Links to ride reports:
Fxdwhl live blog action
Video from Travis
Got dropped off at the Point in a piss storm after driving about downtown finding it. Met up with the others and departed in the drizzle for a rather spirited "neutral roll-out". Glad I hung on as I wouldn't have found the trail in McKeesport without difficulty.
Rode along with Eric, Chris and Max as they were easing into their pace before I fell back into my "start slow and taper back" mode. Stopped in West Newton to grab some snack time from my pack and Adam rode past. Had a small twig jump up into my chain that required attention. Proved to be an omen.
Caught up to Adam several miles later as he was similarly eating a snack. We continued along together talking at a leisurely pace. Then about three miles or so east of Connellsville a larger stick get itself caught up in my chain and wrapped itself & my rear derailleur around the my cassette-bending the hanger into contact with the small cog.
Collecting myself after the 40+ foot skidding stop Adam and I surveyed the damage. An hour or so later I was single speeding my way back to Connellsville. I called my wife for a bail-out ride home and one of the wrenches there (I wish I could recall his name-great guy) walked up after looking at it and asked what I wanted him to do. Puzzled, I mumbled something about getting a rode home to get it looked at and he said, "I can fix it right now."
An hour later it would be ready, but he didn't have a short cage der. in stock. I was west-bound by car soon thereafter.
Can't wait to hear of the "new rule" for 2012.
Looks like I’ll get to take home honors for DFL this year!
Things started going downhill for me after the Somerset rest stop. I left before the rest of the group to try and make up some time, knowing my pace was a bit slower. At some point, I realized that the signs I was following were no longer for the “S” route, but for some other PA bike route. (Note to future CtC riders: do not follow the signs depicting magic mushrooms.) I wasn’t positive I was off-course, but decided to back track a few miles and eventually found Dean. We rode together on the same course until he too realized this was the wrong way. After consulting maps and talking to some locals at the Subway, we found where we made our error and got back on the “S” route – but not before I biked 10-12 extra miles and wasted an hour or two. Dean and I made it to Breezewood sometime around 10pm. My plan going into this was to bike to Chambersburg for the first day and have a shorter ride on day 2. So sure of this plan, I made a non-refundable reservation in Chambersburg for Friday night. Reality hit me in Breezewood when some quick calculations put our arrival time at around 3 AM if we continued on the 55 miles to Chambersburg. I was in no condition for this. I gave in for the night and got a hotel. Dean somehow pushed on to Chambersburg solo – much respect to him.
I tried to get an early start the next day, but I woke up feeling dehydrated and went back to sleep after downing more water. I eventually got rolling around 6 AM. I found the abandon turnpike successfully and rode through the tunnels without problem – but I wasn’t exactly sure where to go at the end. I missed the access road to the right and instead jumped the wire fence and scaled down the hill of rocks with my bike. I got lost again, jumped another fence, road some more on the abandon turnpike, cut through a residential backyard, and eventually – miraculously – found the “S” route.
I took a quick stop at Cowans Gap and ran into a few other riders passing by (Brian, Bill, and ??). I rode with them as long as could keep up – which wasn’t much farther than Chambersburg. From East Berlin onward I was riding solo. I got into Lancaster around 7pm and considered stopping there for the night, knowing it would be a long night if I tried to continue on. However, I reminded myself this was a race and there should be some struggle/discomfort involved (after reading the ride reports from previous years, I knew I still had it pretty easy). I continued on through the night without any major problems. Entering Manayunk around 2AM was a shit-show and reminded me how much I dislike frat boys. I reached the bell a little after 2:30AM and called it a night.
Look forward to trying this again next year.
While I am at it, here are some more random observations from the route:
rednecks in Somerset and Bedford (aka rude drivers).
Friday night at the dirt track races in Bedford.
some big a** hydraulics on the Yough' and the Casselman
seeing breath while climbing on route 31
mud/muck after closed tunnel heading toward Rockwood on the GAP Trail
how warm inside was the general store in Rockwood!
semi-abandoned Cannondale factory
surprisingly dry TPK tunnels and that the abandoned TPK is way easier to ride in daylight than dark
at the end of the abandoned TPK, did y'all know you can turn LEFT behind the grass/dirt mounds (where the old gas station used to be) and take a paved access road to Pump Station Road? (thanks, SS Ted from '09!)
Turkey Hunters at Sheetz at 430am
anti-Racism 10k race in York that we rode through the middle of
very friendly/inquisitive staff at the Turkey Hill on the far side of York center city (the retro-Turkey Hill)
The ATROCIOUS bathroom at same Turkey Hill in York! (did someone poo in the urinal?)
LOTS! of Harley's out on Saturday.
Have the Amish given up on bicycles and moved exclusively to "kick" scooters?
