Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Biking Among Unknown Men: The Rock to P-Town (6/22/19)

Cape Cod National Seashore, Wellfleet

Ride: Plymouth to Provincetown
Distance: 90 miles (98 for the day)
Sights: Plymouth Rock, Cape Cod Canal, Cape Cod National Seashore
Pivo Index: 4

I biked among unknown men, 
In lands beside the sea; 
New England! did I know till then 
What love I bore to thee. 

Originally, my goal had been to join CRW for the Cape In a Day Ride.  But, alas, I could ne’er get my shit together.  Instead, I chose to take the train from South Station down to Plymouth.  Then I would ride the 90-ish miles to Provincetown to catch the 7:30 ferry. Doing arithmetic on the train, I calculated I could average 10 mph with stops and still have plenty of time to make the ferry.  This need not to a speeding 6 hour century nor a long hard 10 hour brevets.  Instead it was much more a ramble.  I was leaving on a journey of which William Wordsworth would have been proud.

Wordsworth’s Romantism, born of the Enlightenment, praised being alone on journeys through nature and through the ruins of England’s non-Enlightened past.  The ruins of abbeys and castles were not symbols of gods and heroes, but wreckage of a different era to be reinterpreted by its current status as a piece of art here and now.   

Pulling into Plymouth’s platform-amidst a-parking-lot type station, I bid farewell to another cyclist who was doing some miles through Miles Standish State Park.  Like all trips to Plymouth, my first stop was Plymouth Rock at mile 2.5. Per the park ranger, Plymouth Rock is the smallest Massachusetts State Park (20’ x 20’) and the most visited (1.3 MILLION people a year).

Plymouth Rock, Plymouth
I left the Rock and started heading South toward the Sagamore Bridge.  Only 17 miles in, I found the Sagamore, in all its horrifying glory.  A Depression era infrastructure project, the Sagamore Bridge at 200 feet above the Cape Cod Canal.  There is no place to ride your bike except the sidewalk.  But that isn’t divided from the road by anything.  So, it’s a gentle reminder of either plummeting hundreds of feet to your death in the Canal or falling only 2 feet into the roadway to get your cranium smashed by traffic going 50mph.

Sagamore Bridge, Cape Cod
Lines Composed High Above the Cape Cod Canal
One year has passed; one summer, with the length

Of one long winter! And again I hear
These waters, canal streaming from bay to sea.
With the loud roadway clamor, once again
Do I behold the steep and lofty spans,
That does on this PWA scene impress.
The scaffolding of cantilevers braces taut
To hold the cars and trucks escaping
The rat race and ride to coasts of summer idylls.

One year ago I joined the crew as we rode from Union Station, Providence to Macmillan Wharf, Provincetown.  The lovely #beattheferry ride took us 135 miles through two states and the length of the Cape.  Here I was again, crossing the Canal.  In pure fear and riding by myself, I walked over the canal.  Both the CRW route and Bike Route 1, ride away from Route 6 to state 6A. But eventually you are carried back under the big road and onto the 6A “Service Road”.  The Service Road is a quiet and rolly bit of road whilst everyone else drives as quickly as they can toward the outer cape.  The motorcycles sharing the same desire for open carless road were the only companions.

Into Hyannis, I made my first stop at Cape Cod Beer for a flight-ish thing and a lobster roll.

First four-ounce pour was Cranberry Harvest
Refreshing and fruity but not too sweet,
Followed next by tasting Cape Cod Porter
A balanced dark as e’er you should meet.

A black again, R&R Tropical
New take upon someone’s isle extra stout,
Ahead on now to Cape Cod Red, of which
Was not there best – by this I do not doubt.

An imperial IPA was next
And the Bitter End of the beery stroll
Matched perfectly with my ride’s only meal -
A delicious buttery lobster roll

Lobster Roll, Cape Cod Beer, Hyannis
The next section took me off CRW’s route.  In Yarmouth, I headed south to hop upon the Cape Cod Rail Trail.  Rail Trails are both a wonderful and dreadful thing for cyclists.  The provide off road transportation where you don’t have to fight with cars and lights, etc.  However, for many cyclists looking to ride fast, they can be horrible.  They are narrow and congested and everyone from kids to dogs to adults on rented bikes swing and swerve about.  I personally love them and ride them whenever and wherever I can.  But, I get that most times it’s faster to ride on the road.

Cape Cod Rail Trail
The Rail-to-Trail movement is similar to the Romantic movement.  What if we took away the previous eras subjugation to the Surburban Robert Moses driven gods of gasoline and let people move about their community without having to create emissions?  And what if we did it upon the ruins of the first Industrial Revolution, the now rejected and forgotten railroads?  Indeed, upon my bike I can start like Whitman walking the city streets and bathing the in theurban mists; but then escape like Wordsworth to “come among these hills.”

Devil's Purse, Dennis

My first stop along the Cape Cod Rail Trail was Devil’s Purse in Dennis.  I had hoped to get another snack, but there was little to be had.  Yet, they did have a very good Stonehorse Citra IPA – hazy and Grapefruity. 

The next stop was at mile 57, the Hog Island Brewery.  The plan was to have a nice relaxed lunch while I tried a flight of their beers.  Well, between the crappy beer, the rude staff and the fact that the kitchen apparently closes at 3:12 in the afternoon, it was great! 

The bartender at the brewery bar was not rude.  She was actually very nice; she made sure that I got the Far Out Stout because it was the “best” one they had.  (And by “best” she meant only thing of the beers that anyone should actually pay for.)

Hog Island Brewery, Orleans
I took my paddle of middling pale ales to a table and sat down.  The people across from me had a little pager thing and it soon buzzed and lit up.  They went to the full bar that wasn’t the brewery and picked up food.  It smelled delicious.  The people handed me their menu and I perused it.  I figured some fatty fries and chicken tenders would be a good meal here.  So I went up to the full bar, menu in hand.

I got the bartender and looking at the menu I said: “Hey could I get…”

She cut me off angrily with, “THE KITCHEN’S CLOSED!”

Of course, it’s 3:12 on a Saturday and the lawn area is packed.  Why would you want to sell all those people food, or be nice to people who might buy more beverages from you? I always forget how weird the Cape is: a tourism based economy where they make sure to let the tourist know they are unwanted. 

Having no food at mile 57 is bad; but, what’s worse is people, who had managed to order food before that magic 3:12 cutoff time, were still getting food and I was getting hungrier and hungrier.

100 Miles from Boston

I left there in a fantastic mood and so happy I had given them my money…. My next stop was a deli after the trail at mile 68.  It apparently didn’t take cards – cash or check only (check?). Fortunately they had an ATM; unfortunately said ATM had no cash in it. Awesome…

“Miles to go before I eat…”

But it’s now just past 4:30 and I only had about 20 something miles left.  I figured I could average around 14 mph and then pull into P-Town by 6, then get a burger at the Post Office. But alas, this was not to be.  With limited energy from limited food, the hills of Wellfleet and Truro were just too much.*  I could never get up any speed. 

But I had to remove myself from such worries as food and carry on enjoying the seascapes.  The ride weaves in and out of the National Seashore.  The salty smell of the breeze is that thing that carries people to water.  The roads had the windswept sands encroaching upon the edges of the black top.  I made sure to stop and enjoy the view and the dunes.  If I wasn’t going to refresh with food, I would with the sea.

Address to the Ocean
'How long will ye round me be roaring', 
Once terrible waves of the sea? 
While I on my bike ride exploring 
The sweet smells of ocean spray on me. 

