From Dan (dmg)
My report: this year, I tried to 1. take it easy on day 1 to avoid collapsing after the halfway point (as I did 2 years ago) 2. make sure I was eating every hour and drinking every 30 minutes regardless of actual hunger or thirst. I started out feeling terrible, got thigh pain 20 miles into it and was dropped by everyone else on the Schuylkill trail in Philadelphia. Later, I managed to not get off the trail at the right spot and took an unintended trip to Phoenixville, where I somehow managed to get my first wind by the time I made it back to the route. Was feeling good all throughout York, then started lagging again so stopped at Sheetz for a sandwich and milkshake around 1. Met up with and was dropped by Bill somewhere thereafter, ate in Chambersburg, and continued on my own through Cowan's Gap State Park (which was really nice despite inky darkness and a couple of huge trucks. Somewhere after Burnt Cabins I caught up with 3 people from Philly, and together we found our way to the abandoned turnpike. I was somehow feeling better than I had all day, but everyone else was tapping out, and I figured that taking it easy was the best policy. We all split a room in Breezewood, and in the morning two of the Philadelphians threw in the towel and got someone to pick them up.
Eric and I continued on and met up with Ryan, who rode with us to Bedford before feeling like he needed to rest. As soon as we left Somerset, we started getting buffeted by 30-40mph winds that made the climbs oh so much worse, and the descents near death experiences. Finally made it to Somerset in the 3 worst hours I've spent on a bike in recent memory and ran into Jim Logan, who guided us to Walmart for some emergency clothing and then to the trailhead. The trails were littered with branches from the winds, but were otherwise pleasant enough. The trail was rocky enough to loosen one of the bolts that held my front fender in place, which required some emergency zip-tie surgery in the gloom. Stopped in Connellsville for food, and then headed back on the trail in the dark. Somewhere in this section I began to lose my mind, but Jim kept everyone talking and awake during the remaining 40 miles. As soon as we got off the trail around midnight and headed to McKeesport, the temperature fell into the 40s and started raining in earnest, and that plus the delirium sent us 5 miles in the wrong direction. Whoops. Jim eventually figured out our error, and we backtracked from Elizabeth to McKeesport, then got on 837 to Carson Street, to the jail trail, to the Point, and to victory at 3:30am. And then, as a final kick in the pants, I got a flat (the only one of the ride) a mile from my house in the pouring rain. Definitely the hardest day in the saddle that I've experienced yet, but I'm glad I did it. And that it's over.