Monday, April 12, 2010

The Princeton 200K: One Step Closer to my BHAG!

As I mentioned several moths ago, my Big Hairy Audacious Goal or BHAG (see Jim Collins) is to complete the Cyclos Montagnard R60 Challenge. To achieve this distinction, randonneurs must complete a full brevet series in under 60% of the maximum time allowance established for each distance. Roughly the same percentage of time required for membership in the honorary Charly Miller Society. To date no one has succeeded. How audacious to think I may be the first! After Saturday's Princeton 200K, I was one step closer.

Early April is fickle in the Northeast and the Princeton 200K has been plagued by unpleasant weather for the past several years. This year, though, we were blessed. The weather was outstanding with temps in the 50s and 60s through much of the day. It never got hot enough to remove the arm warmers, yet the sun was plentiful and illuminated both flowering trees and annuals along the entire course. With over 65 starters, the organizer, Jud Hand, chose to send riders out in one of three groups. As luck would have it, "S" placed me in the first wave.

I saw a few familiar faces at the start, but spent much of the day with only fellow rider Lenny Zawodniak who will be riding the PAC Elite tour next month. It's always more enjoyable to share the burden of wind and navigation and Len proved to be a great companion. We stayed at each control only long enough to process cards, fill bottles and swallow a few calories.

The Princeton 200K route is outstanding and will challenge anyone's preconceived notions of New Jersey. Having grown up in the state, I am still blown away by the beauty one rides through on NJ Rando rides. The first 36 miles were quick as we rode through the village of Princeton and then through the surrounding towns as we worked our way west towards the Delaware River. A nasty little headwind was the only disappointment on the outbound journey. The staff at the Frenchtown control was hospitable and accommodating. The route is filled with rollers, smooth roads and gorgeous Colonial farms and villages. Sections were quite beautiful, especially the stretch along the Delaware that includes an odd little one lane (two way) road that felt more like a towpath than anything else.

Mechanically, my Indy Fab behaved pretty well, but the brand new drive train needs an adjustment or two.For one thing, I lost use of the small front ring between mile 105 and 115 right in the midst of a nice set of rollers. Eventually, the cable sorted itself out and I regained the full use of all gears. I also had to stop at one point to tighten my left front fender stay which had loosened and begun rubbing against the front tire. Note to self: no mechanical upgrades without a long test ride and always be sure to tighten all bolts, screws and levers before a big ride.

On the ride home we were blessed with an impressive tailwind. Lenny and I finished in 8:05, missing the sub-8 hour 200K I had envisioned, but making it under the 8:06 R60 time limit by ONE MINUTE! Crazy man, crazy. Hats off to Jud and the volunteers for an outstanding event all around.

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