By Mile 85, the hills had been made low and the rough places plain.  I was riding the long stretch that strands like a necklace along the bayside of Truro.  Little cabins and private beaches carry touch each other one after the other.  It was now 6:00.  I had no chance to get a burger.  I stopped at a convenience store that did take cards.  I got gummy bears, Cape Cod chips and a Dr. Pepper. Sitting on the bench outside, I refueled enough to carry me into town.  


I pulled in at 6:45. I still stopped at the Post Office and got a Cape Cod IPA, before hoping the Boston Ferry, left to “enjoy the sunset, the pouring-in of the flood-tide, the falling-back to the sea of the ebb-tide.”

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze
~ William Wordsworth

*- I later (two days later) determined that I also had a slow leak in my back tire.  I’m certain this was also sapping energy but I just didn’t know it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A Hero's Journey: A Windy City Odessey (10/7/18)

Urvi and I on Navy Pier
Race: Chicago Marathon
Goal Time: 4:00
Actual Time: 4:49

(translation of a recently disovered manuscript in the Meteora monasteries from Greek heroic hexameter.)

Sing of legs and man from Cantapontem!
Who came west to these Wolverine lake shores,
destined to run in the City of Winds
and plowed the asphalt fields from the Loop
to Boystown and to Little Italy.
Driven by the rage of blonde Demeter
his knee bore bony battles of Greektown
and Pilsen t'ward the finish in Grant Park.

So, Kalliope, Chief of all Muses,
remind me of Iessai of the morning,
and how he overcame the Sheep-Bearer,
with assistance of fleet footed Hermes
to travel the turbulent travails
Pheidippides once ran in Attika.

Willis (Sears) Tower
Blonde Demeter, from her art-deco mount,
watched with ire as Iessai ran down Halsted -
at the home of flaming saganaki.
She dashed to Olympus, her former home.
and called to Zeus, "Oh Brother, King of Gods,
from my aerie atop the Board of Trade,
I watch with anger as morning Iessai
who once disturbed my sacred rams at Vik,
now race thru my Illini city streets.
To finish with glory would spoil and mar
my sacred pastures in the icy North."

The Cloud-Gatherer answered his sister,
"Giver of Goodly Fruits, Iessai disturbed
your sacred rams and ewes six summers ere;
for one last time you may punish him thus.
I will allow you to keep him from fame,
but he must [fragment missing]

Bad photo of medal

Thus lovely crowned Demeter spirited
back to her home away from Olympus.
She saw Iessai was drinking Gatorade
on Adams sea toward Santorini.
Though born of the morning star, mortal and
knit together through joints and ligaments
was he.  When dipped into the Karolos
as a boy, it left his MCL vulnerable.
To this point the Bringer of Seasons struck.

Thus like a poisoned dart as Iessai turned
onto Halsted his knee was pierced in pain.
His gait went from Olympic to a limp.
The previous 17 miles now struck
knee and hamstrings brought him down to a walk.
As he fought between running and walking
Iessai combatted urges to stop and sit.
By 17.5, he could not.
At the lair of Illinois Chicago
embattled Iessai sat upon the curb.

Race winner, Sir Mo Farah making an appearance at our tent.

An archon approached, "You need assistance?"
Iessai declined. And the archon then asked:
"How has this race gone for you until now?"
"Leaving the chariot," Iessai began,
"Eos streched her rosy fingers over
the lake, we awaited the call to arms
as the gates closed and athletes climed fences
high as the mighty walls of Troy once were.

"Upon the launch of Apollo's arrow
the athletes, more than thirty thousand strong,
furiously charged the up wide Via Colon
and into the Chicago catacombs.
An easy pace, I ran behind Brendan,
but had to let him speed away ahead.
After the [fragment missing]...
... like snakes ... aged Anchises..."

And thus Iessai continued his story:
"By 15k, I had to stop again.
The knee had started to hobble a bit;
My hamstrings started to waddle a bit.
I whisked away from the field of battle
and on a wobbly gate, I stretched my knee.
Then heard my name and looked around to see,
Victor, from the Land of Trolley-Dodgers,
with Batavian Flor and Megan too.
Megan and I around mile 10
"Thither I dashed to join them on the road
the next two miles running concurrently -
serpentine shape slithering and sluicing
like a black and gold river over rocks
through the host of heroes battling the race.
We saw the Old Town and our Stop and Shop.
By the eleventh mile, it was no more.
I had to drop away from the phalanx
of the golden hoplites of Saint-Omer.

"By mile 12 I sat and watch the L train
for a while before battling forward
to West Loop where I stopped again to rest.
My knee was now thus a real problem;
I considered whereabouts of the L;
considered wherewithal of surrender.

Mile 12.4

"Is it dark before rosy fingered dawn?
Perhaps; I perchanced to be passed by yet
another of mine own golden hoplites.
Liz dashed by with an air of confidence;
whilst I could not maintain her pace, she got
me from that place, heading to better space.
And back through Greektown and saganaki,
I went." Iessai paused to stretch out his knee.
"Then I was struck by a bow's iron arrow tip,
I hobbled here and look for the L home"

As wounded Iessai wound up his epic,
the Archon nodded a touched his tortoise
shell shades, and began speaking in god-like
voice, "So now you sit here building defeat!
Blinded and oblivious to your fate!
King of Gods - whose power sways Earth and sky -
sent me down here from brilliant Olympus,
bearing commands for you to race the winds.
If glorious destiny cannot fire
your spirit, perhaps the fires of the Blaze
commemorated here for hundred years
can move you on toward fateful fortune!"
With these holy orders still on his lips,
the Archon vanished.  Iessai now knew
it had been fleet of foot, tricky Hermes.

Wounded Iessai arose to continue,
like Agios Yiorgios his battle
would start taming flaming firedrake.
Thus with just the power of will he stopped,
and forced Sparky D. Dragon to submit.
Driven by duty now, Iessai moved on
t'ward shops of Italia Minor.
Emboldened by beating machinations
of Demeter, Iessai fought with himself.
Each desire to stop met with a walk
then back to a run until he could not.

Sparky D. Dragon and I

But fleet Hermes had a trick up his sleeve.
Chicanos of Pilsen were out in droves
cheering all athletes but Iessai saw them
as carrying him.  The Sheep Bearer had not
given up her quest to avenge her rams.
And as wounded Iessai crossed Charon's bridge
on Cernak, Demeter's daughter lashed out.

Another pain drove into Iessai's knee,
he couldn't turn over or bend for the run.
And he found a port bench on which to sit.
Shy of 21 miles - five more to go -
Iessai had descended down to Hades,
in the dark thoughts, perhaps ne'er to return.
Persephone roamed the harvest belt
and now in the guise of a volunteer
offered wounded Iessai a banana
and pomegranate juice. Iessai declined
knowing the fruits would offer return
to the land of the living nor finish.

The bench I sat at for far too long

Once he rested his skin-clad human ship
and strengthened the the boat's ligament-built ropes,
Wounded Iessai left the land of dead,
bid farewell to his bench, made for Sina
and built back his speed. Hoping to finish
in fewer than five hours, ran faster
thru Sina and the South Side of the Sox.
And was shocked he'd made it to 24!

But, alas, Demeter had another
pain shot through his knee, at twenty-four - five,
hobbled Iessai was forced to stop again.
An archon said he could walk to the end.
Iessai nodded but replied, "I'll just rest
until I'm ready to run." Iessa knew
Hermes was with him and wanted him done.
His destiny was to run to the end.

Jo Ann and I at mile 25.5 
Up the broad, wide Michigan Avenue,
spectators cheered all the athletes with beer.
Iessai continued his hobble and wobble.
Stopping here for a picture with Jo Ann
(While Jo Ann's friends questioned his choice this late),
High fiving there some children on course.
With a half mile to go, with one last hill,
wounded Iessai fought slowly as runners passed.
But in the home stretch, rugged Ithaki
came into view.  A giant red banner:
the end was a blast and FINISH, at last.

