Well, I would have never thought that my Saturday 200k would turn out like it did.
The Franklinton 200 has always had my number. We have never completed this route in less than 12 hr. The route was changed last year to make it more cheat proof - as if anyone of us would cheat. So, you really can't compare apples since the routes are different, but both routes are difficult and we just can't seem to make good time on it.
Saturdays riding of the route ended up to be very comical - hence the new name - the Comedy of Errors 200k.
First, our fearless leader, Pat rode his Ponchatula 200k with a rando from New Jersey, Rick. I was originally going to ride with Pat and Rick, but ended up with a lunch meeting for Friday. To pile on miles, we decided to ride Franklinton on Saturday. Alas, Pat's ride was plagued by heavy rain for the majority of the ride. They finished but due to the rain, it would have taken Pat too long to get everything ready for the Saturday 200, so he bailed on us.
Second, I wake up at Dennis' hearing wind chimes. He has wind chimes like ours that are really heavy and it takes a good wind to make them chime. As pretty as they sound, it is not a sound you want to hear getting up on a ride morning.
Third, the weather originally called for temps in the low 40s with highs in the low 50s. It was 42 when we got up, it was 38 at the ride start. The temps continued to drop during the day. I checked it several times at 36 and as dark approached it was 32. Needless to say, the cold weather was a factor in this ill fated 200. On the positive side, I was dressed perfectly. I have dialed in the appropriate layering for riding in 32-45 degree weather. I was never "cold" on the bike. Even stopping at the controls I would warm back up within the first mile. I brought a change of clothing, but unless the forecast calls for rain, I will probably not take it again as if it is going to be colder than this ride, I am not riding!
I don't think Dennis will mind me saying that he does not ride as well in the cold weather. I do not ride well in hot weather. If we could share our extremes, we would both be better off. I will say that we never ride this route unless it is very cold or very hot. When we rode this route this summer, the temp topped 118 on my cyclometer. The variance between the two rides was 80 degrees. I melted on that ride and without Dennis sharing his Gatorade, I would have died. So I felt for Dennis on Saturday as even though our extremes were different, they affect us the same.
So, Dennis and I met Leroy Richard at the Winn Dixie parking lot. Leroy is a cool dude. It is because of him that I have my CA2. Jim showed me his frame when it arrived at his shop. From that day on I coveted that frame! Leroy decked his CA2 out with a fairing and a wind sock. He looked like a yellow torpedo! I would have loved to have known what people were thinking when they passed us!
We started our typical 15 minutes late. Not sure why, but we always seem to start late. My legs were heavy the first 8 miles and I seriously thought about bagging the ride right then. I had made changes to my bike set up and could feel the differences and doubted whether I should have made them. My knees hurt right off the bat and I did not want to worry with sore knees all day. By the first control thought, the pain and weariness in my legs were gone. I am in this thing for the long haul.
We all were doing really well until we hit the Exxon in Amite. The next stretch of 8 miles is the only flat on the course. I was really hitting my stride at that point and started pulling between 15-16 mph. This was the point that I noticed Dennis started slowing down. Leroy and I slowed for him and he caught back up with us but still was not able to latch on. I was feeling really good and my head was in a good place just enjoying the ride. Slowing down did not bother me at all. I was not planning on a PR for this ride and was content just riding. This was wonderful. I wasn't even listening to my music. Even in the cold temperatures, I was just glad to be on the bike.
We got to the info control at the Feed Store. The Feed Store was actually open and we probably could have walked in and had someone sign the card for us. However, they way they were looking at us (3 recumbents - one with a full sock) made me feel very uncomfortable. I am sure they thought we were aliens!
At that point we turned north and would be headed into the wind for 30 or more miles. Personally, I did not think it was that windy. I have cycled in much worse. Relating this to my coach, Michelle Grainger, she laughed and told me I was just getting stronger and did not notice the wind as much. I hope she is right.
Along this stretch, we stopped and I checked the temperature. It had dropped to 36. I think we all thought it would warm up into the high 40s, but it sure was not in any hurry. We stopped at Nicks grocery and the guys got a bite to eat. I ate a banana and stuck with my Sustained Energy. Hammer Rocks!
We were still traveling pretty slow, but I was still feeling very good. Even in the cold, I was just enjoying myself. I did not worry about anything. I did not care that we were going slow, I did not care that it was cold. I just enjoyed being outside riding my bike. So often I am trying to go fast, to beat my best time, that I forget about just cycling. I hope I can remember that feeling as I continue to train and then ride in the trancon. That true blissful feeling is what I would like to have as I spend my time experiencing the wonder of our country.
Back to the Comedy of Errors #4: At about mile 80 or so we start up a nice incline, erh, hill. I had stopped for a bio break and was behind Dennis. I noticed that he had gotten off of his bike and was walking! I have never seen Dennis walk - not on any of the hills in Nashville. Boy he really was having a bad day - as he had a flat. Leroy had not seen us stop and continued on ahead of us. I stopped to help Dennis fix the flat. I did not do much really, just handed him the tire tool and the hand pump. It was really cold while changing the tire. My hands especially started hurting they were so cold - and I had my gloves on. Dennis had taken his gloves off so I could only imagine how cold he must have been.
