2011 Ohio Flèche

On Saturday, April 23 and Sunday, April 24th, I was the captain of a team riding the 2011 Ohio Flèche. A flèche is a randonneuring event where teams of 3-5 bikes each ride separate routes, from different starting points and all aim to finish the ride at the same finishing location, 24 hours later. The ride has to be at least 360km (~224 miles for the metrically challenged). Each team defines a number of controls where they must get cards signed and the official distance of each route is defined as the shortest possible riding distance between controls. Also, the longest anyone is permitted to stop at any one place is 2 hours. In order for any team member to get credit for finishing, at least 3 bikes from the team have to finish together.

Here is my rather long winded, sleep deprived recollection of the ride.
The weeks leading up the Ohio Flèche this past weekend were a jumble of equipment decisions, route options, team decisions and weather obsession. Our original team of 5 bikes was whittled down to 3 due to illness and injury as Joe continues to recover from his crash with the suicidal squirrel and we lost the tandem of Don and Phyllis as Don came down with a chest cold and back pain in the weeks before the ride.

I probably spent more time looking at weather forecasts than I did anything else leading up to Saturday. Every service I looked at had a slightly different forecast and the range of possibilities was incredible. We had our choice of light rain, showers, locally heavy rain, thunderstorms, chance of thunderstorms, wind, gusting wind and any combination of the above.

4 of the 5 registered teams had lost riders and there was a flurry of emails from team leaders and RBA Bob Waddell as late as Friday with offers and suggestions to recombine riders to make fewer, 5 bike teams. But, our group of 3 decided that knowing the route and knowing the other riders well was just as important as having more wheels to draft. We decided to stick with the original plan and go with just the 3 of us. That meant, for any of us to get credit for riding, we’d all have to finish.

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Mountain Mama Road Bike Challenge

Saturday, August 7th, was the 2010 edition of the Mountain Mama Road Bike Challenge in Monterey, VA.  I’ve done this ride 10 times (including the year 100+ of us did an unofficial version when the sponsor backed out) and every time I have felt a mix of emotions including fear of failure, anxiousness about the climbs, exhilaration at the incredible descents, wonder at the scenery, awe at the ability of the riders who finish this ride in a little over 5 hours and sense of personal satisfaction when I make the last right hand turn on Monterey Mountain and know that it is, literally, 2.5 miles of fast descending back into town to the finish.

I’m a map guy and a data junkie so I know every turn and every climb and every descent on this ride and I have a love/hate relationship with every mile.  The ride covers 100 miles in Virginia and West Virginia and climbs over 9 mountains for a total elevation gain of 9,800+ ft.  I’ve seen websites that advertise the ride as having 13,000+ ft. of climbing, but far too many GPS units come up with a figure closer to 10,000.

This year my training was good but there isn’t anything in central Ohio that even comes close to the kind of climbing that Mt. Mama offers.  None of the hills are Ohio steep (only one goes into double digits for any length of time), but the short climbs are 1-2 miles long and the long ones are 5-8 miles long.  So, it is always a bit of a guess if I’m really ready or not. Read the rest of this entry

Ohio Double Century

Here’s a bit of a brain dump about the Ohio Double Century this past Saturday. It was damn hot. OK, maybe a bit more information.

First off, kudos to the Frank for putting together a great event. It was very well organized. Other than one minor Subway change of plans that worked out just fine, I thought everything worked like clockwork. The route was fun, the routes markings were easy to follow and the food stops were well placed and well stocked.

The format of the ride was an outbound route from Plain City  to  Urbana, 2 loops out of town and back to the same stop, retracing the outbound route back to the start for 155 miles and then a 15 mile loop you rode 3 times.

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3-State 3-Mountain Challenge

After a year of waiting I can finally say that I finished the 3-State 3-Mountain Challenge in Chattanooga, TN. Last year, after driving down there, a few of us decided not to even start the ride based on the pouring rain and forecast of hail and dangerous lightening. So, this ride has been on the “I will finish this ride” list since then.

The ride advertises 3 tough climbs over 100 miles, with one climb in Tennessee, one in Alabama and one in Georgia.

The weather forecast wasn’t great, but it was at least tolerable. It was also very wrong. A group of 8 of us drove down on Friday, checked in, ate plenty of Italian food and awoke on Saturday to cloudy skies and dry roads.

At 8:00, 2500 riders gathered for a mass start.  That’s when the rain started.  It was a light drizzle as we left town, but it rained harder and harder as we approached the first climb – Suck Creek Mountain.  This climb is 5 miles long at 4-6% grade.  If it hadn’t been for  the pouring rain, I’m sure it would have been a beautiful climb.  But, it wasn’t too tough and I hooked up with 3 other riders as we made quick work of the 1st mountain.  The descent was a white-knuckle fear fest in the rain.  My hands cramped from being on the brakes so hard and I was still doing 28-30 mph.  I usually like flying down a mountain, but the bottom of this one could not come soon enough.  Read the rest of this entry

200K Brevet

Saturday was the Ohio Randonneurs 200K Brevet. 40 riders left the Motel 6 in Grove city for the 127 mile round trip ride to Tar Hollow State Park and back.

It was cold at 7:00. The forecast was for sunny skies and north-northwest winds. Sunny skies was a good thing. Wind from that direction on that route meant we’d be facing a headwind for much of the final third of the route.

As the group rolled out with a nice tailwind, the pace quickly picked up and we made great time in the flats. The smaller hills started before we got to the first control in Oakland and the crowd thinned out quickly as we started into the big hills in the middle of the route.

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100 Push Ups

Monday I start the 100 Push Up Challenge.  The goal of the 6 week program is to gradually increase the number of push ups I can do until I can pump out 100 of them in a row (no cheating).  At my current level of fitness, I can do 30-35 pushups before my forms starts to suffer.  That allows me, according to the website, to start at week 3 instead of at the very beginning.  When I’m done I can buy the t-shirt.


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