Some of the SRR finishers - Chris, Robert, Liz, me, Brendan, John, Keiran and Pickle

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Downward Cascade: Jack and Jill Half Marathon and the PNW

SRR at the finish line

Event: Jack and Jill Half Marathon
Goal Time: 1:30:00
Actual Time: 1:32:20 (Strava GAP: 1:35:06)
Location: Cascade Mountains, Washington State

Jack and Jill is a clever name for a downhill marathon/half marathon.  Although, I neither wanted to fall down, nor break my crown.  I always thought the Jack & Jill was a Scots-Irish Appalachia rhyme.  Turns out that's not true.

The first publication of the nursery rhyme was in 1765.  And while there are several theories about the source of the rhyme - from child born out of wedlock to being based on the great Icelandic poet, Snorri Sturluson.  But in my research, I found my favorite.  (Favorite meaning the one I liked best, not the one I felt there was the most evidence for); I'll sum it up:

Charles I of England and Scotland was in desperate need of money all the time.  He also conflicted with Parliament all the time in requesting taxes.  Parliament demanded he do more to support the Protestant cause during what is now called the Thirty Years' War and they demanded some oversight on the King's choice of advisers.  One of the taxes the king proposed was to increase the tax on ale/whisky/wine.  A jack was 1/8 of a pint; while a gill (with a soft G) was 1/4 of a pint.  When this tax was rejected by Parliament, the King instead moved to make both a jack and a gill smaller, thus increasing the per fluid oz tax on ale. This attempt (and others) to circumvent Parliament led to the English Civil War.  After Cromwell and the new Mercantile Class and returning Thirty Years' War veterans combined against the King, Charles lost his head in Parliamentary sponsored regicide.
Thus, Charles broke his crown over Jack and Jill. 
Of course there are many loose ends here and I'm sure it's all bs. Where does the vinegar and paper come in?  Maybe this jack/gill thing from 1625 was the beginning but is that really what broke his crown? What about the multitude of other complaints leading to the Petition of Right three years later? And what about the 24 years between the jack/gill controversy and the actual regicide?

And now you're like: Yeah, and what about that half marathon?

The race was at 6:30, which required an O-Dark-Thirty wake up.  After parking on a field in a random state park, we loaded onto a shuttle bus, where the driver wasn't 100% certain where we were going.  (This is how a lot of horror movies start). After some frightful moments where she called out with no response, to the world over a staticy radio, we made it to the half-marathon drop-off.

But this wasn't the start line. Per the Jack and Jill website:

"Half Marathon runners will be bused from the finish area (the same finish area as the full marathoners) to the half marathon bus drop. Buses will drop runners at the bottom of the Garcia trail and runners will need to hike up a one mile trail/road to the start area.  Trust us...this half marathon is worth the hike!"

Brian, Urvi, Melissa, Kevin and I started on the steep hike up the Garcia "trail" (really a dirt road) along with the others who had been on our bus.  About a quarter of the way up, a van stopped.  The Wahoo Runners had rented a van and had plenty of room for all of us from our shuttle bus - WAHOO!

The race is all on a gravel rail-to-trail that comes downhill out of the Cascades:  The John Wayne Pioneer Trail and the Snoqualmie River Trail.  (Snoqualmie River drops into the Snoqualmie Falls which is part of the TV show Twin Peaks).  The trail is not too bad as far as big gravel rocks, but about half way through the half marathon it splits into more of a jeep track than a trail.  So you have to stay right or left of a median of grass.  Along the way the trail crosses old railroad bridges that are both glorious and disconcerting in height.  The beauty of the Cascade region might slow you down a bit as you stop and smell the evergreens. And the full marathon has a two mile tunnel.

