Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Could have been worse.....

...could have been raining (from "Young Frankenstein").  On this ride it only could have been worse if the forecast for wind came true, because it was so cold that rain was impossible (it snowed instead).  My secret fear in the world of randonneuring is spending a day in the cold rain, because that is my personal "worst case" weather condition. The wind forecast was 20 MPH, with gusts to 40 MPH.  Despite waking to the howling wind, and seeing it blow leaves across the road on the drive from home, it was absent when we got to Emmitsburg MD for the start.  And the only times it kicked up during the day it was a tailwind - a gift from the gods!  Once the sun came up I even removed my balaclava briefly and went down to fingerless gloves.  On the almost 2000 foot climb on Big Flat I thought about stopping and stripping off layers.  But starting with the fast descent and for the rest of the day I was deep-down cold.  The worst was whenever we emerged from indoors - instant shivers until we were on our bikes and peddling hard again.  As a group we would group-up just inside the door, them all run out together and get to our bikes.  Unfortunately, and inevitably, there was always someone who wasn't ready to go and we stood there in the cold waiting.  Weird - at all other times I didn't feel all that cold, but I couldn't think straight most of the day and I could feel the cold warping my perception of reality.

This was the first ride since we formed our fleche team, and 4 of 5 members of the team were present among the 17 riders.  I hung out with the other three guys all day to get a feel of how we would do riding together.  Seems like a great group to spend 24 straight hours rolling down the road with.  Unfortunately, one of the guys was suffering from bronchitis and had to abandon at a restaurant 60 mile into this 127 mile ride.

The surprise of the day was finding a Naval Academy classmate of mine in the small Italian restaurant we ate lunch in.  He lives outside Carlisle PA and flies for Delta.  I'm envious that he lives in the beautiful Pennsylvania countryside that we spent most of the day in.

Overall I was happy that I successfully applied lessons learned from the last ride.  My small helmet-mounted white LED made night navigation a snap, since I could now read my cue sheet and bike computer in the dark.  Wearing a backpack was a huge convenience in that it was a great organizer and allowed me to swap out glasses and gloves as conditions changed.  The minimalist wallet I had also was a great organizer.

Funny, if you draw the routes for this, the Last Train From Clarksville perm, and the Civil War Century, it would look like a Venn diagram with this little spot between Liberty Resort and Gettysburg in the center

Weather:  Starting/ending temp: 31F.  High: low 40s
Equipment: Plastic cue sheet sleeves blew out of the clip twice, need something more grippy.  Very hard to read cue sheet in the dark with sunglasses on (no duh, but not obvious - need reading lenses).  Reflective vest might need to be replaced by a Jack Browne belt because there is little reflective on it.  Also, the flashing light-stick for my backpack is not reflective.  Still ought to put reflective tape on my rims, and still need to find a place on my bike for my hand pump once summer gets here and I ditch the backpack.
Food/drink:  Need to pre-tear powerbar wrappers, and eat/drink more frequently.

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