June 17, 2009
110 mile solo run – The epic ride of 2009 for me
Departure was around 8:15 AM and the plan was to ride up and Sally would drive up after work to get me, then we drive back home that night.
The weather was perfect for this – a window of opportunity in what had been and would continue to be a bleak weather season. The temperature was in the upper 70’s and there was little or no wind.
This was destined to be a great ride – a one-way century. No out and back this time. The course had a few hills here and there along the route but the ‘good stuff’ would come in the final miles. We had driven the route a week or so earlier and noted all the turns. While we frequently drive up to Rangeley from our home, we never took this particular route. This route was researched and mapped out to avoid some rather nasty patches of riding up through route four in Auburn. The journey would be 112-115 miles and I estimated it would take between five and six hours.
I chose to ride with a small messenger bag. I went back and forth on this – I am not that pumped about riding with a bag for six hours, but – Not having to crimp on drinks and snacks was a huge plus. I have a few bags from timbuktu that I love and even after six hours I was fine with this bag. In the bag I had eight power bars and two twenty ounce bottles of Cyto-Max. I also had a wind jersey, a phone, camera, some butt butter and a wallet.
I rode my premium rode bike for this trip. A carbon fibre Merckx 1XM with full Dura Ace 7900. I have a Garmin 705 mounted up for data collection and – yes – an iPod (horror) nano with a ride specific soundtrack installed.
The ride had a couple of rough spots (climbs) fairly early on. In New Gloucester there is a fairly painful rise of 13-14 percent, but the real fun was to be found later in the trip –
The chart show the rather prominent trend towards the end. This was also the most remote area of the ride – through such thriving urban centers as “Letter D” and “Letter E” (I always said I wanted to move to “Letter D”) the grand unorganized townships of western Maine
I was a little nervous starting out – I knew the worst was at the end, I knew I was in shape – but still – It was a long day. Lots could go wrong many miles from home.
It was fairly typical rural roads for the first half of the trip – up to mile 50 they were secondary state routes with little or no shoulder, but great pavement and minimal traffic. Somewhere around mile 35 or so I left the butterflies behind me and fell into a groove. The views were grand and it was going to be a great day for a nice long ride north.
I stopped at a small store for some caffeinated beverages that I threw into my bag for later on, filled up on water etc and back on the road. Now I don’t think the folks at this store were in the habit of seeing a guy like me wander in. I could feel the eyes of everyone in the store bearing down on me as I paid for my stuff – Lycra shorts, cleats, my bag, 6’3″ tall – must have given them something to talk about, thats for sure.
Shortly after leaving the store, a HUGE shoulder opens up on the route. Sweet. I crossed the big river in Rumford then up to Coos Canyon for an off the bike break and stretch. I tanked up on water, Diet Mtn Dew, and power bars, splashed some of the salt off of my face and enjoyed fifteen minutes off the bike. This was just below the fun stuff and I knew I would need the food and fluids soon.
It was just a few miles up the road from my rest stop that the angle tipped decidedly up – a trend it would hold on to for pretty much the rest of the way. Now, this was not my first century and not my first century of the year, I know how I ride and for me, mile 80 is where I am looking for a second wind – just about had enough.
At mile 80 on this ride, a steady nine percent grade shows up. It was bright sun, no wind, the temperature had climbed up into the mid 80’s or so and my pace dropped into the basement. Nothing to do but plod on, turn up the tunes and focus on a huge meal and a beer later that night.
One thing I will say about this section is the views were out of this world. What a beautiful place – great weather, on my own out on a road with almost zero traffic on one of the most scenic stretches of road in western Maine. After a few more miles I was at the height of the land and enjoyed a clear view out across Rangeley lake towards my final destination.
While it looked like a long way off, I knew the ride was in the bag and that I was almost there – close enough that my thoughts for the rest of the ride were nostalgic towards a ride that was in the final miles
I had only one more hill of great significance left – “Dodge Pond Hill” is a steep little bugger at the end of a long day. Any other day, the unrelenting ten percent grade would not be all that much – but after a hundred miles in the sun – it stung.
Near the top I had a big moose run across the road and slip on the pavement and go ass over tea kettle down the bank on the other side. He seemed no worse for wear and got up and continued to motor on into the woods.
I bombed down cemetery hill at around fifty miles per hour past the final resting place of my grand parents.
It was only an hour or so before Sally made it up. I cleaned up and we had dinner in town. A decadent meal of burger, fries, onion rings, and beer. The fact that I had been on a diet for the past five months combined with a hundred mile ride made this an extremely tasty meal.
All that was left was the hundred mile drive home.
I hope to do this a couple of times this year (2010) and Sally has expressed guarded interest in doing it as well.