Princeton 300k – a reflection

As you may have read, the preparation for this ride had not been great. I ended up with poison ivy rashes on my face and neck which meant I couldn’t put on my helmet without it generating pain. I was so miserable I didn’t even want to get on to the indoor bike. Anywhere else, it would have been fine but this was the first time I have had it on my noggin. However, I have been doing CTS training which resulted in me feeling stronger throughout this ride.

We were able to do the bike inspection the evening before the ride. I don’t know how many riders did this but I got up 15 minutes later than what I normally would have done. Not that it really made any difference in that respect, I never sleep well before the ride. I am always afraid I won’t hear the alarm. The start was taking place from the parking lot outside the Westin at 4am. There was promise of some rain so I wore my rain jacket. I thought rain pants would have been over the top and I was happy enough with just the bib.

Once we were off, we were soon split into two leading groups. Normally I would have raced to reach the leading group but this time I was content to stay with the second group. The first section of the route was not hilly so we were able to make some good ground. After some miles, as we turned a corner, we could see the tail lights of the leading group. Soon, we had caught up with them and we now one big group again. This was a surprise.

For the first controle, it was at some diners/deli. We had made good time and I was not particularly hungry. I had a delicious juice drink though and did visit the boys’ room. When I came out, a fair number of people seemed to have left. Rick and Dawn were just getting ready to leave so I jumped on my bike and joined their group. It was not long after that we started climbing. We had a wonderful fast descent to Califon but at the bottom Rick announced that we would have to climb the same road back up later in the day. Ugh!!

We soon started climbing and to my surpriseI left Rick and Dawn behind. They had kindly waited to escorted me back on last year’s 400k so I knew they were quicker and I had naturally assumed they would have been quicker up the hills. As it was, I stayed ahead and would next see them at the manned controle in Blairstown.

Quite often we come across many dead animals on the road. Deers I have seen aplenty but this was the first time I had seen a dead horse. I was passing by an equestrian and saw a horse lying on the ground. Then I noticed the three other horses, one in the same paddock and two in an adjacent paddock. They were all facing the horse on the ground and keeping perfectly still. It was sad and it was moving the way the horses seemed to be standing there out of respect for their fellow horse.

The next dead thing I saw on the road was not so moving, a vulture was tucking into a rabbit. I was quite surprised at the way it was standing on the road, unmoved by cars. However, it did fly off once we approached.

By this time, I was kind of cycling with two other riders. They would race ahead of me on the hills, both having gears much lower than mine and I would catch up again on the descents. The first serious climb was Ryan Road. It took me totally by surprise and my legs nearly stalled. I muscled my way up in the lowest gear and was pleased it eased off a little. That was the steepest climb though for sure not the longest. We shortly came to our first information controle. This was the most northerly part of the ride but for sure not the half way point. At least we would be getting closer to the finish geographically, if not in actuality.

Blairstown brought breakfast/lunch. I was hoping for an egg salad sandwich but they had none and I opted for a tuna wrap instead. Another fruit juice and as I was eating this, the main pack seemed to arrive. The cafe filled up quickly so it was time to head off. The next big climb was Jenny Jump State Park. We had a secret controle there and Jud gave a description of the remaining big climbs. After another information controles, there would be a long climb (six miles) to Schooleys Mountain. It wasn’t too bad and by now I was blocking out the thought of climbing and just climbing. After that climb, there was only one big climb of the day left, the one we had flew down earlier in the day. Another secret controle before the flat section to Califon and then up the hill and on to the last stop for the day.

Hacklebarney State Park brought a delicious spread of food. I got there in 10th position. Mac and Cheese and sandwiches!! Also a can of V8 went down very well. Soon, the masses arrived. I left the State Park before them but I was expecting to be overtaken as we were now approaching the flat section and groups always go faster than soloists. However, I did push myself for this section. I would not allow myself to slacken off and where normally I would have been okay with meandering along at 12 mph, I pushed to a higher gear and forced myself to keep the pace above 15mph when on the flat. There were many sections where I was over 20mph and that kept the average up for this part.

The heavens did open during the last section. I had been carrying the rain jacket around in my small backpack. It was actually jammed in there and I didn’t want to get it out for a small shower. The rain was actually quite refreshing and I did not feel cold. I was glad I had opted to put on the rear fender. I briefly caught up with Bob Torres at a red light though he was soon off on one of the few small climbs we had. This time I did not catch up with him again. A couple of miles out from the finish, I phoned Alma to say I was nearly “home”. I fully expected to be passed at this point but I would rather have had Alma at the finish than to have secured tenth place and her not being there. As it was, I did not get passed. Alma was there at the finish and I finished in tenth place. My highest position for the year.

All in all, it was not a bad ride and I was quite pleased with my performance especially considering the crappy training I have done this year. Next up is the 400k. I did a fast time last year so will be pleased to come near that again.


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3 Responses to “Princeton 300k – a reflection”

  1. Hamish Says:

    4am! Why so early? The earliest I’ve started a brevet was 5am, and that was a 1200km.

  2. Paul Murray Says:

    Not so sure, that’s the way the organisers have them. The 400k is also starting at 4am but the next 600k is starting at 10pm.

  3. nataliadecuba Says:

    I really enjoy how much food factors into the ride…an army travelling on its stomach, as it were

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