On Thursday I took the day off and traveled to Princeton, NJ to ride a 200k to meet my June requirement for the R-12 award. The route would take me from Princeton Junction to Belmar then southwest through Fort Dix and Pemerton, north to Cranbury and back to Princeton Junction.
I have always tried to subscribe to the "7 - P's" (Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance)and for the most part I think I properly planned for this ride fairly well. I had the cue sheet modified to my liking (color coded and larger font for the blind rider that I am), I had my food packed, ready to go, e-caps, and extra water bottle to carry in my jersey for hydration, proper clothes for the weather, I remembered to pack my bike, I was good to go. The only thing that I failed to do was look at the route in Google maps to get a "feel" for where I would be. Although this was not a 'deal breaker' in regards to the ride as a whole, it did cost me some time and frustration.
The alarm went off at 2:30 a.m. and I was on the road by 3:00 a.m. with a predetermined start time of 6:30. The Garmin (for the car) had the appropriate address typed in and it showed that my estimated arrival time was 5:52. GREAT, I would have a few minutes to get the bike out of the back seat, put the front tire and rack bag on and I would be off at exactly 6:30. I didn't do too badly in that regard. A pit stop on the way, a little traffic and some construction slowed me down a bit, but my timed ticket at the train station was 6:38. Hit Start on the Garmin and I am off to find Wallace Rd, which is a left out of the parking lot. Wait a minute, the way I came in was Washington St, not Wallace Rd. It must be on the other side of the tracks, so I rode over there, nope that isn't it either, that's Vaughn St. OK, let me ask one of the 50 commuters that I see walking towards the train. NONE of them have a clue where Wallace Rd is. Finally I turned off the Garmin on the bike and used the Garmin from the car to find the street. Now, had I properly prepared and looked at Google maps, I would have had some spacial awareness and at least headed in the right direction. For a good chuckle I have posted the Garmin data for the 1.78 miles I did in the train station parking lot.
It was 7:00 a.m. before I found the road and was headed in the right direction. I had to make one detour to the route owners house to pick up my control card in his mailbox... what if he had a bad morning and had forgotten to put it in there? The way the last half hour had gone, it wouldn't have surprised me. My worry was for not, as I rolled up to his mailbox I saw the red flag was up and not only was the control card there, but in true randonneur spirit it was even in a zip lock bag.
Now, control card in hand I headed to Belmar. This part of the ride is almost entirely flat, which is just the way I like it. One of the concerns about doing a 200k on a weekday, in New Jersey no less, was the amount of traffic that I would encounter. The owner of the route said the traffic has not been bad, but it is New Jersey, so there will be cars. I was pleasantly surprised to find that while in the more heavy populate areas, there were very nicely marked bike lanes. I was also surprised at how quickly this route brought you out of the populated area into more rural NJ.
Some of the smaller Townships have done work on their road (like putting in new pipes uderground) so there were quite a few spots of uneven and very bumpy pavement. There were other Townships along this stretch that have NOT done any work to their roads and there were lots of pot holes and sink holes. The bike needs to go into the shop for maintenance anyway, but truing the wheels has been added to the list. With the rough roads, I figured that at least one pinch flat would be in my future, but I was blessed to have no mechanical problems throughout the entire ride.
I spent a few minutes at the first control, which is on Ocean Blvd, enjoying the clean air and the view of the ocean. After doing a little sightseeing, I set out to the next control. I was afraid that I would be riding directly into the wind as I turned west off of Ocean Blvd, and I did for a brief time, but the wind really was not a factor all day.
The next control was the LUNCH control, a Wawa in New Egypt. I made a quick run into the store to get the control card signed and pick up a can of Pringle, and turkey and bacon wrap and a Gatorade. I found a small shade tree in the corner of the parking lot and enjoyed my lunch. Went back in to the store, picked up a candy bar and filled up my three water bottles. The one that I was carrying in my shirt pocket I filled with ice and then water. This did a good job of keeping me cool while riding. (for me, it is better than a sock on your neck).
The next leg brought me to the Pemberton Wawa. I arrived there at 2:30 and I knew that I just need to take a bathroom break, pick up a bottle of water, get the control card signed and away I'd go. Well, I was tired by this point, I went into the Wawa without locking my bike. I realized that it was unlocked, just as I was picking up my bottle of water, so I rushed out of the store to lock up the bike, holding the bottle of water. I locked the bike and realized that I hadn't paid for the water. Went back into the store to pay for the water and get the control card signed. Left the counter, control card and recipet in hand. Got back to the bike... I left the water on the counter. I guess that's what happens when you are tired and try to rush through a control. I took a few deep breaths, made sure that my absentmindedness was not a result of malnutrition or dehydration. I chalked it up to just being tired. I could hear Mike's words in the back of my mind "...keep on pedaling." Out of the Wawa, I took a left on the wrong road. I realized it after only about a mile. So I got to do 2 more bonus miles on this ride
I considered the next part of the route to be the 'final leg' as the control is just 7 miles from the end. The coulds began to build and I think that I was riding just behind a little rain storm. I felt a few drops, I was riding on wet road and the oncoming cars had their wipers on, but I never got caught in any substantial amounts of rain. The ride through the little towns and horse farms reminded me of the rides I did in March and April, only with out the hills. I never would have guessed that New Jersey would be so quaint and picturesque. That is why I enjoy these ride. New Jersey looks a lot different at 15 mph on a bike than it does at 65 mph behind the wheel. Anyway, I made it to Cranbury Pizza on Main St. I ordered a slice, sat down and enjoyed my post ride pizza 7 miles from the finish.
The last 7 miles had a little more traffic as I approached the train station. Overall, I found the drivers that I did encounter to be very courteous and tolerant of a bicycle on the road. I made it to the train station, got the control card signed and I beat the 11 hour mark. I was very satisfied to have my June 200k done so early in the month.
Lessons Learned: Eat a little, drink a little, keep pedaling. What a great mantra. On this ride I ate less, drank more and of course kept pedaling. The ride to Solomon's last month, I felt like I ate too much on the bike. I felt good this time. I drank a bottle of water per hour and I took an e-cap every half hour. I was taking two at the top of the hour, but I figured splitting them up would work better and I think that it did. Of course, there is the lesson of doing a little Google map research before you get someplace that you are totally unfamiliar with.
More Garmin data below.