Saturday, September 18, 2010

Rappahannock Rough Ride


The Rappahannock Rough Ride started and ended in Washington, Va., a place often referred to as "Little Washington." As the sign proclaims, of the 28 Washingtons in the U.S., this was the first of them all.

Shortly after we rolled out from our mass start, the cable to my front derailleur broke, or at least I thought it did. I had been rolling with the very front pack but knew I couldn't keep up this pace in a small ring up front.

Stuck in the 30-tooth gear, I did OK climbing hills but could not keep pace on the flats and downhills. All the other riders were in their big rings producing high speeds. I had to pedal furiously which eventually took its toll on me. My cadence even hit a ridiculous 168 rpm.

This was a beautiful ride. The Sheriff's department actually blocked all traffic on US 211 westbound as we rolled out of Washington, Va. Some of the roads were as smooth as glass. Despite my mechanical, I still averaged 19.0 mph for the first 18 miles.

I was pleasantly surprised by the support on the ride. I did not expect water and Gatorade but was expecting a glorified Potomac Pedalers ride with rest stops at local country stores or service stations.

The route was hillier than I expected. I expected this to remain in the valley but there were still plenty of rollers. More than one mile of vertical gain over 58 miles. This certainly qualified as a hilly course, normally a course I love where the hills produce the right amount of pain and the thrill of a descent over the top. Except I couldn't produce the big speeds on the descent. Without the big speeds down the hills I couldn't roll up the other side quite as easily. Oh well.

The Grinch - Great Jersey!
Three of  us rolled out of the first rest stop; my friend, John Dockins, a guy named Ray, and me. Ray commented on how fast I was pedaling and saw my derailleur cable. We soon caught a fourth guy and then John and Ray pulled away. We had two groups of two and eventually, I pulled away from "The Grinch." I rode more than five miles solo before finally catching back on with Ray and John. Ray even congratulated me on the good work of rejoining them. I thought that they could have "sat up" and waited. Oh well, this builds character.

Over the next few miles I tended to get up the long hills a little faster than John but on the flats and downhills he could pull away. And he jumped in with two other riders and pulled away, waiting for me at the Marriott Ranch rest stop, although he was never more than one minute ahead.

At the second rest stop we examined the cable and noticed that it wasn't broken - just disconnected. So, we became bike mechanics and were able to reconnect and adjust the derailleur. I could ride again.

But for the last 20 miles I was pretty much toast. I had worked hard pedaling in the small ring, and didn't have much left. I was content to ride home at a comfortable pace.

The roads were super and the views superb. Much of the route we could see the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah National Park. On a great weather day, temperatures in the 70s, I still came in probably in the top 10% of riders. It was a day that I thought if the SAG wagon came by I might decide to abandon. But I also decided I could ride along in a little gear and then was rewarded by fixing it. My average speed was 17 mph which, on a very hilly route, still qualified as an A pace.

It was a great day on the bike.

1 comment:

  1. It took me a while to search on the web, only your site unfold the fully details, bookmarked and thanks again.

    - Laura