Tuesday, May 26, 2009

ROMA 600K / May 23-24, 2009

Yeah, I know. It sounds like a dumb idea. Put a brand new saddle on the bike the day before a 600K. But I figured I could put up with anything for a measly 380 miles.

One hundred miles into the ride, I begin questioning my judgment. The saddle feels squishy, like bags of warm jam. It's hitting my sit bones in all the wrong places. I begin calculating how many miles I can ride standing up.

Fast forward to day two, mile 325, and I'm having a fine time with the crew of Branson, Jimmy, Carol and Paul. We're flying along the course, aided by a healthy tailwind. I realize I've pretty much forgotten about the seat. That's about the best you can ask for.

Now for the interesting part. Two other riders on Saturday's 600K were also testing out new saddles. It's fool-hardiness to attempt a ride like this on an untested seat, but a testament to the character of your typical randonneur. After seeing someone ride 200 miles with a broken crank arm and a shoe duct-taped to the pedal, it seems bad form to whine about a saddle sore.

What a great two days on the bike. A big contingent from North Carolina -- me, Branson, Dr. John, Jimmy and Will -- showed up for the ROMA 600K, which launched from Middletown and snaked its way down to Roanoke through the spectacular Shenandoah Valley. Also along for the ride were Paul and Carol, our ride mates from the 400K of two weekends previous, Jon from Virginia Beach and Phil from South Carolina. ROMA RBA Matt Settle also rode the course.

Several of the riders on last weekend's 600K are also signed up for the Shenandoah 1200K, and our route gave them a sneak preview by following many of same roads. It's a challenging course, with plenty of hills, but with natural beauty and quiet back roads by the bucketful. If you're planning the Shenandoah 1200, I have one word for you: patience. You'll likely spend more time on the course than you'd planned. Adjust your expectations and all will be fine.

Okay, ride details. Highlights: the drive up in the church van, where the talk was bikesbikesbikes, the roadside hot dog stand above Maury River, the quick glimpse of truck stop neon at 3 a.m., which meant we were only three miles from our sleep stop, a rock slide that closed the road near Deerfield, Patsy and the chicken salad sandwiches at the ride's end, the truck stop breakfast, the long climb up Fort Valley and the steep descent into a torrential rainstorm, a plate of baked beans at a volunteer fire station, the views from the valley floor of mountains on all four sides, an orchestrated laugh by two locals as we waited out the rainstorm, the long, long downhill roll into Buchanan, catching Matt at the Burger King, trying to find my legs any time Fast Will got on the front, the scent in the air as the roadside flowers closed up shop at dusk. And the company along the way that kept me rolling through the good times and the many low points. Some of those were along rivers.

A footnote: For several of us, the 600K completed our Super Randonneur series for 2009. For Dr. John, it was the completion of his second SR of the year. A big congratulations to him.


Cap'n said...

Mon Dieu! A new saddle? What was wrong with the old one? I thought that you had the perfect saddle. Did you break a rail? BTW dude, you're peaking way too early, and overtraining. Not me, I'm resting.

bullcitybiker said...

And who can forget Fred on his Trek hybrid refusing to let us pass at 28mph?! I wanted to get his pic but I was scared to take my hands off the bars...

Great stuff.

Nice report, Mike.

Charles Lathe said...

What kind of saddle?


Mike D said...

Chuck, it is a Terry Liberator Y Gel. It has a 30-day ride it / love it guarantee. Can't say I love it, I may return and try another model. The top is leather; the Lantiseptic really shined it up, so it looks better than when I bought it.

Let me know if you'd like a full review and I'll throw one up on the blog. Cost was $85.

Anonymous said...

Dear, Cap'n:

The word is Porking, not Peaking. Have you seen Dayton lately? He's really packed on the pounds. He went to buy a shirt last week. The salesman said, "Wrong place, pal, the awning store's next door."

Sign me, Gravyly Concerned

dean furbish said...

The picture of the rock slide near Deerfield "says" it all---you folks rock!

Anonymous said...

I hope the car trouble di noot return. I t looks like you had a great ride.


Anonymous said...

Dear Gravely Concerned,

I share your concerns. Broken saddle? I wonder why. Sounds like this new one wont last much longer. Also, have you noticed that there are never any more posts with Dayton and his shirt off? These are definitely uncharted waters. I heard LEL is asking him for a meal surcharge.

Weighted Down with Worry