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Flatbread 200k: Goal Accomplished!

by on November 14, 2011

This Ride: 128.7 miles
Month: 356.6 miles
2011: 6,898.8 miles
Total since 1/1/2010: 13018.5 miles

A year in the making, my R-12 is accomplished! I’ve had one ride of at least 200k each month for 12 consecutive months.  I’ve ridden these in wind, cold, heat, sun, night & clouds (good planning and flexibility kept me out of the rain).   It is now just a matter of the paperwork and ordering the medal from RUSA.

The Flatbread 200k has become one of DC Ranndoneurs most popular rides in just a few year’s time.  It is the flattest ride (about 600 feet of climbing in 128 miles), and held when the fall leaves on the Eastern Shore are in full splendor.  Temperatures are usually comfortable, and Chip is first-rate in his organization.  What this means is that the Flatbread 200k gets to be like a reunion of riders from all the rides all year.

I had some apprehension going into this ride.  I’m not healed from last week’s crash.  I’ve consulted a physician, and the best diagnosis without an x-ray is a broken rib.  My right elbow’s road rash started complaining at the end of the week.  I put a gauze pad on it, wrapped it with an ace bandage to hold it in place hoping to keep the movement of fabric against the wound to a minimum.  Maybe it wasn’t smart to ride such a ride with a broken rib, but with the goal accomplishment so close and so much effort in it over the course of a year, there wasn’t any other option as far as I was concerned.  I arranged to ride with Mike B who was recovering from some lung congestion.  Two wounded riders together for what would likely be a long day.  Mike C and Alex M also were interested in riding with us, and eventually did.

This is a longer post, so there is more after the break.

The day started out cold.  Mike picked me up at 5:15 am and as we drove to the start of the ride in Centreville, we saw the first hints of color in the sky as dawn approached.  We arrived in plenty of time, and the first indication that this would be a well-attended ride was the long length of the same day registration line.  At the end of the day, the official count was 79 riders, with all finishing within the time limit.  As the sun rose, Chip gave us all final instructions and promptly at 7:00 am we were off in the frosty air.  Planning clothing for this ride was a challenge.  At the start we had 32° F.  Forecast high was around 60.  Wind was forecast for anywhere between 5 and 20 mph.  That meant I use three different gloves, went from jacket to vest to long sleeve jersey, and had chemical toe warmers and full shoe wind covers that eventually came off.  I made good clothing choices, even if sometimes I was a little late in pulling them off.

Photo by Bill Beck

I love the excitement and camaraderie that is the start of these rides.  We are bunched up, riding through town, and eventually stretch out into a long line of riders.  Eight miles into the ride the first information control was at a wooden bridge with concrete jersey barriers limiting access.  I was a little irked that riders ahead of us stopped just before the jersey barriers, pulled out their control cards wrote down the answer while blocking access for all the others.  I had a different plan.  The information needed for the control was easy to remember, as was the time we arrived, and so I pressed on, completing the information on the form later.  I negotiated carefully over the wooden bridge that was full of frost, through the jersey barrier on the other side (while mounted … most walked their bikes through) and continued on, riding slowly to allow my companions to catch up.  After the first control, the riders were stretched out pretty widely.

Have I said what a gorgeous day it was?  That first hour of sunlight on the rusty oak leaves and clear blue skies is almost magical.  Good company and riding along at a comfortable pace just makes it even better.  But as pretty as it is, it is not a time to grow complacent.  At mile 38, Mike B and I were riding side by side with him on my left.  He noticed some heavy construction equipment off to the left and started dreaming and commenting about how fun it would be to operate that heavy equipment.  As he looked back over his left shoulder, he drifted right.  Yep.  He collided with me, hitting my shoulder with his, driving my left ankle into the rear spokes and pushing me off the road surface.  Suddenly I’m doing 18 mph in the grass on the shoulder and frantically trying to remain upright.  I am conscious of doing absolutely everything I can to stay upright.  I’d never live down to a third crash in less than a month and didn’t want to think about the pain of landing on a broken rib.  I made it back on the road surface upright and without slowing significantly and after Mike’s profuse apology we both laughed off the incident.  I did keep my eye on him for the rest of the ride.

Photo by Bill Beck

Soon we were entering Harrington, and looking for a place with a bathroom and water to top off our water bottles.  We encountered a street preacher with a bullhorn who was warning everyone that was passing by that the fires of hell were being fanned for all who did not confess Jesus as Lord.  He told us we needed to “obey the Gospel”.  That confused both Mike and I.  We stopped at Hardee’s, used the bathroom and filled the camelbacks.  A few miles later, in Milford, we saw Alex.  He later told us that he was mixed up and stopped at several different places thinking they were controls because so many bikes were parked out front.

