Sunday, March 23, 2008

Bike Ride Report - Fleche 2008

This weekend was Team Torque's third attempt at the Fleche, where we ride from Dewey Beach, Delaware to Arlington VA, a distance of 240 miles, in 24 hours. We Did Not Finish this year, making me 1 for 4 on fleches, and 1 for 3 on the Eastern Shore route.

This year, Team Torque was me and Scott and Kristin, a Bachetta-riding couple from just up the road in Linthicum. We are all recumbent this time.

Which makes for a great sight on the back of Scott's car.

Here is the T-Bone all ready to go the night before. The forecast called for a 50% chance of rain, with lows in the low 30s overnight. I have a rain suit, a complete change of riding clothes, and a down vest and heavy wool sweater in case of emergency, plus the usual snacks, tools, spare tubes and tire, lights, and batteries.

I was up late the night before going over the bike. I put on brand new tires, and cleaned and lubed everything.

Here we are setting off after breakfast at the Sunrise. It's 8:00 am. Retired Team Torque member and Fleche completer Jim MacAlister had breakfast with us and took this picture.

Here's Scott and Kris rolling into a pit stop at Ellendale, DE.

We made the first control at "NASCAR Al's" by 1030. That's 38 miles in 2 1/2 hours, which is what a nice tailwind will do for you. Look at the nice blue sky.

The next pit stop in Greensboro, MD. At this point, we turned north and the wind shifted from ENE to N, so we had a moderate headwind, but we were still comfortably cruising at 13-14 mph.

Here are Scott and Kris coming into Sudlersville, our lunch stop.

Here's where we ate, I can't remember the name of it. It's about a quarter mile east of downtown, next to the meat packers.

At this point, we were 70 miles into the ride, and we were done eating and on the road at 2:00 pm, which puts us an hour ahead of schedule, since we have to do 240 miles in 24 hours, and we've done 70 miles in 6 hours. At this point, we are way ahead of where we were on my two previous attempts at this route.

We came upon this cool old locomotive in Massey, MD.
Drew: "Look at that cool old locomotive!"
Scott: "Look at that RS-2!"

This is why I like Scott. It's not often I find that someone else is a bigger dweeb than I am.

So you might be wondering how it could be that we were making such awesome time even with a headwind, and yet we Did Not Finish. Now the tide turns.

I had pulled out of sight of Scott and Kris and Scott called me on the cell to make sure they were going the right way when our route crosses 301. That was only a couple miles behind where I was, so I pulled over at the next turn on the cue sheet to let them catch up. Which is here, in front of the "Alibi Inn" just before Warwick.

So I stop and have a goo pack and change the batteries in my PN-20 GPS, and start fiddling with the auxiliary USB battery pack for my Edge 305. And I'm waiting, and looking back down the road and it's as empty as ever.

I called Scott to make sure he made the right turn, and he did, but they stopped a mile back from me to adjust Kris's handlebars.

After quite a bit more later, they catch up. Kris has tendonitis in her knees and is dragging.

We pressed on to Cheasapeake City, where she dosed up on Advil. We pressed on.

It gets really hilly after you go over that bridge over the C&D canal. Especially there is a nasty hill with a 12% grade right after the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales in Childs, MD. Those are the people responsible for the "Our Lady of the Highways" BVM display you see from I-95 when driving to New York.

I stopped to wait for Scott and Kris to catch up at the Pennsylvania state line. This is looking back into Maryland. I stopped here to put my lights on last year, and the Fleche was two weeks later. This shows what a pace we were on. I think I was waiting here for 15 minutes or so.

The road into Pennsylvania doesn't look like much, and everyone always has questions as to whether this is the right road. So I thought it best to wait here for Scott and Kris.

Six miles later, we were in Oxford, home of the fabulous Octararo Hotel.

You just can't escape from the Octararo Hotel.

We had dinner at the Oxford Diner down the road a ways. Kris could barely walk. It had taken 5 hours to cover the 50 miles from Sudlersville, and we were going to use our 1 hour cushion on dinner. We would have to maintain the same pace for the next 12 hours to finish, and it was going to get dark and colder. We decided it would be more prudent to give it up for this year, since it was not likely Kris's tendons were going to go faster without a lot of pain and risk of injury. I am most impressed that she toughed it out for 50 miles to Oxford, which is the most strenuous part of the ride.

So Scott and Kris called a friend in Rising Sun, who came and got them and loaned them a car to drive down to Dewey Beach to get their car, which had the bike rack.

I called Debra to come up from Elkridge to pick me up. That call went something like this:

Drew: "We're done, I need a ride home. We're in Oxford."
Debra: "I'm entertaining."
Drew: "You're entertaining?"
Debra: "I have people over. We're making pizzas and drinking wine."
Drew: "I go away and you throw a party?????!!!!"
Drew: "Who's there?"
Debra recites a lengthy list of my friends.
Debra: "I didn't expect you to call...."
I suddenly feel a rush of warmth towards my beloved wife, who has such confidence that we will complete the Fleche.
Debra: "...until around midnight."

My friends ate pizza, drank wine, and babysat Max (who loves parties) while Debra drove out and got me. At least I caught the end of the party.

We moved to the fabulous Octararo Hotel Tavern to await our rides, where I had a slice of Rodney's custard pie ("Hillbilly Creme Brulee") and drank Yuenglings and tormented the patrons by playing country music ("Streets of Baltimore", "Six Days on the Road") on the jukebox. I love these jukeboxes that connect to the Internet. I can hear "Six Days on the Road" no matter what.

This was a very, very disappointing fleche. We were doing great, and making incredible time. I didn't think to take a picture of myself when we abandoned because I wasn't at all tired.

Here's the MotionBased page.

Here's Scott's blog report.


oknups said...

Ever been here:
It was a little place when I stayed there with my daughter, some 24 years ago.

Drew Roth said...

That place looks cool!