Sunday, April 11, 2010

Horsing Around Sugarloaf

The Team

Six of us set out on the "Horsing Around Sugarloaf" 212K permanent ride Sunday 4/11/2010. From SPP we had Janet Bodine, Bill Willis, Theresa Frunari, Matt Kisner, and me. Also joining us was Dave Waas. Dave is my uncle by marriage. I shared the details with him at a family gathering Easter Sunday and he rushed through the paper work to join RUSA and contact the route owner Lynn Kristianson so he could join us. This would be the first 200K ride for both Matt and Dave, though both are strong, experienced riders.

The Ride

We all arrived at the opening control at Harris Teeter in Germantown at or before 6:30 so we could be ready for a 7:00 am start and we rolled out right on time. The route starts with several quick descents and then rolls through the MD horse farms around Sugarloaf Mountain. The weather was crisp and cool at the start but forecast to warm up quickly as the sun got up. By the first control it was already warming nicely and it was obvious we would enjoy a great day. We were all in and out of the first control around Mile 20 in short order. The tools came out briefly to help Theresa tighten her seat clamp. That would the closest we came to a mechanical problem for our riders all day.

We crossed the Potomac River at Point of Rocks about mile 28 and then there's a long gentle climb up from the river in VA. The second control follows shortly after that at about mile 34 before a nice long leg to Middleburg, VA where we stopped for lunch. The VA horse country is beautiful, and a little hilly. Snickersville Turnpike has one significant climb, otherwise the VA leg is just continuous rollers up and down the whole way. We reached the mid point in Middleburg, VA around noon or a little after and had a great lunch at the Salamander Market in Middleburg. We sat outdoors on the patio, the sun was out, but not too hot and the service was quick.

From here the route retraces much of itself, but makes a few adjustments to keep it fresh. I started feeling the effects of the continuous large rolling climbs and the big Snickersville climb just before lunch. But the advice of an experienced randoneur I know kept reminding me to "ride within yourself". I set my pace and let the others go up the hills when they were inclined to ride a little faster. Then we'd regroup at the crest of a hill. The next control was almost 50 miles after lunch and many stretches of road were marked with only sporadic signs, so my GPS was a frequent topic of interest during these re-groups. All the while the beautiful countryside was rolling steadily by, the sun was bright and life was good.

We regrouped and crossed the Potomac river together at Point of Rocks, then stopped to refill the bottles and get a quick snack before pressing on to the next control at Urana, MD. After the Urbana control we had 20 miles and one more big climb up Thurmont Rd and Old Hundred Rd before the finish control. The group spread out a bit, everyone riding at their pace and looking forward to wrapping up a great day.

Bill did his good deed for the day when he stopped to help a couple of cyclists stranded with a flat and no pump or CO2, they had tubes and tools, but no air. He gave them a shot from his C02 and sent them on their way, then quickly rode down the group again. With less than 10 miles to go, Bill, Matt and Dave decided it was too early to call it quits. They opted instead to continue past the Whites Store Rd turn and get in a few bonus miles before making a U-Turn and returning to the proper course. I didn't know this until I finished and was surprised to find only Janet and Theresa in ahead of me. While overachieving on his first 200K Dave also earned a Good Samaritan pin when he stopped to help a couple of cyclists who were clearly past the point of having fun. The gentleman was encouraging his partner to pedal harder and she was explaining in no uncertain terms that she couldn't. They were stuck until Dave forced her derailleur on to the small chain ring and explained she should refrain from shifting it again until the bike shop could set things right. Another pair of stranded cyclists rescued by Team Sugarloaf!

We all regrouped at the finish before 6:30 pm. Janet Bodine, the semi-official captain of the SPP Randoneuring Team was, as always, well prepared for the finish as well as the ride, with a cooler full of refreshments. Congratulations, hugs, and high-fives were offered all around. We got our cards signed and the tired, happy riders parted company to return home.

Matt and I during a brief stop on the W & OD Trail.
View Slideshow | Acess Photos from Horsing Around Sugarloaf

Personal Thoughts, Conclusions

I felt great about the day. My average speed was 14.6 mph, a touch faster than Over to Dover with considerably more climbing. I ate more frequently, every 30 minutes or so and included some gel product in the mix which worked very well for me. I didn't really eat more, just nibbled more frequently and it seemed to really help. There was more climbing than when I did Over to Dover but I didn't feel as completely drained at the end as I did in the last few miles of OTD. I attribute that mostly to better eating and drinking during the ride. I carried too much "stuff" on the bike with me (again) and will revisit my repair kit and supplies list before my next 200K. I was glad Dave was able to join us and that he wrote me afterward that he had a good time. My only disappointment was with our treatment by some local folks on the road. On at least two occasions drivers were profane and rude despite having ample room to get around us. They were the exception, as a rule most drivers were courteous and patient. But it's always disappointing when someone seems so put out when our close contact on the road lasted only a few minutes or less.

Techie Stuff

We all agreed this was a hilly course. RUSA lists it with 7600 ft of climbing and this number seems reasonable to me. But my Garmin reported 10400 feet! That doesn't seem reasonable. The track here on Bones In Motion also indicates 10K feet of climbing. But I've run the track through several other programs and gotten numbers of 3600, 6800, and 9500. While GPS is so precise in two dimensions and in all associated analysis in two dimensions, it's a little odd that it is so imprecise vertically. Even a barometric device should be able to do better than that. I'm wondering if mine has a problem I need to take up with Garmin. An area for more research later.

** All times and mile marks approximate, I was writing from memory without the cue sheet in front of me.

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