During the first half of this ride, the wind was only an intermittent issue.  It was gaining in strength as the day lengthened.  When we turned a little more southerly than our general track, we had it in our face and pushed through it.  Then, when we made the turn  into Slaughter Beach, we hit wind that was a quartering headwind.  At that time Mike B and I were in a 5 person paceline (that became 4) with two riders on fixies.  The first non-information control was at a little Mom & Pop convenience store in Slaughter Beach.  Supplies on the shelf was limited to begin with, but by the time we got there, all the Snickers were gone.  Rose was the cashier, and she seemed to be having a grand old time selling out all the supplies.  She commented that most bike riders she knew ate healthy food.  She just didn’t understand why we were buying all the candy she had.  We replied with the typical Ranndoneuring answer … when you ride very long distances, you can eat what you want.  The convenience store was a real hub of activity with people coming and going and soon we pushed off with Alex and Mike C along with us.  It was then that we were riding into the teeth of a 20 mph headwind and it wasn’t very much fun.

We pushed on ahead.  We took turns in the lead, but were not very well organized.  Eventually we arrived in Milton where we stopped at Subway for a needed lunch break.  Originally, I had hoped to grab a quick bite in Milton and keep pressing on, but after encountering the wind, all of us were ready to sit down, eat, and grumble to one another about the wind.

Sucking tandem wheel.

I think there were at least 20 other riders who had the same idea.  We had a little debate among the four of us riding together whether or not we would stop at Dogfish Head brewery.  As we passed within sight of it we all sighed a deep sigh of regret that we would not be visiting today.  We anticipated much wind, and we had a tandem in front of us that cinched the desire to keep moving.  Tandems make great draft horses into a brisk wind!  We took advantage of them whenever possible.  We offered to pull for them too, but that rarely lasted long.  I noticed that when my heart rate increased, my rib hurt me more and more, and so I was frequently needing to back the pace off.  Mike B was great in his willingness to adjust with me.

Twenty miles later, we were again at a control, and it was here where many were finally shedding the next layer of clothing.  I removed my chemical toe warmers and my full shoe covers for just toe covers.  A little later on, I removed my vest and cap and was pretty happy with the clothing change through the end of the ride.  It was in Bridgeville that I got my Snickers.  The rest of the ride would be without any further controls, and we settled in for those last 40 miles.

Over the next 10 miles or so, we stopped several times.  There was a quick clothing adjustment.  There was Alex who was adjusting his seat every 5-10 miles.  He was unable to tighten the clamp on the seat stem tight enough to prevent the seat from drifting down into the tube.  When his knees started hitting his chin (slight exaggeration) he would have to stop and reset his seat.  Mike B and I sent Mike C and Alex ahead at one point because they did not bring reflective gear and it was going to be close to sunset (or after) when we finished, by our calculations.  We kept catching up to them because of Alex’s seat problem, clothing change, traffic lights, or on one occasion, Alex’s crash.  At a very sharp left hand turn (more than 90°) that was full of lose gravel, Alex went down hard.  We watched him go down from about 100 yards behind him, and got there in time to help him up, assess his injuries, and get him moving again.  That spill seemed to take the fight out of him, and he struggled a little more for the rest of the ride.

Shortly after this, we linked up with a group (including a tandem) that set a quick pace over the next 20 miles.  We hung close and believed this saved a daylight finish for us.  With about 10 miles to go to the finish, Alex started drifting back again.  His seat problem was increasing his fatigue and he was struggling as he was getting cold.  We dropped off the back of the group and the four of us pressed on.  As the sun dropped in the sky, it started to get a little cooler.  The magical light came back.  Deer started to be heard and seen on the edges of fields.  With the end in sight, I got a second wind and found it hard to hold back.  With 2 miles to go, I called Lori at the finish and alerted her and the rest that I was coming in soon.  I crossed the finish line at 4:45, not my fastest time by any means, but acceptable given the circumstances, and it was, after all, the completion of the R-12!

After party!

Lori and SPP people greeted me.  Soon Mike B, Alex, and Mike C rolled in, others came out from inside the pub, including Jeff carrying a large bottle of champagne.  We had photos and eventually made our way in to get the control cards signed and officially check in.  I’m guessing my official time is something like 10 minutes later than my actual arrival time.  We had pizza, beer, champagne, hugs, and congratulations all around.  SPP had two other riders out on the course that would finish much later, in the dark.  Our club had 19 riders, including 6 completing their first 200k, Theresa completing her 24th consecutive monthly 200k and Clint who finished his 36th.  Next month, Bryan finishes 12 and Chip finishes 48!

Unfortunately, Jeff was unable to ride because of his broken clavicle.  He learned Friday that it will require surgery.

This was a great event, and a nice accomplishment.  Many kudos go to Chip who organized it and the many volunteers who played supporting roles.  I’d like to ride this one again.

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From → Cycling

3 Comments
  1. Congratulations! 12 in a year is quite an accomplishment.

  2. Congratulations on a fantastic achievement! Where did you put your clothing layers after you shed them? The pic hints at some sort of box on the back rack of your bike.

    • ponderingpastor permalink

      I do ride with a “trunk” that attaches to my seat post when I’m anticipating clothing changes that I don’t want to stuff into pockets.

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