Monday, May 19, 2008

Finished and updated

Three tired, cold and hungry riders rolled into Pittsburgh at 2:48 am Sunday morning. It pretty epic this year to say the least. Rain, headwinds and mechanicals took their toll.

I've not heard from anyone else that was still out on the course. Update: Got an email from Rob, all other riders DNF'd. Check out the comment section for some stories.

2008 finishers:
45:43 (all same time)



More later.


nick said...

me and ken bailed in west newton 30 miles from pittsburgh at around 1pm sunday.

that was a fucking hard, awful ride. i made it to breezewood around 2am early saturday. i saw a couple folks camped out by the second tunnel, i was creeped out by the tunnels so i rode on to the other side. i lied down for about 3 hours then headed out and ran into rob at the sheetz. i was really really sleepy and drinking those bottled sheetz lates didn't help. later i looked at the ingrediants -they don't even contain coffee! god that pissed me off!

as the day went on i began to hit some seriously awful headwinds. in new baltimore ted, rob and john passed me. from there until somerset was the worst bicycle ride of my entire life. the hills were hard, but the headwind was almost evil in its cruelty. i finally got to the the bike trail in rockwood at 3pm. this was better, the trees protected me from the wind and the sun was shinning. i was going to try to get to pittsburgh in one long stretch. 6 miles onto the trail at the road crossing at markleton i wiped out on a big pile of gravel. this pretty much sapped what little drive i had left in me. the blisters on my hands were bleeding and my knee and hip were bruised and cut. i made a quick bandage out of some poplar leaves and found that if i held the handlebars the right way it didn't hurt. when i got to confluence i put some proper bandages on with tape and jesus christ did my ass hurt! after i passed ohiopyle disaster struck: my crank came loose, tightened it came loose in another mile. fuck! i had 17 miles to connelsville! then a lightening storm hit i wrapped my self in my tarp and eased my way down slope toward camp carmel. i figured the bike shop would be closed by the time i got to connelsville, i would have to wait until morning. so i found somewhere to sleep 7 miles from town. my sleeping bag was soaked so i slept under my tarp. it was freezing. i gave up on sleep and walked/ rode into connelsville
at 2am. the bike shop opens at 11am. fuck! i grabbed some cardboard and headed down the trail. i slept until 6am and looked for a bike shop in dawson (it doesn't exist!) after waiting out a downpour under an overpass i came across ken. we rode together until west newton and ate footlong hotdogs and decided we had had enough. hallie picked us up.

congratulations to everyone who finished, that was fucking hard!

Robert said...

Day 2 was pretty much the worst day on a bike that I have ever experienced. First it was up. Then it was wind. Then we got both together. Wow, that was interesting.

After seemingly forever, we got to the bike trail. We thought that it would be smooth sailing from there on out, a comparably "easy" 100 miles into pittsburgh. Unfortunately, my right knee started acting up, and it became increasingly harder to pedal, so I started using my left leg a little more. Then that knee started bothering me. Then we had the freak accident where Ted ran over a stick that chose to jump into my front wheel, suddenly stopping my bike, while I kept moving. You know, inertia and all that. Unfortunately, John was about 6 inches behind me when I suddenly stopped moving at 17 mph. I remember locking eyes with him as he flew over me / ran me over. Luckily we were both ok, and the bikes were also. All that happened to my bike is that the front fender got a little mangled. This happened about 5 miles past Ohiopyle. I guess I hit my bad knee a little bit in the crash, because it started swelling up, and I could barely keep moving anymore. By the time we got to Connellsville, it was bad. Max and Eric caught up to us while we were deciding where to stop for a snack, and we all went to sheetz. The thunderstorms rolled in, and we then figured that it would be a good time to start riding again.

Ted was feeling good, and took off with Max and Eric. John stuck with me for a bit, until I decided that I was not going to make it. I was down to like 7mph at this point. I went back to connellsville and had a beer, and waited for my ride to pick me up.

