I had mentioned in my last post about how Crush the Commonwealth had killed my inner rando groove. It wasn’t always this way, I had a damn good time last year, but not so much this year. Anyways, since I mentioned it, I thought I’d elaborate. Here are my fuzzy brained recollections of 2012’s CTC….
I was pleasantly surprised how many riders showed up at the start. About 20 or so. It sounds like the largest number that had started a west-bound CTC in years past was closer to a dozen, at most. It was great to see some familiar faces at the start along with a bunch of new ones.
Nothing notable occurred on the neutral start for most riders, but I heard someone had bike trouble close to the Bell. That’s a tough way to begin a 2 or 3 day ride. I did notice how windy it was though, and started to have some concerns that the day might be a bit slower and tougher than I had hoped.
The first 50 miles went ok, and we (Dan Blumenfeld and I) rode with Eric and Max a bit here and there on the way; I liked having them to chase, as they slowly pulled away from us as we approached Morgantown. But I was not enjoying the wind and the cold much at all. When we got to the Morgantown Sheetz I took the opportunity to add a second pair of arm warmers and I even put on my winter shoe covers ‘cause my toes were absolutely freezing, even with wool socks on. The air temperature was 50 deg F, but the wind made it feel a whole lot worse. It sure didn’t feel like a few days before May.
After we left Morgantown we ended up riding with Max and Eric as we made our way towards Lancaster. Max was clearly feeling the most energetic amongst the four of us and would ride ahead and drop back to keep the group together in a sort of informal way.
The winds were out of the North, and the cloud cover was pretty heavy, keeping everything cool. Wind gusts were quite annoying. At least once or twice I got knocked sideways towards traffic. It was a little stressful with those winds, in addition to being a little slow. I’d guess the wind was taking 3 or 4 mph out of us most of the time.
Dan and I lost Eric and Max for a period around Lancaster and York. If I recall correctly, we all regrouped not long after getting on Rt. 234. We made a quick pit stop at the Rutters near East Berlin to be ready for the climb up to Michaux. That climb was actually pretty nice and I was actually having fun for the first time all day. Not coincidentally the sun had come out and the temperatures had warmed up at least 5 degrees or so. The winds even seemed to had lightened up a small amount. I even enjoyed the long downhill run on Rt. 30 into Chambersburg.
At the Chambersburg Sheetz we ran into Paul from Ohio and Dan G. Paul’s back was suffering from a too-heavy backpack and was contemplating his exit from the ride. Eric had been feeling lousy all day and decided enough was enough here too. We all fueled up heavily and the new group of four (Dan B, Max, Dan G, and myself) headed out into fading daylight. We hit the climb up to Cowan’s Gap just after sundown. I was surprised that enjoyed that climb, but it would have been more fun in the daytime. At the top we got some assistance from the park ranger who directed us to some open bathrooms were we could get water.
We set off down the mountain and it was really apparent that the air temperature was dropping pretty quickly. I was surprised how hilly the section between Burnt Cabins and the abandoned turnpike was. It’s a very hard section of road and I was really starting to lose my strength. Dead legs was an understatement. By the time we hit the old turnpike, I was running on sheer willpower. The other three guys probably didn’t realize how close they were to dropping me on the abandoned road. I was somehow able to keep up, though. Or maybe they had sympathy and didn’t let on that they knew I was almost ready to pass out.
I barely had the strength to eat before we got hotel rooms in Breezewood and went to bed, but I am glad I was able to get something substantial down. Morning came way too quickly, but I was surprised how decent I felt. Initially I was worried that the very hilly terrain on the road from Breezewood to Bedford would get the better of me, but I did alright.
Although on that segment, I did a little soul searching. After so much non-fun the day before, and faced with rain, perhaps snow, and certainly cold temps once we got beyond Somerset, along with the prospect of riding 90 soul-crushing miles on the GAP, Dan and I decided to bag it in Bedford, as it was the closest point on the route to my wife and her car, which represented our easiest method of exit.
I was pleased with what I accomplished on Friday, but it consumed all of my surplus ambition. Physically, on Saturday, I was riding ok (not great, but good enough), but I had very little desire to keep going. If Friday had been a little more fun, I might have kept going on Saturday.
The rando ethos be damnned – at some point I can’t help but remind myself that this is supposed to be fun. What a concept!
But randonesia will bring me back next year I am sure.