Friday night I drove from work to my parents house in Caledonia, and stayed within 1 hour of the start. The ride start time was scheduled for 6AM, so this would give me a bit more sleep and a chance to catch up with my parents, which is always a good time, and alot of laughs. I got to sleep around 9, and headed out for Ontario NY for the start.
I arrived at around 5:30, and got everything prepared to ride. 4 riders were there including myself. Ride organizer Peter Dusel (left), and two others, Al (blue), and John (yellow).. John had tried the same ride a couple of weeks earlier and DNF'd, so was bound and determined to get it done this time. Check out those tires on Johns bike! 45lbs... Man - that has to be some rolling resistance, but a cushy ride.
We rolled out together and headed for our first stop in Canadaigua 30 miles down the road. There were some slight rollers, and the wind hadn't picked up much yet, so it was a nice ride. I felt great, thinking hell, it's only 160 more miles! No problems, right? We stopped at the park across from the Hess Station Control and got our cards signed and were on our way.
Next stop would be Naples - Bob and Ruths diner, which was only 25 miles further down the road, so we headed down the East side of the lake, up on the "scenic route". We continued down the road together, and the wind picked up some, and the rain spit a little bit along the way, but all in all, it was still quite decent. We rolled in to Bob and Ruths and got our cards signed at 10:15. When we came across the bottom coming into Naples, the wind was something. It was a cross wind, but you had to lean sideways into it riding, not looking forward to hitting the hilltops climbing out of Naples to Dansville, and then Dansville to Canaseraga. I was shaking from the cold, so decided to keep rolling, but stopped long enough to get the "legit" Naples photo with the grape vines in the background.
Interesting thing about the cold and dressing appropriately. If you're doing it right, you're going to be cold when you stop, but when you're rolling you should be comfortable, which I was. Of course sweating and getting the clothing soaked doesn't help a bunch, but I have no idea how you're going to ride and not sweat. At least not me.
I got going just before the others, and saw them in my mirror as I got back on the bike after taking the picture. As I stated earlier, I felt great, and had a dream time of 15 hours. I figured with the wind, if I could do the first 100 miles, and get to Letchworth (102 miles) by around 8 hours, I should be able to do the next 90 in another 8 hours as there was less climbing and should be a strong tailwind. The hills out of Naples are decent. Some long climbs, but nothing really horribly steep. Then you roll downhill into Dansville, and go through town, and out the other side to climb up Ossian Hill Rd. One thing I have learned is that long ago most roads were named, and when they were named the vehicles were a bit different than now lets assume, so, when a road has the name "Hill" in it, there is very likely a good reason.. This was no exception. It's a 2.5 mile stretch climbing over 600 feet, then when you think you've topped out, it still gradually climbs, but by this time, you're "on top" with farm fields around, and nothing to buffet the wind, and I couldn't get up over 6 mph for probably a 5 mile stretch.. I kept pedaling towards Canaseraga, expecting at any time to have this long downhill stretch, but that never happened. I figure that Dansville must just be a low spot, so when you take that long fast ride down into Dansville, there's only one way to get out, and thats climbing...
Once I got to Rt 70 in Canaseraga, it was only about 8 miles to the next Control point. There was some wind, but the woods on the right side do a pretty good job keeping the breeze under control. I rolled into the "Seager Farm" control at around 1:30. I was just over 90 miles into the ride, and had been on the road for 7.5 hours. If I was hoping to keep up this pace, I really needed to keep rolling, but I sat down, had some rice cake, a swig of gatorade, and some pretzels that they had there. As I was standing to get going again, Al and Peter came up the road. I hopped on my bike and said "hey" as I was pulling out of the driveway.
The next stop was behind the Glen Iris Inn in Letchworth State Park. It was what is called an "info" control. I needed to write down on my card, how many acres the initial donation was, which could be found on a large plaque overlooking the falls. I spent more time here taking a good picture of my bike and trying to upload it than finding the answer and was quickly on my way again.
Right out of the parking lot you start climbing.. There are some short steep climbs in Letchworth, and I believe this is where I made the biggest mistake of my ride. I was doing OK for time, and was really trying to make the whole ride in what I figured now might be a possible 16 hours, but I knew I would have to keep moving. The second half of this ride appears on paper to be less hilly, which it is, as far as long climbs go, but it has alot of rollers, and I didn't take them at a reasonable enough pace, and didn't allow myself time to recover. I wasn't even through Letchworth when I started feeling sick, and that feeling that I wasn't absorbing anything, including water. Even drinking water was making me feel sick.. This wasn't good. I did have time to stop and take another photo though - make the most of it, y'know!
