After LEL, I kicked it into low gear with no real long rides to speak of in either August or early September. Instead, I enjoyed a restorative vacation on Block Island for several weeks with my wonderful family. My riding fell into the 1-3 hour variety for the past six weeks or so. The end of August always means that school is on the horizon and faculty meetings and the hustle and bustle of planning and executing a new school year means less time in the saddle for yours truly. Needless to say, within this context, my ride last weekend on the Catskill Climbfest 200K permanent route I manage was most welcome. The Catskill Climbfest is a route I pieced together taking in several of my favorite climbs and back country roads through the amazing Catskill Mountains. I tend to ride this route about 6 or more times each year and it always feels like a homecoming when I do. I was lucky to have the companionship of my friends Don and Andrey last week which made up for the fact that we encountered the first significant rain of the month.
Don and I arranged to ride on the last Sunday in September to be sure to net the miles needed for both Don’s R-12 and my Year-Rounder awards. I long ago gave up on the prospect of an R-12 as a reasonable goal at this point. I would much rather squeeze in a fun race or build to a 1200K than use up my family cycling “credits” to simply get out to complete 200Ks on a monthly basis. Cycling year-round in New York State is hard enough. Mabe when my kids are a bit older. Don drove over from Connecticut on Sunday morning and Andrey rode over from his house which is just a few miles from the start. We met at a few minutes before 7:00 a.m. in the rain and brought our brevet cards into the Stewart’s Shop to be stamped. A woman who works the early shift reached for the store stamp as she saw us walk through the door. While she didn’t remember my name, she knew who I was and why I was there.
Anyway, as luck would have it, the weather forecast was ominously wet for this one day so we all planned accordingly. We headed out shortly after 7:00 with fenders and rain gear into the rain, which fell on us with great consistency, but never very hard. It was more of a steady drizzle with temperatures up in the 60s so that, while my feet were drenched the whole day, I never really felt too cold. In fact, for much of the day, riding in the rain felt like a blessing. The air smelled heavy and alive and the sounds were more muted than they would have been on a sunny day filled with cars on the roads and wind in the trees. I felt strong on the two major climbs of the day and it was comforting to see that my conditioning had not totally disappeared over the past month. It was also a treat to ride with friends after so much time training solo. I look forward to our next 200K in a few weeks.