For those of you wondering if I am still alive... I assure you I am. Here is the report from my Spetember 200k.
As some of you may remeber, last month for my 200k I did the Eastern Shore reversed route. Let's just say that the flats were more challenging than I expected. So this month I was determind to exact my revenge.
I planned to leave at 4:00 a.m on Sunday morning for a 7:00 a.m. start in Wallops Island. I was a little nervous that this route may get the best of me again due to poor preperation on my part. I spent the day Saturday in Cambridge taking pictures and cheering on our SPP particpants in the Chesapeake Man triathlon, and arrived home later than I had planned. Which meant that preperations for the 200k would be hurried. A quick look at weather. com showed a high of 71 for the day, 30% chance of showers and 12 - 15 mph winds out of the N/NE. I managed to get the bike in the car, floor pump, lube, clothes, helmet, sport beans, ecaps and gu chomps. I threw in my wind vest, rain jacket and arm warmers in as well and would make the decision on what to wear when I got there.
Sunday morning rolled around and I was out the door at 4:00 a.m. As I traveled down to Wallops Island on Route 50 I am noticing that all the flags are straight out from the wind, and although I do not have real good spacial awareness, I knew from the direction that I was driving in, that I would have that wind directly in my face for the last half of the ride, something that I didn't have to deal with too much last month. I thought to myself that this could be bad.
I arrived at the starting point with enough time to check weather. com again, just to get the finally idea of waht to expect. It showed that the temp would reach a high of 73 and that between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. it would be partly cloudy. After 12, it would be cloudy and the showers were forecast for 3 p.m. and later. With the chance of getting caught in rain, I rolled up my rain jacket and put it in the pocket of my wind vest. As a last minute decision I put my arm warmers on, knowing that if I got overheated I could easily roll them down or peel them off and store them very easily.
I got my right of passage recipt at 7:06 and I dwadled around with last minute preps and rolled out at 7:23. I had a GREAT tailwind as I started, I thought to myself that is most people experience headwinds no matter which direction they ride on the Eastern Shore, then there has to be someone who is experiencing tailwinds if they are riding in the opposite direction of the first guy, right. Well, I hoped to be that guy that was blessed with tailwinds both ways. Now, knowing that I am not THAT lucky, I did have a plan for this ride. I was going to do my best to keep my cadence down in the 75 - 80 range, which would save me 10 - 15 revolutions per minute, over a 10 hour ride would save me 6,000 to 7,500 revolutions. I figured my legs would thank me for that when I was fighting the headwinds to get back to the car.
I made it to the first control, which is an information control, feeling great. The next control is at mile 23 ish and I made it there feeling great also. Nothing much to say about the controls... you go in, buy what you need, ask the clerk to initial your card, they look at you funny, then they survey the card like it was some legally binding document that you were asking them to initial. They finally initial it and you are on your way.
It is about 40 miles from this control to the next control so I made sure that the camel back, and water bottles were filled and away I went. I am feeling great, ecaps every half hour, chomps and sport beans every hour, drinking water to stay hydrated AND I have a tailwaind. I could very easily have deviated from the plan and cranked up the cadence to 90 and gotten to the halfway point a little faster than I did, but I knew that on the way back I would need to dip into the suitcase of pain, and I wanted my legs to be as fresh as possible, so I took it easy to the halfway point.
I reached the halway control in 4 hours and 40 minutes. I got a random bag of pretzels, a coke (thanks again for that discovery Chip) and enjoyed that for 20 minutes and left that control at 12:23, 5 hours from when I started.
As I headed back, looking at my heading on my Garmin, it was NE. I no longer had a tailwind. It was a direct headwind and it wasn't as bad as I thought at first. I did my best to get into a good aero-dynamic position to lessen my profile in the wind. For those of you that know me, I am about as aero-dynamic as a brick, and even though I was in the drops, I felt like I was holding a piece of plywood into the wind. 75 rpm... that was what I kept saying to myself.
The route from the 2nd control to the halway control use about the same route. Seaside Rd. Stay on Seaside Rd forever. (which makes it a little more embarising that last month I missed a turn and did bonus miles.) Well, this time as I was headed out to the halfway control, I made it a point to find a landmark at that turn, so that on the way back, I wouldn't miss it again. A blue rubber pool. Left at the blue rubber pool. That was all I had to remeber.
As I pedaled back towards the next control, the headwind seemed to get stronger... or was I getting more tired? I passed the spot where I needed to take a break last month. Wow, that came up pretty quickly... only a couple more miles to the blue rubber pool. It was amazing to me, how much quicker the landmarks were coming up this time. I guess being hydrated and eating on the bike will do that for ya, huh? Well there it was... the blue rubber pool. I remember how I felt last month when I got to that pool and how much different I felt this time. I rolled into the control and spotted my ice cream freezer again. I bought my Klondike bar and coke and enjoyed them outside the control.
Up to this point there had been no rain, but looking at the sky I knew that it would be raining soon. I finished my ice cream and coke, filled the water bottles and headed to the finish. It was at mile 106 that I felt like the wind had really gotten stronger, or that I was just done and it was just me being more tired. In either case, it was a struggle to push through it. It was a race agianst the rain. Having to push through this wind was bad enough, having to do it with rain whacking you in the face would really suck. I was detrermined to beat the rain.
About a mile from the finish, it started misting, and looking of into the distance I could see the rain was coming. I pulled into the Royal Farns parking lot, which is the finish and got the bike into the car and the sky opened up and it downpoured. I later realized that by bringing my rain jacket I pretty much gaurenteed that it would not rain. Had I left it at the car... it would have rained the whole day. I was glad I missed the rain, and I was glad to be done. Garmin showed ellapsed time as 9:58 minutes, but because I didn't start right at 7:00 a.m. my recorded time will be at the 10.5 hour mark. Who cares, the point is I did not let the course get the best of me this time.... even though it tried to beat me down with the wind, I was prepared and I finished my 200k for September.
A couple of notable things to mention... riding this route solo allowed me to ride my ride. It would have been tempting to rush to the halfway point with the tailwind and had I been with someone who wanted to do that I probably would have followed. I remember riding in Ashland in January... Mike and I passed a guy that seemed to be going very slowly. Mike asked me "Does he know something that we don't"? Aparently he did, because I also remember that he was sitting in Ashland Tea and Coffee shop when we arrived. Fast is not always better, at least not for me.
Arm warmers.... I think that they were the best choice I made all day. It was cool enough to wear them most of morning and when it got warmee I just rolled them down to my wrists. As I headed back, and the weather got worse, there were sections of cooler spots and I could pull them up or roll them down as I needed.
I made a mental note on the last few miles, that I did not come in contact with one driver that was in any way rude or obviously perturbed by my presence on the roads. I was not crowded by any cars and many of the oncoming drivers were nice enough to wave.