I chose to ride the Fun Machine, my fixed gear. The choice was made on a couple of different levels.
First: For the challenge. Last year I rode my Cannondale, and it had it's challenging moments, but, all and all, nothing to push any boundaries for me.
Second: it's my favorite road bike. I just plain enjoy riding it more than any other bike on the road.
Third and most importantly: Out of respect for the brave campers who attend the Hole In The Wall Gang Camp. Riding any bike is such a insignificant, minuscule challenge to what the kids face.
After safety and inspirational speeches in Norfolk, we hit the road. the ride to the first rest stop / check in is almost all downhill, and at a comfortable pitch too. No crazy spinning, just a steady tempo in the mid-twenties.
The road to rest stop 2 leads from Peoples State Forest to Granby, with some nice climbing and fast descending along rt 219. The ride starts to thin out here as everyone settles into their pace. I start yo-yo-ing back and forth with different groups; hill go up, Charlie goes forward, hill go down Charlie goes backwards.
There is less climbing on route to the next stop, the lunch stop, as we head towards the CT River. Two of my team mates and I are first to this stop.
Oh yeah, reason 4 for riding the fixed gear: I did not want to be in the competition for "Winner of the Charity Bike Event".
From lunch we head through Ellington, and what will turn out to be my biggest challenge. There is a climb that twice tilts up to a very uncomfortable grade. My Garmin says I topped out at 18.7%. Which might be correct seeing as I was over 60 miles into the ride, but it sure felt tougher than Buena Vista or Hater's road, which both exceed 20%.
From the last rest stop there is a lot of hype about the last hill up to the camp. It is long, but I found the grade reasonable and could get into a tempo. T.J. and Scott dropped me on a descent, and finished 1st and 2nd. Some juniors from Mystic Velo came in a little after me, and went out for another 20 to make it a century!
First day total: 83.24 miles, 75o7' of climbing. Time to get massages, and stuff our faces with culinary delights from Mohegan Sun. Breakfast rocked too!
T.J. and Scott
Day 2 was perfect terrain for the fixed gear. Mostly rolling, with short steep climbs. I felt great; my tendons were a little tight, but all in all, I felt good. About 15 miles in, the roads were wet from rain that had fallen earlier (we left the camp in the dry), and soon it began to rain. This only lasted for a little more than 5 miles, but long enough to let me feel like a badass for riding in the rain, and to make my Garmin, which I just got back from warranty repair, go all screwy. First it's screen went blue, then it shut off. I'm hoping this is a freak occurrence due to rain and a low battery, but I'm getting pretty tired of all the issues I have to deal with with it. Customer service is top-notch though.
At one point, a guy from Mystic Velo passed me on a descent, only to be re-passed on the next climb. He called out, "come on, what are you doing, we can work together, and make this pleasant" to which I responded, "I'm real slow on the descents and flats, don't worry you'll catch me". He then realized I was on a fixed gear, and not just being a prick ( by riding a fixie, maybe that automatically makes me a prick?). We worked together for a while, but I think his juniors, had worn him out, and when the grade increased, he fell off pace.
TJ, Scott, and 3 or 4 juniors from Mystic Velo again finished first. I came in early enough to get a hot shower, stuff my face, and get a massage without having to wait in any crazy lines. I did have to wait a little bit for the massage, because only 2 of the 4 scheduled masseuses showed.
Day 2 is 50 miles, and is supposed to be 3200' of climbing. My Garmin crapped out at 30 miles, and had recorded 2600' at that point, so that's probably about right. I read day 1 was 6250' of climbing, but I'll go with my Garmin's reading on this one!
A great weekend of riding for a great cause. I feel honored to be able to do my small part to enrich the lives of children facing such unthinkable
Our inspiration, Sarah (standing) and sister Amanda