Sunday, June 1, 2008

Shenandoah Valley Heritage Ride

Several months ago, I signed up for this ride, since it was a local ride. I had already committed to the Tour de Cure ride in Reston, VA which is next week, but I thought I should be able to handle two charity rides in back to back weeks. This ride took us on the outskirts of Winchester, VA up and down the rolling hills and through the agricultural areas of Frederick County. The scenery was top notch and finally gave me a chance to ride in this particular area of Frederick County, VA.

This was my first official charity bike ride and I really enjoyed my experience. I was pretty nervous since I have never done a charity bike ride before and I quickly noticed that I was the only adult who was using a hybrid bike. There were a few teenagers who were using mountain bikes, but as far as I could tell, I didn't see anyone else on a hybrid but me. The local bike clubs showed their support by having a good show up from their camps. I saw representatives of the Potomac Peddlers, Winchester Wheelmen, and various other bike clubs. There were not too many such as myself who didn't have club jerseys. I was also the only adult to sport Mountain Biking "baggy" shorts instead of skin tight lycra shorts that roadies where.

I arrived at James Wood Middle School around 8:30 for the 9:00am start time. Registration was fast and easy because I pre-registered for the event. I then found a concrete step to sit on until they called for the start of the ride. There were a total of three rides that were offered for the SVHR: 30 miles, 50 miles, and 70 miles. Each route was color coded as green, blue and yellow. I was a little worried since I'm red-green color blind, that I would get lost or off track. In fact, the green arrow looked identical to the yellow arrow. Fortunately, this didn't happen, since the green route overlapped the blue and yellow, so whenever there were green arrows they were always with blue and yellow. Plus for the first 15 miles of the ride, all three colors used the same route to the same rest area. Beyond the rest area was when they split away from each other and that was well marked with signs in addition to the arrows.

The weather couldn't have been better for today, although we did get some short rain showers after lunch, but I was well beyond finished and eating lunch at Applebees when the rain did hit. For my first charity ride, I couldn't have asked for a much better ride to choose. The ride was well supported with police officers, motorcyclists and bike repairmen. My ride was the 30 mile ride and included one rest stop at the 15 mile mark. I had brought along a Clif Bar and 2 granola bars because I have heard horror stories of all the snacks being gone by the time the slower rides show up. Fortunately, this was not the case today for me, they had plenty of ice water, bottled water, gatorade, granola bars, PB&J, fruit and other snacks for the riders. In fact, I drank 3 big bottles of water, Fruit & Nut granola bar, 1/2 PB&J, and 1 banana.

This was the third weekend in a row that I have ridden 30 miles, and this was also the toughest of the three rides that I have done. It had a mixture of hills and flat areas, but it seemed that the hills were successive in some areas, so when you recover from one, it was time to start another.
There are two other things that will stick out about this ride. First is the wreck that I almost had. Since this was to support the Boys & Girls Club of Frederick County, VA, they allowed 4 young boys about 12-14 start the ride. They gave them brand new Trek Flat Bar road bikes to ride, and if they finished the course they could keep the bikes. Well at around the 23 mile mark three of the boys took another break at a farmers market up on a hill. I past the market as they were coming back down the hill. Since they were traveling down hill they had lots of speed and momentum and they easily passed by me as I was riding around 20 mph on a flat stretch of road. Two of the boys were riding side by side about two feet apart, when the third decided that he was going to ride between them. At this point they were 20-30 feet in front of me and I had a birds-eye view for the events unfolding in front of me. The boy in the middle bumped on of his friends and lost his balance, and started wobbling. This ended quickly with him dumping his bike in the middle of the road. I am still traveling 20-30 feet behind them and still going about 20 mph and heading straight for the boy and his bike on the ground. I hit both of my breaks and all I hear are my tires skidding as my breaks lock up my rear tire. As I'm closing in on the boy and slowing down, I'm also trying to get my feet out of my clips so that if I do stop I won't flop over myself. It was pretty amazing, with my heart pounding in my chest with the realization that I'm going to wreck into this kid, but within 3-5 feet, I was able to stop. I also was able to get my feet out of clips before I stopped. I'm glad that I was able to avoid a potentially serious problem of hitting his bike first, and then potentially falling on top of this 100lb skinny kid.

The second thing is that during the first half of the ride, there was a couple riding tandem. For a few miles they were drafting me, and the husband eventually spoke up and starting encouraging me. He said that I was handling the hills and the headwind very well since I was riding in a fairly upright position on my hybrid. This was a huge boost of confidence since they belonged to the local bike club in Winchester. I held on and battled the wind throughout the ride and eventually made it to the finish line in 2:02:30 at a pace of 14.25 mph. I have no clue as to how much change in elevation this ride had, but I think its more than I have ever ridden before.

Overall, I'm very pleased with myself and I'm glad that I chose this ride as my first charity ride. It was a very positive experience and will definitely be back next year--hopefully with a road bike.

This Week's Mileage: 61.90
Previous 30 Days Mileage: 222.80
This Year's Mileage: 448.20
Current Weight 214.0 lbs

No comments: