It seems like just yesterday I was going for my first 100+ mile ride in search of breakfast. Where Point To Point weighed in as a completely different experience than last year, my second repeat Ramble ride on Sunday felt kind of like the movie ‘Groundhog Day’ where we were doing the same thing on the same day, but making little modifications here and there. Per my new routine, I woke up at 5:45, and was out the door about an hour later headed for the Mount Washington Starbucks where we loaded up with carbs and caffeine for the first leg. Cold was the word for the morning. The temperature started out around 38-39 in the city and even though it warmed up quickly, some of the descents on the west side kept us pretty cold for the first 20 miles or so. John had fingerless gloves, but Dave #1 had a pair of latex gloves stashed for mechanical work to lend and it was just enough insulation to keep him in the game. By the first convenience store we were peeling the extra layers of clothing off left and right.
There were hills everywhere, but they were all small and manageable. Throughout the day I wanted to practice with pictures so I would jump ahead and dismount to get photos as the guys went by. By 3:00pm all that sprinting started to wear on me a bit. Think I’ll bring the wife’s point-and-shoot camera for action shots next time. Again, pictures didn’t turn out exactly as I’d hoped because the clouds washed out the sky a little bit but the scenery was still nice through my polarized sunglasses. We made it to Union Bridge with plenty of time to see familiar faces from the other BBC rides at the fire hall for a late breakfast. Oddly enough I didn’t eat any pancakes or french toast. Just a little eggs, sausage, and a biscuit.
Bob and the rest of the lead pack were getting ready to leave just as we walked in. John had decided to make Union Bridge a bathroom break and keep moving. Dave #1 and I decided to eat a quick plate of food, chat for 5 minutes and take off too. Maybe 40 minutes after lunch, we caught up with John who had stopped along the side of the road a little after leaving Union Bridge to fuel up on some of his energy bars from home. We continued as a group from there on until the last rest stop. Even more than last year, I really enjoyed the quiet of the off-road sections. On several occasions I’d steer through the gravel, pedal with just enough pressure to kill the ‘freewheel click’ and listen to absolutely nothing but the occasional rustle of a squirrel in the nearby leaves. We made good time, but had just about abandoned all hope of seeing the lead group again. Visual evidence of them was confined to a few faint tracks in the unpaved sections and all afternoon we heard anecdotes from the locals at rest stops about the other pack of cyclists that had been through “about half an hour earlier” — first from girl scouts we brought Tagalong cookies to share then later from the Burger King where we stopped for our final break.
Several minor changes to the bike which need separate documentation. Performed nearly flawlessly. Trucker likes gravel.
All went smoothly with no mechanicals or other incidents until we hit the intersection for Grand Valley and came across a road closed barricade. After a second we decided to press on and take our chances. There were no obstructions until we got all the way to our next intersection where the road was completely dug up. A quick hike across the ditch and we were back on track in no time.
Turning onto the main road at Hanover Pike, the ride switched gears just like that. I remembered the rollers from last year and had made an executive decision to get through them as fast as possible. There were no turns before the BK so I broke from the group and pushed as hard as I could up each the hills. I’ll point out that “Break from the group” wasn’t anywhere near as impressive as it sounds because Dave #2 rolled in about 35 seconds after I got my helmet off and John was less than 90 seconds after him. John took a quicker break than us, had an energy gel or 2, then left for home. Dave #2 and I enjoyed a more leisurely but still quick break with extra-value meals and a water bottle refill before hitting the road one last time. Rolling again, we took in scenery we missed last year since we were in the dark for the last 2 hours and nearly got home before the sun dipped over the horizon. The B&M IXON really is a fantastic light for all-day rides. I used it as a daytime running light powered by 4 Sanyo Eneloop rechargeables, and there was still plenty of juice left for switching to high power in the dark for the last hour. Excellent square beam to illuminate the road ahead with just a little diffracted spillover for visibility from the side. It came in especially handy on Falls Rd. where there was a guy walking along the shoulder with the flow of traffic in dark clothing. Any lesser of a light and I wouldn’t have seen him in time to take the lane. We rode the last 8-10 miles after sunset but before it got pitch-black and capped it off with a quick pint and a few munchies at Alonzo’s again.
Numbers: time on bike – 8:29’ | miles – 108.0 | moving avg – 12.7 | overall avg – 11.1 | elev gain – 7468′
Thanks again for another great day all. Can’t wait to hear the stories from the other end of the pack, and looking forward to century #10 for the year in December!