On Tuesday I took a "personal" day from work to ride my 200k for July. This would be the 7th 200k I have ridden this year and in each of the previous 6 I have learned something. Well, the 7th on would not disappoint me. I learned a lot during this ride.
Over to Dover is a 204k permanent that is described as "A gentle ride north through picturesque farmland and over old stone bridges with one BIG hill just before lunch". Since it is a popular perm with others that I ride with, I coordinated all the paperwork with the owner, and set out at 6:30 in the morning.
I had a very lackadaisical attitude towards this ride. I have done a lot of riding this month, and this ride would put me over 1,000 miles for July. My legs are feeling the effects of that, and like I told one of the SPP riders on Saturday, "I have 13.5 hours to do the ride, I may just take that long."
The first "mistake" I made on this ride was to plan it the morning after flying my daughter home to Virginia Beach. The flight was suppose to depart at 7:15, but did not leave until 8:30, which meant that I did not get home from the airport until 9:00 to start getting things together for the ride. I scrambled around, got the bike in the car, got the food and snacks that I needed together, plugged the Garmin into the laptop to charge, clothes to ride in and change into after the ride all ready to go for the morning and then I was in bed.
The morning of the ride came, I left the house, arrived at the Roy Rogers in Frederick with a few minutes to spare. So far so good. Figuring that I had plenty of time for this ride, I went into the Roy Rogers, which is the first control, ordered some breakfast potatoes (carbs are good, right?) so I could use that reciept for mt right of passage. It was 6:32. I got my control card signed and made my way back to the car, where I then took the bike out, put the rack pack on the bike, got the cycling shoes on, reflective gear, healmet, gloves, glasses etc. I did not leave the parking lot until about 6:50. 20 minutes wasted.
The ride started out great... the first few miles were very scenic and the roads had virtually no traffic on them. The air was cool, and after the past few weeks of hazy hot and humid weather, I enjoyed being just a little chilly as I rode. The terrain was hillier than I expected, but it wasn't hard to climb hill, but more of annoying undulations that prevented me from getting into any kind of pedaling rhythm.
At about mile 29 or so, my Garmin beeped. Low Batteries!!! Oh Crap (that is not what I REALLY said, but my Mom reads this blog, so I will not repeat what I really said) I plugged that in last night so it would charge. It was dead the other morning when I rode also... maybe the battery is bad? Why is it doing this? Well, I had another hundred miles to try to figure out in my head why the Garmin didn't cahrge. That didn't change the fact that it, at some point in the not too distant future, was going to die.
Now, some people use the Garmin to navigate during these perms, I am not one of those people. I had my cue sheet on my handle bars with my new cue sheet holder, so I knew that I would be able to finish with no problem. The Garmin finally went belly up around mile 42 or so, just before the second control stop. As I was pondering the "Why" of the dead battery, I am 99% sure that I determined the cause. At work we just got new laptops, and if you know anything about changing laptops or desktops you know that try as you may, you never get the new one "exactly" the same as the old one. You forget that you set the screen resolution from this to that because of this one program that runs better with that resolution. Or, you forget to prevent your laptop from hibernating so it can charge your Garmin overnight! Yeah, I think that is what did it, and the bad part is, that I heard the Garmin beep when the laptop hibernated, and I didn't give it a second thought.
My next thought was how to get the Garmin charged while on the ride. Maybe I would see a Staples, or even better a small computer repair shop that might have the proper cable to charge it for 1/2 hour. For those of you who have ridden this ride... you can stop laughing now. For those of you who have never been from Frederick, MD to Dover, PA... let me just say it is RRRRRRRRural. I gave up those thought when I asked at the first control if there was a computer repair shop anywhere near by and the lady told me there was a Verizon store on my way to Gettysburg. I would have to live without the Garmin... how bad could it be.
Have you ever heard the old expression, "You don't really miss something until it's gone"? Well, I realized that I rely on the Garmin a lot more that I realized. For me, the biggest thing that I missed about the Garin was not seeing the time. Doesn't sound like a big deal, but I have found that taking 1 e-cap every half hour, is critical to keep me hydrated and from not cramping up on the bike. In the heat of the day, I sometimes bump that up to every 20 minutes, but without having the Garmin on in front of me, I lost track of time... missed a few ecaps here and there, and I felt the effects. That feeling was cumulative and by the end of the ride, I was not feeling that great.
The Garmin is critical for measuring distance between turns also. Fortunately, most of the turns were at stop signs or at "T" intersections so they were easy to spot. There was one spot where I turned right and climbed a hill. I was suppose to take a right in .3 miles, but I was so glad to be at the top of the hill, and my mind was somewhere else I cruised right past the turn, down the other side of the hill and THEN realized I missed my turn. I had to turn around and climb the hill I just came down to make the turn. These are called "bonus" miles, and I try to avoid them at all costs. That happened to me one other spot, but I think over all, the bonus miles probably did not add up to more than 2 miles. Not that bad.
There were other challenges that I had to deal with. The hills. Like I said before, the hills were not too bad, but they were more of an annoyance. The "one big hill" that is advertised before lunch was formidable and was no fun climbing. and climbing it the other way after lunch was not as bad. Plus you had the nice "screaming" downhill to enjoy.
I also learned that when you ride on fresh asphalt (when I say fresh I mean, I passed the roller truck that was rolling over the top of it) your tires pick up a certain amount of stickiness, which is wonderful for helping glass stick to them and puncture your tubes. You guessed it, that is what happened to me. I came off the asphalt, and within a mile I had not just one flat, but BOTH tires were flat. I guess if I had to find the positive in this situation it would be that there was a nice shade tree with grass underneath it to sit down and change my tire under.
As with everything that I did with this ride, I took my time changing the tires. At all of the controls I sat and people watched for a little while and at lunch I lingered a little too long probably, but the little whole in the wall restaurant was a nice place to rest. I rode slow because I was in no rush. I had no reason to have to ride fast. There was no impending bad weather. There was no traffic on the road, as a matter of fact I drafed a tractor for the entire length of Possum Hollow Rd. I was not riding with anyone else that I was holding up. I just rode at my own pace.
Despite the minor issues that I had on the ride, I did thoroughly enjoy it. It seems also with each ride I have my faith in humanity restored just a bit. As I pulled into the parking lot at the final control I was walking my bike past my car and I noticed that the hazard light were flashing. Oh great, did the alarm go off and the lights kept flashing? How long have they been on? I finished up in the restaurant and came out and tried to start the car.... nothing! Ok, so I opened the hood in hopes that someone would maybe stop and see if I needed assistance. Heck, about 20 miles from the finish I dropped my water bottle... stopped, got off the bike and the only car I had seen in a few miles stopped and asked if I needed help. I guess I looked like I needed help. So no more than a couple minutes after I put my hood up, a truck with a towing trailer pulled up to tow the car right next to me. He gave me a jump and did not charge me anything for it. After telling him how many miles I had ridden he told me it was his pleasure. See that, there are good people in this world.
Not sure what I am going to do for the August 200k. I know that I am going to rest ly legs now for a while.
Thanks for reading.