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Boxing Day 200K

by on December 27, 2011

This Ride: 129 miles
Month: 598.6 miles
2011: 7,668.1 miles
Total since 1/1/2010: 13787.8 miles

A few weeks ago I floated the idea of a “Boxing Day” Ride to the Severn Park Peloton, and immediately had some interest.  Eventually, we decided upon Patuxent River Views and had seven riders, including the route owner.  It was nice to meet David S and to ride with him.  We discovered that preparation for this ride was made more challenging because of Christmas.  I think I usually spend somewhere between 2-3 hours prepping for a 200k, and doing that on Christmas Day was a bit more complicated for some.  We had three levels of riders out for the ride.  The top tier are capable of a very quick finish.  The middle tier (including me) can have what I refer to as a reasonable finish.  We had one rider who we knew would be pushing the maximum time limit.  I spoke with him two days before the ride about the reality that none of the other riders wanted to finish after dark, and he seemed content to ride alone.  Many of us questioned that decision, but he is persistent.

The forecast weather kept changing as the ride approached, and finally settled down to temperatures mostly in the 40’s with a brisk (15 mph) wind.  Based on the forecast, I prepared my wardrobe for the 40’s knowing that I’d be chilly at the start but I didn’t want to overheat.  I also didn’t want to take my trunk full of options.  I had a new under seat bag (Christmas gift) that was larger than usual.  It held two tubes, plenty of CO2, some food, and spare batteries.  I hoped that would be enough.  The clothing choices I made were perfect, not least of which were my “cozy feet on steroids” electric toe warmers.  A few minutes on, then 20-30 minutes off kept my toes comfortable the whole ride.  “Cozy Feet on Steroids” will be described in more detail in another post sometime later.  The wind?  It was a factor.  It blew more than 15 mph judging by the whitecaps on the Patuxent River.

We gathered at the Citgo in Harwood for the 7:00 am start, and pushed off about 10 minutes after the hour.  As usual, we were in great spirits and enjoyed watching the sunrise.  A few miles in, David S stopped to make a clothing adjustment, and within a few more miles, we parted company with Randy R and never saw him again the rest of the ride.  The remaining six riders settled in to good conversational pace punctuated by some stretches of quick paceline riding.  Bill W was noticing some intermittent noise coming from the rear of the bike, and when grinding up one of the steeper hills early in the ride, discovered that his derailleur was contacting his spokes when it broke one of them.  With six experienced riders, there were plenty of suggestions thrown around and soon we were on our way after part of the broken spoke was zip tied to another spoke, the limit screw was adjusted, and it was determined that the wheel was “true enough”.  Still, the problem was intermittently persistent through the rest of the ride.

Pautuxent River Views winds its way into Calvert County through some horse farms, McMansions, regular neighborhoods, forest, farm land, and plenty of water views.  It is an enjoyable course, and stays off the main highway for the most part.  Some of the route uses Crista’s “Sailing Down to Solomons” route, mostly on the return.  That means that especially on the return, most of the route is pretty familiar to me.  The winter scenery along the route is always engaging.  Along the return part of the ride, especially around Breezy Point, we noticed that some homeowners have not yet repaired their homes from the storm damage from Hurricane Irene that blew through earlier this year.  I rode the route last September shortly after that storm and then we encountered the persistent noise of chain saws.  All was quiet today.

Food & water stops included a Wawa at mile 36, a Subway in Dowell at mile 71, and a Convenience Store (that’s the name on the sign) in North Beach at mile 107.  As usual, we entertained the staff and customers of these places with our gaudy tight-fitting clothes, stink, and stories of unbelievable distances on a bicycle.  It is always fun to engage people with our riding in the cold, and riding these distances.  My daughter put it best just a day ago, “I don’t like driving a car 125 miles.”

Several of us struggled after the lunch break.  I struggled more than the rest.  A six inch sub is too much in my belly to begin the long gradual climb that begins at Dowell.  Our group of six stretched out some on this leg, and some time before we reached Chesapeake Beach there were two riders off the front.  I saw one buck in the fenced in area outside Chesapeake Beach.  No one else saw it because traffic was behind and passing and required more attention.  Outside of North Beach we passed the other two riders, and entered the steep hilly section of the route.  It was between Chesapeake Beach and Deale that eventually the three strongest riders went off the front, leaving three of us in the middle and Randy somewhere behind us.

My new cassette is not suited for climbs.  I need to buy a new one before the ride next Monday.  I also have a barrel adjuster that is not holding position, and so when I shift into the small front ring, the bike would not shift back into the large ring unless I stopped and readjusted the settings.  That is another minor mechanical repair needed before next Monday’s 200k.  Climbing some of the short steep hills (especially the one before Deale) was quite a challenge in the big ring with a 21 tooth cog.  I could have been on the fixie for the way it felt.

We hoped to finish before sunset, but we watched the sun go down as we were in our final stretch.  We finished 20 minutes later.  That is a day where we saw the sunrise and sunset on the bike.  Not a bad day in my book.

Mike B and I met up at Brian Boru’s for a tasty $5 burger and a couple of beers after the ride, and after showers.

I made contact with Randy’s wife and over the course of the next couple of hours, eventually, Randy decided to end his ride in Deale with only 25 minutes of time left and 8-10 miles to go in the dark on unfamiliar roads.  He called me about 9:00 pm as he was headed home in his truck.  He had missed some turns and had to walk his bike up some of the hills.  This was his second attempt at a 200k.  The first he successfully completed in November (Flatbread) on a flat course with about an hour left on the time limit.  Hills, cold, alone, wind and dark make a difference.  He gets some experience points.

Thanks go out to David S for the route and to all who rode this ride.  It was a great day to be on a bicycle with friends.

This was my R-13, my 13th consecutive month riding a sanctioned 200k.  I had my fastest speed on a bike on this ride.  My Garmin recorded a 42.4 mph peak.  I lugged the camera on the helmet nearly the whole ride, thinking I was taking stills.  As it turns out, for some reason it recorded video.  That means time is needed to process those video files and get them uploaded to a YouTube Channel.  I know I keep promising video links.  It will come at some point.

Today (Tuesday), I’m off the bike.  Clothes are washed.  Maintenance will be performed.  I’ll likely get out for an easy ride tomorrow and the rest of the week.

January 2nd is our next 200k.  We are starting in Emmettsburg for “Cumberland County Creeksides” and should have about a dozen riders out.  Long range forecast is for dry, windy, and temperatures from 30-50 F.  Oh, there is that mountain we climb too.

 

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