Tuesday, June 2, 2009
I write this with a hangover feeling and a little post traumatic stress. The fog of war leaves me putting all the pieces together. Let me start by saying I had a DNF. I did NOT throw in the towel. The towel was thrown at me as we reached the Gettysburg control shortly after it closed. While tremendously disappointing, it is not the end of the world and I'm left with a hunger for more.
We left Frederick as a large pack of riders at 0400. I had no false hopes or aspirations to attempt to hang with the pack. I will ride my ride. I was soon left in the darkness with only my headlight paving the way to the first control.
As finished writing the required information at the first control (information control) I was caught by several riders. We left as a small group heading up Snickers Gap and rode on and off fairly together through West Virginia. We arrived at the control at C&O Bicycles in Hancock MD for some refreshments and a short rest before we headed to Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania is where Trouble found me. At a water stop on the outskirts of Chambersburg, PA I had got sick. I took care of business, got some water and we got back on the road. I will NOT quit. I will finish. I figured I would see how I felt when we got to the next town 7 miles up the road. When we arrived, I felt ok and we kept moving. We wound our way through the farms reaching the control at the 18th Century Inn in pretty good shape. Heck, we still had 1.5 hrs in the bank.
At the control, we had some great food. A long table in the middle of the dining room was covered with any kind of chow you could possibly want. Treats, healthy wraps (very good), white chili, fruit, veggies and drinks. We probably hung out too long but we took care of business. When we got ready to leave, I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach but it wasn't that bad. Heck it's only 32 miles to Gettysburg...I can do that!
We headed down the road. We made a wrong turn but only a mile out of the way. On this detour, we saw hundreds of Amish kids playing volleyball at church. They had at least 6 nets set up on the lawn with 10-15 players on a side. They were dressed in their white shirts and black trousers. Horse and carriages were covered and aligned near a shelter belt on the far side of the game field. On the return trip, we noticed the adults in the church having fellowship and the girls were sitting outside the sanctuary in their dresses. Near them were hundreds of bicycles. Everyone waved when we rode by both times. We returned the courtesy.
This detour is also where my troubles really began. I began dozing off on the bike. I figured some caffine would solve the problem and it did for a short time. We reached the climb up Kellers Gap Hollow and through Pine Grove Furnace State Park. The first hills were not a problem and I was excited to get them done and finish the ride.
Pine Grove Road turned out to be the demise of the entire ride. I continued to fall asleep on the bike; more caffine, more Gu. Ride a little farther, doze again. Stop to walk the bike. Fall asleep walking. Ride. Finally I realized that we were in trouble. The control would be closing in 45 minutes and we were still on some dark mountain with no end in sight. The shot of adrenalin was enough to get me going but it was too late.
We arrived in Gettysburg nearly 4.5 hours after leaving the 18th Century Inn control. 4.5 hours to go 30 miles. We arrived after the control closed, the ride ended right there -- DNF.
Sure it was a failure on one hand but it was a fun day on the bicycle riding with great people. I've tried to figure out what to do differently to complete the ride.
I could ride faster! DUH.
Shorter stops at the controls. DUH.
Both of these are great plans but the real mystery is why I got sick, why did it take forever to get through those 30 miles and how in the world can I stay awake on my bicycle. The last one is the most puzzling. A power nap may have done more good than riding at this point.
This ride provided some hard learned lessons and I will keep them (as soon as I figure it out).
Stan -- thanks for hanging with me on Saturday.