Snoqualmie Falls
There were not a lot of people doing the half marathon, so with my 1:30 goal I was in the second row at the start line.  A couple guys, including a 16 year old who would eventually win with a 1:20, took off like bats outta hell.  I took a few strides with them before I got my mind and pace right.

By Mile 2, there was nobody in sight.  Over the next 2 or 3 miles, about three people passed me who obviously had a negative split in mind.  But other than that, nada.  The first third, I managed to keep my goal pace around the 6:55 mark.  But then something happened to me in the second third.  I tried to put in an "iota" more of effort, but there was nothing there.  I slowed to miles between 7:10-7:25.  Then there was a weird bit through Rattlesnake Lake State Park that was like chicanes at Monte Carlo.

Two Boston high school guys meet again after 25 years, at the end of a marathon in a random state park in Washington State
Josh W. & I

Coming out of "the Snake," I was able to drop the pace again somehow.  The next 4 miles I kept under 7 min miles.  In miles 11 and 12 I managed to pass two and a half people (one of them was not in the race but he was running at a good clip, it took a while to catch and pass him.) After the 12 mile mark there was one more guy in the distance who I was closing on.  I probably closed 20 seconds on him in that last mile.  He probably had had a 40 second lead on me going into the last mile.  So I finished in 11th Overall and 4th in my age group.

Even with the higher temps and the adjustment for the all downhill, I am still leaps and bounds ahead of the Houston Half in January.  But still leaps and bounds behind this time in 2016.

I was the first SRR to finish.  So that let me cheer in Brian and Melissa to their age group awards; Kevin to his first half marathon finish and Urvi into her best half in two years.  Then the marathoners came in: Barry, Josh (whith a huge PR), Deb and Nichole, Scott, and Seth.

Melissa and BLav with their Second Place age group medals.

24 Hours in Seattle

Chihuly Museum and Garden

Safeco Field

Urvi, BLav, Nichole and I at the Space Needle

48 Hours in Olympic National Park

Hole in the Wall, Rialto Beach

Sol Duc Hot Springs

World's Largest Spruce

Sunrise Point
Lake Crescent

Hurricane Ridge

24 Hours in Portland

Heavenly Falls, Portland Japanese Garden

Dinner at Rogue

Portland International Test Rose Garden

Peggy the Train, World Forest Museum

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Prov2Prov: Beat the Ferry (6/30/18)

Riding the Canal Trail toward the Bourne Bridge
Event: Beat the Ferry: Providence to Provincetown
Distance: 145 miles
Moving Time: 9:19:05
Elapsed Time: 11:43:13

Providence to Provincetown map
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to take the first train from South Station at 0645 to Providence, RI - arriving at 0755.  Then cycle 234km (145 mi) in 12 hours or overall average of 19.5km/h (12 mph) and catch the last ferry back to Boston at 2030.

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I took the red line from Central to South Station and then met up with five others to get down to Providence.  Rami, Glen, Moshem, John and Ben (who was a member of the train gang from the CRW Century).

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Heading out of Providence we caught the East Bay trail down the eastside of the Gansett.  This trail is the main part of the Providence Marathon so it was fun to do the miles on bike rather than foot.  The temps were still cool as we shifted from shaded wooded sections of the trail to cool seabreeze sections.

At the end of the trail we headed over the Mt. Hope suspension bridge in Bristol - which was nerve wracking to say the least.  The first 20 miles, my inflamed knee fired shooting pains up and down my leg.  I had a bailout plan to return to Providence or push onto Plymouth if I was forced to retire.

Soon we left the Ocean State for the Bay State.

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After the urban jungle, surprise cobblestones and highway bridges of New Bedford, we caught the Phoenix Rail Trail in Fairhaven - another beautiful trail that mixes tidal marshes and woods.

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Once off the Phoenix trail, we rode through the towns of Wareham and Onset and onto the Cape Cod Canal trail.  The massive sugar intake from Gu and Cliff bars and Tailwind had started to hit my stomach.  And the views of the Bourne Bridge that we would have to cross merely exasperated the rumbly tumbly tummy.  I kept temporarily placating my stomach with some salty peanuts I'd bought at Cumby's in Wareham, but it would return with a vengeance a mile later.

Over the bridge we continued to the northern entrance of the canal.  And while I tried to stay with everyone I kept dropping off the back.  I was not feeling well, but I wasn't getting worse so I thought if I just got to the next rest stop...

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By the time we pulled into the Optimist Cafe in Yarmouthport, I was worried that I would have to bail because of my stomach.  Then the Optimist was closed.  So we crossed the street to the historic Hallet's restaurant (founded in 1889).  Their meatball sub was exactly what my turnover stomach had needed.  After that lunch break, I was fit and ready to finish.

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Coming out of Yarmouth, we caught the Cape Cod Rail Trail through the center of the Cape from Brewster to Wellfleet. This gorgeous trail through sandy woods and state parks was not crowded.  We met up with Ben's aunt and uncle on the trail.

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The final rest stop was PB Boulangerie Bistro in South Wellfleet.  This bustling bakery and bistro had a rocking quiche Loraine that I ate in two bites.

On the road into Wellfleet Center, we caught back up to Glen who had been having some cramping issues and had had problems on the hills through the Cape.  Rami got him into Wellfleet where Glen could Uber into PTown and still catch the ferry.

Me, Moshe, Ben and Rami at the Post Office Cafe, P-Town
At 7:30 I came over a hill in Truro and saw the spire of the Pilgrim Monument in the hot hazy horizon.  We were going to make it!  I picked up he pace - never dropping much below 20 mph - until we hit the crowds and mayhem of Provincetown.

The four of us who rode the whole way, found John and Glen who'd each been forced to finish the trip by bus or Uber.  After a pint at Post Office Cafe we clambered aboard the Fast Ferry bound for home.

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Mission, Successful. Ferry Beat.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Montes Homini Lupus Sunt: B2VT Iron Distance (6/9/18)

Thru Vermont

Ride: B2VT Iron Distance
Distance: 113 miles
Moving Time: 7:19:08
Elapsed Time: 8:57:04
Pivo Index: 2
Map and Profile

Tyson Road, Reading, VT 

At the final water stop we had been told it was only 5 more miles of climbing.  That was good since much of the previous 10 miles had been long not too steep climbs.  I was ready for the down hill off of Tyson Road and down into Okemo.

What they did not tell us was exactly how steep those 5 miles would be or that it was really six and a half miles...

As I fought my way up the road, about 4 and a half miles up, a group came by me.  And there I heard the telltale: "looking good Jesse."  I didn't know these people but they had read it off the bib number on my back.  There is one thing for certain, you only tell people they are looking good is when they aren't.

BLav and the Bear -
It's like a 70s buddy comedy

My legs were dead; I was shifting side to side.  And all I could think was, "thank god I'm only doing the 113 miler and not the full 149."

Cambridge, MA

Two weeks before, we received an email. There would be construction on the route between the final water stop in Belows Falls and Okemo.  The organizers, thus, were rerouting the ride.  So those who had registered for the 136 mile ride could either ride 149 miles or drop down to the Century which would now be the "Iron Distance" 113 mile ride.

I chose the latter.

Urvi's pic of me - before I knew what was about to come

Discourses on Leviathan while riding on Leviathan - Chesterfield, NH

Leaving Ashby, we had a nice 38 mile warm up before that monster climb - Leviathan.  En route to it, all the guys we knew riding from the 149 start passed us - Joe, Patrick, Rory and Dave.

"There is no such thing as the Tranquility of mind" so as I made the Leviathan climb, I could only think of Hobbes' Leviathan.  And a man dead nearly 350 years, offered assistance - either by motivation or by distraction - to the top of a mount in New Hampshire.