After getting home, I figured that I would call John and see how he was making out. He ended up catching Ted, Max, and Eric, and they were a little lost trying to find the detour around the landslide in buena vista. I gave them some directions to get them up over the ridge to boston. Like they needed another climb. Apparently Ted had like 4 flats, broken spoke, and other problems, and had enough. I went to pick him up in Boston, and we went to have beers and food, while the other 3 guys rode for about 3 hours from Boston to Pittsburgh.

My legs are starting to feel better, although my right pinky is pretty much numb, and my ring finger is tingling pretty good. Can't wait to try again next year!!

Ken said...

My "bring nothing" strategy back-fired hard: my rain shell failed and I ran out of dry clothes. As the sun set in Chambersburg, I checked into a motel, fearing hypothermia. I fiddled with some mechanical problems in my rented room then landed on a soft surface around 10 PM. Also a bad strategy: I slept through my 1 AM cell phone alarm and didn't actually get up until 5.

I was back on the road at 6, determined at least to better previous year's time. Even though my Brooks was lopsided and uncomfortable and my brake pads had disintegrated in Friday's rain, everything went well until the Pike to Bike where I had my first taste of headwind.

I got new pads in Breezewood around 11 and rocketed the peaks and valleys from there to Bedford, a stretch of road with which I usually have to struggle. That got my confidence up, but on the way to Dividing Ridge some intense winds cut me down to a crawl on totally flat roads. I suffered up the foothills but the Ridge itself was surprisingly easy.

The sun set a few miles after the Ridge, and a few heavy drops got my Spider Sense tingling. Resolved to stay dry, I leaped over a drainage ditch and scrambled up an embankment, bike and all, and sat huddled under my tarp against a tree at the edge of a farm while an outrageously windy lightning storm passed. That blew over in about an hour and a half.

The air was still and there wasn't a cloud in the sky all night. I loaded up on MTO Turkey subs at the Sheetz in Somerset (aka Bonksville, Pennsylvania) and pumped as hard as I could for hours on end. I devoured the trail and got most of the way to Connellsville before sunrise.

Just as the sky was turning light, I hit a rock and almost instantly lost all the air in my front tire. After a quick tube change, it started to rain again and I got under the tarp. It kept coming and coming and coming. Eventually it lightened up and I kept going, but not 5 miles down the road it was like someone threw a bucket of water on my head. I was developing in ungodly saddle sore, sinking in inch into the trail, and staring off into space under a train overpass outside of Connellsville, all my motivation was gone.

Just as I started to roll, Nick also rolled out of another overpass 30 feet away, where he had been sleeping. The coincidence was too much. We spent the next 20 miles alternating sides in the debate whether or not to quit. For a few minutes I'd went to drop out, then for a few minutes I'd be the one encouraging him to go on.

When we got to West Newton, Nick got his crank, but then we discovered the landslide at mile 23 (twenty-three!), and finally both decided at once that we'd had enough.

Wesley Buckwalter said...

We didn't make the trail, but from what I hear from you all, I was right to predict and rue its soggy wonders.

The ride started out wet, cold, and miserable, and despite a few hours of sunshine mixed in there, that is how we all stayed. I think most of you will have to sync up your stories to mine by a few hours, as we were probably behind the pack. I remember watching everyone go by from a coffee shop in Lancaster where Adam and I indulged a 45 min lunch. We actually met several very nice people in Lancs. One area man, feeling bad watching me freeze, offered me his scarf. I took it.

On that note, like others who raced last year, my focus this year was to pack light, streamline gear, and work on beating my time from '07. While I had not been training as much this year, my thinking was as follows :
1. This year the weather will be nice,
2. If the weather is nice, I won't need to pack much.
3. If I don't pack much, I can beat my time from last year.
4. If the weather isn't nice, I just won't ride.
5. Therefore, I can beat my time from last year.

A permeating syllogism to be sure. You can probably guess what unfolded.

