|2007 Covac - Earth, Wind on Fire|
|Written by Curt Bousquet|
|Monday, 10 September 2007|
Four days before the COVAC this year, I wasn't even sure if I was going to do it. I'm a bit low on miles this year so didn't know if I should be doing a 100 mile ride.
On Tuesday's ride, Mark Newton asked me if I was going to do it and mentioned that he hadn't done the COVAC before and would like to ride with me if I was. I was right on the fence at that point, so that was enough to tip me toward doing it. I went home and registered online just minutes before the online registration closed.
I mentioned to Walter that we were doing the ride and asked him if his back was up for it. He was willing to give it a try. Next, I thought to ask Mike Levin if he wanted to join us. He'd only done one century ride (This Spring with Mark) and I thought this would be a good one for him. So now our group was up to 4.
John Bentley called to see what time we were planning on starting (5) Walter said Megan wanted to join us (6) then John Marcy (7) met us and the start as did David (I forget his last name) (8) who had seen our 'chatter' on this site about our start time.
So off we rolled, passing the church just as it struck 8:00. I knew were were in for a hotter than normal day, since every other year I've done this I've always started out with arm warmers or a jacket, while today it was already quite comfortable. Mark had offered, while I was on the fence about doing the ride, to pull the entire way if need be. I wasn't expecting him to really do it, but he went right to the front as we left the parking lot. And stayed there... and stayed there... and stayed... setting a nice warmup pace then bringing it up slighly after the first 10 miles or so. He was setting his pace based on his power meter, so we had a consistent level of effort regardless of whether we were going uphill or down. The only time the level of effort went up was when he spotted riders ahead of us... he just couldn't resist chasing down 'rabbits' until he put them behind us.
We hit the first food stop with a 19.9 average, having passed many many other riders without being passed at all ourselves. This made me worry just a bit, since it meant that we were riding with a faster pace then most of the other riders on the course. We spent several minutes at the stop (always a mistake for me, I need to get water grab a snack and get back on the bike ASAP or else I have to warm up all over again) before heading out again. As we went South out of Old Deerfield back to Stillwater road, we got our first taste of the headwind that we'd be fighting on the Southern part of the loop.
We crossed the Deerfiled River then turned onto Lower road where David decided to leave us. He was still recovering from being ill and didn't want to push himself too hard. Only a mile or so up Lower road, we were caught by a group of riders about our size. We stuck together until the small climb up to the fairgrounds. When we split again, we traded John Bently for another rider (sorry, I forgot his name... he's ridden with the shop before).
Things were starting to get hot as we approached the second food stop. a few miles before reaching it, we caught sight of a long string of riders ahead of us and Mark gave chase, so when we reached the stop at 55 miles I was starting to feel a bit tired. Once again, we took a long stop before hitting the road again. Not too many miles later, we crossed the river and got a big dose of reality. The flat open stretch of rte 119 from Brattleboro to the race track was like riding in a convection oven. The road must have been 95 degrees and the wind was just as hot. Mark finally decided he needed a break (after pulling 95% of the first 65 miles!!) and went to the back of the group to leave Megan, John then me to give it our best. I didn't have much to give, but my turn came just as we took the nasty climb up to the high school, so I was able to control the pace somewhat. This hill was the first nail in Mike's coffin. He started to cramp up at the top and we all slowed a bit to give him a chance to recover.
After hitting 63, the pace started to pick up but I still felt like I was recovering from my pull :( so called for mercy and asked the group to slow down just a bit. They did, but I think by this time it was too late for Mike. He came off the back a few times and we finally stopped at the parking area for the rail trail (where we found a nice shaded area) so he could recover a bit and try to get his heartrate down while Water poured water on his head and back. I reall wanted to ask Walter for the same treatment, but knew that water wouild be a scarce resource before the next stop so didn't bring it up.
Well, my only goal this year (as I kept saying before the start) was to finish 'feeling good'. I lost sight of this goal at about mile 70 when I ran out of water and basically hit a wall. I fell way off the back on the climb into Nortfield. Be the time we got South of town where Rte 10 split off, Mike and I were both hurting and straining to keep in contact with the group. I finally gave up and watched them pull away. They came back to check on us, but we both told them to go ahead and we'd meet up at the last stop. Mike and I plodded along for a few miles before Mark came back to give us a hand, but I just had to set my own pace at this point. It would have taken MORE energy to try to stay on somebody's wheel.
Mike and I rolled into the final sag, collapsed into chairs that were supposed to be for the SAG crew (thanks for feeling sorry for us and not booting us out!) and tried to stretch this stop as long as we could.
I didn't have much left in me as we climbed the road out of this stop. As soon as we hit 63, the group's pace went up to 20mph. I didn't even bother to say anything about it, I as just as happy to slowly slide off the back and do my own thing. As I as making my way up the first hill on 63 I saw Mike get off his bike, put his hands on his knees and bend over, head down. Oh damn, I thought, he's really in trouble now if he's puking on the side of the road! But he wasn't, he was just trying to stretch out more cramps which had returned almost instantly on the hills. After he took a few minutes, we started off again at a nice slow pace. Riders from the front came back to us a few times, but we told them that our best strategy at this point was just to do our own thing at our own pace. After a final meeting at the bridge construction light in Millers Falls, then vanished ahead of us never to be seen again.
Mike and I set a slower pace down 63, to Swamp Road then Falls road. He was really starting to hit the wall again by the end of Falls road so we pulled over for another break before heading out again. I struggled up over the bridge in Sunderland than almost cried when I realized we had to climb that short little section up to the lights in S. Deerfield but we did it and were soon on River Rd.
Before you've done the 95 miles, you think that this last stretch must be easy, flat and fast. But the reality is that after 95 miles River Road, with a strong headwind, is hell. It is wide open and baked in the sun with a wind as hot as an oven. We struggled to keep our pace at 15-17mph until Mike was ready for another stop. He was in tough shape by this time. We were only about 3-4 miles from the finish and I really didn't know if he should get back on his bike or just wait for somebody to come get him, but after a long rest in the shade, we were ready to set out one more time.
This last section was about 200 miles and took about 12 hours to finish. But I was OK, I was having some nice halucinations that kept me entertained. We finally rolled into the parking lot (just as Mark was driving out to look for us) and tried to pretend that we were still alive as we packed up our bikes and jumped into our air conditioned cars, cranking the AC to max.
By the way, I don't think I've ever consumed this much water on a ride. Starting with 2 bottles just befoe we set out, I used 12 bottles of water on the ride and STILL finished dehydrated!
For another perspective on the ride, see Megan's blog entry
Add as favourites (1) | Views: 2434
|Last Updated ( Thursday, 24 January 2008 )|
|< Prev||Next >|
|Bicycles Unlimited carries the largest selection of bicycles and accessories in the valley. Bob oversees a staff of helpful and knowledgeable service and sales people. The shop has rides for every ability level. We will assist newer riders as well as seasoned experts with the skills needed to enjoy riding for many years.|