Sunday, April 02, 2006

Bike Ride Report - Richmond Roundabout

Saturday I rode the "Richmond Roundabout". It was 175 miles.

This is a DC Randonneurs' training ride. It's a big loop around Richmond VA. The Fleche is in two weeks. This is good practice.

Here is the scene from my room at the Motel 6 at 4:15 am. The ride starts at 5:00.

The TV is tuned to the Weather Channel, which showed nothing on the RADAR. The forecast was for showers, but it turned out to be a beautiful sunny day, albeit with a stiff headwind all afternoon.

Here are my intrepid fellow riders just before 5:00 am, wearing all required reflective gear. This is behind the coffee shop in downtown Ashland, VA. It's just a short ride from the 6.

The morning highlight is crossing the James River over the big bridge with the scary metal deck that makes your tires weave back and forth. No shoulders here for a couple miles, either.

Here is the scene from first lunch, which for me was a Wendy's at a truck stop around mile 70. The good part is that every table has a phone with a data port and an outlet so truck drivers can look for work. this is good because I could charge up my GPS heart rate monitor.

But I should have gone a half mile farther to the Subway like everyone else. I just wasn't keen on the idea of All Subway All Day. However, Wendy's was staffed by complete imbeciles. Every single order taken by the 16 year old at the cash register was messed up. The lady ahead of me got cold gravy and biscuits. I ordered a large chili and a bacon cheddar baked potato. "I'd like both of them hot," I helpfully suggested.

Well, it turns out Wendy's has banned gooey yellow cheese. I said OK, I'll have it plain. But no. Plain costs less. This caused about a 20 minute delay while the entire staff of Wendy's tried to figure out how to make the cash register change the potato to plain instead of with historical gooey yellow cheese. They wound up giving me my money back along with a potato.

I blame it all on trans fat.

Here is what the scenery looked like most of the day.

I took that picture because a half mile back down that hill was where I was supposed to turn. I'm sharing this with the rest of the riders, because none of them probably saw this particular stretch of road.

Second lunch was at Subway at mile 114 (116 for me). I decided to stop being a nonconformist. It was yummy. I charged the heart rate monitor some more.

But right before I got to the Subway, disaster had struck. I felt the cable give way when shifting gears, and I couldn't shift into higher gear. Uh Oh.

Closer inspection revealed that the cable was just fine. The problem was the return spring on my derailleur had broken.

Well, this sucks. If you click on the picture to get a bigger view, you can see the broken spring inside the quadrilateral.

Because I want to be a good randonneur, I finished the ride. In first gear. For 60 miles.

This essentially gave me a three speed. In the big chainring, I would spin out around 13 mph. On the middle, it's about 9 mph. I didn't bother with the little ring, which is about 16 gear inches, and of no use for grades less than 15%.

(Yes, I know I could have adjusted the stop points for the derailleur to get a higher gear or two. What fun is that?)

So I set off. Mary G. and Paul D. left just after me, and soon passed me. I met up with them here at the nasty nasty country store in Vontay.

It seems that if you stand around outside, giant swarms of flies come. Paul and Mary fled just after I got there. They couldn't take it. Then they charged me $2.19 for a regular 20 oz Gatorade. I can't really recommend this place. I'm notifying Zagat.

This is where it started getting dark. I passed Paul and Mary where they were pulled over putting on their reflective clothes and setting up their lights. I pressed on, and put on my own reflectors and lights about 5 miles later at the store where you turn on to Old Ridge Road. I went into the store to throw away my empty $2.00 Gatorade bottle, and as I was coming out, Paul and Mary passed.

For the remaining 25 miles, I could see their tail lights in the distance, getting farther and farther away. I wanted to catch them, because it was dark, and because I was worried about missing the turn to Blunts Bridge Rd, which is 7 miles from the last landmark on the map. It is nice to have company in the dark. But I couldn't catch them with only first gear, there was no hope. Sometimes I gained a little ground on long climbs, but as soon as it flattened out, I would spin away at 13 mph, and they would pull away.

I got into Ashland a few minutes after they did, enough for them to witness me wreck on the gravel in the parking lot.

My fancy GPS heart rate monitor lasted the whole ride with the couple refreshes when I stopped to eat. I set it to start a new lap when the derailleur broke so I could see how much speed I lost as a result.

It wasn't as bad as I thought. I averaged 13.6 mph before, and 12.2 after. And since I spent the last five hours of the ride coasting most of the time, I was in pretty good shape at the end, and not too tired at all today. However, despite wanting to go find some dinner and compare stories with everyone else, I fell asleep as soon as I got out of the shower.

The total was 178 miles in 13:40 pedal time, and about 15:30 clock time. I also recorded a pretty ridiculous 8569 feet of climb.

Here is the map recorded by the eTrex.


Cham said...

Sounds like a great time, are you sure about the elevation change? Richmond area seems pretty flat to me, or maybe I am wrong. Be glad you didn't eat the cheese....because I did (check blog for details).

Good luck fixing your bike.


Drew Roth said...

I think the elevation recorded by the Garmin Edge is wildly inaccurate. It was probably more like 6000 feet.

Nice blog, Cham. Check it out: