ride, which is perfect for canoeing. I am looking forward to heading back with the boys to do a trip, and hope I can convince Kris to go along with us, either in the Kayak or the Canoe with the boys. 
The second half was uneventful, beautiful, but part of the negative of an out and back is the fact that you've seen it all before. When I passed the Cedar Run Store, it was open, and alot of folks were eating ice cream. I pedaled on the 6 miles to the Control at Wolfe's General Store, and enjoyed a ice cream Twix bar, more Gatorade, and filled the water bottles. Short rest here, and back on the trail. 
I finished the ride around 6:45PM, about 10.5 hours of moving time, and that was split about evenly between the ride up, and the ride back down. I hoped to gain time on the way back, but the trail's lack of assistance and not being as fresh as I was at the start didn't help me to make up any time. 

I went across the road to the CVS, grabbed some water, and a Mango Sorbet out of the freezer, and a bag of tootsie rolls, and headed home. It was a good ride. 

It's funny about these Rando ride.  Fatigue and your mind play games with you. You are riding along this beautiful trail, and stream, and people are lounging downstream, letting the stream push them, and laughing and having a blast. All I kept thinking was that I couldn't wait to get home, and get the boys back down here as soon as possible. When you take one of your weekend days and choose to spend it away from your family, a little guilt sets in. When you're doing it, you realize that you're not doing it because it feels good WHILE you're doing it. It's about the feeling of accomplishment afterwards! But - it's a fine line. One of my friends said they stopped doing it not long after the rode by a lake on a long (multi-day) ride, and looked out to the lake and saw people drinking beers, having a cookout, relaxing in the sun and shade, and enjoying each others company. He asked himself why the hell he was doing this, and stopped for years shortly after that. BUT - like any addiction, he's now doing it again.

There are worse addictions to have. Vanity plays it's part, as it always does with fitness, and competitive sports, or you wouldn't bother doing them! Even if it's just to say I did this! I am not saying don't set goals for yourself. I have likely not been this fit in a long time, and I feel great! But -- at the end of the day, who's keeping score? Fitness is a very good reason to do it, and I truly enjoy riding, but I do it for my own piece of mind, and look forward to the day when the boys may come along with me. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

New Old Skool Fuji!

SO !

I got a new bike ! Well, I got an old bike, but it's in awesome shape, and it's going to be a blast to ride.

It's a 1984 Fuji Del Ray.   Middle of the Fuji line at the time, but considered something along the sport / touring line. Its going to be perfect for my Rando rides. Plus - I am thinking I may even ride it in this Triathlon I am doing this fall - the Willow Creek Triathlon. I am considering going all out old skool. Cutoffs, old skool chucks or puma's, mesh shirt, headband and wrist band, aviators....   Just go have a fun time!

It's actually a sweet bike, and in great shape!  I have my great friend Paul from the local bike shop I spend my money at to thank for keeping his eyes open and finding this gem for me. It's got a Zefal pump, Velcro water bottles, Rhode Gear Flickstand, downtube shifters, lugged steel frame, pedals with cages, fat foamy handlebar wrap (I guess you could call it wrap), leather saddle, it's just sweet.!

Anyways, so far I have replaced the tires, repacked the hub bearings in the wheels, and replaced the brakes.  I am getting ready to take my inaugural ride!  Hopefully this weekend!


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Allegany 200K - April 14th 2012

Brisk! 28 degrees driving the 5 miles to the start of this one..

This is a permanent route that I built from my little one light town in Scio, NY. It starts, not at the local mini market filling station, but at "The Store", a little local town general store that has been in this town since my family has been coming here in 1973, lets say as long as I remember. It's that kind of little store with everything you need for sustenance, the kind of store that in the 50's and still today, can see some old chap pulling up in his 5 window pickup with the window down and his dog sitting next to him on his ripped and torn front seat, get out and head in for the morning paper and a quart of milk and a loaf of bread. It has a little butcher shop in it, some movies for rent, and a round table and some chair just inside the door in case you want to sit and chat for a while, maybe catch up with someone you haven't seen in a while. I really love these kind of stores. The one in Germania on my Dark Skies ride is an awesome little store too. Just friendly people, good mojo, and what you need to keep you going.

This day, I decided to ride the Giant. My carbon fiber bike. It's lighter weight, with thinner tires, which makes for faster rolling, both of these are huge benefits and mean less work for the ride but come at an expense also. You're going to feel more of the imperfections of the road, especially for a ride that will have you on the road for over 10 hours, so your hands and butt are going to feel it. I had just upgraded my saddle to a Fizik Aliante VS after reading an article about how wonderful the saddle was for bigger guys. I had the "Arione" model on my Tri bike last year, and didn't like it much. It just wasn't comfortable, a little too narrow. Anyways, the light weight of the bike paid off with less work which I was glad of with the 13 mph headwind that I came up against in the second half of the ride. The saddle was great for the first 6 hours, but by hour 9 I was "feeling the pain", and wouldn't have been surprised by the time I got off the bike to find blisters, but you keep riding.

