Saturday, April 3, 2010

Fun on a Bike

The week before I had done the Johnny Cake Lane road race and the next day Victor and I did the Battenkill preview ride. I was happy with my race performance and looking forward to the upcoming Battenkill race, but all I could think about all week was doing the PA 200km on Saturday. As we pulled out of my driveway Friday night, Victor said, “I think we’re a little unfocused Kate.”

“But Victor, there are so many ways to have fun on a bike. Why limit yourself?” I replied. Let’s face it; we’re not pros. We just want to enjoy ourselves and we think it’s fun to take on new challenges. After the Endless Mountains DNF, we weren’t sure what we were going to do this year. In January, we decided to join the local race team- Tarmac Cycling. I signed up for Battenkill. By the time I told Victor about it, the Cat 5 men slot was full. Nevertheless, we committed ourselves to training and racing. We bought computrainers and set them up in Victor’s apartment. Twice or three times a week for the last 3 months, we would torture ourselves with intervals. When it was warm enough we took all-day rides on the tandem and took a 400mi- 4day bike tour of Florida in February. We started really watching our diet- eating only what we needed to fuel our bodies. As a result, we got leaner and stronger which we hoped would translate into faster. While crits and road racing turns out to be great fun, we also want to do some distance racing. But, we still want to do brevets.

We got to the Wiesel early. As Victor was getting the bike off the car Tom Rosenbauer showed up with a car full of supplies. We helped him unload and then put on some music, got a fire going and settled in on the couch as folks arrived. Michael Anderson, who had been on the EM1240 came in from Massachusetts. Two young cat1 bike racers, Ben Kraft and Steve Sholzen, came in from Ithaca. Then the beautiful Bilenky tandem with a young couple, Patrick Gaffney and  Cecillie Adams, from Philly arrived (read what happened to them on the ride.) Victor and the guys were salivating over the tandem while Michael and I talked about the Endless Mountains ride. He was behind us, but stuck with it, finishing just under the time limit. It was great to see everyone and be reminded that we belong with this community of crazy randonneurs.

The next morning we were happy to see Mike and Barb Anderson, with their tandem. They had rescued us when we stopped the EM after the second day. They, like many of us, were wearing our beautiful EM wool jerseys. Susan Rodetis, from New York, asked about it. “I did the Endless Mountains, and although I did not finish, I was told I could wear this anyway.” She said she was impressed with my honesty. To be sure, I was proud of the effort we made. We did the best we could at the time and while it was extremely difficult, we had great fun along the way. If we could have ridden faster, maybe things would have been different. On this day, we would see if we could ride faster.

Tom gave the briefing at the start, and told us he was setting us off in two groups. He asked who planned to complete the ride in less than 10 hours. Victor and I had never done a PA200km in less than 10 hours on single bikes, let alone the tandem. But, I thought we could do it. Victor had doubts, but agreed to set off with the first group.

Lower Saucon is where the ride typically splits up, with the first finishers climbing the steep hill at a much faster rate than the rest. We found ourselves with the Ithaca racers and two experienced ranndonours, Don Jagel and Bob Casciato. We stayed together until the first stop at Wind Gap. We told the story of the socks in the microwave to great laughter. Don and Bob took off first and after a short break, we followed.

The long climb over Fox Gap was the next hurdle. We discovered we could climb a steady 5-6mph- much faster than we did last year. We arrived at the diner with the other 4 riders. Victor and I chose to go in and have a little sit down lunch. I had some soup and he had pancakes. We both had some warm coffee. The others took off, and before we left, Robin Landis and Guy Harris showed up. We decided to ride with them, but found ourselves ahead on the endless, though scenic Lommason’s Glen climb. We were hurting, but really happy to be riding so well.

We caught up with the racers at the country store, where they were having some food and resting up for the last push. The first two guys were only stopping at the controls to sign in, so they were ahead. Guy and Robin joined us and we all enjoyed another cup of coffee together before taking off. Again, Victor and I chased the racers all the way to the PO control. It was a good thing too, because they couldn’t find the box and were wandering around frustrated. We showed them where it was, and as we set off on the next climb, we expected we would not see them again until Wiesel. We kept them in our sight for a long time though. As it turned out, we got a blast of energy at the end and rode in just a few minutes after them. They did beat us to the showers though ;-)

At the end of the day, we sat around and talked about rides past, present and future. It was interesting to hear how Guy experienced the Endless Mountains. He was riding ahead of us, fast enough to get some good sleep. So, for him the ride was not as difficult. We spoke about nutrition and training, and racing and bikes. It was really great to see old friends and meet new ones. There are so many ways to ride a bike and they’re all good.

1 comment:

Tom Rosenbauer said...


I definitely was impressed with the excellent result you guys posted on the PA200k ... see my comments on your previous Blog entry. As you pointed out, the PA200k attracts some good riders, and you were certainly holding your own with them.

And being a faster rider certainly has it's advantages on rides like the EM1240 -- the extra time that speed gives you can help even things out when conditions are tough. Slower riders proved to be successful, but they had very little margin for error and had very little time to rest at the overnight controles.

I'm confident that you and Victor would be official finishers, if you were riding the EM1240 this year.


-Tom Rosenbauer
Eastern PA RBA