Sunday, August 30, 2009

FLCC Otisco Lake Ride

A large contingent of FLCC-ers flocked to Homer, NY from many directions. Then, we seemed to have also left Homer in multiple directions. In the end everyone was accounted for. It was an interesting ride to say the least. Maybe we should start riding Audax style, where a ride captain determines which way to go, how long each rider pulls, much like a captain on a row boat. Everybody works efficiently together, no sprinting off the front of the group. Stops are predetermined beforehand. In France they have been riding like this for over a century. One FLCC-er discovered the limits of the body, by attempting the 100 mile ride out of Ithaca without water or food for the entire ride.

Unlike last weekend, this time I was at the Ithaca start on time. Bill Fischer, John Fessenden, Sam Kolins, Ben Kraft, Stewart Wolsh, Eileen Penner, Gary Hodges, Blaine Chamberlain, Acmae El Yacoubi (aka Ace) and I departed Ithaca at about 8:10am towards Homer. We had just passed Tower Rd when a loud pop startled everyone. John had flatted. He must have had 150 psi in his tires judging from the bang. While we waited for him Gary shot off in the distance, unaware of our incident. I used the time to eat a PB&J sandwich, since I had left home in a rush on an empty stomach. In the interim we were joined by Mark Sheehan, a late arrival.

Once our ride resumed we moved at a brisk pace towards Homer, picking up Ben's brother Max Kraft along the way. Max just completed a 4,087 mile journey over 72 days from Providence to San Francisco as part of the Bike&Build initiative. You can read more about it here. Apparently David Sahn was with Max, but decided to follow Gary as he passed by.

Upon arriving in Homer the group split. Gary, misunderstanding where the ride start actually was, darted off in pursuit of another cyclist ahead of us on SR281. Many, including myself, followed. In my rear-view mirror I thought to have seen Bill, our unofficial ride leader. It turns out I was mistaken. I decided to pull over at a gas station to purchase some fluids. At this time the group that was with me continued. I kept an eye on the road and did not see others pass. I thought this was strange, since I was inside for about 5 min. Once I got back on the bike I noticed the time, 9:58am. This was really strange. Bill had mentioned that we would arrive with plenty of time to spare. In my mind, I wasn't yet at the official ride start and it was already almost 10am. Further ahead I saw an entrance to a park. I remember starting a 65 mile ride last year with the Onondaga Cycling Club at this park. Then Gary came racing towards SR281. He saw the rest of the group continue while he was using the bathroom at the park. We decided to continue on SR281 for a while. Once we arrived in Preble I realized the mistake. This is where we were supposed to end the loop around Otisco Lake, not begin! I suggested we try to intercept the official route by taking a detour to the other side of the valley. There was a dirt road with a mega incline in the right direction. Gary and I turned right instead, hoping for another option. At this point Gary contacted Eileen and we found out they too were trying to cut across to the other side of the lake. According to a couple on a tandem, the dirt road was the only way. Gary and I joined Eileen, Mark and John and up the dirt road we went. This climb resembled the many D2R2 climbs, long and difficult. A gnarly descent followed. I let the Sam roll, reaching almost 40mph. It's a good thing I was on 30 mm tires inflated to 50 psi.

The dirt road intersected Cold Brook Rd, where we should have started the ride many miles earlier. As John and I were waiting for the rest to join us, I heard faint voices in the distance. Then many cyclists crested over a hump. We had been joined by the riders who drove to Homer and started the ride at the correct location. Sam was with them. I can remember Doug Dylla, Rob Ferguson, Steve Powell and his daughter, Sara Strickland, Mary Ann Huntley, Mike Richter, Jim Millar and Keith Dickerson. There were others whose names have slipped my mind. Noticed absences were Bill, Blaine, David and Ace. Further riders not accounted were Ben, Max and Stewart. Assuming they maintained there speed, they would be in Syracuse at that point.

