Cranbury 200k v2.011

I guess it could have been a lot worse. It could have been 201km!! (Actually, it was over, as I mapped wrongly on the GPS and despite a warning from behind I was on the wrong road, I continued on.)

The good news was that it wasn’t freezing or raining. I think that is the extent of the good news. Oh, the fact that I finished inside the timeframe is also good news. This ride came three weeks earlier than last year and I could tell. My fitness levels are not as high as they were last year and I am carrying a couple of extra pounds still. That needs to go soon as I don’t want to be lugging up the equivalent of dive weights up and down hills.

Alma gave me a lift to the start. A much better starting place than last year, where we had some old Cranbury inhabitant complaining of the lack of parking spaces at 6:45 on a Sunday morning in the pouring rain. When we got to the Village Park, it was filled with randonneurs. I passed the bike inspection with ease though I was without the dynamo light. Not that I planned on using a light but was pleased I had enough charge in the NiteRider light to get by.

Seven o’clock came and we got the nod from Laurent to clear off. We slowly made our way out of the park and along the first quiet street. As soon as the right-hand corner was being rounded, I saw the leading riders suddenly start sprinting. A traffic light at the end of the next street grouped everyone together and then it turned green and people began pedalling. The lead rider was already out on his own – not sure who it was until we see the official timings. The peloton split in two and I was stuck in the second group. I rounded a few riders and pedalled to bridge the gap. A couple of other riders sat on my tail as I closed the gap. I haven’t done any speed work at all this year and it was beginning to show. After 4.88 miles, I was dropped from the leading group – they disappeared into the distance and due to lights, there was no-one visible behind me. I was waiting for the second group to claw me back.

Two riders appeared up front and before I knew it, I was on their tails and taking a much needed breather. I followed for a few miles and we were joined by a small group of about six riders. I missed a left turn and the original two riders followed me but the other group turned. We made a U-turn and followed the group through the housing estate. At some point, I think I dropped the other two riders as I tried in vain to stay in touch with the group. I was officially dumped at a light where I missed the green and didn’t go through the red. We were not far from the first check-in and I saw them briefly as we neared the coast for the first time. Then before I knew it, Burger King. Grok disappeared and I order an egg and sausage croissantwich!

A brief visit to the bathroom, eating sandwich and I was off. I made a left turn and couldn’t get my cleat into the pedal. I thought it was loose – thinking back to the other week where I had to leave my boot on the bike. As I was checking it out, another group sailed me by. I grabbed on to their tails and followed them. We did our only climb of the ride as we approached the eastern coast line and as we made to cross the first metal bridge I got a puncture. I had to walk the bike over the bridge as I didn’t want to fix the puncture on the bridge. A few riders passed me by just after I changed tubes. It took me 20 minutes from the moment I noticed I had a puncture to getting back on the bike.

Travelling down the coast was aided slightly with a westerly wind though it was often blowing across rather than behind. The second check-in came, the Hess station. I filled up with water, grabbed something to eat, chatted a while and set off. Five more miles of travelling south then had me going into the wind. Most of the roads from now on would be travelling either north or west. It made a big difference. At times I was reduced to 10mph along the flat. I think I worked it out that if a person pedalled for the 90 hours of the PBP continuously, they would need to average 8.285 mph to finish within 90 hours. So at least I was going faster than that.

It was on this section that I made an error in the navigation. I am sure I must have done the same thing wrong last year as the roads did not look like the map and I was confused for a little while. This year, I didn’t stop to think about it until a mile and a half later down the road someone shouted behind me ‘Wrong road!” I turned to look, held out my hand and continued pedalling. I was dependent upon my GPS and trusted it would get me to the next check-in point. Funnily enough, I was chatting to the guy later on in the ride. He had turned around and gone back. As I came upon a right turn, there was the guy, standing by his bike checking his cue sheet. So not only had he turned around and gone back, he had gotten ahead of me. How many more miles had I added to the route? When I got to Wawa, I saw a few riders whom I had left at the Hess station and I know that I hadn’t been passed on that segment.

The last segment went by. I was computer watching and liked seeing the mileage creep up. Once I hit the 100 mile marker, the hundredths of a mile disappeared and the digits would only increment on the tenth of a mile rather than the hundredth. It seemed an eternity for the digits to change. But, a philosophy I have adopted with these long rides is that this time tomorrow, the ride will be over and I’ll be blogging about it. Time always moves forwards the mileage left always decreases.

At three miles left, I pulled over and turned on the camera. The first battery only lasted 3.75 hours and I had it taking a photo every one minute. I changed the frequency to every 5 seconds I think. I was passed by the same guy who had shouted at me all those miles ago. I followed him into the Village Park and saw huddled up in the car as I went by. It had taken me 90 minutes longer this year.

It was windier for sure, it was also earlier in April and this winter has seen tough conditions outside and I have not trained as much. However, I have no excuses as I can easily cycle indoors and I have not been doing that. The next 200k is in two and a half weeks and it is a hilly one. I shall be cycling most days between then and now.


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