Just for fun.
#1. Flat gravel section, smooth and non-technical.
#2. Climbing, somewhat technical with smooth straight sections.
#3. Descending, technical with rocky sections and roots in certain sections.
What a fast ride! I went in with a goal of finishing within R60 time and did so quite handily. Managed to nail my nutrition, hydration and control stop times with no issues. I had been reading about Jean Dubois in an issue of Bicycle Quarterly the night before and it really struck me his lamentation of the perception that modern randonneurs often just look to finish. Whereas his era was about riding hard and “putting in a good time.” This really crystallized the ethos for which I decided to get into randonneuring. I want to ride far as hard as I can within the rules of the sport, put in a good time and effort.
I got a little nervous the night before and the morning of but it was nothing but a little butterflies. The weather was amazing and the start was so close. I will admit I was a little exhausted the week leading up to the ride. I’ve been hiking too much and riding much more climbing in pursuit of ITP Points so it was good to finally be able to take Thursday and Friday to rest for a big ride.
The course was high traffic and it seemed like every other car was a truck and every other truck was towing a boat or a race car or a construction trailer and something else. I’m usually not used to riding so much on numbered highways or country trunk roads so it was a little more stressful that I prefer. This is apparently an organizational issue at the RUSA level. I’ve been doing a bit of research and this post from the New England Randonneurs is the most succinct summary I’ve found.
– The route needs to be fairly direct between controls. Backroads are OK provided that they don’t add more then 10-12% of additional distance instead of riding direct on state/US highways which allow cycling. For example, if the distance between two control locations via MA 115 was 40 miles and by using the nicer backroads the distance becomes 45 miles, this is generally OK. But if the backroad distance was 50 miles this would be too much overage and you’d need to use an intermediate control or take a more direct path. RUSA takes this seriously.
As someone who prides themselves on creating long distance routes that are low stress and fun to ride I find this deeply disturbing. We should be routed onto two lane 55 mph speed limit numbered state highways – just because RUSA says so? This is the kind of “rules are rules” nonsense that gets people killed. Not to put too fine a point on it.
I was passed by 42 cars, trucks or tractor trailers in the last two miles of this route, one every 12 seconds. The very definition of high stress. Why? Because RUSA wants to apply a more strict interpretation of the regulations than even ACP appears to?
I had a really good ride. The course had smooth roads but also some aggressive chip seal, some mild chip seal, rolling hills and some nice secluded sections in the Peidmont NWR. I only shifted out of my big ring once and that was to get up McCrackin Street heading out of Juliette. I stopped for water once at the fire station on Round Oak Juliette Road and ate the food I brought. People at the gas stations were nice about signing my card and the info controls were obvious. I met local hardwoman Betty Jean Jordan at the control West of Monticello and had her sign my card. Really nice lady and funny to put a face to a name that I’ve been seeing on Strava for years.
I didn’t have any saddle pain but I have been having some issues with the left side of my back so I was stretching and making sure to move around on the bike as I rode. Really at the end I felt great, just tired and sore legs and mentally tired as well. I think I need to tone down the hiking the day before but otherwise I had reasonably good preparation. Lots of sleep and naps and eating ok but maybe a little too much. My mouth was a little torn up which is worrying for such a short distance but I think I just need to chew more and probably get some more liquid nutrition in during the ride. Maybe try some chocolate milk.
Next time I would like to get ready a little earlier and check out the other rider’s bikes. There were some interesting looking ones in the few seconds I had before the start.
I rode my Diamondback Haanjo Comp with tubeless Panaracer Gravel King Slick 700×38 tires using Stans Sealant. I think my pressure of 30/32 was a little lower and could have been higher for the smoother roads at the start and end. It was perfect for the middle chip seal. I used a Revelate Tangle Medium framebag and had just enough room for my tools, food and reflective vest. No front rack for now.
Earlier in the winter I paid much too much for a Masi Randonneur 650bx47 low-trail bike with the intention of riding it for the SR series. However I found the bike intolerably stiff and the tires/wheelsize overly slow so I chose not to ride it. I am happy with the choice I made, the additional weight and drag would have made this ride unnecessarily hard. I plan to revisit the bike but not any time soon for randonneuring. Which is a shame but oh well.
Of all the places I’ve ridden from, in Georgia and the Southeast as a whole, for some reason McDonough was one of the few that made me feel weird and like an outsider. I don’t know what it was but much of the route just felt odd to me, lonely and isolated in a way I do not usually experience. When I started riding as an adult I had to listen to music while riding, I needed it to ride. Sometime near the end of 2016/early 2017 I just lost my preference for it and have been riding with just the noise of the wind. This ride was the first time in a year or so where I would have preferred the option to listen to music. I will be digging out my tiny mp3 player and using it on future brevets.
So overall, a good ride. I am excited and nervous for the remaining rides in this years SR series.
Moving time 7:30
Total time 7:44
Photos taken; 2
Clif Bars eaten; 5
Caffeine; 120mg + 40mg
Total Stops; 8 for controls (I rode by the info control for the bridge as I could read the year clearly at 25 miles per hour) + 2 for nature and water
Water bottles consumed; 5 but I ran out at the end and came in dry and empty
Exploring the West Side for ITP points and ending up in some random dudes Strava photo.