Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Can't wait for the 2011 Longest Day!

Oops, something got messed up in the editing, this should fix that right up.

Yup, despite the problems I had running the event, I'm still looking forward to running and participating in next year's Longest Day. There are a number of problems I need to resolve such as communications (when I'll be at the Days Inn, from what time to what time, what to do if x, y, or z). I'll start working on all of that plus a whole lot more. I've seen my mistakes and I've figured out how to improve the experience. So we'll see how next year goes.

So this is the way things went; starting Monday, June 7th through Thursday June 10th I was busy with the last minute details (and there are a lot of them). On Thursday, I put down road markings at a few unmarked intersections. I plan to do that again next year. I nearly got busted twice (I didn't have permits) and the Federal officer was very polite and let me go. Friday, I had to run around and drop off the goodie bags to the folks who would hand these out at the Century and Double Metric starts. Since I had very little sleep this week I was a little dain bread and couldn't remember the house numbers (ARGH!). My Windows cell phone was useless as it kept locking up and returning no useful information. I was so tired that I forgot about 411 (information). I arrived late at Port Jervis at 7:30 PM. From 8:00 PM until 10:30 PM I was busy with handing out everything and answering questions. Unfortunately not everyone was there as several people were coming from out of state (WA, MI, OH and AR). At 10:30 PM I finished my dinner and went to bed. I had to be up by 3:00 AM to do the ride. At 1:30 AM I received a call on my cell. Unfortunately I was totally out of it and didn't really wake up and missed the call. So much for sleeping! Next year, clearer directions and I'll better prepared.

At 4:00 AM I was out the door and prepping the bike. By 4:38 AM Team Are We There Yet? (Our SAG Greg, Mark, Kevin and myself) left the Days Inn. I turned my helmet camera on (yes in the dark) and began recording our ride. It worked rather well and I'll post a montage later. Our initial 100 miles were uneventful. One rider did report and short encounter with bears (yes real bears). We saw many deer but had no problems. It was a comfortable morning but the fog kept us a bit wet. As we road we crossed the paths of many teams. We road with some, passed others and were in turn passed by others. While the camera gave you a hint of the speed we were descending it didn't really give you the feel. By the time we arrived in Manville we were feeling pretty good. Up to this point we had done some work in pace lines but the roads, hills and traffic are not really conducive to doing pace lines. Once we got on Canal Rd we kept a steady diet of pace lines. Also starting at Manville the wind was much more noticeable. A wind out of the south, expected to be 15 mph in Central Jersey and increase as the day goes on and we head further south. Head winds are a part of the Longest Day and this year didn't disappoint. The ride into Allentown went smooth though the wind was more noticeable. We had trained for winds up to 18 mph but this was worrying me a bit. The Chatsworth section is where we first start seeing head winds and they're usually mild but because your mentally fatigued you notice them (they're unrelenting). The lunch stop outside of Allentown (at the Soccer Fields) was a welcome stop. We had food that wasn't bicycle food and drinks that weren't Gatorade or water and Potato Chips that were salty and delicious! ;-) As we were in the final stages of leaving Will Bayley came up to us and asked if he could join us. Since we had trained with him we had no problem with him riding with us.

After lunch we left at the same time as several other teams. I think we came across Team Liberty, Team Major Taylor and a few others. Again we decided not to give chase and possible ruin our day. There was still 106 miles to go. The ride went smooth and we really began to enjoy the gusts of wind that would drop your speed 3 mph. Usually this occurred when someone (Kevin) was just coming to the front of the pace line. But other than that it really was a nice ride to the Ranger's Station. At this point the sun began to really come out and the temperature began to rise (as expected). A 10 mile break in Jenkins was very welcome. Unfortunately several teams had passed us while we were stopped. Including a team of about 20 people. Once we were back on the road we caught them rather quickly. They seemed to be doing about 14 mph in the heavy winds. My team didn't want to be slowed to 14 so we attempted to pass. While we were able to pass the entire train was able to latch on to our rear wheel. We weren't too happy as they could keep the pace we needed and we weren't thrilled with having to work with 20 tired people we don't know doing a pace line. That meant we (Will, Mark, Kevin and myself) were stuck with dragging the train the last 10 miles through the Barrens to the Mullica Bridge, another quick 5 minute rest stop. We then got back on the road and picked up the pace again. Along the way we picked up Kenneth from Team Major Taylor. Ken had completed the entire Chatsworth section solo (ouch) and we invited him to tag in. So we rode to May's Landing for another quick stop at McDonald's. As we were about to leave Team Major Taylor stops by the CVS next store and we discuss what Ken will do. He decidef to continue riding with us to the WaWa (mile 185). So we're off again, and the next 11 miles went pretty smoothly. The wind was still there and were dealing with it pretty well. The pace lines and chit-chat seemed to make the time go by quick. Once in Tuckerton we rode down a nice tree covered road for a few miles. It was nice to get out of the direct sun and the different scenery was also welcome. I don't know about anyone else but I was feeling pretty good as the miles ticked away to the WaWa. I picked up some extra food (not bike food) at the WaWa and we left after 6:00 PM for our last 25 miles. Up to this point we had maintained a 17.1 mph pace. The last 25 miles were brutal! We maintained the pace line but our final average dropped to 16.8 mph for the day. The winds felt like they were in excess of 20 mph. We noticed white caps on the inland bays and water ways. The only relief was that we were near the end and we knew we could make it. As we crossed the canal in Cape May the bridge didn't seem as steep (but still wasn't easy) and the final miles went better than expected. When we reached the light house (a welcome sight) we reflected on our speed with some delight and some disgust. 16.8 mph for the day, low by any standards but high when you consider that we just traverse 140+ miles of real head winds. In that light, a very respectable number. Overall an excellent ride!