This past Saturday I rode the 200K brevet from Alum Creek Dam to Loudonville and back.  I’ve had a good spring training season so I was looking forward to the ride.  I know that most of it would be flat and on roads I knew well.  We’d have 45 miles of hills between Mt. Vernon and Loudonville, but I didn’t expect any of them to be particularly difficult.

The ride started at 7:00 and, let me tell you, it was cold. I’ve heard various reports, but I know it was in the low twenties according to the thermometer in my car.  I knew the temperature was supposed to go up during the day and I didn’t want to be over dressed in the afternoon, but it was way too cold to take too many chances.  I did leave my heaviest gloves behind and went with 3 lighter layers on my hands.  My fingers were painfully cold for the first hour or so, but eventually it warmed up enough to be comfortable.

I started with Steve Gratz, Joe Giampapa, Dave Levy and Ned Williams and we picked up Kevin Swabb who had started late a ways up the road.  The pace was quick right out of the gate but we quickly got a group together and kept a steady pace into a medium headwind into Mt. Vernon.  After a quick stop to get our cards signed we headed out on the hilly part of the course.

We covered some roads that were new to me, which was a lot of fun.  At the 50 mile point Dave decided that he needed to cut the ride short and would be happy getting back with a century.  Ned was a little bit behind us, so Joe, Kevin, Steve and I continued on.  At one point Joe and 2 other riders got a little ahead right about the time we missed a turn.  I had my Garmin Edge with the route programmed in, so it didn’t take long to figure out we were off course, but not until we had climbed a nice hill.  Of course Joe and his compatriots were just far enough ahead that they didn’t know we’d stopped, so we left them to figure out that they were off course.

The ride into Loudonville was the first time I started feeling a little fatigue in my legs.  I hung on to Steve (who was on fire all day) and Kevin into the turnaround point, but I was more than happy to get to the lunch stop.  A lovely employee of the Loudonville Marathon station made us subs and signed our brevet cards and we had a relatively leisurely lunch.  A few other riders showed up and some left before we did.  Once we’d eaten and refilled water bottles we started on the return trip.  Rt. 97 out of Loudonville is a good climb for a few miles.  We passed a number of riders heading into the check point and worked our way though the hills back toward Mt. Vernon.  Steve and Kevin kept the pace just high enough that I had to work hard to keep up, but the 4 of us got to Mt. Vernon together at about 1:00.  Ned was just a few minutes behind us and we all rolled out together.  We tackled a few rollers on Rt. 661 and finally turned west on Sycamore.  That’s when the time trial started.  We basically had flat roads, tailwind and a strong group.  The pace was consistently above 20 mph and the cramps were knocking on my door on a regular basis.

We ended up with Joe, Kevin, Steve, Tim Creamer and Chris Gaughan working together from just north of Sunbury to the finish.  We made the turn onto Big Walnut and had a tailwind and downhill to finish the ride.   Official finishing time for the 5 of us (plus Kevin) was 7:59.

I went through 2 3-hour bottles of Hammer Perpetuem and Heed, 4 PowerGels and some real food at all 3 check points.  My legs were beat up, but I never felt like I was calorie depleted.  I’m sure I coud have hydrated better, but the temps were low so I was ok there too.

Thanks to Bob for putting on a great ride but mostly thanks to my strong riding partners for pushing me and helping to make it a great day to be on a bike

Filed under: Ride Notes