I think the trouble started for me Friday night, when I slept in every piece of clothing I had brought, and a sleeping bag liner designed to add 8F to the temperature rating of a preexisting bag w/ ground pad (either of which that I did not bring). For some reason I thought that this would be OK. It wasn't. Now, I have served in Bosnia, Afghanistan, and saw two tours in Vietnam, and I can honestly say that this night was worse then all of those experiences combined. I didn't sleep on account of the cold, Adam didn't sleep on account of my shivering. Cuddling ensued for warmth, but without effect. So far this totals 4 hours of sleep in the last 2 days.

After an early start we made it to Breezewood around 8 on Saturday morning. The weather was promising and we began to make good time. Interesting caveat here, the bike shop in the Breezewood plaza thinks that stocking Cliff Bars is an absurd practice for a bike shop. We don't understand that (and they even had gel shots!). Anyway, we hit some pretty brutal headwinds during the great divide climbs and I started to seriously drag right about the time that I became violently ill with the flu from the night's events prior. Did anyone else think that there was a mountain or two mixed in there that was possibly the most difficult hill you have ever climbed?

We got to a dive (ie cover up all lycra before entering) bar outside of Somerset and decided that curly fries would somehow reenergize. They didn't. At this point I was in pretty bad shape with a fever. As Ken said before, Adam and I also swapped protagonist/antagonist about calling it quits. Given my flair for dramatics, it probably made for some pretty good theatre, nothing shakesyspeare couldn't write a play about at least. The tentative decision we reached after this meeting of minds was to get a few more miles in the saddle, get a hotel room, recuperate and then go all out for Pittsburgh.

However, the heavy rains started again, the temperature dropped, I threw-up, and we both through-down...on a phone call to Trish for a ride in my automobile. I feel a little devastated about not finishing, but I think I convinced myself this morning that I didn't wimp-out and that instead it really wasn't worth hurting myself. I vowed last year not to ride this race ever again, but when this year rolled around it somehow seemed like a good idea once again. So, instead of making the same mistake, I'll just say it. See all you idiots next May.

Much Love, W

P.S. Does anyone get any groin numbness after long rides? If so, how long does it last? Purely hypothetical.

Crush the Commonwealth said...

I'm posting this for Max, i'll get around to writing something up soon.



so here is my recap of this years CTC.

two words really epitomize this years ride: WET and HARD.

we left philly 5AM friday in what was still pretty light rain. everyone of the about 10 or so starters was in good spirits and we decided to roll in a neutral manner to valley forge. once everyone got there we would take a break to refill our bottles and then it was race on to pittsburgh.

thanks to to local philly guys we almost got split up on our way out. Peter and his friend accidentally led the leading group of riders onto he perkiomen trail instead (how they don't know the way to valley forge i don't quite understand). Luckily i saw them head the wrong way and with a quick cellphone call everyone was back on the way to valley forge.

My freind Eric (who works at dirtrag and with whom me and Latteman have ridden the past two years) had a loose plan that involved just riding as long as we could without stopping. Since no one from philly was tagging along i just decided to roll with him and see what we could do.

The next stop after valley forge was a dunkin donuts where everyone started to do their own thing. We stopped for donuts some just rolled through and before you knew it, me and Eric were dead last finishing donuts and wondering if we were doomed to be back of the pack all the way to the burgh....

Luckily there is about zero stress from either me of eric and we just kind of hopped on the bikes and casually started pedalling. We were pretty sure we would see at least some of these folks again. oh and it started raining for real about then.

We motored on in the soggy wetness all day. we both had fenders and with my wool jersey i was never too cold. Around afternoon somtime the rain tapered off and we had a few hours of dry weather before it decided to rain again. We stopped and refeuled mostly at sheetz gas stations the whole way accross. We figured we could make it to York and this awesome burrito stand we found last year for our first real sit down meal. At some point i think we passed a couple folks but honestly it is all a little hazy for me. In York we met fellow three time crusher Ken eating a big ass burrito. We ate and chatted together and decided to roll out together. Ken was having truoble hanging with our pace so soon it was just the two of us again. the roads between York and Caledonia are really nice and it wasn't raining at that point so it was a really nice part of the trip. it was late afternoon evening and ythe legs were starting to feel a little used but we both remarked how generally good we felt and that rolling on was what we should do.