I headed out of Letchworth towards Geneseo, and stopped in town at the mini market to try to find something I could keep down, and fill one of my water bottles. I bought a Dr. Pepper, and a bag of those little chocolate chip cookies, ate 3 cookies, drank half the bottle of pop, and felt worse.. Screw it, time to keep going. I stopped in the middle of town, at the bear statue, and took another shot of my bike - looks like I am in France!
This was the last picture I took for the ride. When your ass gets dragging like that, you don't care much about anything but finishing.. I will say that I looked for other photo ops, but nothing jumped out.
Into Canadaigua, the last stop before the end before 9:00. Just 28 miles left. I was a hurting unit. Al and Peter pulled in 5 minutes after me, and Peter got me straightened out on my nausea.. I hadn't eaten or drank much of anything since probably 2:00. I was pretty badly dehydrated, and craved the fruit smoothie I grabbed, but couldn't drink it, too much acid. Peter said that I really needed to go empty my stomach. I was shivering so bad I was shuddering, and this was inside the Tim Hortons.. Anyways, I took Peters advice, and immediately started feeling a bit better. I got some chicken noodle soup (much needed sodium), and some water, and felt like I was ready. We all got our reflective gear on, lights going, and I was shaking again, so got on my bike, and got going again. As I was pulling out of the parking lot, I heard the bell on Johns bike ding, as he was pulling in.
I was ahead of Peter and Al by only a few minutes, but they made a wrong turn and ended up further behind me than expected. The last part is fairly flat with some small rollers, but thankfully it's a nice stretch, and I slowed to let the others catch up, didn't seem right to finish the ride alone after these guys sat around and helped me out at the control giving me the pointers I needed to feel better.. With about 15 miles left I saw the lights coming up behind me, and we rode the remainder of the ride together. Talking some, and enjoying the night. We pulled into Peters driveway, and the final control at 11:40PM, just 17 hours and 40 minutes after we had left.
According to the Garmin, I spent 15:56 minutes in the saddle pedaling, which means just over 100 minutes of off the bike time. I climbed over 9100 feet - not my most climbing for a ride, but with the fatigue you get on the longer rides it seemed plenty. I burned about 8000 calories, and according to the scale lost 5 lbs since Friday morning. By Monday morning I had gained 3 lbs back, and was likely still dehydrated, so am still working on getting the rest of the fluids I need - oh yeah, and the rest I need. I had very little saddle discomfort until around mile 180, and then not enough to bother me all that much.
Not sure what the next ride will be for me, at least the next long ride. We have a couple of busy weekends, and a family vacation coming up at the end of the month, then the Boilermaker the second weekend of July, so, sometime after that.. Was hoping to maybe try to sneak a 400K in, and maybe even do a 600K this year, getting me my Super Randonneur Award for the year, but I am not sure that will be happening, we'll see.
The only other two things to mention.
1 - Peter and his wife told me to stay at their house for the night, and when I told them I was heading out, they said "get going then". Peter said it will be about 25 minutes after your butt settles into that car seat, and you're going to have a horrible time staying awake. He was right. The clock on my dashboard said it had been 26 minutes when it was all I could do to stay awake. Even coffee didn't help much. I will make alternate plans next time I do any ride over 200K.
2 - We lost a friend in cycling on Saturday. Not one of the four in my group, but a guy I had ridden with earlier in the year. His name is Mark Sheehan, and I enjoyed riding with him, and talking with him about his recent retirement - actually, at the time it would be his future retirement. He had left NYSEG to take vacation before coming back for a single days work to retire back in February, and was home for a few days from a year long house rental in Florida where he, his wife, and his doberman were going to spend a year and check things out. He had worked very hard the previous year, we talked about my goals, about his goals, what those goals had been, and what his plans were. About riding with his wife, going to Fredericksburg, TX to ride some long ride down there, one day with his wife, and another on his own. About a lot of different stuff.. He was out riding Saturday with a group, and pulled his bike off the side of the road and died. I am not positive about the details, but that doesn't matter. He died doing what he loved. I found out from a friend today that he had over 3000 miles in this year already. He was loving his retirement. I am sorry he didn't get to enjoy more of it, and am sorry for the loss for his family. Goodbye Mark. It was nice riding with you. I am glad to have known you.
“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking."
Arthur Conan Doyle
Arthur Conan Doyle