Mennonites riding Trek carbons (wannabe Floyd's?).
a very, shall I say, "helpful" art gallery owner adjacent to the closed bridge on route 462 that was more than willing to offer help to young cycling men find the detour and perhaps come in for a rest.
on the snake-like route (eby road/weavertown road), seeing an 18 wheeler flatbed trailer full of amish-built kids playhouses almost tip over and crush us on a 90 degree turn, one lane road
Poorly/confusingly marked "route s" on Kimberton/Coldstream road and before VF Park as well.
Phillies fans at the Sheetz in morgantown
Everybody in Philly 'burbs is a Cat1 wannabe on a carbon TT frame with $2500 carbon wheels...riding on a recreational walk/bike trail -!! ..on a crowded saturday afternoon.
Lots of hot girls in Philly, naturally.
did anyone hit South Street for beers after (we went to Copacabana)? ...and being in the bar when the Flyers lost.
fitting three bikes, three riders, wheels, gear into a single taxi cab from old city to the Airport car rental office. (I have a pic and yes, there was a bike in the front seat with a rider and the cabbie).
And the report you've all been waiting for:
Tressler Brother's CTC Re-cap:
Not satisfied with our CTC performance last year, Mark and I set our goal to break 30 hours for this year's edition. We were pretty confident that we could achieve this based on going in the "easy" direction this time as well as learning from all of the mistakes that we made last year such as: 1. Going out way too hard for the 1st 125 miles 2. Loading ourselves down with too much gear 3. Enduring major mechanical issues in Lancaster 4. Nearly losing it from the early stages of hypothermia between Rockwood and Ohiopyle.
The day started out promising with decent temps and no rain anywhere on the radar map as I rode out of the driveway for Mark's house at 4am. 20 minutes later we were standing in Mark's garage watching the rain coming down hard. We waited for the last possible second to take the 5 mi. ride from Greenfield to The Point in hopes that the rain would stop, but of course, it didn't. We rolled into The Point at exactly 5am already soaked before anything even started.
The rain stopped and everyone pedaled the neutral roll out to McKeesport. Eric gave us the all clear and Mark and I immediately put the hammer down with the intention of getting a gap on everyone before the rail trail. 5 minutes later we were all alone as we flew onto the beginning of the trail. When we hit West Newton, we decided to back the pace down a little knowing that it was going to be a long day and we wanted to save our legs for the mountains. The trail was way firmer than we were expecting after all of the rain so we were able to maintain a decent pace without expending too much energy. We caught back up to the rain between Connellsville and Ohiopyle and it kept getting heavier as the miles ticked away. The last section of rain softened trail between the Pinkerton low bridge and Rockwood started sucking energy out of us with each pedal stroke and gave us haunting flashbacks of last year's near hypothermia nightmare. We vowed to never ride the GAP trail ever again (again). After hitting the pavement in Rockwood, we both felt remarkably fresh and quickly climbed up to the Sheetz in Somerset, arriving at 12:30. A planned 25 minute break for food and drink turned into 45 minutes as we struggled to warm up. Our urgency to get back to it was hightened when about 4 other riders came through the door looking to be in good shape and not shivering like us. We threw on the rain gear for warmth and hit the road knowing that the big climbs ahead would have us warmed up in no time.
Upon hitting the road, we noticed yet another rider coming up pretty fast behind us so we picked the pace up and down Route 31 up to Dividing Ridge to get comfortably out in front again. Then we rocketed down the mountain to New Baltimore. Despite the nagging rain, the legs were feeling good and we were nice and warm. Last year, we rode the entire section between Breezewood and Somerset in the dark and didn't get a good feel for it, so our spirits and our speed was lifted considerably when we realized how fast and flat the road to Bedford was unfolding in front of us. Conversely, we didn't remember all of the short and steep climbs between Everett and Breezewood, so I did my best to stay within my limits as Mark crushed it up every hill. We arrived at the Breezewood Sheetz at 5pm feeling really good and almost not believing how quickly we got there. I had to grab a pair of $2 work gloves since my 2 pairs of gloves were soaken wet. Our eating plan was to shake it up and try to eat different things at each stop in an effort to actually want to keep eating. Mark opted to continue living dangerously and ordered an entire pizza while I got a pretzel and some mac-n-cheese. We were surprisingly let down by our food selection at our standby Sheetz this time around, so we scavenged for some food for the long road to York in the form of rice krispy treats, candy bars, pop tarts, and jamwiches.