After Caledonia there is one town bfore you really head into the Appalachians; Chambersburg. We stopped at a Sheetz here and made sure we had plenty of water and food (i'd guess it was around 7PM). From there we trudged up and over Cowan's Gap and on to the abandoned turnpike tunnels to Breezewood. Our legs were starting to feel the miles and that combined with the big hills slowed our pace. We had a nice stop around 11PM up at the top of the gap and heard from a ranger that another group had passed about 2 hours earlier. We figured those had to be the front group and we knew they planned to camp in the old turpike tunnels. Our plan was still to just keep rolling.

Around 1AM we hit the tunnels and halfway through found our crew sleeping soundly in the entrance to one of the tunnels. We opted to just sneak by with Perkins restaurant in Breezewood calling our names. We sat down around 2AM for the traditional Crush The Commonwealth giant breakfast at Perkins. I don't know why, but when you are sh!tcanned breakfast food is always good. We both feasted and felt remakably good for being on the go for 20 hours. We just kept on rolling.

Life started to get a little hairy as sleep was really becoming missed at this point. Luckily the road between Breezewood and Bedford is not too bad so we just cruzed through the night and hit Bedford around the crack of dawn.

In Bedford I was starting to really miss sleeping but we figured if we could make it to Somerset we would be in really good shape and be able to nap out on rail trail for a few hours and then carry on our record setting pace all the way to pittsburgh. We totally underestimated how this next stretch was. Bedford to Somerset seemed to be one coninuous set of GIANT rollers. never anything flat just up and down. and when i say up and down i mean up 700-1000 feet and straight back down again. Well i guess every hill wasn't that bad, but it sure seemed like it. What we thought should take 3-4 hours ended up taking like 7 or 8. Doing that without any sleep for over 24 hours and with 200 or so mile already in our legs kind of sucked....

Oh and a nice stiff headwind started blowing. i swear there were parts where we were riding up a never ending hill with a 25mph breeze in our face where it felt like you just were not moving.

We were so relieved and delerious when we finally rolled into Somerset. Another Sheetz more junkfood and a big can of Monster Energy drink for waking up after my long deserved railtrail nap. It was only about 10 easy miles to the rail trail now. We were so close; we just wanted to be there.

For those who don't know the ride ends with about 90 miles of rail trail almost all the way to pittsburgh. Hitting the railtrail means all the major climbs are done and you have 90 traffic free flat miles with beautiful scenery to stretch the legs.

Around 2PM we made it to the railtrail and there just so happens to be a bar at this entrance. Eric and I decided we really deserved a drink so we both chugged a guinness and laughed about how hard the ride had been thus far. The beer made us both even more ridiculously tired and it was decided the first reasonable spot we could pull over on the trail would be our nap spot. just pull over pull out the sleeping pad and nap right on the side of the path. Sure it might look odd to the various dog walkers and pleasure riders out there but we really didn't care.

About a mile or two in we found a spot of grass and we threw down. i had my sleeping pad out and used my sleeping bag as a pillow. i swear i was probably out cold before eric started even blowing up his pad (mine is a thermarest eggcrate, boy was i glad i didn't have to blow up anything). Sleep was the best i have had since after last years event. We got in about an hour of complete blackout before Eric woke me up to infrom me that he started feeling rain drops so we should move on. It was really hard to get up after such a short break but hey we were not here to sleep so we pushed on.

Only about 10 minutes later we hear bikes coming up behind us. It was the group we passed in the tunnels the night before. There were three of them left and they had a really good stystem of drafting going on. They would take turns pulling while the other two drafted.... GENIOUS!!!! why hadn't we thought of that? There pace was so strong that we soon lost sight of them while still trying to wake up. We were pretty sure we wouldn't see them again before pittsburgh if they maintained that pace but Eric was feeling pretty good and wasn't ready to give up. We stopped and shared my energy drink and finally i started to come back into conciousness. I was still feeling pretty ragged but Eric noticing the other guys pacline strategy just told me to pull in behind him and he would pull us in as fast as he could. And so we moved on. I don't know where Eric's legs came from but pretty soon i'd guess we were going around 20mph, me just hanging on Eric's wheel and him putting the hammer down.