We made it to the control in Kentwood with 15 minutes to spare. I had not been keeping up with the time, so I was surprised to find out we had fallen way off. Dennis decided to DNF and head back to Franklinton at the control as he knew it would be difficult for him to make the cut off. Leroy and I should be able to make it back in time. So off we went.
Comedy of Errors #5 - I noticed that I was more sluggish than I wanted to be after leaving the control and started thinking about riding at night. I hate riding at night and really did not want to. So I tell Leroy, who probably would have been done had he not waited on Dennis and I to go on ahead, I would ride in with Dennis. Well, he then informed me that some time back his Garmin battery died and he was without a cyclometer and did not know his distance between cues. Ah, the wonders of technology.
I decide to travel on with Leroy - we won't be in the dark for much more than an hour or so.
Error #6 - within 5 miles of finding Leroy without a cyclometer, my Sigma starts flashing. The entire screen is blinking at me - great. It told me when my front sensor battery needed to be changed, but apparently it does not do the same for the main monitor - Great. At mile 94 it completely crapped out. Nothing. Notta. Kaput.
Error #7 - Following Pats cuesheet!!!!! So Leroy and I are in the middle of NOWHERE trying to find the cues without knowing our distance between the cues. Fortunately/unfortunately, I know how Pats cue sheets work. He uses T junction in instances that I don't think it is a T. It is more like a -l. So, we are looking for Vernon School Road at a T junction. Dennis made the statement that it is easy to miss, so I knew it was at at not true T junction. Well, about the time we thought we should be getting to the turn, we come across an unsigned street - Great! I had only done this portion of the route once and was dying (118 degrees) when I did it. So, I couldn't remember if we had turned on this street or not. Fortunately, a car came up and we waived it down and asked if this was Vernon School road. We got lucky that the guy knew that the road was several miles further down and well marked - Good!
Error #8 - Following Pats cuesheet!!!!! So we continued on, making what seemed to be better time - without a speedometer, who the heck knew? We were on a part of the route that was part of the old route as well. We came to an intersection that said Right onto HWY 38. Well this intersection was not marked either. ARG! But we turned anyway. I really should have known better as I had ridden this part of the route multiple times, as the correct cue would have been to continue straight. So we roll on, longer than I thought we should have, but finally came to the control at Brooks Cafe, or is it Sweet Dreams Cafe???? Ah, we are at Sweet Dreams and should have been at Brooks. The nice people, who really thought we were nuts, helped us figure out where we were and where we needed to be. By this time it is dark. We would have been 30 min up on the control, but now we would have to back track some 4 or 5 miles back to the correct control in the dark and then proceed with the cue sheet in the dark without a cyclometer. Or we can cycle 2 miles down the road and pick up the cue sheet at Mt Pisgah and continue 10 ish miles to Franklinton. We decide to bag it and head home.
Error #9: So we find Mt Pisgah just fine and I scurry up the bad hill (Ha! I have had to walk this hill before - more than once and I climbed it in the dark). I notice that my light is tilting down toward the road so I pull over and at that instant my light falls into the grass! I was glad I was stopping or my light may have busted! I fix the light and swear that I heard the latch on the mount click. On we go!
Error #10: Beep! CRAP! Beep! My stupid cell phone is in the process of running out of power! Beep! Who knows if I will need it, so I turn it off.
Error #11: We are doing good and should not have any problem getting back. We are 4 miles from the end of the ride when we hit a really bad patch of pavement and POOF everything goes dark. My crappy light has taken flight and shattered in the middle or the road! Now what!!!???
Error #11: Leroy and I decide he will finish the ride. I would just call Dennis and have him pick me up. He should be able to get me without any problem. I turn on my stupid cell phone hoping I have enough power to get Dennis. Yes, he answers. I tell him that I am on the corner of 1056 and 440. Well, I did not explain that I was still on 1056 by a tree so he hurries on and is looking for me on 440. I wait. Beep! I check the temperature - 32 - Crap! Beep! Crap! And I wait. It is really cold. I consider pulling on more clothes, but I had dumped my hydropack (Error 12)in my brain box and doubted they were dry. Beep! Surely, Dennis will get here soon. It is only 4 miles to the end of the ride. And I wait. Beep! Crap! I call Dennis hoping my cell phone doesn't die. He doesn't answer! Beep! Shut up stupid phone! Ring! Dennis, yeah! We figure out that I am on 1056 and he turns around and comes to find me. I don't know where he ended up, probably half way to Kentwood! Somewhere around 30 to 40 minutes after I originally called, Dennis shows!!! Yeah!!!
So ask me how much fun I had on this ride - I had a BLAST! The Errors just made the ride more fun. I felt bad for Leroy as he could have finished this ride in 7 hours. His response was "sh!t happens" - good attitude for a randonneur. So ask me what I am doing this Saturday - Going to Franklinton to ride the Comedy of Errors 200k!!!!