Reflections on the Year – 2016

TOP TEN MOMENTS IN 2016

My riding in 2016 was always with the backdrop of my dad’s fall, injury, and subsequent death. When he fell in late April I thought to whether we had taken our last ride. My second thought was to buy him a trike for when he healed so balance wouldn’t be an issue. Then I started looking for recumbent tandems in which he could be a non-contributing passenger.

The day after his fall his first words to me when he saw me were “Barry the Biker.” I chuckled.  He told me he wanted to get out of the hospital soon so that I could go to Colorado (for Ride the Rockies).  I went to Colorado, even though he never returned home, but drove back from Colorado in two days to see him. And I sat out two weeks of prime riding season in September to be by his side.

I really enjoyed our rides the past four years and will miss them. He was a big fan of my rides so these are dedicated to him. In no particular order, here are my top ten memorable rides for 2016.

  • Ohio – Trails and Piqua

Dayton56

In May I went to Ohio and despite some crappy weather, met and rode with my friend Bob Berberich on the Little Miami Trail then rode on my own around Dayton and up to Piqua where I had lived 50 years ago.

  • Ride the Rockies
Trail Ridge Road
Trail Ridge Road

My go-to ride every year, this year’s Ride the Rockies featured a climb over Independence Pass, the Copper Triangle, and a very windy day over Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park.

I forgot how long a 28 mile ride to the tallest paved mountain road in North America could take. Or feel like. But I saw a bear!

I was a “Bicycle Buddy” with Ayehsa Kang of the Texas 4000 and was able to meet the group in Denver and ride with them for part of a day.

Hopefully in 2017 I'll have another grandchild join me
Hopefully in 2017 I’ll have another grandchild join me

My daughter first balked at the idea that I could take her sons safely on the W&OD but I eventually won her over and took Andy and Aiden on the trail.

The ride was canceled in 2015 due to flooding and looked like it would be again. But it went off under very gray skies. I caught some riders from the Blair Cycling Club in the first two miles and rode the next 98 with them.

2016-10

An enjoyable weekend. I rode a trail on Friday then went to Rudy’s with my cancer friends on Saturday. I didn’t hook up with any riders on Sunday but Devil’s Wall got my heart rate up to an unheard of 189. But I didn’t stop.

After years of necessary cancer rides, I did a necessary MS-150 ride from Altoona to State College. I enjoyed the route so much that I went back often in the summer into the Fall.

A premier ride in Florida, it fit right with my calendar. It wasn’t horrible but it was much hillier that one can imagine for Florida. And a bonus ride with my friend, John Dockins.

Imagine you’re on a bike ride and a young woman wants to strip naked and jump into the water in front of you. Yep, happened on this ride.

Bedford_5

Honorable Mentions: Jeremiah Bishop Alpine Loop Gran Fondo, St. Simons Island, Trexlertown

 

For submission of yet another Royal Order of the Iron Crotch Award (my 6th), these were my statistics for the year:

Name: Barry Sherry
Rider Class: BB
Total Miles: 8,100
Longest Ride: 105 miles (Jeremiah Bishop Alpine Gran Fondo, Harrisonburg)
Number of miles commuting: Zero
Percent of miles on Potomac Pedaler Riders: 0.5%
Date reached 5000 miles: August 11
Most miles in a month: 1,331 (July)
Most miles in a week: 469 (during Ride the Rockies – mountain miles)
Number of weeks without a ride: Zero
Number of 100 mile rides: Five
Most interesting story: Extreme Skinny Dipping

 

More than the miles, I was pleased that I ended the year averaging 36.0 miles per ride, my highest average miles per ride. I may be getting slower but I can ride longer.

My stats on Strava (overstated by 24 miles). But a neat graphic nonetheless.

I rode 21 fewer days in 2016 than in 2015 but averaged more than three miles farther per ride.

I met Mooshi on the W&OD in December
I met Mooshi on the W&OD in December

In the end it was a good riding year. But I miss and will always miss my dad.

