Sunday, May 22, 2016

Five Songs of a Brevet: Tweeto's Revenge 200K (5/21/16)

With a cannon atop Cushing Street in Ashburnham
Also the site of the first Meeting House in Ashburnham, (probably moved when everyone complained about the GIANT hill)

Event: Tweedo's Revenge 200K
Location: Bedford -> Ashburnham -> Petersham -> Beford
Goal Time: 10:30
Actual Time: 11:02

Cano crura virimque, Cantabrigia qui primus ab oris
Bedvado, birota profugus, Novabritaniaque venit...

Last month, I had done New England Randonneurs' New Hampshire 200K with Emma, Andrew and Robbie.  Based on my zero training I had a great first 100 miles of that ride - and a really bad last 27. Well, I didn't want the sitting down twice in the three miles between Concord Centre and Hanscom again.

Thus now I sing the songs of my May brevet

Part 1 - Take it Easy: Bedford to Harvard (21 Miles)

Acton/Boxboro Town Line

Only 8 of us started the 200K at 9:00 am (the 300K started 3 hours earlier).  At mile five, when we crossed route 2, was the last time I would see another randonneur for 70 miles and 6 hours.

It was a perfect weather. And, I knew it was a long ride ahead.  So, I went back to my strategy from the 2014 300K, which is the same course except for the middle portion.  Take it easy... take easy... Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy. Easy up hills; coast down hills.  Don't get too excited, don't start racing myself.  I pulled into the first Control - the Dunks in Harvard just in time to stand behind a youth soccer team. blerg

Part 2 - What Goes Up: Harvard to Ashburnham (30 Miles)
Golf Cart Crossing - Lunenberg
Out of Harvard and then thru Devens, and then the hills start.  What goes up, must come down.... Spinning wheels round and round.* each uphill I got through knowing eventually I would be able to go down hill - eventually.

There were some beautiful parts on this portion.  The whole section through Fitchburg Reservoir was awesome.  With my legs burning, I pulled into Tweeto's Market and had two of my sandwiches and some Salt and Vinegar chips I bought.

Part 3 - Me and My Llamas: Ashburnham to Petersham (24 Miles)

Alpacas in Phillipston
Okay, so they were alpacas and not llamas and I didn't take them to the dentist (but I can't find any songs about alpacas).

This is where the 300K course and the 200K divide.  This was a beautiful section through Winchendon and Phillipston.  Included were said alpacas and the Smith Country Cheese (where I stopped and picked up some gouda.)  I made my way into the control at Petersham town Common well behind my plan, but I felt great and knew I still wouldn't have to ride that much in the dark.

Part 4 - Mary's Little Lamb: Petersham to Sterling (26 Miles)

The world's most famous lamb - Mary's - is memorialized in Sterling where the rhyme was written

The next 26 miles were going to be tough.  Over three steep hills and then the climb into Princeton.  By mile 26, I was going to need a break in Sterling, home of "Mary Had a Little Lamb." While not an official control, I still stopped at the town Common and ate a sandwich and then stopped again at Sterling Ice Cream and had a scoop of butter pecan before heading out for the last 2 hours and 30 miles.

Part 5 - Kick It In, Second Wind: Sterling to Bedford (29 Miles)

FINISHED!!! Signed revet card and new water bottle!

I left the Ice Cream stand and rode on toward Bolton and eventually Bedford.  Despite the stop and the ice cream I was still flagging.  That's when one of the guys on the 300K ride caught up with me. We chatted briefly and then he went on his way as he was riding faster than me.  But, at one point there was a long down hill and I caught up with him.  I rode behind him for a minute and then the next uphill, he started to pull away.  I was caught: Do I a) let him go again; b) try to stay with him?

C'mon and kick it in now second wind, just two more hours to go!

It was actually probably my fourth wind at this point, but I just tried to hang on every up hill and then with my extra weight on my bike (and on my bones) I would ride behind him on the downhills easily. This went on for a few more miles until two more guys from the 300K caught and passed us.  Both of us went with them.

Somewhere in the Acton/Maynard/Concord continuum, there was a split.  The two we had joined got further ahead.  And, I guess I got a fifth wind.  I spent the next mile and a half closing down the gap with them and caught them back at Route 2 and 62 - my day had come full circle.  I rode on with them and even took a pull at the front...

I lost them as they pulled away on the last two hills on Virginia, but I didn't stop and sit, so that was good.

I didn't break 10:30 or even 11 hours, but I felt good and had a great day.  It doesn't need to be faster to be funner.

* - Those actually aren't the lyrics!  Damn dog puppet from the Dot-Com Era lied to me.

