I woke up this morning at 6:20 to cold and wet and a forecast of more of the same. I like riding in the cold and wet, though: it keeps me from overheating. It's only stopping in the cold and wet that's unpleasant. So off I went, arriving at the start of Hub On Wheels in time to line up at the front of the second wave of riders.
50 (well, really 47.5) miles is a great distance for me. Long enough to be warmed up for most of the ride, and for me not to feel like it's over before it started. Long enough that I have to keep distance in mind for pacing but not so long that that keeps me from getting a good workout along the way. Not so long as to ever turn into a slog, or require a break in the middle, or more food than I can easily eat while riding.
The Cannondale was totally the right choice of bike for this ride, even apart from the unavailability1 of the Ciocc right now. The rain tailed off just around 8:00 but the roads were wet and having front and rear fenders was awesome. There was a stretch of narrow, twisty bike path on which I felt more comfortable with a headlight, and riding to the start in the rain I liked the extra visibility from the taillight and the giant rear reflector on the bucket. Some sandy unpaved stretches were easier with 28mm tires than they would have been with 23mm. I never needed the higher gearing of the Ciocc, and considering the number of other cyclists on even a rainy morning, and the endless passing that comes from the shared last miles between the 30 and 50 mile routes, riding a bike that's a mph or so slower was probably a feature. I also never needed the bike lock and next year I'll probably leave it at home; the end location has some fun hangout opportunities but nowhere to lock a bike up and the bikes everyone is wheeling around are the main topic of conversation (and best way to recognize fellow riders) anyway.
In addition to my usual summer riding kit, I wore my very thinnest glove liners and a lightweight long-sleeve poly undershirt for the ride to the start and the first 5 or so miles of the ride. On a dry day I would not have brought those or the extra tights, pullover, thicker glove liners, wool socks2, and cashmere hat, but as it was I felt prepared for any turn of weather on an unpredictable day. Having the Tevas was kind of nice since I had someplace to put them, but would not have been worth adding a bag for if I were doing this ride without one. Having two bags (the bucket and a rack-top bag) was great as I had someplace to put the wet undershirt without worrying about getting the other things I was carrying wet.
Around mile 9 a couple of riders came past me at a really great pace, just a touch faster than I'd otherwise have gone but smooth and consistent. It was still too wet for drafting, but I rode with them anyway until the first rest stop, where we got separated. I never did see them again. Next year, I'll pay more attention to when rest stops are coming up and try to coordinate with whoever I'm with at the time as to whether and for how long we will stop. Later in the ride I did most of the pace setting for a group including a guy on a very distinctive pink fixie with a blue front wheel. I don't feel like losing the other pace setters was a problem -- they pretty much got me going at an effort level I knew was going to work for me and then I just left it there. But I was sad not to have their company.
On a ride as short as this I'm not really worried about managing calories, and it was cool enough that I didn't need to worry about running out of water either. But 50 miles even in cool weather is enough to think about potassium management. 2.5 bananas (acquired at the first and second rest stops) was just enough. Not having eaten at the start, I was also pretty happy to see Fig Newtons at the second stop. As the ride goes on the rest stops get closer together, which is smart as the people who need them most are the ones who start out too fast, but that wasn't me and I skipped the last two stops as I still had plenty of food in my pockets when I got to them. Had it been warmer I'd definitely have had to throw some kind of sports drink into my potassium management plan as bananas aren't enough to replenish potassium as quickly as I can sweat it out when I really get going.
Shortly after the 30 and 50 mile courses split, where the ride enters the Arboretum grounds, I found myself riding without anyone in sight ahead of me. I came to a Y intersection with a "straight ahead" arrow on the left hand side and decided that the course went left rather than into the 3-car parking lot at the crotch of the Y -- it seemed to me that if that (and whatever walking path was behind it) had been the course they'd have put up no-parking signs or something. A bit over half a mile later I and the dozen or so riders who had followed me realized we were off course and, armed with the official map and the GPS in my iPhone3, I led us all back, adding about 8/10 of a mile to the ride. Thinking back on it, it occurs to me that perhaps we beat the courseworker to that intersection; there were certainly plenty of courseworkers out later in the ride. Still, it was my fault for not being more familiar with the route.
Oh, I finished at 10:55. I didn't keep track of when the second wave started, and I was more concerned about safety at intersections than about my average speed, but I'm still pretty pleased with that.
1. Oh, I never blogged about that, did I. Well, I guess it never happened then. Two weeks later I am entirely healed, even if the bike isn't.
2. I don't generally wear socks while riding and especially avoid them on wet days -- nothing grosser than squishy feet, and I've never met a bootie that would keep my feet dry for 50 wet miles. But if it were 40 degrees and thunderstorming at the finish I'd have wanted them there, and most of the rest of that clothing too.
3. The iPhone's capacitive touchscreen totally works through two ziploc bags.