I want to thank all of you who generously contributed to this year’s Jim Ray Memorial Heart Ride. We’ve raised close to $7000 and are on our way to $10,000. Thanks!
Now some details about the ride…
Most of us got up at 3 AM in order to be ready for a 4 AM start. That allows for final tweaks to the bike, some breakfast, and lots of warm coffee, which was particularly important given the cold rain that was forecast, and heated discussions about the route.
We started out from Shelburne heading north on Rt 7 through Burlington (which caused much grumbling from me), Winooski and up to Milton, where we headed into the Islands. Stops, mostly to get rid of the coffee, were frequent but short. That’s one advantage of riding in a cold rain, you can’t just sit around for too long.
The scariest part of the ride was the crossing of the drawbridge from S. Hero to N. Hero Island. This metal bridge is like ice when wet and although most of us were careful and riding fairly slowly, Mark decided to cut some ‘S’ turns to demonstrate his bike handling skills. He survived, and I must say I was extremely impressed with his ability to balance and steer a bike with zero friction between his wheels and the ground.
The temperature never seemed to budge and sat at around 55 all morning. A bunch of us were suffering from cold fingers. Mine got so cold, I needed to use my whole hand to shift, and in order to squeeze gels out of the pouch, I needed to put it on my knee and squeeze it with my palms. My fingers just couldn’t generate enough force.
Tim found a great coffee shop in Plattsburgh, where we took our first real break and where my fingers finally warmed up.
When we got to Ausable Chasm our directions directed us over a now closed bridge. It took us a little while to find a way around, but at least we had another photo opportunity. To be honest, that bridge looked so rickety I can’t imagine cars every driving over it.
The hills began to make their presence known at this point, which was sort of nice. There were also plenty of beautiful views East towards the lake, or what would have been beautiful views if the clouds and fog would have lifted for a little while.
At around noon, we took a break at a sandy pullout on one of the lesser traveled roads we were on. Everybody’s cleats gunked up, especially Pepsi’s, who shortly thereafter attempted to stop, couldn’t unclip, and flopped over onto his side still clipped in. Fortunately, we were now on a dirt road and there were no cars around, only us amused witnesses.
While on break, we were passed by some Randoneurs, who were riding the same route as us. They were obviously much more serious about their ride than we were – so much so that they couldn’t exert the effort to say more than a few words in conversation when we met up at a deli for lunch, which for us consisted of about 18 inches of submarine sandwich each.
For anybody riding in NY, I have to say the roads are MUCH better than they are here in VT. Much of what we rode on was freshly paved. The only bad stretch is the part between Port Henry and the turn off to Crown Point. In addition to being in terrible condition, this narrow stretch of road attracts lots of truck traffic, is very hilly and windy, and has no rideable shoulder. Cyclists, take care.
Once back in Vermont, most of us went on autopilot, having ridden this stretch of road many times before. It was hard, however, to maintain focus and ensure we kept up with the calories.
In the end, we rode about 180 miles (yes, Steve, I’m rounding up!) in about 14 hours. I’m not sure how much time we took on breaks, but it was both substantial and appropriate.
So I tip my helmet to Mark, Steve, Tim, Sam, Pepsi, and especially Andy, who provided such great support! Next year it will be dry.