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Over to Dover

by on March 6, 2011

This Ride: 126.4 miles
Month: 180 miles
2011: 1111.2 miles
Total since 1/1/10: 7,230.9 miles

“Over to Dover” is a permanent route managed by Crista B of the DC Randonneurs that is a nearly out and back course from Frederick, MD to Dover, PA (near York, PA).  Gardner D. of the SPP announced he was planning to ride the route and 7 other riders decided to join him.  That made it an all SPP ride, with a scheduled 7:00 am start (Saturday, March 5th).  Riders included Gardner, Theresa, Fran, Janet, Ben (on his first 200k), Davie (with a heart over the “i”), Bryan, and I.

The forecast really didn’t give us any worries.  Temps were to start in the low 40°F range and rise into the upper 50s.  There was a 30% chance of rain for later in the day.  We could expect some winds out of the south in the afternoon.  The forecast was for a good time and a good trip.

By 6:40 am we all had gathered at Jolly Roger in Frederick and were in pretty good spirits.  We had 43° F and fog.  The forecast had not mentioned fog.  This was wet and thick.  This distressed Bryan.  He was riding his new bike and really didn’t want to get it dirty or wet.  We reconsidered our clothing choices because of the damp and cold, and most of us added some type of rain gear.  For me, that was a good choice.  As we pushed off just a few minutes after 7:00 am, we quickly collected moisture and I know I was constantly wiping water from my eye wear.  We had energy.  We enjoyed one another’s company.  We enjoyed the scenery.  We even enjoyed the rolling hills.

Some of the riders had ridden the North by Northwest permanent 3 weeks earlier.  Over to Dover shares some of the first part of that route.  We crossed a covered bridge and numerous fast flowing creeks.  We held a reasonable pace, riding as a group.  We expected the fog to burn off sometime quite early.  It didn’t.  When we arrived at our first control at mile 44, we still had light fog, and the temperatures had not moved for 44 miles we had been riding.  Bryan and I were pleased we had foot warmers in.  At this first control, there were clothing adjustments made, we ate and drank a little.  As we pushed off, I noticed my rear tire was soft (not completely flat).  I called everyone back.  Fran stayed outside with me as I changed the tire (more than 4 minutes and less than 10), checking very carefully for what was causing the softness.  We could find no hole in the tube.  We could find nothing in the tire.  I inflated the tube and am grateful to say that the tube held the entire ride.

As soon as we pushed off from the first control, the temperatures started a slow climb.  We continued to ride rollers and enjoyed good scenery as the fog lifted to overcast skies.  We had a small herd of cattle run with us the way horses and dogs will sometimes do.  We saw a pair of goats that had a shelter on a bluff overlooking the river below.  We were feeling better as the temperatures climbed.  Then we reached the longest, steepest hill I’ve ever attempted on a bike.  My Garmin track shows it climbs about 300 feet over a distance of a mile.  It felt bigger than that.  We did a little clothing shedding at the bottom of the hill, and 6 of group decided to race to the control.  My goal was simply to climb the hill.  Davie hung back with me, encouraging me along the way.  I was in my lowest gear, sat the whole way up attempting to manage both my cadence and my heart rate.  It was a nice accomplishment.  Soon we were at the second control and lunch.

Lunch at the “Route 74 Restaurant” was good and inexpensive.  We dried out our clothing (and decided that a control at a laundromat would be simply amazing … having the ability to put on dry, warm clothing after a lunch stop), used the impossibly small bathroom and enjoyed a quick lunch break.  I was looking forward to taking the mile long descent pretty fast, hoping to set a new personal record for speed on my bike.  It had warmed up enough that another round of clothing decisions was necessary for our short distance to the next control.

Our spirits remained pretty good following lunch.  We were a little slower than I had hoped, but we were doing fine.  It was on the long downhill where I first noticed the wind.  I had to work against the stiff headwind to reach my top speed of 41.1 mph down the hill.  It was blowing pretty hard.  For most of the rest of ride, we pushed on against a relentless wind.  It wasn’t as strong as it was at the Ashland ride two weeks ago, but it was steady at about 20 mph until roughly 4:30-5:00 pm.  We always had it in our face.  I notice now after the fact that our average speed dropped pretty significantly also in this last half of the ride.  It wasn’t just because of fatigue.

The wind dispirited us each a little differently.  I figured the wind was a given, but it increased the effort to move ahead just enough that I groaned over every rise when I saw the next hill ahead.  We were not as able to keep a tight group going, so sometimes riders would be riding alone, separated by a frustrating quarter to half a mile, or roll up to the leaders waiting at a turn, just to continue moving while the quicker riders had experienced a bit of a break.  We had periods of lightness and laughter, but we also had long stretches of silence as we simply continued to cycle on.  The sun broke through the overcast in the afternoon, and the temperatures continued to climb.  The Garmin says it reached 68°F, but I can’t imagine it got that warm.  Frederick’s high was officially 60°.

The control at mile 77 was a quick in and out.  The control at mile 105 had us eating and changing clothing again.  You could tell at this control that we were getting tired.  We acted like we had been up all night and were a bit punchy.  We were ready for the final push.  The wind  started to diminish, the sun was going down, and the temperature was falling.

During the last 20 miles or so I started having trouble getting my bike to shift into the front small ring.  At the covered bridge, as we stopped for the inevitable photos, I was able to force the chain onto the small ring, and left it there the rest of the ride.  I needed the power it gave up the hills more than I needed the speed on the flats.

I had ridden all day with my headlight flashing.  It gave out with about 10 miles to go, so I switched on the helmet mounted flashing light.  As we rolled into Frederick, Ben jumped off the front to finish first.  The rest of us stayed as a group, hitting most traffic lights red, but all letting out a cheer as we saw the Jolly Rodger … the finish, as we climbed the last rise of the day.  It was good to be done.

We changed clothes, sampled one of the beers Ben brought as the “newbie”, noted a couple of sprinkles of rain, then all went to an Italian restaurant for supper together.  Despite the very slow service, we had a good time with one another.  This is where Davie got his name.  Dave P was chatting up/flirting with the waitress, who referred to him as Davie.  It became a running gag all night.  We even drew a heart in his food since he was in the bathroom when it was delivered.  (Not nearly) soon enough, we made our way back home.  I jumped in the hot tub for a soak, then to bed.

Thanks to all the riders.  Each contributed to an enjoyable ride for me.  I’m looking forward to the next ride.  This completes R-4 for me.  Only 8 more to go!


From → Cycling

One Comment
  1. Thanks for this read! I could imagine the wind and damp… I have not done a 200K, but perhaps I can do so this year.

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