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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Shena-NO-ah-1200K

Well, my attempt to complete the Shenandoah 1200K, failed very miserably a few days ago. When I had to withdraw, one of the first things my wife said to me was.....your still going to write about this in your blog right....., some support.

I arrived in Leesburg VA early Wed. evening of the night before the event, well rested, and ready to go, but scared given the brutal heat wave. It was in the upper 90's on the drive down, with the temp's forecasted to be close to 100 on Thursday, the first day of the event. I tired to be sensible on Wed. night for dinner. Grilled chicken, & grilled veggies, but the 2 small slider burgers seemed to good to pass up as a side dish, given all the miles I would be riding. Bad mistake! I was sound asleep by 8:00, and was awoken at 10:30 by some kids banging on the door and running away. Soon, I was drenched in sweat, but it wasn't from fear, but from the burgers, and I got sick several times during the night. After perhaps 2 hours sleep, the 3:00 alarm came very quickly.

10 of us set out at 4:00 A.M, and my GPS said it was 80 degrees at the start, with very high humidity. As I sweat incredibly, I set off with 2 bottles, and a Camelback, and of course my Endurolyte pills. We made it to the first control, Gettysburg by 9:00, and I had already felt like I had lost 5 pounds before the sun really came out, with a very weak stomach. By 11:30 A.M., I was starting to feel the same exact symptoms that I suffered 3 summers ago in Spain doing a trip across The Pyrenees, very weak, light headed, and very high heart rate. Before we even started any of the big climbs of the day, I was falling off rapidly, and although I tried resting a few times under some trees, I knew that I was in danger, and risked a serious health issue if I were to go on, let alone making some of the controls on time, and riding the rest of the ride potentially alone.

It was really amazing to me that after all of the training, and doing "well" in so many of the brevets this year in respect to time, the additional training all winter and spring, and all of the mental preparation, that I was abandoning this ride at only mile 95. I knew that I had problems riding in severe heat, and I was hoping to make it past that first day, (I never thought that I wouldn't) but really, stopping was the only decision I could make at that point. After informing Janet that I had withdrawn, I started to make my way back to Leesburg, and I thought that I could do so on some easier on flatter roads, but the afternoon heat made it even worse for me. At one point, after resting for 30 minutes, I made it another 5 miles before I pulled into a gas station near a big highway, and asked 4 people in pick up trucks if they were going south and could give me a ride, and finally, the 5th, one of our country's fine soldiers, Joe from Mississippi, drove me 25 miles to Fredricksburg, which was gladly welcomed & needed. After another rest of 30 minutes, I tried riding again, and made it about 4 miles before getting really sick on the side of a busy highway. I sat on the side of a 4 lane highway hoping a police officer would see me & stop, but after 20 minutes with no luck, I ran my bike across the 4 lane highway to get near the left hand split to Leesburg, knowing that I could either take hours to make it back the last 30 miles, or beg another ride (would have been the case), but I looked up, and a fine fellow cyclist in a Subaru wagon with a bike rack had pulled over and asked if I needed any help? Dan drove me back to my hotel, and I cant thank him enough for his kindness. I was also only in the car for minutes before what seemed like a small tornado went by the area.

It has taken me a few days to recover. Of course I am disappointed, but the weather is the weather and I am not sure what I could have done differently. I hope to attempt another 1200K in the future, but for now, back to road cycling for a while before Cyclocross season in the Fall.

I said before I started my 2nd Rando season that I was hoping to learn more and see where the road would take me? Well, I learned a lot this year. I met a lot of great new Randonneurs doing the fabulous Eastern PA Series run by Tom Rosenbauer. I hope that the remainder of the survivors in The Shen 1200k have finished safely by now, and I look forward to hearing about it.

Thanks for reading, and until next time "Keep on Truckin"      

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Summer Breeze

This past Memorial Day weekend, I was able to get back on a bike after a weeks recovery, or 5 days off a bike after a very tough PA 600k. We finally had some nice warm weather here in NJ, and it was the first time that my family was able to get down to our beach house, after a very busy "family" spring.

Riding this past weekend, reminded me again the diversity of our sport, and some of the many reasons why we ride. It was great seeing and riding with many of my "shore" friends, that I ride with during these 3-4 months of the year, and it also seemed to be the first time in many months that I was actually able to go on a 2-3 hour, fast group ride, after riding so many brevets and long distance brevet training rides throughout the Spring. Although my legs were still working their way back in to form on Saturday, by Sunday I felt great again, and it was fun knowing that I could push myself to the limit, yet it "would all be over in a short period" of time.

Although I had some doubts about my commitment or sanity in riding The Shenandoah 1200K early last week after the completion of the PA 600K, those doubts soon passed, and a week from today I will have been underway, and I am hoping that all of the preparation will pay off.

As a very long time "Dead Head", I am not really sure why I never made it to a Phish Concert until last night, but what a treat and awesome show. Phish is really an amazing live band, and I may need to call upon some of those good tunes and vibes next week in the dreary hours.

Until next time, thanks for reading and "Keep on Truckin"

  Not a Cycling photo, just the view of our Life Guard Stand from my Beach Chair in Spring lake N.J. this past Memorial Day