Ride Notes Archives

RUSA R-12

R-12 MedalLast weekend I completed one of the cycling goals I set my myself earlier this year.  Between the crash in March and the virus in June, the rest of my cycling goals had to be set aside.  But, on Columbus Day, I rode a solo 200k permanent to complete an R-12.  In the big picture, it’s not all that tough but it does require some persistence and a willingness to ride long rides, even when it’s cold outside.

I completed at least one 200k brevet or permanent per month for 12 consecutive months, starting in November 2011.  I rode in Ohio 11 of those months and did a ride in Kentucky for the 12th.  I did an extra ride in February while visiting family in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Five of the rides were solo rides and I am very sure I like riding with other people better than I like riding alone.  But, it is tough to put together a group for a long ride and keep everyone together.  Thanks to Don & Phyllis, Joe, Amanda, Scott, Roy, Mike, Ned, Dave, Larry, Ross and the other riders I shared some miles with this year. I’m not sure about committing to another R-12 until I see how the winter weather works out.  But, I’m not ruling it out.

Gravity Always Wins

Sunday morning, March 18th, I started a ride with a few friends, in celebration of my friend Rich’s 68th birthday. Typical for one of Rich’s routes, it would be 100 miles with a good amount of climbing (I want to be Rich when I grow up)

My description of the rest of that day is second hand.  I have no memory of the night before the ride, breakfast that morning, getting to the start, the 30 miles I actually rode, the crash or the helicopter ride to the trauma center.  So, what I know is what I’ve been told.

I was the first rider down the hill on Middlefork Rd.  I’ve done that descent many, many times. It’s not difficult and not all that fast. There is an easy left bend at the bottom before a flat run out to the intersection with Buena Vista Rd.  My friend Frank was behind me and the other riders were a bit behind him.  Apparently, as I got to the left bend at the bottom, at approximately 40 mph, my front wheel caught a crack in the road and turned 90 degrees.  I went down on my left side with the bike going off the side of the road while I slid down the road to the other side of the small bridge there.  I was, at that point, unconscious.

A local resident who lives at the bottom of the hill called 911 and there was a first responder, followed by EMTs from Laurelville, on site very quickly.  They made the decision to call for a helicopter and I was on my way to Grant Medical Center in Columbus.  My friends called my wife and she arrived at the hospital about the same time I did.  I’ve been told I was talking, and even cracking a few jokes, when I came off the helicopter, but I have no memory of that.  I didn’t recognize my wife and had a small seizure at one point.

But, I was very lucky.  I had a serious concussion, I’d broken my cheekbone and an eye socket and cracked a bone in my thumb.  I had some road rash and a few cuts that required stitches but, considering what could have happened, I came out of it in pretty descent shape.

The following morning, a trauma plastic surgeon installed 2 titanium pieces to stabilize the bones in my face and I went home the day after that.  My equipment was not so lucky.  The frame of my Torelli Montefalco was broken in two and my helmet was broken in 8 places (see the pictures).  The EMT cut my clothes off of me, including a pair of Assos bib shorts (I know, that really hurt.  Almost as much as when they gave the pieces back to me in a plastic bag).

I had started the season with plans to try another brevet series, but the crash happened right before the 200k and I never did catch up on the training necessary to do the longer rides.  But, I’m happy to be riding and to have minimal side effects.  I’m happy to have survived.

February 200k

I held off on publicly committing to attempting a RUSA R-12 until I made it through the worst months in Ohio (ok, typically the worst month.  With the winter we’ve been having, we may be dealing with snow in April)

After yesterday, I’ve completed an official 200k ride in 4 consecutive months.  Only 8 more to go but, in theory, I should have the easiest weather months ahead of me.

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2011 Ohio 600k Brevet

I tried to keep this short, but I was unsuccessful.

We rolled out of Blue Ash, Ohio at 5:00 with 34 riders and the promise of a dry, sunny and very hot day. The first 300k was a repeat of the first part of the 400k from a few weeks ago so I knew what to expect. Much of the 2nd 300k would be on roads from the 200 and 300 this year so I had a pretty good idea what the latter part of the ride would be like as well.

