Wednesday, May 5, 2010
A few days have come and gone since the Boston Brevets 2010 200k ride. I have ridden the 200k a few times before, and it is always a good trip. The route has many quiet and interesting roads and there is no shortage of good company. But last Saturday was really tough. Things just weren't right and it gives me reason to rethink long distance riding for the time being.
Well here's how the day went. I was up early that morning. Claire had not slept well and everyone was a little grumpy from a poor night's rest. A lingering cold was sapping my energy still. It had been a long week for everyone. It seemed like I ought to just listen to the signs and sit the day out. For one reason or another, I decided to go.
I grabbed a quick coffee and breakfast sandwich to jump start my system on the way to the civil air terminal in Bedford. The crowd of riders was very large. I heard 80 showed up. Maybe it's the nice weather, maybe the new PBP registration requirements, who knows. We started out promptly at 7. I foolishly fell in with a large very fast group to start. We zipped along in excess of 20 mph for the first 40 or so miles, much faster than is normally sustainable for me, but drafting really helps and I was having fun chatting with friends. There were a few in the bunch who suffered with me through the torturous weather of the 110k two weeks before, and we exchanged comments about how much nicer today would be.
Zipping along, I eventually took a turn pulling and did not recover well. It was time to ride a more reasonable (slower) pace, and there were a few other riders who apparently realized the same. We cruised into the first check point in New Boston shortly thereafter.
I checked in, filled the bottles and grabbed a snack. A few riders were getting ready to go and we rolled out together. The second leg of the 200k is considerably more hilly than the first or last, and I was happy to be with riders who were familiar and sensible. And there was a tandem in the bunch, and I just love tandems. Trying to keep up with one on a downhill is near impossible, but tandems make for very good karma on a ride. One day I'll convince Nicole of how much fun a tandem is.
On Lyndeborough Road, just a few miles out, we reached a massive wash out in the road. Recent flooding damaged many areas, and that's probably what caused a 20 foot cross section of the road to disappear. There weren't any alternate directions on the cue sheet, and we discussed whether to cross the gulf or detour. At some point someone just decided to try and cross. The footing wasn't great for bike shoes, so we carefully spaced out across the ditch and passed the bikes to one another. The team work was really quite impressive.
We continued on. There were a few moments of head scratching at some intersections. Between the memories of riders and iphone navigation we found our way. Everyone in the group spaced out a little as each rode his/her own pace over the steady onslaught of hills. Occasionally we'd bump into one another. The most pleasant vista of the ride is always on Greenville Road near Mason, NH. Sure enough, you could see for miles. The view was great, but I was wiped out. I think my lingering cold was really starting to show it's effects. Thankfully, the second checkpoint was just a few miles off in Brookline. I sat for a while there and ate a ton of watermelon, a PB&J, pretzels and more. Rehydrated. People seemed to be having a good time at the stop, but I wanted to get the ride over with. I set off for the finish.
I bumped into a few riders here an there, but I rode the last section mostly solo. This was really good because I didn't feel bad stopping a couple of times to dunk my cycling cap at river crossings. That first capful of water dumped over my head was amazing. the weather was not too hot, but I was just feeling totally depleted and kind of miserable. I really just wanted to go sit in a river for the rest of the day, but that would not get me to the finish. A capful of water would have to do. Just before Westford, two familiar riders caught up to me. One in particular is always pleasant to ride with because she's very experienced and pleasant. Her partner was steadily pulling us up some of the large hills coming into Westford. After an eternity of pedaling we finally cruised into Bedford.
On paper, the ride went well; it took me just over 7.5 hours door to door. Great! But aside from that and the many friendly riders who kept me company, this was probably the most unpleasant brevet I can remember. It just wasn't my day. I felt pretty trashed for most of the ride. Why? Going out with a very fast group of hammerheads is just dumb; I'll admit that riding with that group is fun but I don't have the legs for it. I've had a cold that won't quit, and my energy is lower than usual. I'm pretty busy with work and family, and that occupies most of my mental energy. Riding is definitely a lower priority. Sure, I've been bike commuting and riding a good amount, but I don't think I can spread myself this thin and expect to ride that distance so quickly. Maybe I'll just volunteer as ride support for the longer rides. Earlier in the year, I was planning on doing the whole brevet series, right through the 600k. I just don't see that happening now. My weekends seem short and these rides take me away from home a little too much. Riding a 600k also demands more training than I am interested in doing right now. At times during the 200k, I was thinking to myself, maybe my appetite for long rides is diminishing these days. That's OK. I'm only riding for me. It only feels weird because I've always liked to get after it. Well that's it. Not the cheeriest report, but that was it.