Monday, January 17, 2011

Beginning and Ending a Solid Cycling Year

2010 was the first year in which I made an effort to complete a century ride at least once each month.  The winter months in Vermont present a real challenge to this kind of goal, especially if your work schedule is as busy as mine.  I was able to slip in a 113 mile ride in November, though my hands were pretty cold by the time I finished.  December proved to be the biggest challenge.  There were a couple of days in which conditions were good enough, but other commitments got in the way.  As it was, I opted for January 1st.  Technically, I guess I missed it by one day, but since it was my own goal, and with 16 other centuries during 2010 , I'm counting it as a goal accomplished.

The temperature was 38 degrees when I started, around 8:30 am.  I would have started earlier, but I had hoped that I might get some other locals to join me, having announced the ride as a New Year's double-gap century, though it didn't turn out that way.  Larry Colletti, the local bike club VP, had organized what he claimed was a shorter, easier ride out of South Burlington that day.  As a reply to some "trash talk" from Larry about their ride, I concocted the following "real" ride report, to set the record straight.

The obligatory Top of App Gap photo.
"Having heard from no one about joining me for the 1/1/11 Double Gap ride, I cruised past the Round Church in Richmond a little before 9 and, seeing no one on two wheels, decided to do a solo.  I wasn't feeling strong, but it wasn't too bad, either, with temps in the upper 30s and a general damp in the air.  I was just plugging away on my ancient Atala through Huntington until I got to App Gap.  I was struggling up the Gap, feeling generally weak and queezy, when I heard the rumble of carbon fiber and suddenly this phalanx of GMBC yellow and green streaked past.  Kevin, of course was in the lead, with Colletti nipping at his heels. Coleman had his helmet cam facing backwards so he would get something besides butt shots for a change, followed closely by David White who was riding an original  Mario Confente tricked out with HED carbon wheels and the unobtainium Campy 16-speed cassette.  I think there were a few others in the pack, then a tiny gap and poor Anders struggling to hang on.  "C'mon, guys," he pleaded, " this is supposed to be just a training ride!"  Ellie was pulling around Newberry and said "Hop on!" as if I could.  It was all I could do to wave weakly at the group as they disappeared around the switchbacks.

"I really felt bad as I climbed that last kick at the top of the Gap. Looking down at my old Sigma Sport at one point, it only registered 2 mph.  I got a real shock at the top when I looked over at the cliff along the south face and saw that someone had just scratched "KB 1111 15:37 FROM 116!" in the ice with a CO2 cartridge.  I tried all last summer to break 20 minutes starting from the stop sign at the end of the Main Rd and here Bessette had broken 16 minutes from the bottom of the Baby Gap!  I just hung my head and cried.

"I started to feel a little better going down the cold east side, but I was getting chilled, so I headed up the inappropriately named German Flats Rd (which has absolutely no level sections) to warm back up again.  I was starting to feel really bad at this point.  I was thinking it might be worth it to get a room at one of the lodges and just crash.  All I wanted to do was curl up and take a nap.  I headed south on Rte 100 but when I got to Warren I decided that I didn't really want to climb another Gap or get that far from my truck in Jonesville, so I turned around and headed north again.  I stopped at the Macs outside of Warren to warm up.  I had forgotten my water bottle, so I bought one of their $2 specials and filled it with Gatorade and sat down to warm up with a cup of coffee.  I confess to losing my breakfast in the rest room, which made me feel a bit better, and after a pretty long break, bundled up to trundle north again.

The Mad River at Moretown
"I took the easy route along 100B, to avoid climbing Duxbury Hill, and was on the west side of Waterbury when I heard that sound that only a herd of crabone fibre lackies can make.  Shocked, I watched the GMBC peloton scream by again.  Colletti must have read the look of wonder in my eyes, because he yelled out "Second lap!" as he went by.  I was actually sobbing at this point when I heard Andre Sturm's deep bass voice boom out "PREEEM" as he sprinted up the Bolton Dam climb, charging past the pack, with shards of carbon and epoxy popping out all over the road behind him. Again, the green and yellow circus disappeared around the bend at the top of the hill, the rumble gently subsiding like one of the freights as it rolls away down the rails along the river.

"I got back to Jonesville around 2 pm and looked longingly at my truck sitting there, but I had really wanted to get in a century on 1/1/11 and I convinced myself that I only needed to climb 18 miles up the Huntington Road again and, if I could just do that, I could then turn around and it would be almost all downhill back and I'd have my hundred miles.  I was so discouraged from being passed unceremoniously by our dear VP and his crew, that I wanted to feel like I had gotten something accomplished, no matter how meager compared to the "Fast Boyz."  I slogged along up through Huntington and was climbing the Hanksville Hill when -- you guessed it -- I heard the rumble coming again.  This time, I pulled right off the road and stood in the soggy snowbank as Colletti came around the corner on the climb, out of the saddle, veins popping out of his neck.  Hearing that unmistakable staccato steel on pavement sound, my eyes popped as I realized he was riding on studded tires!  Still, he was putting a serious dent into Kevin, who was straining to stay on his wheel.  The rest of the crew came through in a double pace line, with poor Anders in the caboose, sniffling something about going back to Belgium where they don't have these hills.

Passing the Round Church for the third time
"Totally discouraged, cold, and riding solo again, I turned back at the cemetery and started the easy ride back in the dwindling light.  I had packed a sandwich and other goodies, but had felt too poorly to eat anything all day, completing the cold century on a single bottle of Gatorade.  This, of course, meant that my legs started getting wicked cramps on every climb for the last 15 miles, but I was able to walk these out or avoid them by getting out of the saddle.  I finally made it back to Jonesville with my lights blazing, happy to be done and extremely grateful to have seen the last of Coletti and that dam GMBC crowd.

Total mileage, 101.  Elevation gain, 5,760.  Sick, cold, in other words, if not for those GMBC folks, a perfect ride!