After the 400k, I added a small mount for my light that raised it above the handlebar and got it out of the way of my GPS. Very quickly on this ride,I realized that it wasn’t tight enough and my light would rotate toward the ground on every bump. I tried to adjust it while riding but, eventually, ended up just holding it in place with my left hand until sunrise.

The group separated on a tough hill a few miles from the start and the faster riders settled in to a brisk, but manageable, pace for the first 56 miles to the control in Georgetown. I think the whole group was concerned about riding this 56 mile section on the way back. It would be very hot by then and there just weren’t a lot of options for water in that stretch. One of the local riders in our group pointed out a small park with bathrooms and a water fountain. I marked the distance so I knew when I could expect to get back there later.

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2011 Ohio Flèche

On Saturday, April 23 and Sunday, April 24th, I was the captain of a team riding the 2011 Ohio Flèche. A flèche is a randonneuring event where teams of 3-5 bikes each ride separate routes, from different starting points and all aim to finish the ride at the same finishing location, 24 hours later. The ride has to be at least 360km (~224 miles for the metrically challenged). Each team defines a number of controls where they must get cards signed and the official distance of each route is defined as the shortest possible riding distance between controls. Also, the longest anyone is permitted to stop at any one place is 2 hours. In order for any team member to get credit for finishing, at least 3 bikes from the team have to finish together.

Here is my rather long winded, sleep deprived recollection of the ride.
The weeks leading up the Ohio Flèche this past weekend were a jumble of equipment decisions, route options, team decisions and weather obsession. Our original team of 5 bikes was whittled down to 3 due to illness and injury as Joe continues to recover from his crash with the suicidal squirrel and we lost the tandem of Don and Phyllis as Don came down with a chest cold and back pain in the weeks before the ride.

I probably spent more time looking at weather forecasts than I did anything else leading up to Saturday. Every service I looked at had a slightly different forecast and the range of possibilities was incredible. We had our choice of light rain, showers, locally heavy rain, thunderstorms, chance of thunderstorms, wind, gusting wind and any combination of the above.

4 of the 5 registered teams had lost riders and there was a flurry of emails from team leaders and RBA Bob Waddell as late as Friday with offers and suggestions to recombine riders to make fewer, 5 bike teams. But, our group of 3 decided that knowing the route and knowing the other riders well was just as important as having more wheels to draft. We decided to stick with the original plan and go with just the 3 of us. That meant, for any of us to get credit for riding, we’d all have to finish.

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Mountain Mama Road Bike Challenge

Saturday, August 7th, was the 2010 edition of the Mountain Mama Road Bike Challenge in Monterey, VA.  I’ve done this ride 10 times (including the year 100+ of us did an unofficial version when the sponsor backed out) and every time I have felt a mix of emotions including fear of failure, anxiousness about the climbs, exhilaration at the incredible descents, wonder at the scenery, awe at the ability of the riders who finish this ride in a little over 5 hours and sense of personal satisfaction when I make the last right hand turn on Monterey Mountain and know that it is, literally, 2.5 miles of fast descending back into town to the finish.

I’m a map guy and a data junkie so I know every turn and every climb and every descent on this ride and I have a love/hate relationship with every mile.  The ride covers 100 miles in Virginia and West Virginia and climbs over 9 mountains for a total elevation gain of 9,800+ ft.  I’ve seen websites that advertise the ride as having 13,000+ ft. of climbing, but far too many GPS units come up with a figure closer to 10,000.

This year my training was good but there isn’t anything in central Ohio that even comes close to the kind of climbing that Mt. Mama offers.  None of the hills are Ohio steep (only one goes into double digits for any length of time), but the short climbs are 1-2 miles long and the long ones are 5-8 miles long.  So, it is always a bit of a guess if I’m really ready or not. Read the rest of this entry

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