Monday, May 12, 2008

Eastern PA 300K Brevet, Water Gap Edition

Vital Statistics: 191.43 miles, 15.1 mph rolling average, ~15K' climbing, 14:37 time.

Results(1 DNS, 100% completion!)
RBA Ride Report (added 05/13/2008)

The PA Randonneurs 300K brevet was held this past weekend out of the Weisel Hostel in Quakertown. Although the weather forecast was a bit ominous, we enjoyed sunny and partly cloudy skies for much of the day, with temperatures ranging from the high 40s to the low 60s; quite acceptable, really.

As per usual, vast quantities of oatmeal, bagels, and coffee were consumed before heading out to the porch for a brief rider meeting. The RBA, Tom Rosenbauer, cautioned us about a couple of the more exciting descents, and we were off into the morning mist. I was happy to find that my new home-brewed switching system for my lights worked as expected, although I think I'll reposition it under the seat or somewhere else less obtrusive.

The first leg took us through Bethlehem to Cherryville; nicely minimal traffic, due to the early hour. I found myself off to a slow start; not feeling bad, but a little sluggish, and a nagging sore throat that was to prove a near-constant companion for the remainder of the ride.

After a quick stop at the Turkey Hill controle, we set off on the longest leg of the route; 50 miles, including two of the big climbs and Appalachian Trail crossings. First, the climb up Little Gap, ending up with a lovely view of the mist-filled valley below:

Valley seen from top of Little Gap climb, by Blue Mountain Ski resort.

After plummeting down from Little Gap, a series of scenic rural roads led us eastward.
Abandoned house between Little Gap and Fox Gap

From there, we headed up to Rt 191 and the Fox Gap climb; however, Tom had mercy upon us this time, and routed us such that we only did the top half of Fox Gap. Small mercy, that; however, the secret controle at the top, stocked with caffeinated beverages, was a truly welcome sight.
After bombing down the hill to Portland, a quick river crossing led to Columbia (New Jersey), and a surprisingly tough little climb up from Rte 46 starting on Walnut Rd. Eventually, I found myself in Blairstown, where a peanut butter and jelly bar at the Gourmet Gallery controle provided some much-needed sustenance before the looming Millbrook climb.

The aforementioned Millbrook climb on the start of the third leg was a good tough one, but I found myself flagging badly on the subsequent bit from Millbrook Village to Walpack. Definitely hit my low point for the ride in this stretch; creeping angst had set in pretty strongly, as had a tendency to crawl up hills in the sub-4 MPH range, until I hit a lovely stretch of freshly repaved road along NPS 615 through the Water Gap park. The clean asphalt lifted my spirits enough to make the remainder of the cruise to Flat's Deli in Hainesville fairly painless.

I ordered a roast beef sandwich at Flat's; I was not expecting to receive half a cow on a bun, however. Tasty, but I ended up pitching half of it to Rob, who arrived a couple minutes after I did. After a few minutes to allow the vast quantities of beef, cheese, and veggies to find equilibrium, I set off on the return trip through the Water Gap. Got almost a quarter mile, too, before turning around to retrieve the gloves that I'd somehow forgotten on the table...
Delaware Water Gap

The last real climb lay ahead on this fourth leg. By retracing the route through Millbrook Village, I had the delightful task of scaling Old Mine Rd in the other direction; yes, the same descent labeled as scary, dangerous, use caution, etc., would now be the delightful 17% obstacle I needed to surmount in order to get back to Pennsylvania. I didn't actually drop below 2 MPH, but came fairly close to cracking that low-speed barrier; it almost certainly would have been faster for me to walk the bike, but excessive pride prohibits such indulgence. Anyway, once past that little obstacle, the rest of the leg was delightful; smooth rollers all the way down to a Delaware River crossing via I-80's walkway to Water Gap, PA, and the Water Gap Diner. There were other randonneurs (Jud and Rob), and, more importantly, there was PIE A LA MODE. No better way to fuel up for a quick jaunt to the next controle than with cherry pie and vanilla ice cream...

Water Gap to Belvidere was uneventful. I rode with Jud and Rob out of Water Gap, following the river down through Portland and back across to Belvidere and the Pizza Mia shop. We were all anxious to wrap things up, so we kept the controle stop mercifully brief and embarked on the last leg back to the hostel. There was a bit of a climb up to the top of 519, but nothing compared to earlier in the route.

We crossed the river for the last time in Riegelsville, then headed south to follow the border of Nockamixon State Park back to Weisel Hostel. Back in at 7:37 PM, and I had successfully completed my second brevet and longest ride to date. (I will confess to a desire to hop back on the bike and put in an extra 10 miles to make it a double century, but discretion proved to be the better part of valour...)

I grabbed a shower, then loaded up the car and headed home. I had every intention of making it back to da 'Burgh, but decided to play it safe and got a motel in Breezewood for three hours of much-needed sleep.

Lessons learned:
  • There really wasn't much difference for me between this ride and the 200K. As long as the hydration and nutrition were kept up, I didn't notice any deterioration in energy or comfort after about 100 miles or so. I hope this keeps up at least through the 400K, although I suspect my handling of sleep deprivation on the bike will be the next hurdle to overcome.
  • I should strive for a bit more minimalism; I carry a lot of crap, much of which is unnecessary; although a lot of the tools are nice to have, some of the excess bags and spare bits could safely be dispensed with.
  • I confirmed something I'd read, in that simply pedaling through the low points is one of the best ways to handle them. It was nice to find that even feeling utterly drained and demoralized was something from which I could rapidly recover.
  • The HEED seemed to work well, although I ended up carrying at least a half-pound more than I needed.
  • I should give up on the notion of driving home after a brevet without sleep. Highway driving is too monotonous for me to tackle it in a post-ride state.
  • Although not a problem thus far, I could probably have optimized my controle stops well enough to buy an extra 30-45 minutes without much trouble; something of which to be aware for later brevets.

1 comment:

Buckyllama said...

Fantastic ride! Very impressive average speed too over that distance.