One From the Vault
That time I sat on a tank in Croatia, 2009

Monday, May 2, 2016

Sitting by the Runway: New Hampshire 200K (4/30/16)

At Controle 2 - the Red Barn: Emma, Rob, Andrew and me

Event: Boston Brevet 200K
Distance: 127 miles
Ride: Bedford, MA; New Boston, NH; Temple, NH; Brookline, NH
Goal Time: 10:00
Actual Time: 10:44 (PR)

It was mile 126, I was on Virginia Road and within the confines of the Hanscom Airport.  I looked up at the hill I had to climb and thought, I can't make that, I'm going to take a rest here. So, I sat down in the sand and looked over the runway and gave myself 5 minutes before I made the last climb and rode into the finish.

I thought to myself: Self, What do you think it would be like to run a marathon without training? Miles 20-26 would probably feel like this.


I wonder if Harry S. Truman is on it
I'd like to say things started to go downhill around mile 100.  But, the truth is, even by mile 75 I knew it was going to be a long day.  But, it can probably be traced back even further: Maybe, it was the day before when my shifter cable on my already back-up bike broke? Or, maybe, Wednesday when I found out my main bike wouldn't be ready? Or, maybe, the Saturday before when the brake on my main bike broke? Or, maybe, the Monday before that when I ran the Boston Marathon? Or, maybe, the month of March when I rode fewer miles than any time since maybe 2007?


Early in the Ride
Top - Emma
Bottom - others

But, actually, things for this ride started to go down hill on December 26, 2015 while I was on an eight mile run on 8-Mile Road in Northville, MI.  During these 8 miles, I laid out my plans for the coming year; my main athletic goals were to be NYC Half Marathon, Boston Marathon, and the Boston-Portland Ride.  So it was there 790 miles away by bike (I google mapped it), that I set in motion the series of events that led me to sitting looking at the runway at Hanscom, unable to climb the last hill one mile from the end of the ride...

Andrew at a Stop with a view

So, January through March were dedicated to running.  I ran over 1000 miles from Jan 1 until the Boston Marathon.  But because of that, I only biked 100 miles during the first 3 months of the year. Without such miles, maybe a 200 km ride is too much to bite into.  Of course probably not.

Emma, Rob, Andrew and I set off in a pack.  The first leg to New Boston was relatively uneventful.

Controle 1: New Boston Town Common

The second leg took us to the halfway point and the information control.  After answering the question on the brevet card, we continued on.

This is where things started to go wrong.  By the time we got into Temple and the third controle, I was dying.  I needed some sugar or something.  I drank two Dr. Peppers.  But my stomach was starting to grumble and I was running low on energy already.


Controle #3 - Temple Store - top; Temple Town Common - bottom

As we left the Temple store, I was dragging.  I felt I needed to eat, but everytime I ate my stomach hurt more.  During the 300k two years ago, I had brought real food on the brevet with me.  This had been a good choice.  This year, in the hubbub of getting a working bike, I had neglected such a plan. So, instead all I had were Gus and Cliff Bars.

I struggled into the last controle at Brookline Elementary.  I thought the two pickle wedges I ate there were fantastic and maybe the magic juice.

Such an idea was soon struck down.  I felt like I had totally bonked at mile 100.  But, then we hit the very last bad hill into Westford Center.  I got to the top of that and I had to sit on a bench in front of the library for 5 minutes.  And at each turn through Westford and Carlisle and Concord, I would catch up with Emma and Rob and Andrew and they would coax me through the next turn.

Finally, we got into Concord Center.  Andrew was now just riding behind me and staying with me as I pulled 10 mph down 2A back toward Hanscom.  And with 3 and a half miles to go by the Orchard House, I had to pull over and sit for 5 minutes.  I sent Andrew on his way.  He asked he could come pick me up. (He's happy he didn't offer that in Westford because I might have taken him up on it there.) I'd made it this far, I was going to finish.

So I made it 2 and a half miles before I had to stop again.  And then there I was, looking over the runway and trying to get the gumption to climb the last little hill and coast down to the parking lot.

I ended up walking my bike up the hill and hopped on my bike pedaling just enough to roll forward. I coasted in to the parking lot to the cowbell that Steve (who I rode the 2011 200k with) ringing. Emma immediately handed me a slice of pizza: "You're gonna want this!" Indeed, after a coke and a slice of pizza, I was able to move around.  Andrew put my bike up on the car.

It was terrible, it was awful, but with the help of Emma, Andrew and Robbie,  I finished and even had a Person Record!  My three compatriots definitely had great training for Ironman Lake Placid and Whistler.

3 weeks until the next brevet, maybe by then I'll be trained and ready to take my revenge on the 200k with Tweeto's Revenge - but I'm not signing up before I put in some miles and do the North to New Hampshire Century.