Sunday, April 22, 2012

The April R-12 Ride: A Change of Plans Keeps me Local.

After planning for several months to initiate my 2012 brevet season with the Princeton (NJ) 200K, I sadly had to "switch gears" and ride a local 200K instead. When I was asked to serve as the MC for my school's annual gala auction on Saturday night by the generous and hardworking chair of the auction committee, I knew that the only appropriate answer was "of course." Originally, I thought this would still allow me the time to ride in the scheduled brevet, drive back to upstate NY, shower, dress and put on my game face. What could go wrong, I asked myself. Wait a second, that's probably not the best way to plan. With a margin that tight, I decided to stay local, eliminate the travel time and still get in my scheduled April R-12 ride.

So at 5:30am, I rolled out of bed, brewed some coffee, suited up and hit the road. The forecast was for midday showers and scattered thunderstorms, so I was sure to ride the new bike with Honjo fenders firmly in place. I also packed my new Showers Pass jacket eager to give it a try. Since one of my permanent routes starts a few miles from my door, I just clipped in a rolled out the driveway as the sun rose over the river. I designed the "Keep the River on your Right 200K" as a way to log winter miles in anticipation of my R-12 attempt. The route basically hugs the Hudson River on both banks, covering well maintained primary roads with very little altitude gain.  It's very hard to ride 200K without hills in this area, but many of the roads I typically cycle on would not be suitable to winter riding after a snow storm.

The downside of a basically two-directional route is that wind often makes one of the legs considerably less pleasant than the other. Yesterday, we had a steady 10-15 mph wind out of the south so the large middle section from Hudson to Beacon was slower and less pleasant than it might otherwise have been. The two river crossings in particular were blustery. It's a good thing there are secure railings on those bridges. Phew! Despite unpleasant winds, the rain never appeared so I was dry throughout the entire day.

In addition to the breathtaking natural beauty, the Hudson Vally is rich in history. On this particular ride, I passed the Vanderbilt Mansion, FDR's home in Hyde Park and the site of New York's first public school. I also rode past Hudson River School artist Frederic Church's home "Olana" and the outstanding modern art museum Dia: Beacon. I wonder how riders would respond to passing through an art museum to find answers for an information control?

Since I had the school's annual auction on my mind as I pedaled through at least 20 towns in which our families live,  it occurred to me that I should really plan an endurance trip taking in every town that sends a child to our school. Not sure how long that one will take, but seeing as we draw from a 30+ mile radius, it will be a good workout for sure.