Eric K., Reddan, Steph, and Bill joined me last Sunday for a first running of the Turn-a-Breeze Perm route.
As I think I mentioned before here, I have never ridden all this route in one shot, so even though it is well known to me, I was interested (and slightly concerned) about what it would be like to ride it. It’s really not the same to ride it in pieces on different days than to do it as a permanent.
While the route is designed to maximize safety and scenery, it does have a few unavoidable warts. Would the 5% unpleasant overshadow the 95% pleasant? Possibly.
The first 1/3rd of the route is flat-like (about 40 feet of up per mile), as is the final 1/3rd. But the middle section has about 90 feet of UP per mile. I was worried that the climbing was too poorly distributed. Would the bookends feel a little too boring, and the middle would feel like a deathmarch?
I have been doing the least amount of riding I have in the last 6 or 7 years, since before I started riding again (after a decade off the bike back in the lat 90’s / early 2000’s), so my weight is up and my fitness is down. I had a number of upper back and shoulder problems this past winter and spring, and only in the last 6 weeks or so have they not impeded my riding significantly.
So I started this ride fearfully. None of my companions have been so stationary this spring and summer, so this ride was no big deal for them.
Steph and Bill took off on their own about 10 miles into the ride, shortly after we passed through the first road closure of the day. Dan, Eric, and I stayed together the whole day. So did Bill and Steph.
Everyone had a few words of encouragement (ahem, complaints) about the info controle question in Bedford. Ok, yeah, it’s not supposed to be a scavenger hunt, is it? I personally think it’s cool to have to hunt for a minute or two. Yeah, I know it’s about proof of passage, but tough noogies. Acceptable alternate controles are any local businesses nearby, so the hunt is optional. I prolly should warn future riders though (or change the question, of course).
The route from Bedford to Breezewood is well known to CTC anciens, and is absurdly hilly. On the ride, we pondered why on earth some of these roads are even there at all, or why did anyone want to pave them, as they serve very few houses and farms.
Breezewood was a total cluster-____, what with the 4th of July holiday traffic. We filtered through it like a….um…breeze, and then found ourselves unable to filter through the chaos at Sheetz. I had been looking forward to a freshly made sub, but had to settle for a really lousy pre-made one. Such is life.
The 15 miles after Breezewood keeps up the pressure, and the climb up French Creek road was worse than I thought it would be. This was one of the few parts of the route I had never actually ridden my bike on before, only drove in a car. It sucked. Dan, following close behind me on the climb, began to hallucinate, and saw a neon yellow muppet shark on the back of my bike as he ascended. He afterwards showed me the pic he took – yep, he’s right – a Yellow Shark.
The descent off that climb is a hoot. Worth it. Totally worth it.
Anyways….. We finished the rest of the ride without incident. Some other interesting notes:
We had a headwind in the afternoon coming north through the Cove, even though we had a headwind heading south that morning through Imler Valley. Screwed, I tell ya.
The section of road through the narrows on Rt. 36 near Loysburg that I thought would be dangerous was fine. We did it on a Sunday when truck traffic is low, and there is a bit more of a berm there than I remembered, so it was manageable. Not fun, but manageable. I can tolerate almost anything for a mile or two (and that’s all this is).
I felt like crap at the end of the ride. Like I had a fever, along with heartburn and nausea. I relied on sugar and caffeine to see me through the last 40 miles and that was a mistake. One I know better regarding, but I was being stupid, I admit.
Oh, by the way, total climbing per RWGPS is 7,200 feet, but my Garmin said over 8,400 by the time we finished. Who is correct? Beats me. It sure felt more like the 8,400 but that could be my lack of fitness doing the perceiving.
Reports from all participants were that this is a great route. I am glad they liked it. I liked it too.
In the end it seems my fears about the route were not well founded. I guess I was just being paranoid since it’s the first RUSA route with my name on it.
After doing this break out 200K, I felt really jazzed about riding again, and was looking for a good end of season. However, I am typing this with a 3″ long stitch in my face, recovering after skin cancer surgery. No more riding for at least 2 more weeks, I figure. Oh well. I will recover and have a good fall. In the meantime, wear your sunscreen, folks!