Sunday, April 12, 2009

Inaugural Pittsburgh Brevet: Thrift Drug 200K, 04/11/2009

First off, let me just say, from the "I hate driving AT ALL to ride, much less across the state" perspective: W00T! to local brevets.

Results, including group photo that really shows the glamourous rando lifestyle in its best light ;-)

Short version: 10:45, 125 miles, 4(!) mechanicals, headwinds and crosswinds for ~ 75% of the ride.

Long Version:
So, I got up early on Saturday, shoveled down some oatmeal and Earl Grey, and staggered out to the garage for a 6 AM departure. What's that, you say? Doesn't the ride begin at 7? Well, yes, but I'm being an (arguably) utter dumbarse and doing the ride-to-the-ride bit. No big deal: after all, I was a good do-bee the night before; packed everything, lubed the pivoting bits on brakes and derailleurs, cleaned and lubed the chain, etc. (Foreshadowing: see anything missing from this list o' prep?) A quick 10 miles to Jim's place in Shaler, marred only with a bit of early-ride knee tenderness, and I was meeting and greeting with the other hardy souls.

Bit of a mixed bag, as brevets tend to be: Jim Logan (our local Pittsburgh Randonneurs RBA), Matt Settle (RBA of ROMA), David (veteran of BMB, Cascades 1200, etc.), and myself all had prior brevets under our belt. Alan, Shane, and Jon, all first-time riders, had been participating in some of our prior distance rides; Dale, of the Mt Lebanon Caffeine and Cycling Club ("Mostly Old Guys in Tight Pants"), and George, of the Susquehanna Valley Velo Club rounded out our merry band.

We rode as a group for the first ten miles or so, in order that out-of-towners not get too horribly lost in dahntahn Pittsburgh. Made the climb up Sycamore (Alan charging to the lead), paused briefly for photos and info controle at top of Mt Washington, and we were off! Alan, Dale, and myself were feeling frisky, so we rapidly left the group behind. We set a nice, moderate pace through Carnegie and out to Sturgeon, then climbed up to Potato Garden Road. At this point, the near-continuous headwinds and crosswinds were starting to wear a bit, but we continued more-or-less undaunted down to the Buckboard Station for refreshments and our first manned control. A bit of dawdling, and Jim and Shane caught up with us as we were departing.

The nice gentle climb up 151 was acompanied by the first mechanical; Dale's tire blew, so I did the noble (hah!) thing and played workstand for his Softride whilst he did the inflation thing. Jim and Shane passed us by at that point, after making sure we were okay and taking a couple of incriminating photos.

From there, the delightful passage on Rt 30 down to Chester, Chaney's Sunoco, and the Worlds Largest Teapot was uneventful. The long descent into Chester did provide a graphic demonstration of the force of the wind, however; my usual coastdown speed on that hill is right around 40 mph or thereabouts; I was doing 32 this time. Have I mentioned the headwinds? If they were hurting me that badly, I shudder to think of my upright brethren...

Burning along Rt 68 on the flat bit of the route, I suffered my first mechanical, an delightful insta-flat. Taking a look at the tire, I was appalled (and more than a little embarassed) to see just how worn the casing had become; that tire was ready for the trash, not for an additional 70 miles. Okay, these things happen; swap out for a fresh tube, start inflating, then start swearing. The fresh tube wasn't holding air either! Upon inspection, the nominally new tube had a thin patch worn through on the side; logic would indicate that, at some point, I had changed out this tube, folded it away neatly, and utterly forgot to patch or replace it. In hindsight, that was probably sometime early last year, as it's been a long time since I had to change a tube. Anyway, I threw on a patch, and (with sinking heart, but buoyed by Alan's gift of a spare folding 23c tire "just in case") I continued on my way.

Headwinds. Crosswinds. Headwinds. Cars with cameras pointed at me, preumably due to novelty value or as evidence for later prosecution. More winds. Lots of winds. I thought that stretch of 68 was supposed to be a nice, fast, easy one...must remember to apologize to other riders for this route choise. On second thought, maybe I should avoid them for a while...

The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful. Due to my flat, plus a couple stops to push some air into the slowly deflating tire, and, eventually, to throw a tantrum and replace it with Alan's spare, I was riding solo for the latter half of the ride. I'd given up on my hopes for a sub-10 hour time, and had replaced them with a goal of feeling strong at the end of the ride. As it turned out, I was the second rider in after Jim, and was feeling a lot better than on the identical ride last week. The 300K in three weeks is not looking too daunting at this point. CTC, on the other hand...

Lessons Learned:
  1. CHECK YOUR FRICKIN' TIRES. That about covers it.
  2. I did a better job of hydration and nutrition this time around. Still had a couple of unnecessary stops for fluids (time to dig out the Camelbak, methinks), but I believe paying better attention to such things helped my overall ride significantly.
I'm out...time to deal with colicky infant. My tolerance for adversity gained through randonneuring is coming in handy as a parent...

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