I was excited about this ride. It is a different route than what I am used to and the weather looked promising. Considering the experience at the previous Northern VA event, I was looking forward to it. The starting list was also something nice to see as the ridership grows. In my opinion, this is simply a result of well ran events by Hamid & Shab with the assistance of their son Ali. I am not a fan of info controls and this event had 0, pretty straight forward, plus the organizer is at every control, certifying personally that we were there and providing food, laughs and good atmosphere as usual.
This time I was actually not late and slept enough. We started promptly at 5am and everyone participating is on the photo below. Well, except Roger who was running a little late. I know the feeling 🙂 Pretty strong group of 11 experienced randos , sprinkled with some of the top local Ultracycling racers. For those in the Ultracycling world, the faces below should need no introduction.
We departed at 5am sharp. I was anticipating that a strong & fun group will form and was planning on staying with them. Another reason was that this ride would take the whole day, so why kill myself. Plus, my ankles have seen better days, aka 24h at Sebring was still affecting me ! I know Damien wanted to stick with me at the beginning and he did until he took of since he had other plans for the day.
So did Barry Dickson, who I caught up with during one of the first small inclines just to back off and wait for the gang. Eventually, Damon Taaffe also moved on after a slow start. It didn’t looked like he is going full throttle this time. I plan on a fast 600 km in order to test myself on getting to Brest in a little over 1 day at PBP. . . If the legs are responding in 3 weeks, then I might also go hard at the 400 km event. After all ,health is the most important , especially with National 12h race in 4 weeks!
The morning was so foggy that we were drenched very soon. I don’t know what is better, rain or fog. At least you can see better in the rain. Soon thereafter, I joined forces with Greg, Andrea and Chip. A great group of riders to be around. So much fun riding together while discussing any topics or personal matters . . . Beautiful landscapes, freedom to be on your bicycle, clouds protecting us from the sun, low humidity and temperature right below 80 F. This sounds like a dream, right? Today, it was our reality.
The first Control was at Singers Glen, Virginia, some 58 miles after we departed. We arrived after Barry , Damien and Damon. Hamid was already there, taking pictures of us and providing nice food in abundance. Great tuna and chicken salat wraps, his famous basmati rice and my favorite pickles, anti – bonk weapon 🙂 He even had cold drinks to include Ensure, energy bars … ok you get the point, something for every taste. Very considerable!
I left the control with my stomach being so full. Had to take it easy for a bit. . . We all did actually. The food was much needed with plenty of climbing on the next section. The following control was at mile 92.9 , but it wasn’t going to be that easy. There was about 3 mile dirt/ gravel road before and after the control. Nothing major, mainly dirt road, but enough to keep you alert.
Another challenge was that my gearing is not suitable for any steep climbing. I don’t like cycling at low RPM. My knees feel the same way ! On anything above 10 % , I was standing up and putting in some work in order to keep the cadence high. Well, almost, as I overdid it around mile 63 while getting my HR above 180 while producing above 800 Watts for a brief moment. What a mistake !
The 3 fastest riders arrived well ahead of us and were gone by the time we arrived. Our group of four was still intact and still as fun. We were at West Augusta, VA. This was the midpoint and designated lunch stop. The question is, can we handle more food 🙂 As expected , we were greeted by Hamid, who was already taking pictures of us. It was so hot that some of us had to peel off some layers and apply sun screen.
There was also a bunch of gravel riders. They were coming down the hill ,pumped up with adrenaline and dirty bikes. Apparently , there was 4 different events at the time, with the longest around 250 miles and they were to finish the next morning. Tough crowd. We enjoyed some food and refreshments, laughed and chatted some more, then pressed on !
Well, you guessed right, it was time for more gravel/ dirt road. Nothing major once again but just as long. I took my sweet time and unclipped few times just in case? I hate gravel as much as I hate bike trails!
As evident in the picture above , Andrea was doing a lot of work. She looked so strong and I cant wait to see her perform at the National 12h Challenge. One of the finest Ultracycling females. Greg was also riding strong and I had to work hard to keep up. Chip just recently qualified for RAAM with me at Sebring, FL. He had some hot foot issue, but that was not going to stop him from doing some heavy work as well. Kudos to everyone doing this ride.
The next control was again in Singers Glen, but this time brief as we only had 58 miles to the finish. The last 15 were a bit of a challenge when it comes to drivers who left their brain and driving skills at home ! Some nice rollers before that to keep us working on our hill climbing skills. But the traffic and drivers were really horrible. I am not even going to talk about the “nice” firefighter flagging us down for some pep talk.
All good things come to an end and we managed daylight finish on this gorgeous ride, finishing comfortable way ahead of sundown. Thanks to Hamid for the awesome picture at the finish !
To top it off , we had another food feast at the finish. Not only that , but we were able to surprise Greg for his birthday. The picture below is priceless !
It is not too late to sign up for the ACP 400km ride. For more info, visit this link