This worked well for a good while and i even got enough energy back eventually take a short pull now and again.

To be honest i cant quite recall how and when everything happened from then on out but eventually in some small town along he way we spotted the lead group again. We all met up again and decided to all hit up a yet another Sheetz for some food. It turns out that While pacelining the lead rider in that group tossed up a stick which landed in rider #2's wheel. That caused the second rider to go OTB and the guy in third crashed right into him. One of the guys messed up his knee pretty good and now they were forced to just limp along to keep the guy with the bum knee from getting dropped.

Even though this is a "race" so far every year everyone i have met has been really good about not dropping guys... Basically it would suck to just get left in the middle of know where by yourself and i think everyone knows that. It is really cool that even though it is a "race" really it ends up being a bunch of people out for a long fast ride. If someone you are with flats, you stop to help... if something even worse happens well you do your best to deal with it as a group. Seems there is an unwritten rule that you don't get left due to a mechanical and i think that is great! Little did we know how much we would have to stick to those rules in the following miles.

At the sheetz with about 50 miles left it started raining again... We all laughed as this made the limestone path we were riding on about twice as hard to ride and we knew we were in for some long miles.

The guy with the bum knee decided he couldn't hold us up up any longer so he dropped out.

Then there were four.

At this point it seemed god really wanted to play cruel jokes on us. The first flat happened to one rider in conjunctiuon with a broken spoke... What made it awesome was as soon as he flipped his bike to fix it, it started pouring. We all laughed and just stood there getting soaked to the bone as he changed his tire. Soon after that my previously fixed sidewall blow out (maybe 100 miles before) reblew out so we had so stop to fix that. The other rider managed 2 more flats??? i dunno but at that point it seemed we couldn't make 5-10 miles without a mechanical.

With about 30 miles to go we got to a section of railtrail that was washed out. "Luckily" in pittsburgh a detour means going up and over a fucking mountain so we all trudged up and over some giant hill. Almost at the top our rider who had been having flat problems had yet another. He also just happened to notice his shifter cable mount on the downtube was no longer there so if he were to continue on he would only have his front derauilleur. That was too much for him to fathom at this point so he pulled out.

Then there were 3.

After that we finally managed to make it to pittsburgh proper before i got another flat.... Luckily we had just one more spare tube between the three of us so it was used and we got rolling yet again. By this point my delerious tiredness had set in yet again and ofr the first time in my life i fell asleep while riding a bike. i was riding when i just dozed off and narrowly avoided crashing by waking up just as my tire was nearing the edge of the path. Luckily near disaster seemed to keep me awake barely for the rest of the antclimactic roll to pittsburgh. The three of us made it in around 2AM? We were all really happy to be done and said very quick goodbyes before heading to our respective beds for the night.

i think we came in around 42 hours? i don't know honestly and i don't care. it was faster than last year and in my opinion MUCH harder. good for us...

Eric was very nice and offered me a nice futon in my own room. We had talked of food and beer at his place on the ride home and then a long rest.

Just to give you an idea of how tired i was... When we got there, Eric cracked a beer and offered me one. I SAID NO THANKS... this could have been the first time in my life i turned down a beer. i wanted bed and nothing else. so without food or beer i just went up to bed and CRASHED. sleep was glorious! i had a train to catch the following day so i had to get up around 10. i got up had some delicious breakfast Eric whipped up and got on amtrak back to philthy.

It was a fuckin hard year! Eric and i both agreed going the other way definitely seems easier. Next year i hope for some sun and a stiff tailwind. We both agreed if you can manage to stay awake and not have any ridiculous mechanicals 36 hours is definitely possible!

Jesus, that was a long writeup and i still forgot a couple things... Anywhoo overall it is fun stuff and anyone who hasn't done it before should get a buddy and start training for next year!

i do have a couple pics i know Eric took some as well. if i get hem posted i'll let you all know!

alright i do have a job and i better get back to it! Eric, if i left out any good sh!t (or remembered it wrong) please feel free to add on to the story...


adam said...