Rev. Harry C. Sherry, May 2012

 

Horrible Hundred

CLERMONT, FLORIDA

Parking will be an issue here, even when you arrive early. I did a test run/ride yesterday so I thought I was prepared. I arrived before 7:00 a.m. for the Horrible Hundred bike ride. Even as I drove in people were parking a mile or two away and biking in. I thought from scouting this yesterday that I could find even parking near the start. And I was right.

Logo on a T-shirt
Logo on a T-shirt

It was cold. It was just 48 degrees at start but I refused to wear my 3/4 bib tights. And why would I unless I would wear knee warmers all day? I did wear knee warmers of the removable kind. And arm warmers. And long finger gloves. And a vest.

Bike parking at Aid Station #1
Bike parking at Aid Station #1

I met my friend, John Dockins, at start and we were off and rolling. We rode at our own pace for a mile or two and then were passed by a group of guys from Team New Tampa Velo Club. We jumped in a rode for nearly 20 miles, well, ultimately to the first aid station. But group riding was sketchy. I got boxed in by them on one climb and there was severe yo-yo-ing in their paceline. One rider came dangerously close to touching wheels and crashing. I’m not saying the guys from NTVC were sketchy because they experienced it too. Once we reached the aid station we let them go.

Volunteers at the first aid station
Volunteers at the first aid station

Horrible Hundred? Hills in Florida? Yes. In this area there are hills. No mountains, at least by my definition, but most of the day was spent on rollers. Not much flat, just lots of ascending and descending.

John Dockins, looking sideways
John Dockins, looking sideways

The ride was well supported. Very well although I cannot account for the SAG support. Thankfully. The intersections were all manned by police and I never had to stop for traffic. There were aid stations at Miles 20, 40, 60, and 80. The course was well marked but to view it on a map it is probably the weirdest course of cross overs and pipe stems.

del_hh15

Riding with John, I was more interested in talking and enjoying the ride. I didn’t want to burn too many matches in the interest of shaving off some time time. It wasn’t my goal not to breathe heavy but almost. I didn’t attack any hills but chuckled when I heard riders worry about “Sugarloaf” or “The Wall.” My Garmin recorded over 7.000′ of climb, and while I don’t think there was that much, it was probably 6,000′ of climb over 100 miles.

Barry and John
Barry and John at Aid Station #3

Before Sugarloaf, I stopped at the bottom and removed all my cold weather gear. The temperature reached the mid-60s and it was comfortable especially since we were doing some moderate climbing.

del_hh16

As far as riding, this was the sketchiest I have been in a group ride. I noticed it within the first 20 miles when we decided not to ride in a pace line any farther. But it continued. On one right hand turn I was side by side with a rider. I was on the outside (left side) and he was on the inside. He went wide and just missed pushing me off the road.

horriblehundred

It was strange. It was the most uncomfortable I was all year in a massive group ride or any ride. Many riders were just hard to read. Couldn’t quite figure it out.

Aid Station #4 (Aid Station #1 in the morning)
Aid Station #4 (Aid Station #1 in the morning)

Two other times while descending at more than 40 mph I went to pass slower riders who inexplicably moved into my passing lane forcing me to go over the yellow line. This while yelling “passing left!”

Barry and John and lunch
Barry and John and lunch

I had to constantly be vigilant of all riders around me. This was in contrast to our group yesterday where 40 people stayed together in a tight pack with no issues. Yesterday’s ride was sweet!

Aid Station #3 at Little Lake Harris
Aid Station #3 on Little Lake Harris

At the finish was a full meal: BBQ, Chicken, or Vegetarian. And for desert: ice cream.

del_hh23

For a $45 fee we had a fully supported ride, T-shirt, fully stocked aid stations, and a full meal. You really can’t beat that. And at the end of the day I had a good ride with a good friend.  It was windy and hilly but it wasn’t horrible.

The ice cream was extra but worth it
The ice cream was extra but worth it

 

 


Dead Legs

CATHARPIN, VA

The last day of Bike Virginia, I had to decide to ride with my cousin, Kay Walborn, one last time, my friends, John Dockins or Vince Amodeo, or something different. Initially I thought I’d roll out with Bike Virginia until the 50 mile mark then head home and ride another 60 miles. In the end I decided to just ride home – a distance of 70-80 miles, depending on which roads I took.

