I have been wanting to do a ride with the PA Randonneurs for some time now. And for whatever reason I figured the time was right. There aren’t a lot of rando clubs in the northeast doing randonees this time of year anyway. I am lucky for them to be no more than 3 hours drive from my house.
I knew Eric was going since he was only two 200Ks away from an R-12 award, and I asked him if I could tag along.
It was a pretty cold day. It was below freezing at the start, but it got into the high 30’s by afternoon, however. In short, I will say it was the hardest 200K I’ve done. It was billed by the organizers as a kindler, gentler eastern PA 200K, but that was total BS.
The route had about 9,700 feet of climbing – there no mountains but constant up and down, no relief save for 4 miles that followed the Susquehanna.
I have done lots of rides in colder temperatures than this, but few so long.
- Great roads and beautiful countryside. Beautiful even in the middle of winter.
- We saw a shooting star not long after night fell. I don’t know if the light caught my eye or I just happened to look up for the right moment to see it, but it was really really cool. Only the second one I have seen in my life.
- Lots of friendly Amish kids out riding at night too. Saw a couple dozen of them. They all had good generator lights (of course). Where were they all going? The girls were wearing dresses. Their legs must have been freezing!
Lessons Learned (or things I already knew, but am duly reminded of):
- Use two pairs of gloves. Alternate pairs at each controle. This prevents moisture accumulation in the gloves that sucks the heat right out of your hands. I wish one could easily do the same trick with socks. Now, for this ride, I didn’t HAVE a second pair of gloves. Next time. Next time, indeed.
- A little diluted gatorade is less likely to freeze than plain water. Dehydration is a problem on a ride like this for another reason – the cold doesn’t stimulate your urge to drink, yet tons of moisture is lost through breathing such cold, dry air.
- Keeping controle stops brief is really really important for preventing body cool down that makes the first 15 minutes of each segment a real shiver fest.
- Manage your sweat. Its better to stop when needed to change layers / clothes than to start sweating – cause you’ll really pay for it later.
- Wool balaclavas rock.
- Keeping your legs warm is key to keeping your feet warm. Somehow my feet were comfy almost the whole time.