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Ceci n'est pas une vélo

Countdown to 30: A Marathon Interjects

Posted by @teeheehee on April 20th, 2009

Training for the Century Ride means doing long rides in a progressively increasing manner up until the max event. I need to do a long ride every weekend which can be troublesome during the New England spring. In short, the weather won’t always be pretty, but I intend to be out there doing my thing anyways.

This past week I got more serious about my cycling passion with the purchase of some solid rain gear. Up until now I’ve worn nothing outright protective for rainy conditions, I’ve just trusted that I packed an extra outfit to change into when I get to a sheltered place, which was usually within 30 minutes.

This method breaks down on long rides. For qualification I generally consider any ride that is more than an hour long to be a “long ride”. Long rides may subject you to unpleasant conditions which were never an issue for me last summer; it used to be any ride would have been rescheduled to guarantee fair weather.

So I made some purchases during the week and now have cyclist-oriented rain pants and coat, fingered gloves with an optional second layer that adds more protection, and somewhat unrelated some Pocket Rides maps which I was planning on using to plot my long rides.

In some respects I feel a bit under prepared for the Century still. I am still forming logistics for all the rides leading up to, and including, the Century. I already have a couple of the Pocket Rides packs which have won me over for the simplicity, completeness, and presentation they offer. The new ones add rides that start and stop at either end of the Minuteman Bikeway. I thought to myself: “great – I can combine last week’s Minuteman 30-miler with one of these to make a longer ride, slowly building my base distance while keeping some things familiar which can make the time go by a little easier.”

Or, maybe not….

So there I was, scanning new maps and imagining myself writing a future post (this one!) explaining the route with some pictures, including more of the Minuteman plus whatever extension I chose. The challenge would be to write that and try to make it sound fresh and exciting despite the fact that the majority of the ride would be a direct repeat of last week’s. Stale stuff.

Even though I feel it’s totally fine that my rides repeat themselves; there’s no law against it; I also feel compelled to find a more creative ride. At the very least I want to try to mix it up so I only do a major part of a particular route every other week, leaving the other week to expand on my experiences with new locations. Not such a bad idea, right?

As it turns out this line of thinking may have been folly.

After my moment of map bliss I read something that allowed me to make a (probably not the most intelligent) decision based on an opportunity that I can’t let pass.

I read a post on the bostonbiker parent blog about a ride following the path of the Boston Marathon: starting in Hopkington at midnight on the day of the marathon, that next Monday.

Marathons are long races, and I’ve never really followed the sport of running or paid much attention to the Boston route despite the notoriety and history it has. Here and now, I figured, was a chance to soak in some of the pre-race energy and try to draw myself closer to this inspiring event.

But I was going to have to do it so I did at least 40 miles for my ride that weekend. Simplest way to do that: turn the ride into a loop, of course!



View 50 Mile Ride, Marathon Route in a larger map

On Sunday night I began at 8:30PM to ensure I had enough time to make it to Hopkington around midnight and meet the riders who had planned earlier to all start there. I arrived at the Start line at about 10:45PM, a bit earlier than expected, and proceed to throw on more and more extra clothing I brought with me until I was wearing practically everything I had in order to stave off the cold.

By 12:20AM no one had shown up. I had spent the hour+ pacing around to keep my muscles in use and to fight off the cold. Nearby there was a police officer sitting in a car watching me repeat my boring little circuit. They were probably there to make sure no one would try to do anything with the Starting line assemblage, but they must have been thinking WTF is up with this guy?!

After I had waited as long as I could for others to show up I saddled up and got started on my way back to Boston. Then, I missed a turn off of route 16 onto Beacon Street. Lost.

I am riding alone at close to 2AM in Newton. I am cold, and tired, and anything taller than a breadcrumb is making me down-shift. Do I:

  1. Backtrack and find the turn I missed.
  2. Or, continue on and get myself home.

Well, what would you do? I chose option number two, which required judicious use of street signs, dead reckoning, and a loose familiarity of the area to get me back to Allston.

Some may stop me and say I went through all that hard work for nothing as I didn’t make it to the Finish line. Eh, I still recorded a distance of 49.95 miles for the trip, and even though my OCD wanted to kick me into going around the block until it read 50 I remembered seeing the bike computer go all wacky on some downhills where I was going too fast for the sensor to read properly. I did my 50, ’nuff said!

So the map above is a bit incorrect. At some point I might be bothered to try and retrace my actual route that got me from Newton to Allston, but not right now.

It was a hard ride. The hills approaching Hopkington got really, really nasty. I didn’t do the dreaded walk of shame up them, but I did have to stop two or three times. (Later I got to coast down that for what seemed like forever and it was glorious; the Marathon runners have a truly great start to their race.) On the way back I ended up stripping off my outer layers and returned to almost the same set of gear I was wearing when I embarked the night before, save for my winter hat and full-fingered gloves instead of my biking hat and fingerless ones. It was pretty chilly the entire way home, but I was definitely pumping off some heat to balance it all out.

Alas, the Pocket Ride map purchase may not have paid off yet due to this new route arrangement, but the rain gear has already become useful: it rained on Sunday night through Monday morning. Ahh, spring in New England.

[Edit] Update: here are some pictures.



[Edit: Boston.com has some pre-Marathon pictures and one in particular made me giggle – maybe I should have done the 6:30AM ride instead of the midnight one…]

[Edit: Kudos to Shane, owner of the parent site for his well executed there-and-back-again Marathon Monday ride. My 50 miles feels more fledgling knowing you managed to include the heartbreak hill in your 70 mile triumph! Maybe next year….]

2 Responses to “Countdown to 30: A Marathon Interjects”

  1. Right on, ride on » Blog Archive » Countdown to 30: Century: Monument St and Dover/Sherborn Loops Says:

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