The Bike Virginia folks rolled out starting at 7:00 a.m. and at 7:44 a.m. I got a message from John:

   “Major crash. Road closed. Car hit bike.” 

   “Very somber ride today. People have seen chest compressions on the biker.

I was glad not to be in the group today. I can ride comfortably as one or one in the 2,000. I took the roads I knew and ended up on Kabletown Road. I was surprised when after pulling over to check the message from John a Bike Virginia rider pulled up and asked me if she was on the right road. She must have left at 6:00 a.m. I assured her she was.

Kabletown Road was part of the Bike Virginia route but not until their Mile 40 or so. I simply took a short cut from Ashley’s place over to it to get me home and expected to see no one today since that would put me far in front of the event.

With today’s route one could not get lost. Headed south, you are bordered on the east by the Shenandoah River, on the west by Rte 340, and on the south by Rte 7. Either 340 or 7 takes one to Berryville, the ending location.

But that should not be an issue. Bike Virginia had perhaps the best signage of any supported event I have been on, except perhaps Livestrong-Philly. Up at 4:30 a.m., volunteers were placing signs and cones, and even using some flagmen (and flag women) at dangerous locations.

I continued on, passing the rider, and was first to arrive at the last rest stop of the ride, Moose Apple Christmas Tree Farm.

Moss Apple Christmas Tree Farm

The owner was a retired teacher from Fairfax Co. He has 25,000 trees planted. And sells some stain glass and other crafts on the side. It’s a real neat place. I even passed a turkey going in.

At 8:45 a.m., I was almost two hours ahead of the planned arrival and they were surprised and honored me. They took pictures of this rider. Number One!

I stayed for close to an hour, almost feeling that I had to stay until other riders showed up. Within an hour one did, then another, then my friend John. After a few more minutes it was time to go.

It was bittersweet that I was leaving Bike Virginia. I turned off the route and was now unsupported.

Note to self: The two mile section one has to ride on Route 7 eastbound is very scary. I’m thinking Rte 9 may be safer, especially once the new bypass is in and most of the traffic is off it.

I followed Rte 7 to Snickersville Turnpike and don’t remember a rougher time climbing. I had dead legs. They weren’t sore or didn’t ache. They were just dead. No power. And Snickersville is not flat. It has lots of steep drops and steep climbs. Ugh.

I thought I’d try Rte 234 – Sudley Road and that wasn’t the best option either. No shoulder and 55 mph traffic. At 52 miles in, I heard something break and immediately stopped. It was a spoke on the rear wheel.

With nowhere to go, I could not repair it, I called a cab for the final 27 miles. And fell asleep in someone’s yard.

EPILOGUE — The cyclist died.

The cyclist, a Corning, N.Y., man taking part in the Bike Virginia Tour was in critical condition at Winchester Medical Center Wednesday afternoon after having a heart attack while bicycling through Jefferson County, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department. He died at the Winchester Medical Center late Wednesday night.

It is a somber reminder that this sport that I love is inherently dangerous. And there, but for the Grace of God, go I. Hit by a car with an awkward fall on Saturday, I could have landed badly and died. And faced with what must have been a slow speed crossing of those tracks, it was a freak accident that his awkward landing may have induced his cardiac arrest.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Mark Hogan.  🙁

Live each day to the fullest. And enjoy the journey.

