Friday, April 30, 2010

Off to Ohio

Calvin's Challenge beckons. Weather threatens. And I keep second-guessing my choice of several-year-old Stelvios, instead of my good old reliable Marathon Racers.

Ah. well. What can possibly go wrong?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Pittsburgh Randonneurs Spring 200K 2010

Short Version:
Ah, spring; when a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of excessive pedaling.
127.68 miles, 15.8 rolling average, 9:05 elapsed time.

Jim's Finisher Photos

Long Version:
Yesterday was our inaugural ACP brevet, our spring 200K, loosely based on last year's RUSA Thrift Drug Classic 200 route. As a matter of both practicality and mercy, we removed the initial climb up world-famous Sycamore Street, so the initial leg of the route would be significantly less cruel. Bill and myself had scouted the route a couple weekends back, so no surprises were expected.

Seven riders met at Jim's house for the traditional opening festivities: myself, Alan, Dan, Kevin, and Dale all had greater or lesser degrees of randonneuring experience; Anne and Tom were both ready to enjoy their first brevets. I was pleased to see Tom was riding 'bent as well; it gets lonely, sometimes, being the only dude on a recliner on these events.

We stuck together through town and the West End Circle, so as not to lose the out-of-towners in the bowels of dahntahn Pittsburgh. Once we hit Rt 60, the long-ish climb up to Noblestown Rd quickly fractured the group.

As usual, the run to Sturgeon via Noblestown was delightful, as was Finks Run and the detour around Kelso Road's missing bridge via Donaldson and Partridge. I spent the next few miles playing leapfrog with Alan and Kevin; they'd surge ahead on the climbs of Old Steubenville Pike, then I'd power into the lead on the rollers of Potato Garden. We arrived at the sadly-now-closed Buckboard Station on Rt 151, where Dale's wife Pat was kind enough to man the controle. A signed card, refilled bottles, and a couple of delicious cookies later, and we were back on the road. I bid Alan and Kevin a fond farewell at the base of the long climb up 151; I knew darn well that my fat butt was not going to keep anywhere near their wheels on a climb of that duration. No worries; caught up again at the next controle in scenic Chester, WV. I was quite proud of myself: I managed to omit the obligatory giant teapot photograph for once.

From there, we popped across the river to pick up 39, which became 68 once we crossed back into the Keystone State. Nearly 30 miles of 68 later, just past Evans City, a quick right on Brownsdale and a stop at the also-sadly-now-closed Brownsdale Deli info controle led to the ultimate leg of the route. Alan and I had long since lost sight of Kevin, so we rolled the next few miles into North Park together. There, Alan pulled off for a few moments rest; I was smelling the barn, so pushed through to finish up in just over 9 hours. Alan was shortly behind me; Kevin, who should have finished easily under 9 hours, was misled by a cue sheet cue of questionable value to do some bonus miles. Dale, Dan, Tom, and Ann all rolled in around the 11-hour mark. 100% completion rate, and plenty of time cushion for all...a good ride.

The good: Utterly by accident, I ended up doing an almost all-liquid diet, and had no real problems. This bodes well for Calvin's Challenge, where low-residue/high-energy food shall be the order of the day.

The bad: Cramping. Despite my usual steady intake of HEED and Endurolytes, I still had to dial it back a lot for the latter half of the ride. Inner thighs and calves were both trying to lock on a regular basis. In hindsight, I suspect the primary culprit was inadequate hydration for the first half of the ride, coupled with unaccustomed high heat.

The ugly: WIND. Steady/gusty winds for the last 40 miles, mostly direct headwinds. Yeesh...I was feeling the pain, and I shudder to think of how my upright brethren felt. Tom, with his even-more-ludicrously-aero-than-my-bike Bacchetta, reported "barely noticing" the wind. The smug bugger. :-)