I got to Nellysford to the excellent Acorn Inn around 4:00 on Thursday. I thought I'd sneak in a quick ride, so I shuffled off toward Wintergreen in spring gear - knee warmers, base layer, bibs, and summer jersey, lightweight gloves. It was the last time I'd go out with less than three layers on all weekend. I got about as far up Wintergreen as I did last year, just past the entrance to the resort, before calling it quits and soft pedaling back to the Inn. For those of you who haven't ridden Wintergreen, the only way I can describe it, is to say that it is a bit of a longish hill. Dinner was nice at a brewpub right near Wintergreen, and we all retired to the Inn for some wine and thence to sleep.
Friday morning rolled around and there was a lot of snow on the ground and in the trees. The roads were pretty clear (albeit wet).
Cold, Misty at Ride Start
We rolled out for a ~50 mile ride. Things were peachy (albeit wet) for 25 miles or so, at which point I lost the group somewhere up in the hills between... I don't know where. Out there a lot of the places don't really have names. Anyhow I missed a zig onto some little state route, and proceded to get really lost. I kept pedaling along the road hoping to land on a familiar route, a hope that proved to be false for the most part. At some point I noticed that my left foot was pronating really badly. I decided that the cold must be getting to me; I was extremely cold at that point (and wet). Moments later the left crank arm fell off. I stopped, enjoyed the cold water shower that the sky was providing me, and managed to unzip the tail bag and find the mini tool. I screwed down the crank arm as well as I could (thank goodness for external bearing bottom brackets, and cranks that tighten on with two hex nuts) and then commenced pedaling.In my hopeless effort to head due west, I found myself pedaling up a dirt road, toward the top of some minor mountain. If it had a name it should have been Sucking Red Clay Mountain. I wound up pushing for a bit - there was no traction. At this point I had been lost for two hours, I was very wet, borderline hypothermic, and suffering greatly. The thought occurred to me that serious negative consequences were a real, albeit remote possibility if I kept screwing up my navigation and didn't get my shit together pretty quick. Then it hit me: I hadn't thought of work problems, or stuff on the house that needed fixing, or bills, or anything other than turning the pedals and navigating for two hours. It was clear that I should be simply grateful for having the opportunity to ride, should buckle down, and keep pedaling. Sooner or later I would have to hit a familiar road.This thought bucked me up, I felt warmer - though I was still freezing and shaking - but it helped. Soon I did find a familiar road, and I found myself descending onto Route 29 a ways south of Nelson. 45 minutes later, with some tailwind-assisted high speed big ringing it up Route 29, I found myself on familiar ground heading back into camp. I rinsed the bike, rinsed myself in a lukewarm shower, drank some Accellerade and went to bed. I laid there for two hours trying to sleep but couldn't; my muscles were too jacked up.
Teh Rouleur Gets a Big Salad...
Okay, fine, I'm not eating that salad, I'm helping to make it. If you know me you'll notice I look tired and strangely silent. Long day on the bike.
After a dinner of Joe's excellent Metro-politan Lasagna I hung out and watched some ACC and Big East basketball games and hit the sack after joking around with the boys to the point that my stomach hurt from all the laughter. Net mileage was 67 or 68 miles, depending on how long my Powertap computer had been off after I fixed the crank.
On Saturday morning it was raining. I decided I really didn't want to do the 55 mile loop the team was planning, since I'd just been through the same basic territory - probably repeatedly - and it was looking like hard rain again. With 18 or more extra miles under my belt the day before, plus the added stress of being lost (and fat as hell) it was really clear to me that Friday's ride was more than the sum of its parts. That ride took it out of me pretty bad. So I asked around a bit to find out if anybody was doing anything different and latched on to Adriane, who was headed to Wintergreen again. Since the weather was horrid - raining a bit and cold - we agreed to ride buddies. It looked like we could do Wintergreen and maybe Reed's Gap if the weather held. Adriane is about 100 pounds and a legit elite triathlete, so I knew damn well she'd outclimb me. She agreed to come back down to meet me on the way up - it's a solid 45 minute / 1 hour climb - and we'd figure out what to do then. So I got going and started climbing. I managed to pedal up past the resort entrance, about half way to the guard house on the ~20% pitch before I had to get off and stretch. I was seeing spots and both butt cheeks had cramped. Just then, Kyle and a couple cars full of ABRT elite racers came flying down the hill past me, bikes on top, with Kyle hooting out the window. I suspect he will give me crap about being on foot at that point, but if he does I'm going to point out that at least I didn't need a car to descend the hill. Anyhow, I remounted, and knocking out a steady cadence of maybe 60 RPM, caught up to Adriane a little ways past the guard house. The fog was so thick that she was within about 15 feet before I really saw her, and even then she was sort of a dark shape in the fog. "Don't bother, it's not worth it," she said. So I turned around with her, just short of the 1km marker, and we headed down the hill. I descend pretty well and decided that I was going to get my money's worth after that painful descent, so I bombed down, spinning out whenever the bike slowed a little. It was so cold that I was gasping badly by the time I got to the bottom. When I slowed to about 30 or so, I braked, turned around and headed back up. Eventually Adriane came down and we cruised back to camp, getting pelted with increasingly heavy rain the whole way back. When we got there she pointed out we'd made the right choice, getting in a just-under-two-hours and very intense ride, that finished just as it was turning into serious discomfort. About 15 minutes later most of the 55 mile crew came back in, whipped, after doing a bit over 30 in the cold and rain. About 10 souls did the whole ride; they looked really, really bad when they got in, but all of them are fitter, better riders, and quite possibly tougher than I am, so I won't throw stones.
After a nice hot shower, a lunch of fish and chips, and a sampling tri to Veritas winery, we had a catered dinner, watch some hockey and movies, and I settled into a reasonably good night's sleep. Today's ride was rained out, which was really, really good. I'm shattered right now and another 40 miles would have really hurt. I didn't need that but would have felt compelled to ride if everybody else went.
So that's the summary. It was three solid days of Bummer Life avoidance. No matter how rough things got on the bike - and they did get rough indeed on Friday at least for me - rough days out there beat the best days at work at home.
I have to give many thanks to my teammates who made it a great weekend with their great riding, a few of them with the great food they made, and to many of them for their great jokes. Also thanks to Martin and Kathy who run the Acorn Inn, and to my teammates Andrew and the Uff Da, who are great road trip companions and welcome to come along wherever I may roam.