After surviving the last 65 miles of Northern Exposure due to my old knee injury I finally found time to blog. What started with a great first 180 miles , ended with almost moving at a walking pace , squeezing the last strength and mental toughness left in me.
Two big rides in one. In the last 3 weeks I completed 300k and 400k marathons with DC Randonneurs. Between the two was my trip to Bulgaria. Now, while recovering from the 400, there is time to give you my short ride report .
On April 13 was the DCR Warrenton 300km. This is 189 miles with a total elevation of 10.400 ft according to ridewithgps. The ride starts out of Warrenton, VA
Route 55 John Marshall Hwy is taking us to Marshall, VA. It is still dark outside, not much to see unfortunately. Before you know it , we pedaled out way into the sunset. We took Crest Hill Rd and continued south to Flint Hill, VA. With the sun on the horizon, we moved further south to the control in Syria, VA (mile 65). We were 1/3 done, what a relief. Except I almost got lost before the first control 🙂
10 before until Syria I was keeping up with one of the first groups and feeling strong. A quick bathroom break left me alone 🙂 I took a wrong turn and pedaled extra miles until making my way to the control . . . It was 9:40 am and it looked like it will be a beautiful day, clear blue skies with no clouds. It was time to eat and refilling my water supply. I don’t even know why I kept refilling my two water bottles at every control; I almost never use them. Having a 100 oz camelback really takes me a long way. We then continued south to Orange county and Gordonsville, laying down at almost the furthest point south of the ride. 100 miles were behind us, or should I say behind me since I was riding solo again for the last 50 miles. We passed along the Antique and Flea Market in Gordonsville, VA and I was even able to take a photo of it
We then continue north towards Orange, VA.
It`s 2 pm and the temperature was rising to its highest point of the day.
What a pleasant weather for a bike ride.
About 25 miles before the finish I was joined by a fellow rider. It was Barry Benson. Getting close to the end of the ride, we had plenty of stories to share and enjoyed well deserved food at the finish.
Next up was the DCR Northern Exposure 400k on May 3rd. Being two days after returning from Europe I was still a bit sore. Also a bit out of shape. For two weeks there all I trained was running. Let’s not forget about gaining 8 pounds. . .This was my second time riding a 400k. To me this is the toughest one day ride . In my opinion on a 600km brevet you separate it in two days with sleep break, 1000 in 3 days and 1200 to almost 4. Each day you ride about 300. This was 400 in less than 24 hours. Amazing…
The start point for this ride was the well-known Frederick , MD. At 4 am everybody lined up in front of the Days Inn next to the Waffle House. The first challenge of the day was going up the first big hill at around mile 20 on Sabillasville Rd near Camp David and Catoctin Mountain Park. Starting at an elevation at about 450 ft we climbed all the way up 1500 ft with fresh legs to Military Rd at the Summit. We then descent quickly to face the second tallest climb of the day at mile 35. Seven miles later we get to our info control on the top of the hill near the South Mountain Bible Church. We answered the question on the brevet card and continued.
Further down, we reached the city of Scotland, passing by lots of beautiful farmland and fisherman. It was just stunning. . .
Heading north into Pennsylvania, we crossed route 76 and passed along Tuscarora State Forest. There was the open control at mile 138 in Newport, where I had launch. I was eating sandwich after sandwich knowing what is coming next. Rested good, quick stretch , few ibuprofen’s and muscle cream and I was ready to continue. According to my notes there was a nice hill coming up 2 miles after Newport. Actually, there were 3 hills coming back to back. Short but somewhat brutal. This was the biggest challenge of the day. All 3 were about 1.5 miles long from as low as 440ft to 850 ft . Those hills took a toll on me. At the Newport control I met with Calista on the way out. I was telling her about the upcoming climbs and how we are almost finished with just few coming. What a lie, at least it made us laugh. . . I always like to think that I am almost finished. There has been one real challenge left at mile 172 just after Boiling Springs , PA . Starting at elevation 630 and going up to 1000 this last climb was brutal. My old knee injury reappeared maybe 10 miles before East Berlin. I remember those same roads from the 300km brevet back in 2011.
My goal was to get to East Berlin at mile 190 before dark. That was 58 miles before the finish – about 4.5 hours night riding. Definitely not the case. Just before East Berlin and the Pizzeria Control, the weather quickly shifted from cloudy all day to rain. The wind made me feel miserable. My knee was actually the one making me feel that way. It was the same feeling I had 3 years ago after the 2011 DCR Frederick 300km. That injury got me off the bike for 2 years, going thru many therapies and doctors. Nobody was actually able to tell me what really was the problem. I raised the saddle a few mm, applied more muscle cream and the last few ibuprofen’s and decided to continue. The pain was sharp, on the inner side of the left knee. It was so bad that I was having hard time extending my leg. Majority of the time I was barely moving with 7 mph. That was half the speed I was moving with all day. I wasn’t just going to abandon, not today… Almost pedaled with one leg to the end , rolling the bicycle downhill, and pushing with just the right leg uphill. Everybody that came to East Berlin as I was leaving, passed by me and I was riding solo again for the last 58 miles. It was all night riding , and all I can see was animals crossing my way and creeks making a beautiful peaceful noise. So peaceful, except the two occasions when teenagers after partying all night were yelling something to me. They were throwing empty beer cans from their car … After a few wrong turns I made it to Thurmont at mile 230. What a relieve. Just 18 miles to go. With my current speed – two and a half more hours to the end 😦 I did not stop anywhere and continued. Finally, at 2:50 am I was back in the Days Inn in Frederick.
What a day.
“Without struggle, there is no improvement, I said to myself !”
If it wasn’t for the challenge, I would never do another brevet. We are left with the stories to tell about the next ride …