15 August 2010

Harrisonburg 300k - Foggy Mountain Ramble

Deja vu?! Did I wake up in France? Let's see, it's the middle of August - check. The sweltering heat was replaced by a cool misty morning - check. I'm about to go on a long, tough ride - check. And I have a cold - check.

After a summer of blazing hot temps, we were treated to cool misty weather for Matt's Harrisonburg, VA 300k. With temps forecast to barely make it into the mid 80's and a slight chance of showers, this was shaping up to be a great day in the saddle. Except for the cold thing.

After missing the whole brevet season this year with pneumonia, I decided work in a late season series and Matt's 300k sounded like a good challenge. On the drive up on Friday, I started getting an annoying post-nasal drip. When I woke up on Saturday morning, it was a full on runny nose and sore throat. Awesome.

Pal Bob O. had come in from the coast for the ride and we split a room at the Super 8. I wasn't the only one with morning ailments, Bob was suffering from acid reflux -- bad enough he was considering not starting. He tried breakfast at the diner, but things weren't looking settled.

So the ride, how did the ride go? Well, we had a very small turnout of only 5 riders: Matt, Bob O., Allan (sp), Aji (sp) and myself. We split up right before we ever started, rolling out while Aji was still in the bathroom. Within a couple miles, Matt had to double back and get his water bottles. Bob was suffering the stomach blues so Allan and I were in the lead and thanks to my superb leadership, we made a wrong turn and were off course within the first ten miles. Patsy had seen us go off course so she chased us down to tell us -- ended up with 5~10 bonus miles.

Back on course, we caught up with Matt about the time we saw Bob on the side of the road -- he didn't look good and would end up pulling out before his stomach got him into big trouble. Alan was putting down a good pace and we shed Matt after a couple miles then Alan started opening a big gap on me up Hankey Mtn. highway.

I managed to catch up with Alan and Aji at the first control, but we all rolled out separately. That'd basically be the theme for the day -- 4 solo riders on course. I managed to catch Alan at each control, but he was running a steady 15 minutes ahead of me. Alan and I did finally regroup in the last 25 miles and finish together at 7:40pm -- 13:40 hours on course (my computer showed 15.7mph rolling average). I'm pretty sure this is the fastest 300k I've ever done and certainly one of the most difficult -- if not THE most difficult.

Rawrrr! Rando Habanero takes a break at an Exxon near Natural Bridge.

My, what big teeth you have.

If you haven't ridden Matt's Harrisonburg 300k, I highly recommend it. It's a challenging but beautiful route -- lots of winding back roads and beautiful vistas. If you have any designs on PBP '11, I'd suggest checking out this route -- I felt the terrain was very similar to northern France. Lots of rolling hills -- nothing too tough. Ridewithgps.com confirms a little over 11,000 feet of climbing:

This brevet also marked a couple of firsts for me. I've done 50+ brevets/permanents -- gotten my card signed hundreds of times. For the first time ever, a store refused to sign my card -- sited it was "against corporate policy". So to the management at the Stop-In Exxon in Buena Vista, I'd like to cordially invite you to go fuck yourselves.

Another, slightly more positive first, I stopped at a house along the route to beg for water. The 70 mile leg from the first control to the second was very remote -- I'd only seen one open store and didn't know if I'd find another before the control. With around 25 miles to go, I was out of water and getting desperate. I'd stopped at a church but the faucet was dry -- I tried two houses but no one answered the door. The nice lady at the third house kindly obliged to fill my bottle from the sink and even brought me a cold bottle of water from the fridge. Coulda hugged her. And here's the kicker -- there was a store not even a mile down the road.

Post ride -- all things considered, I feel really darn good -- except for the cold thing. It's quickly moving into faucet-like runny nose and a hacking cough. Super Awesome!