"The condition of man is a condition of war of every one against every one."
By the time we made the right hand turn, the group we were with had begun to split up.  In what had been a group effort to get the bottom became a free for all of man against man to get to the top.

"Hell is truth seen too late." 
And this hill, while not as hard as Tyson Road, was an early reminder of a pretty simple truth - I had not done enough training.  But it was too late.

Atop Leviathan

“Covenants, without the sword, are but words and of no strength to secure a man at all.”
Probably the main issue is that unlike marathoning, I didn't have the same direct forcefulness to me.  The sword of the impending marathon is so much stronger than the dagger of the impending Century ride.

“For it can never be that war shall preserve life, and peace destroy it.”
This battle of all against all (that really wasn't - seriously most people around me were just trying to make it to the top), every pedal stroke was destroying quads.  There was no hope to save strength for later each of these strokes was one that would not return later in the ride.

“Fear of things invisible is the natural seed of that which every one in himself calleth religion.” 
Slowly the fear of Leviathan dissipated.  I could handle this average 4% grade; I could handle the

“War consisteth not in battle only,or the act of fighting;but in a tract of time,wherein the will to contend by battle is sufficiently known.”
So, by halfway up, with the superstitions and fears of Leviathan gone, I looked to controlling it.  A sign passed that said 2 miles to go.  I knew if I took it smartly, I could make it.

"Hurt inflicted, if lesse than the benefit of transgressing, is not punishment"
Each pedal stroke was not the agony of destruction but now the step to the top.  Each hurt was not punishment but hurrah to another rung to the top.

“Respice finem; that is to say, in all your actions, look often upon what you would have, as the thing that directs all your thoughts in the way to attain it.” 
I knew how much I had to climb, I knew the water stop in Chesterfield was near.  So I traded between sitting when the slope was gentle and standing emulating Contador (only in mine own head I'm sure) when the rise was steep.

Rivers of Vermont

“Fact be virtuous, or vicious, as Fortune pleaseth”
One mile to go was both virtuous and vicious.  I was 80% done; but I still had one mile of slope and climb to ride. 

"For Appetite with an opinion of attaining, is called HOPE."
Eventually, I knew I would make it.  There spero pushed its way as a pacer.  I chased with not only desire to finish but expectation.  And then over the mat at the top I briefly was going to exult my success an  exhalt my mini-victory by thrusting my arms into the air.  Yet there were still 70 miles to go and the mat was a raised enough bump that I worried I would fall.

“I often observe the absurdity of dreams, but never dream of the absurdity of my waking thoughts.” 
As I sat under a large maple at the Chesterfield Fire Department I reflected up the Leviathan climb:

It was solitary and it was nasty and it was brutish; but, alas, it was not short.

Bellows Falls, VT

Thinking Thucydides on Tyson Road

Many of the lessons of Leviathan that could be teased out of Leviathan had been learned.  Sadly not many of them could have been implemented by this time. 

Exhausted and weakened and now left with but one goal, finishing.

Yet, with no Hobbes to help, I was left only with Thucydides: "strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must."

Weak and humbled I climbed to the top of 5 miles of Tyson Road, just to make a turn and see MORE CLIMBING to the top of Tyson Road.  And then after charging up that with my last ounce of strength, I made a turn to find yet one last climb to finally top out five mile hill 1000 foot hill of Tyson Road (at more like 6 miles and 1100 feet of climbing).

The last section was just suffering what I must. I sat down and pushed what I could and thought: my "swaying bodies reflected the agitation of my mind, and I suffered the worst agony of all, ever just within the reach of safety or just on the point of destruction."

Okemo, VT

After Tyson, it was fast and easy (except for the slight climb to the finish).  Brian met me at the finish and we headed to BBQ and Sam Adams IPAs with the boys.

Dave, Brian, Rory, Patrick and I stand around Joe

Rory won second in his age group
Patrick took third in his.