I left around 7 AM and headed East with my first control in Canaseraga, NY. The weather was actually quite comfortable, and I made decent time covering the first 30 miles in 2 hours. That 30 miles included one of the steepest climbs of the ride, I thought aptly named Bailey Hill, as I would find out later, this ride, though the total climbing doesn't "look" too bad, has some pretty serious climbs!

I grabbed some donuts, and grapefruit juice at the first control and headed down the road on my way. I still had some of the rice bars that Kris made for my last ride and had frozen, so I unwrapped one, and started to eat it.. Well, they didn't freeze well, and tasted like crap, and wasn't holding together well, and I got a couple of bites, ended up with it crumbling all over me as I was riding down the road, and even got some in my shoe.!

From mile 30 - 42 it's real flat and fast, pretty easy rolling, some wind while you're riding past open fields, but it's enjoyable. Then you cross the Genesee River in Portville, near the South Entrance to Letchworth State Park, and take a left turn and start climbing towards the next control which is at mile 62 in Centerville, NY. Along this stretch, there are some pretty good climbs, and I had a couple dogs chase me. I personally have been lucky enough to not have been bitten by a dog (yet), but this was the first time I had one run into me. It was a Weimaraner, pretty big, and I think he just miscalculated that I was riding towards him, and he was running towards me. His face ran into my ankle, which I promptly pulled my shoe out of the clip and kicked at him with. He was a bit surprised, and left me be after that. Of course the next house had a dog also, but it was an older farm dog, and it couldn't get to the road in time to tell me what it thought, thankfully, I was spent from the first sprint and encounter.

I rolled into the Centerville Control at around 4:50 into the trip. This was just shy of the halfway point. I topped off my water bottles, got some Dr. Pepper and Gatorade, and something to eat. Sat on the step where the local cats hang out, and relaxed for a few. The guy who runs the store, Tom, asked me where I was headed, and I told him my next stop was in Portville, and I was going  through Rushford, and past Cuba Lake. He told me about the "big climb" coming up, and I told him I was aware, and knew that it would be less climbing after that.

I left the store, and started down the road. I looked up and thought, no way, that's not the road I am supposed to take. It looked like a climb from the Cobblestone Classics you watch this time of year on TV. One of those tree covered sliver of a road that climbs up through the distance. This is where I was wrong, and made a wrong turn that cost me an extra 3 miles of riding I could have done without. That extra 3 miles also included a nice little chase from an old farm dog and 2 pit bulls. One thing about Pitts, they never bark when they chase you, which I don't like much. They just kind of run along, and spend all their energy trying to figure out how to get you off that bike! Well, I didn't have to climb the monster, but still had to do the same amount of climbing over 3 miles instead of 1, and at this point I was now heading right into the wind.

It also spit a little rain, but not too much. By mile 70 I was ready to quit. I was totally in. Every mile dragged.  Around mile 80, I was nearing Cuba Lake, and knew it would lift my spirits, just because it would bring about that thought of fun times at the lake. You have to trick your mind at times, and make it think that this is really just nice little stroll that you're out for. Looking at the tree's and lakes, and birds. Anyways, I was really down, just pushing along, and I look up, and 8 Boxers (the dog), come running off this porch at me, it must have been a breeder, anyway, I sit up a little and just laugh and say you have got to be F'ing be kidding me! I figured I was just going to lay down when they attacked me, and let them eat me. I didn't care. Well, they all stopped 5 feet from the road, and I could see them wearing invisible fence collars, and laughed as I rode past. It wasn't much farther and I got to Cuba Lake at 82.5 miles, and the next 5 miles were OK till you get to the next climb after Cuba. By the time I topped out that climb at mile 90, I was committed to sucking it up and finishing the ride. I was WAY behind what I was hoping for as far as a schedule went, but still well within my cutoff times. I got to the next control at mile 102 at 8:35 into the trip.

This control is in Portville, NY and is at a Wilson Farms with an awesome ice cream shop across the road. It's like a cold stone creamery where they mix your stuff right in the cone, and I thought about going over, but didn't want to take the time. I had about 25 miles left to go, and at this point just wanted to get home.

From here to Bolivar at 114 miles was a pretty smooth ride without any real hills. Outside of Bolivar is the last hill of the ride, which tops out at mile 118, with the last 10 miles being downhill. I was able to average over 20 mph over these last miles, and enjoyed riding past our road just 5 miles from the finish. The ride took me 10 hours and 42 minutes. It was 128.2 miles with 7500 feet of climbing. According to the Garmin site I burned over 4600 calories, which is interesting, because the last ride was 126 miles and 7800 feet of climbing and I burned over 8000 calories. One huge difference was the fact that I rode my CoMotion on that ride, which is 10 lbs heavier, and more work no doubt, and my average heartrate was 1bpm higher (133 vs 132) for that ride, but over an 11+ hour ride it makes a difference.  That ride also took me longer, which accounts for some of the difference too.

Even though this ride gave me some trouble, I was ready the next day for my next ride. Still getting stronger, and talking to friends who do this alot, they say that feeling of "when the hell is this going to be over" comes and goes no matter how long you do this.

Till next time..