I've been needing a change of scenery, so I snuck off to Virginia yesterday for the DC-Rand’s 200K. A big thanks to all for making three N.C. riders -- me, Branson & JoAnn – feel right at home. It was great to catch up with old friends – Nick, Ed, Mary, Jeff, Mary – and to put a face to so many names I’ve been reading about for years, including Bill Beck, Maile, Carol and several others. Missing in action were flechemates Lynn & Lothar & Bob. I think 45 riders started. Ed, Mary and Maile served as ride volunteers, handling the pre-ride registration and pep talk and the post-ride pizza and drinks.
The 200k course happened to be the very first route that the infamous Crista Borras ever designed, way back in 1991, and it was a beauty. She was along for the ride with tandem partner Chuck. For the first 60 miles or I taught the course a lesson as I rolled down shaded lanes, past manicured horse pastures and centuries-old country estates. If I had a piece of the fence concession in this neck of the woods I’d be a rich man.
On the second half of the day, the course pulled out the paddle and gave me a thorough spanking. We rolled through a section that the local riders call "The Three Kings." I think I see why. Kings are known to set up residence at the top of the very steepest hills in the area.
The only thing that saved me through this section was latching onto Branson and new pal Lowell, who both suffered from bouts of cramps in the heat. They dropped off the pace, and that gave me a chance to sit shamelessly on their wheels for the remainder of the day. Thanks, guys. We also rode with Paul Rozelle from Ohio, one of the many capable riders from that state, and John from DC-Rand, a skilled hill climber. For a while we hitched on to the back of the Chuck & Crista tandem train with Bill B and a few others, but I decoupled coming through a set of rollers, then stopped to search for my left lung.
The controls we used were some of the finest I’ve seen on any ride. They included country stores that put the modern 7-11 to shame. They were places where you could get a freshly made ham & cheese sandwich or a slice of homemade blackberry pie. One stop even had a cool spring from which to refill the water bottles. The DC-Rand crew bought a bag of ice at the later controls. I filled my bottles with ice and had refreshingly cool water for about 15 minutes after those stops.
The end of the day featured Cokes, pizza, a shower and a story swap in Room 132 of the HoJo. There’s no better part of a hot ride – is there? – than an air-conditioned finish where the day’s adventures can be properly sorted out and put under the magnifying glass for closer inspection.
After an hour of chitchat, I said the goodbyes and headed south to the Tar Heel state. Another fun day on the bikes.