Riding for Jake

CHARLES TOWN, WV
I was excited this morning because I wanted to take a page out of the book of my friends doing the 4K for Cancer ride across the United States. Each day these 90 young people write the name of a cancer patient or survivor or someone who has lost the battle on their calves. I had my son-in-law, Bryan Snow, write the name of Jake Grecco, a true super hero, on my calves.
Just 8 years old and battling brain cancer, Jake has taken chemo, radiation, and even brain surgery in stride. Weakened by my lengthy rides, I felt energized today riding with Jake’s name on my calves.
I arranged to meet with old friend and co-worker, John Dockins, in front of the Trek Tent, and we rolled out at 7:30 a.m. On the road he started to hammer it although we settled into a good pace (which means we passed everybody) but we were joined by two others. For the first 15 miles four of us worked together in the heavy winds, which would be present all day.
Following a tractor. You know, we go the same speed
as a tractor but nobody yells or throws things at a tractor.
We had caught a tractor pulling some machinery at 20-22 mph. Perfect. We pulled in behind him and he created the perfect wind block. We rode in his draft for about two miles before he turned off. Rest Stop #1 was at the Summit Point Raceway. It was pretty cool. Some riders took to the race track for extra miles.
Rest Stop at Summit Point
Rolling out of the rest stop, we formed a new group with some men and women and hammered home with them. After the second rest stop, it got real funky.
Almost from the start today my legs hadn’t recovered. I thought my body was weakening having ridden 300 miles in three days.
John took off from Rest Stop #2 dropping me. I was never more than 50-100 meters behind him but there the two of us went, passing everyone along the way, John, followed by me, trailing 50-100 meters later. The wind was very heavy and John seemed stronger cutting through the wind than I did. I chased for six miles, never pulling him back but never closing the gap. And I was getting pissed.
I wondered what he was thinking and later he said he thought I had dropped back to talk to some people and would catch him when I wanted to. I wasn’t buying that. In this wind he was stronger.
John Dockins, Barry Sherry
Although the two of us had been passing people for six miles, I was going nowhere until I was passed by two riders. That quickly became three when I jumped on their wheels. Perfect. 
It was the perfect tow back up to John. As we got ready to pass him I tried to sneak past without him seeing me. But he did and he jumped on and briefly made four in our group.
But shortly after that the two guys in front passed a car that was going slow up a hill and I joined them. John initially came but clunked his gears and he was gone. Just like that.
If John truly thought that I was behind him and could catch him anytime I feel like it what I did then was a crappy move. But if he was going full out in the wind without regard for his friend then it was payback. Big time.
We joined up with some other riders and alternated the workload. One guy came to the front with about three miles to go to the rest stop and hammered it. He was a big rider and was “nose in the wind” going about 23 mph. I sat second wheel and felt like half the time I was coasting.
This guy (left) rocked it! Best “pull” of the five days.
After a lunch break, we hit the road. After 43 miles of hammering, it was time for solo work. John and I left the rest stop for one mile then he would take the cutoff road and skip the climbing loop. I turned onto the climb. It was a formidable two and a half mile hill, and one by one I started passing people on the climb. I’m sure I didn’t catch everyone, but I passed five or six and wasn’t passed by anyone.
Once over the top I bombed the descent and caught and passed 15-20 riders in the valley leading to the next rest stop.
At the stop one woman saw Jake’s name on my legs and made a smart ass comment: “Do you name your shoes too so you can get the right legs in the right shoes?”

I was pissed. And hurt. I told her quietly that I was riding for my 8-year old cousin who was battling brain cancer.

I carried that with me the rest of the ride. The thought was we need fewer smart asses in this world and more compassion. I wanted to tell her off but the comment was made by, well, a smart ass trying to be funny and not with malice. Her group took off while I sat down and ate some food.

When I left the rest stop I wanted nothing more than to catch the woman who insulted my family. They were long gone but I that didn’t stop me from trying.

I immediately hit the next hill. It was a shorter, one and a half miles, but steeper climb. There I passed by 10-15 riders on the climb and, over the top, bombed the descent. Once in the valley I started reeling in riders in front of me – maybe another 30.
Going through Martinsburg was like old home week to me since I know the area pretty well. Hitting the bike trail outside of town I passed 40-50 riders and was passed by none. I really felt strong in miles 80-90. Seriously, in the last 40 miles I was passed by no one.

Getting back, I sat down and ate lunch at the Bike Virginia campus. When it was time to roll out I needed 10 more miles for 100 and 15 for 400 for four days. As good as I felt in miles 80-90, I felt that bad for the next 10 miles. It hit me. I was tired. But I was riding for Jake. And I would finish.
I added enough miles to give me another century then went to Ashley and Bryan’s place and laid down on the floor. I fell asleep. Three centuries in four days. Four hundred miles in four days.

I was very tired.