After some debriefing, we rolled on. The group split not long thereafter. I remained in the back of the pack for a bit and then decided to chase the lead group, as many of those riders would also be riding back to Ithaca. Every time I chase I am reminded of the efficiency of a pace line. I was only able to catch them because of a few lumps here and there and a descent on Willowdale Rd. We moved on towards SR174. On the way we had a few spirited sprints. In hindsight I should not have contested them given the cramps I am now suffering every time my legs are not extended.

Gary, Keith, Sam and Mike stopped for a tire repair. Jim, Mark, John and I decided to move on to the first stop of the ride at the D&R Convenience Corner. This is the same place I stopped during my last Otisco ride, on March 21, with a 14F start. While we were replenishing ourselves with fluids outside, I saw Ace come along! What? Where did she come from? What was more surprising is that she did not see Keith, Gary, Sam or Mike. This was weird. I guess strange things happen around Otisco Lake. Ace is fasting for Ramadan. Believe it or not, she was riding without food or water. If she was hurting, it didn't show off the bike. I thought this attempt was pretty crazy. Then I saw Ace with a cup of water. For a moment I thought she would drink. But she didn't. It was only to rinse her mouth. She spat all the water out. Oh, crazy little Ace! We were over 50 miles into the ride at this point. She had also accumulated some bonus miles. We learned from her that she was riding with Bill, Blaine and David, but got dropped along the way. Soon we were joined by the trailing riders. Then suddenly Ben and Max arrived from the opposite direction! They had gone further on SR281 and finally decided to turn around. Stewart almost reached Syracuse before he too turned around and joined the Kraft brothers. According to Ben, he crossed with Bill, Blaine and David. Stewart joined Bill while Ben decided to continue around the lake in the counterclockwise direction. For a brief moment of the ride we were (almost) all together, at the D&R.

The Kraft brothers continued their counterclockwise loop while a few of us decided to move ahead. Ace was struggling. Sam and I dozed off for a bit when we noticed a large gap in front of us. Together Sam and I worked to close the gap to Keith, Mike, Mark, John, Eileen, Gary, Jim and John. We moved swiftly along the valley in a pace line. In no time we had reached Preble. A few phone calls confirmed that Bill, Blaine and David were 5 miles ahead of us waiting at the Cafe Mania in Homer. Our pace line accelerated and I wasn't feeling so great. I needed to eat. Keith and Mike must have peeled off since I cannot remember seeing them at the Cafe Mania. Bill & Co were no longer there. I didn't think twice. I had a delicious quiche and a raspberry frappuccino. Finally I was able to also use a bathroom. It really improved my mood.

While I was savoring the quiche Ben and Max arrived at the Cafe Mania upon completion of their loop. We decided to check on Ace. She was in distress. After mile 70 she bonked and moved with difficulty for 10 miles. At one point she felt very sleepy and had to get off the bike and walk. She was lost somewhere around Homer and would not be able to ride home. Fortunately several FLCC-ers were willing to help. Thanks to Eileen a rescue operation was assembled and Sara drove Ace back to Ithaca. She is now well but I believe the lesson to not abuse of your body in that way has been learned. It will take several days to recover from dehydration. I know this from experience.

Once we were certain that Ace had been found we continued our ride back to Ithaca. The returning leg was rather uneventful, except for the strong head wind we encountered. Working in a pace line greatly reduced the overall effort of the group. Ben and Max peeled off in Freeville. We arived shortly after 3:30pm at EHP. Bill and Blaine were still there. To top off the mystery of this ride, Mark Sheehan showed up a few minutes later, coming up Mitchell Rd. He had been dropped somewhere along US11 before reaching Homer and had continued, joining Bill, Blaine and Stewart in McLean for ice cream. Then they dropped him. I don't know how he ended up on Mitchell St.

It was hard to keep track of all the mishaps. A common denominator was that this was a great day to ride, with manageable temperatures and clear skies until noon.

1 comment:

Bau said...

Juan, I really enjoy your blog! Congratulations! Beijos, Bau