Sunday, January 17, 2010

First Century of 2010

Never having ridden 100 miles in a day in January before, I decided to try turning my monthly Appalachian Gap ride into a century attempt. Saturday was the second day of a January thaw, and I headed out a bit late, at 1 pm, with temps in the mid-30s. I drove to the end of the dirt road to start on a road bike, my trusty Atala fair-weather commuter, a low-end racer from the early '80s, to which I had fitted fenders and a rack. In spite of its carbon steel "Tullio" tubing, the bike's classic Italian racing geometry makes it a nice riding machine. I have replaced most of the low-end Campy and other Italian parts over the years with less interesting, but more functional mid-range Shimano bits, though I kept the Modolo Flash brakes, just to keep a little of the traditional "excitement" in the bike.

The ride started out well, with the sun peeking out from time to time. The ride up the Gap was uneventful. I felt pretty good and got a few honks and waves from cars coming back the other way. I was protected from the wind until the very top. The road was clear all the way over and, with the chilly wind and not much of a view, I only stopped long enough to zip up. Part way down the other side, I thought I'd stop and grab a photo of the eastern view and was reminded of the limitations of my old Italian brakes, taking a hundred yards or so to stop!

Approaching the top of App Gap

The ride down the other side was uneventful, with the exception of the Mad River Glen ski area. I've seen dairy cattle that paid more attention to traffic than downhill skiers, headed for their cars. I skipped German Flats Rd, not wanting to tangle with more skiers from Sugarbush, and bounced along the broken pavement of Rte 100, south of Waitesfield, heading toward Granville Gulf. Although it was only 30 miles into the ride, and I hated to waste the daylight, I had skipped lunch and was getting hungry, so I stopped at the store between Waitesfield and Warren. It's quite nice for a convenience store, lots of glass, always warm inside and a couple of tables at which to relax. A piece of thick, fresh pizza turned out to be a good choice and I drank a large bottle of Gatorade, as I warmed my feet.

It took only about five minutes of brisk riding to get my body heat back up, when I hit the road again. I rode over the top of Granville Gulf and headed down to the falls, where I took a couple of uninteresting photos of the frozen cascade before turning around and heading back up. The ride back down was not as chilly as I expected and I crossed the covered bridge in Warren and headed up the Brook Rd climb. Interestingly, this route peaks at almost the same elevation as Granville Gulf, but does it in a lot less distance. I came out at the covered bridge in Waitesfield, turning on my lights halfway down the descent. I looped down Rte 100B to Middlesex, so I could pick up a loaf of bread at the bike-friendly Red Hen bakery, wondering if this type of supplies run would meet with more approval by Mr. BikeSnobNYC better than Pizza Fixation? No cockles lost their lives dressing up that slice of pizza and there was certainly nothing hip about my rusty, salt-covered Atala, or my cheesy neoprene shoe covers.

The "lazy window" on the house next to
this Warren barn is a Vermont classic.

I chugged against a cold headwind all the way back to Jonesville. Approaching Waterbury, I realized that I couldn't read my bike computer anymore, because the wind was pulling too much water out of my eyes, blurring my vision. Does cycling get any better than this? I averaged a mere 15 mph, but I was in no rush and had done over a mile of sometimes steep vertical gain. All-in-all, a memorable first century of the year, and one that reminded me of how just staying in shape isn't enough if you want to ride long distances. I was quite wiped at the end. I also noticed that, even though you don't get thirsty when working out in the winter, you need to keep drinking. I drank only the Gatorade and a couple of swigs of water during the ride and found myself incredibly thirsty for the next 12 hours and with a dehydration headache the next day.

More pics on Picasa.