Just after we downed our 2nd 5hr Energy energy of the day and were suiting up to leave, the guy we dropped on 31 (Bill maybe?)walked through the door, grabbed a water, and walked back outside seemingly unfazed by the distance put in up to this point. We watched him go up the road and then immediately gave chase. Upon entering the abandoned Turnpike, we spotted him just ahead and bridged up to him before the first tunnel. We rode with him through the tunnel and he told us of his intention to stop in Chambersburg to rest. He seemed content to maintain a steady pace and we wanted to get as far as possible before dark, so we left him behind again and rode on back out onto the S Route. Our recollection of the Cowans Gap descent from last year was conflicting. I thought it was pretty steep and nasty and Mark thought it was pretty gradual. Turns out he was correct and we made quick work of the 7 mile stretch up to the gap. We cruised down the backside of the mountain, feeling great that we had made it that far in the daylight. Out of nowhere, we heard a pop and Mark came to a grinding halt as one of his spokes broke and became tangled in his cassette. He wrestled the mangled spoke from the cassette and 20 minutes later I had a new spoke on and the wheel good enough true. It was at about this time that the guy we rode with out of Breezewood came flying by with his lights flashing in the near darkness. We quickly gave chase and dropped him for a third and final time just before entering route 30. In my mind, the section through Chambersburg and up to Michaux is the most dangerous section of the route considering the heavy traffic and high speeds. Our desire to not get run over helped us maintain a pretty good rate of speed through this section. We flew through Chambersburg at 9:30 and made the push up to Route 234. After a quick road side stop for a light battery change, we were off on our way to York. The temps had warmed up a little since descending Cowan's Gap, there was virtually no traffic, and the road was smooth and rolling. This was greatly welcomed after the sketchy route 30 section, and we were really enjoying ourselves flying through the dark and quiet countryside. About 5 miles outside of East Berlin at midnight, my right knee started throbbing and it became painfully difficult to turn the pedals. Ibuprofen and Biofreeze has kept the pain in check up to this point, but it was no longer having any effect. We pulled over in some random auto body parking lot so that I could collect myself and almost immediately, a hugemongous Crown Vic pulled into the lot and stopped just short of running us over. A creepy but seemingly friendly man emerged from the vehicle and asked us if we needed any help, which we kindly said no. Back on the road and determined to get to York, I gritted my teeth and our pace slowed considerably. Hitting York at 1am was surreal. There were drunk people stumbling down the sidewalks, shadowy figures hanging on the corners, and seemingly equally as drunk drivers flying by us slamming music with the windows down. After the long run in through town we finally made it to Sheetz at 130. I iced down the knee and wrapped it tightly with an ace bandage, which eliminated the worst pain. Mark again defied logic by eating a burrito while I ate some bagels and cleaned them out of jamwiches. We re-loaded our camelback bladders and lubed up the chains. An hour passed pretty quickly and our cue to leave was the steady stream of sketchballs that seemed to materialize out of the darkness like in "Field of Dreams", lured in by the promise of late night shmiscuits. We downed 5hr Energy #3 and argued about how many miles were left, 80 or 100, and quickly got out of there.
We had a nice roll down to the Susquehanna, across the bridge, and on out to Lancaster. The Amish country spider web maze section was one of the highlights of the race. We went from 330 - 5am with only seeing a handful of cars. It was unbelievably dark and unbelieveably quiet in an amazing way. We could see the beginnings of the sunrise off in the distance as we neared daybreak. We rode into Morgantown just before 6am. As soon as daylight hit, we immediately hit the wall, started drifting off and were having a difficult time focusing. We were also starving every hour on the dot and had to piss almost immediately after drinking just a few sips of water. We were starting to break down just 45 miles from the finish. Not wanting to pull a Marcus Sommers style crash in the Hell of the West, we pulled over and went for the 5hr Energy one more time. This woke us up just enough to battle through the final road sections over to the Schuylkill River Trail. We had to stop several more times along the way because we were so blown out that we kept questioning whether we were still on course or had wandered off of it. Time had ground to a halt and we were moving in slow motion when we finally reached the trail a little after 8am. We dragged ourselves down the trail towards Manayunk. The weekend warriors were out in full force, clogging up the trail with their aero bars, seat mounted water bottle cages, and TT Helmets. Apparently there are even more Fred's and Tri-dorks in Philly than in NYC. The beat up towpath section of the trail was not fun. We finally made our way up into Philly and were almost intentionally run down 20 times getting over to Market St. Once on Market, it was a cycle of ride 1 block, dodge cars, stop at red light, and repeat until we finally made it to the finish at the Liberty Bell. It is distrubing how many park rangers are shuffling around carrying guns "protecting" a large, heavy, inanimate object. Our total elapsed time was 28:27, with about 25hrs of ride time and 3:30 of stoppage time.
Lastly was the short ride over to Temple to Mark's girlfriend's apt., where we slept for an hour, ate, slept for about 2 more hours, ate again, and then proceeded to go out and get wasted. All said it was a great time on the bike, way better than last year's debacle.
Did I miss anyone?