Monday, April 7, 2014

Spring is Finally Here! A Solo 200K Makes Up for a Washout Down South

While I had planned to ride in the MD 200K in Late March, a terrible forecast for a weekend of rain caused me to reassess my plans. Somehow driving ten hours round trip to ride for ten hours in the steady 45F rain did not seem like a terribly good idea. As a result, I took a DNS down south in favor of a slightly delayed inaugural 200K right out my back door.

There were quite a few "firsts" on this ride. It was the first time I've risen before the sunrise to prepare for a bike ride this season.  It was also the first time I've ridden a 200K in 2014, which says something about how terrible this winter has been in Upstate New York. It was also the first time this season that I've heard song birds and spring peepers as well as the first time I've ridden without gloves on for at least part of a ride since last fall. I could go on, but you get the picture. Winter is finally gone and spring is here to stay.

While I'm not in the kind of shape I would like to be in at the beginning of April, I am so overjoyed to be out on the road on one of my nice bikes without the fear of corrosive salt crystals eating away at a beautiful steel frame that I just don't really care. Fitness follows the joy of riding, as they say.

After a cold start at home, I zipped over to New Paltz to the beginning of the Flatlander's Delight 200K permanent adding a few extra miles to the day. The rolling hills served to warm me up and got me to the start eager for the day to unfold. I love the early spring in the Northeast as the colors are still so muted and subtle and this atmospheric serenity was matched along this route by the peaceful country roads generally devoid of traffic during this mid-week excursion. Against this muted landscape, even the most subtle colors stood out dramatically.

Another thing I love about this route in particular is a short section of hard pack dirt about halfway through the ride. It always feels so "isolated" in all the best ways and leaves me wanting more. Time to design a permanent or two with more substantial dirt riding deeper in the heart of the Catskills.

One of the things I truly love about long rides are the many surprises we find along the way. Even on familiar routes, it's possible to discover something new and unusual. In this way, randonneuring feeds my need for adventure in the most welcome ways.

Next up: the Saratoga 300K on April 27. In the meantime, there will be lots of riding to get this old body back into "rando shape."

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