Hightstown 400k

This was some ride!!

I got up at 3:15am and got dressed.  I looked outside and to my surprise it was pouring down.  Not a gentle drizzle but hard and heavy.  I had not planned to bring my rain jacket or fender but Alma said I may as well throw them in the car.  Fortunately, this is what I did.  I left the room and quietly made my way to the front of the hotel.  There was a gathering of cyclists and I found an empty space in which I left my bike as I registered on to the ride.  After picking up my brevet card, I got my bike checked and brevet card stamped.

At two minutes to four, the rain stopped and we were allowed to leave early.  There must have been forty people leaving the hotel and it would have been an incredible sight for anyone observing.  We made our way through Hightstown and then out through the other side.  I must have been halfway down the pack when I and a couple of other people noticed a gap to a leading bunch of riders.  We decided to breach the gap as to lose the leading group so early into the ride would have been bad to the ego.  Plus, it kept the dream alive of being first back.  (Like that was going to happen, in all reality!)

We caught up with the leading riders and continued onwards.  Suddenly, someone shouted “left turn” when we were going at a fairly quick pace; some riders ahead missed the turn.  The roads were wet, it was still dark, and I saw riders just in front of me making the turn.  I slammed on the back brakes and felt myself going into a slide with the back wheel wanting to skid.  I uprighted the bike, taking my hand off the brakes, then slammed on the brakes again.  I just made the turn and I just avoided hitting another cyclist.  Close call!

The rest of the section to the campground passed without incident.  We all took turns as pace rider and we kept moving at a fairly brisk pace.  By the time we reached the campsite, there were 12 riders in the group and we were in second place – a lone rider had forged ahead of the group and was leading by 20 minutes or so.  The campsite couldn’t have come early enough and I knew I had been in a fast ride.  This was a quicker pace than my usual training.  I had a heavy pack on my back which reminds me.  Shortly after going through Hightstown, I reached down to get a drink only to realise that I had forgotten my water bottles.  Yes, both of them!  During the night I had woken up wondering if I should get the bottles out of the fridge.  I didn’t.  So I left them behind in the hotel.  Fortunately I had the Camelbak though I was to curse that backpack frequently throughout the day.

Leaving the campground the group split up.  I saw some riders leave and I decided to follow them.  By the time I got on to the ride they were some distance ahead.  I continued riding.  I reached an intersection and wasn’t too sure whether to turn left or continue straight on.  I continued straight on.  The GPS complained.  I turned around and took the right turn.  Again, the GPS complained.  No matter which route I took, the GPS complained though I could see the route extending beyond my current position.  I took out the cue sheet and saw that I needed to make the left turn.  I took this despite the GPS complaining.  Soon afterwards, Jud, Roy, Rick and Dawn caught up with me.  I joined on to the group.  I took a breather at the back and it was some time before I helped with the pace.  We caught up with Chris and he tagged along.  We rolled into Salem and headed for the pizza place.

After pizza, we started out again.  Jud, Roy, Rick, Dawn and myself were going to go back as a group.  We set off only to hear Dawn shout something – we think she had missed the traffic light.  We waited around a corner for 10 minutes or so and as Rick nor Dawn had appeared we decided to continue on.  We hadn’t realised Dawn had got a puncture and they were fixing it.  The three of us were going back to the campsite and the pack on my back was getting heavy, plus I was starting to get backache, just like I had got on the century ride.  After twenty miles, I felt I was holding Jud and Roy back so said I was going to take a break and let then go on.  After a short break, I continued by myself and did so all the way back to the campsite.  There were 75 miles left.

Rick and Dawn appeared at the campsite and realised they would not be able to catch Jud and Roy up.  After a really refreshing break, I joined them as we set off for the last rest stop, at Wawa’s.  After twenty miles or so, my back was aching again and I said that Rick and Dawn could continue as I wanted a five minute break.  We all decided to take a break and we continued on together.  I stayed with the pace though we were not as quick as we had been.

We got to Wawa’s without further incident though my GPS had ran out of battery by this time.  Only 37 miles left to go and we had about another hour of daylight.  We were still in a top ten finishing spot and were determined not to let anyone go past us.  We left Wawa’s and the other cyclists behind.  Two miles into the ride Dawn got another puncture.  I had three spares and gave one of mine to hers but I couldn’t figure out how to use the inflator with gas.  It just wouldn’t work.  Rick manually inflated the tyre and we continued on.  Fortunately no rider had gone past us during that time.

It soon got dark and I could no longer read my cue sheet plus I couldn’t remember how to turn on the back light of my odometer.  We were totally dependent upon Ricks electronic cue sheet.  I wasn’t helping much with the pace and I was just hanging on.  My legs were beat.  I couldn’t tell how much we had left though I was trying to work out how long by the time I had on my watch.  I was hoping we could get back before 10pm.  Soon we were on 33 and I saw the welcome to Hightstown and knew we were practically there.  We got through town fairly quickly and out the other side.  I saw a sign for Holiday Inn and though we were on thew wrong road but it turned out to just be a directional sign rather than an indication of the actual hotel being there.  We pulled into the Days Inn parking lot and into the final check in place at 9:51.  We had done the ride in under 18 hours.  I was pleased I hadn’t held Rick and Dawn back too much and they both beat their respective times from last year.

I will post some pics later and give you my conclusion of the ride shortly.

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6 Responses to “Hightstown 400k”

  1. almanoir Says:

    Well done Paul. I am very proud of you. Got to figure out now the road cue read at night. MUA

  2. Paul Murray Says:

    Thanks, Alma. Yes, I need to do that.

  3. Keith Says:

    I really appreciate how everybody on the same ride has such a different ride. (I was a few hours behind you.)

    Doing the 600K?

  4. Paul Murray Says:

    Hey, Keith, nice of you to comment. Yes, I’ll be doing the 600k. And I won’t be taking my backpack!! 🙂

  5. Keith Says:

    I was actually thinking of getting a Camelbak for the 600K, even though I hate stuff on my back. What were you cursing about it?

  6. Paul Murray Says:

    I think it was too big a Camelbak. I actually got pain in lower left back and had to do yoga stretches to relieve it throughout the ride. Alma has a much smaller one so may try that out before the ride.

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