Friday was check-in. I biked the four miles between my hotel and the check-in site and there was informed that Saturday’s route would be changed. We were told that because of the heat that the ride would conclude at the lunch stop at Camp Kanesatake. From there the riders and their bikes would be transported to Penn State.
I ride in heat. I live in Virginia. I rode in Texas. Bring it on! I was very disappointed. This route change would also impact which bike I rode. I had my Trek Pilot (2006) with me and decided that would be a better choice than my Domane (2014) if it was going in a truck.
On Saturday I arrived at Hollidaysburg Senior High School and went looking for the write-on bibs. This is very important to me to be able to write and wear “I Ride For my Daughter.” For the second time in three years, there were none to be had. This was more disappointing than the route change.
We rolled out at 7:00 a.m. We largely stayed in a group. I missed my friends from Rooster Racing where we were comfortable riding in twos closely following the wheel in front of us. This group was very sketchy. There were riders in the “left lane” basically hugging the double yellow line. One had to pass into oncoming traffic or pass on the right. But the kicker was a woman (Bib 111) who while descending in a group sat on her top tube, in the Super Tuck position. This is very unsafe and I immediately backed way off then passed her never to see her again.
I fell in with three brothers from Pittsburgh. We stayed together until the Ritchey’s Dairy rest stop (MP 17) and that was it working with other riders for the weekend. It was solo the next 133 miles. (They were good riders. I just didn’t impose myself waiting to ride with them after the first rest stop.)
In Martinsburg, I turned back to take a photo of a mural on a building. I figured if we were stopping short I would take my time. Heck, I might even be last to the lunch stop. Once on the road, I saw Lock Mountain Road. I turned and decided to ride up the road. But it went nowhere. Well, it went somewhere but not where I expected. I checked Maps on my phone and was very confused. And when confused just turn around. Only later did I figure out I wanted Locke Mountain Road. That damn E. Still I got some bonus miles.
Maybe the cool kids (or fast ones) were all in front of me. I was not passed from Williamsburg to the lunch stop. At lunch, I saw Bryan Caporuscio from Spokes N Skis. I asked him what the real deal was as I had seen some riders continue on. He said one could ride unsupported which I decided to do. A volunteer recorded my number and I set off.
I had been talking to two men and a woman. They took off about a minute before me but as I rode I could see them up the road. I figured I’d pass them but saw they dropped the woman. I think she was the wife of one. Ouch. I passed her too. After a few miles, I had the thought that we were riding unsupported and no one should ride alone. Later I did learn there was a skeleton crew of support still on the road.. I turned back until I caught her and told her we were unsupported and no one should ride alone. Except at that moment, the rear derailleur cable broke. I was stuck in my biggest gear.
I started to pedal away from her and saw her two friends were waiting for her. I would never see them again. Riding became alternating standing and sitting. I felt I was stronger and faster because I had to use a bigger gear, that is, I didn’t have any bailout low gears. It would also tire me out.
The famous Cookie Stop was still in place although we were told it wouldn’t be. One HAM radio operator offered to call a SAG but I said I would soldier on. The hills ahead were rolling but I would have been out of luck on the hills of U.S. Rte. 22. I pushed the gear as hard as I could but had to walk right out of the rest stop and on Airport Road. I was sure I would be swept up (passed) by other riders but never was. I am thinking my speed was up while I was pedaling. Or maybe everyone else was suffering.
Arriving Penn State I went right to the Spokes N Skis repair tent. Troy told me he had passed me and thought “that guy doesn’t know how to ride a bike – he is in much too big of gear.” Then he said, “Now it makes sense.” A $4 cable repair and I was fixed and ready for Sunday.
Dinner featured two young mothers with MS. Jennifer (sorry I didn’t get your last name) spoke about what it was to be living with MS. Diane Kramer, a nurse from State College, spoke about how Bike MS makes a difference. She gets treatment at the MS Center at Johns Hopkins and she stated that 15 years earlier her doctor’s medical education was paid for by the National MS Society. We make a difference.
Oh boy. At 3:45 a.m. an alarm went off in the building. We were all required to go outside until it was cleared, about 30 minutes later. It was a short night. After breakfast, I got my bike from the storage room. At 6:55 I wondered why there were only 5-10 riders in line waiting for the start. Then I saw volunteers telling riders to go anytime.
With a second day of heat and humidity, starting the ride early made perfect sense. Unfortunately, if that was communicated it did not get to me. I would have rolled out at 4:15 a.m., right after the fire alarm.
The organization said there would be buses at Camp Kanesatake as well as lunch. The problem was this was less than 30 miles into the ride and arriving before 9:00 a.m., I imagine they did not find many people eating lunch. I did have some ice cream, served by the Huntington County Dairy Princess(es).
It was a day to ride (and not be on a bus). It got hotter as the day progressed but the stops were staged appropriately. My only response to the heat would have been to put a water-only stop in between each rest stop. That is why I am not an event director.