Haha... I see this year was "aerobar's revenge."

Adam, the last time I saw you at Bavington was the last time I rode my bike (other than a quick tool around the park a couple days later).

I woke up with the most awful pain in my lower back / leg I've ever felt in my life, and I couldn't even stand up on my legs for almost a week without intense pain.

I was so looking forward to this ride as I said at Bavington that day, but up until today it was pretty much impossible for me to even sit on a bike.

Now that its over with my back seems to have healed. Maybe it was God's way of telling me that ride was going to suck ass this year LOL!

Anyone who is down for a ride to DC or Baltimore feel free to email. I am going to start biking again this weekend or sooner.

max said...

i just want to jump on here quick in person and say john joe and ted are fucking rockstars! they came out for there first, took it to us all by making it to the tunnels first and without the crash would have almost definitely beaten me and eric to da burgh!

joe and ted, in my eyes you guys are honorary finishers this year... you made it too far to DNF!

john, i don't think i heard one complaint from you the whole ride. you is a tough man!

please come back next year when we have sunshine and tailwinds and show us how to do it!!!!!!

thanks to everyone for coming out this year! i am glad to get another one in my legs and am already hoping to return for #4 next year.

blando said...

Wow, it makes me feel better to know that so many other people threw the towel in too. Nice.

My tale: I was riding with Rob, Ted and John and somehow managing to keep up with them, despite riding fixed. As the day ran on and I got wetter and more dazed, I started getting slower and slower but was doing pretty well up until Burnt Cabins. At that point, not having any camping gear, I was pretty much locked in to making it as far as Breezewood. I eventually ended up walking up the last couple of horrible hills before descending to the abandoned turnpike, somehow navigating the chunks of missing pavement and leaving everyone else to camp in the tunnel while going the extra mile to Breezewood a little before 11. I got the first hotel room I found, hung my soaking clothes out to dry, took a long hot shower and fell asleep, proud of breaking my previous one-day total by 50 some miles.

However, when I started off on the road around 8:30, I realized I wasn't actually feeling any better than I was before showering and sleeping. I got some Advil at gas station outside of Breezewood which temporarily make things a little less sketchy, but one knee was making a distinct squeaky noise and muscles that shouldn't normally be hurting (actually most of them, but arms and chest were the weirdest) were. Then came the headwinds. Then went the muscle strength needed to make it up the hill. As I was hiking up hill #23 into 30 mph winds, listening to my knee creak like a rusty gate hinge, I began to seriously reevaluate the choices in my life that lead me to the present circumstances. Then the rains began, and I decided that I was okay cutting my losses. I crawled (not literally) into Somerset, called my wife to pick me up, and that was that. Spent a couple of days hobbling up the stairs and having trouble standing up unassisted, but the knee pain magically went away on Monday, so that's pretty awesome.

Much respect to the people who were dealing with accidents and mechanicals, let alone camping - I can only imagine what my mental state would have been had I had to deal with that.


kingted said...

Expect a more thorough report from me in the future, but until then Rob and Max's reports seem to account for my movements!

More importantly I wanted to say Thank You! to Ken for getting the car and hauling me out there! Katrina and Big Rock Candy Mountain for hosting us in Philly and providing dumpstered goodies, Rob and John for hanging with me throughout the ride and not dropping me when I was flagging. Max and Eric for waiting up for me as my bike turned to shit (green energy as well!) and Rob again for bailing me out and taking us to Fuel and Fuddle where we sat out the honorary last twenty miles drinking Troegs and eating half price sammiches. Hell yeah.

We will be back next year for the easier and hopefully drier ride back east!

Ken said...

I'm hoping for a more competitive ride in 2009. I'll do what I can to contribute to such an atmosphere.

Wesley Buckwalter said...

So, DNF Party?

reverend dick said...

I followed along from the Black Cat Site to get here, and may I say: Daaaaamn! That sounds like my kind of party. What a rotten Good Time.