On Saturday, June 23, I completed my first double century. I was tired at the end but finished with a smile and really glad I did it. The day was a real blessing. The days before and after were super hot.
The northern half of the ride was most interesting and fun. Up through Frenchtown, the rolling country side leading to Round Valley Reservoir, riding through Whitehouse Station, down along the D&R Canal to Kingston out through Plainsboro to Windsor. The southern half was more monotonous. From Windsor I continued out to Millstone and then south through the Pine Barrens to Chatsworth west to Smithville and returning north via Columbus (NJ) back to Mercer County Park and finally home.
This was a solo venture. My SAG support was carrying a cell phone with Jacquie and Ashley at home “on stand-by alert.” There were no pre-defined rest stops with ample supplies of food and water. I was following a route someone posted to a website. The directions were amazingly good. But I was surprised by the lack of convenience stores and places to grab a bite to eat along the route. Fortunately, there happened to be two strategically placed stores that were real godsends. (I bought a gallon of water from each.)
The really remarkable aspect of the day is for something created by someone I’ve never met, the route provided a virtual scrap book tour of my 14 years of bike commuting. I ended up seeing a lot of new stuff while traversing familiar ground. The initial portion of the ride touched upon Anchor House training rides. The middle of the ride brought back memories of commuting along the towpath to New Brunswick. The trip was wrapped up by utilizing portions of my present commute.
When I discovered this route last August and set in motion plans to do it, I started with the grandest of intentions for training. That didn’t exactly happen. I did supplement my regular commute with hill training rides but the best thing I did was a week before the ride, on a whim, I did the northern half of the ride. This proved to be the best prep of all. First, it acquainted me with the route. But the best training came when my rear derailleur broke half way into the ride. Getting home with just the 3 front gears proved to be the most valuable lesson of all. Ascending any sort of incline required me to get out of the saddle and ride standing up. (Something I normally don’t do.) Drawing upon the extra strength provided by the additional leverage from standing on the pedals was the only resource that got me through the last 25 miles on June 23rd.
In case you want the details: I left at 3:15am, finished at 7:30pm, traveled 210 miles and took about an hour of breaks along the way. I did not have any mechanical failures during the ride. Although my odometer did quit 20 miles before the end. Fortunately I was on familiar enough ground to be able to find my way home. Had it stopped working any earlier I would have been sunk. There were several intersections without street signs. Without knowing exactly how far since my last turn, I would not know where to turn and would have been lost.
The next day I did get back on the bike to join Ashley for a ride to the park (< ½ mile). She was faster than me. – Don