First Long Ride of the Year

From March 20th

I hadn't ridden with the PPTC crew over the winter cause of the snow and whatnot. This was to be the first big ride of the year. The ride that was chosen was ZapMan. This ride starts from Marshall, VA and does Chester Gap before Front Royal. The big monument of the ride is the 6 mile climb up Blue Mountain with the last 2 or so miles being dirt/gravel.

The day was a great spring awakening with a high of 75+ so that shorts and even a short-sleeved jersey could be worn. There were around 8 of us at the start. I had carpooled with Chris and it was good catching up with him on the way there. We went out of Marshall at a leisurely pace, with me going off the front a couple of times on some of the rollers. Once on Chester Gap, Jonathan took off on his own with the rest of us following. Rudy set a good tempo that was right around where I needed to be up this gradual climb, terrain that doesn't really suit my talents best. Once at the top, we started this descent with Glen trying to catch Jonathan, followed by Rudy and me. With my winter weight, I was able to plummet down the mountain at sixty pounds over Jonathan's 135, passing and catching Glen in the process. The five of us bridged up together and rode into the rest stop at Front Royal. (At the rest stop, I tried to talk Ed out of getting the Hostess cherry pie while I got the Dutch apple danish. The cherry pie would later not feel so good on the Blue Mountain climb.)

We then left Front Royal, going through a neighborhood that has two streets "named after" two of the guys on the ride--Ross and Cook. We went along the railroad, then the Shenandoah, to the bottom of the Blue Mountain climb. The Blue Mountain climb is around 1,600 ft. vertical but doesn't really bite until the last four miles. We started up the climb, which is some uphill rollers, continuing until the first switchback--from then on everyone is going his own pace. I wish I would've talked to some people a bit more about the climb. I had done it once about four years ago and remembered that it was pretty steep and gravel at the top. Beyond that, I couldn't recall much else. I started off going at a pretty high cadence, distancing myself from the rest. I wasn't trying to be first as much as just trying to keep a fast candence and keep it smooth. Jonathan and Ed were around me, with Jonathan creeping closer to me. We hit the gravel, where I started distancing Jonathan again and really began to feel the climb. I was happy that it would soon be over, since the crest was just ahead. DAGGER--that was only the first crest.

Jonathan caught up to me on the slight downhill, as I lamented the fact that no one had told me there were two summits. Nonetheless, the short downhill and flatter section helped me get my breath back. I had to accept the fact that a man who weighs 135 lbs is almost always going to be faster going up a big climb than someone who weighs close to 200. I then got into my own rhythym with Jonathan slowly distancing himself from me. I finally hit the pavement, which signals the top of the climb. I had lost sight of Jonathan completely and Ed was a ways behind me. There is a county sign that's at the bottom of the downhill. I thought maybe if I could see Jonathan, I'd be able to catch him on the descent. Yet again, my lack of knowledge of the climb prevented me from being aware that there were two more big rollers on the ridge. With Jonathan nowhere in sight, I decided to just go down the mountain at a comfortable pace, practicing my techniques on the switchbacks. Unfortunately, I was riding the Michelin Crylons, which are very durable but don't have the best grip--so I wasn't as confident as I could be on the corners. As I came out of the last corner, lo and behold, Jonathan was in front of me. I thought, "shit--I might catch him," so I started speeding up. He still had not noticed that I was getting closer to him. I ended up passing him and gaining the county line by 20 ft.

We then waited for everybody else to finish the climb and I put down a double shot espresso gu and had some of the tasty throwback Mountain Dew (new retro Dew made with sugar cane, not corn syrup). People headed out, and I ended up with the second group since I was still messing with the bottle. The first group was really charging along, while my second group was a little slower. Rudy was not on his best day, as he had not gotten a chance to eat at the bottom of the climb. I decided to try to bridge the gap solo. I jumped out of the group and was going about 30 mph, which only lasted about a minute or so (I guess all that caffeine really kicked in). With the first group up ahead, I continued to whittle down the distance over the next couple miles. I finally caught them about 3 miles from the finish. We completed the ride totally dead, knowing and feeling that we had done our first long ride of the year. I ended the ride with a good meal at home of meat, pasta, and vegetables.

1 comment:

ChrisJ said...

I can't find your email on here. Just a question. I noticed you have the Stokesville Fest on your Calander. Have you talked to Chris Scott? Is it happening this year?