Monday, August 20, 2007
Successful, If Somewhat Soggy
The Lancaster Covered Bridges Metric Century has come and gone. It was a most successful and enjoyable day of cycling. We left our house at 6 A.M. and arrived at the start point in Lancaster at about 7:40. What with taking care of nature, setting up the bikes and checking in at the registration desk, we were on the road at 8:30. The "we," pictured here are Annie, Alan and Jacob. And, of course, me, not pictured, but you know what I look like.
It was a fantastic feeling, and our first experience of riding in such a mass. We later learned that there were 3,305 cyclists on the ride. Cyclists of all shapes and sizes with all manner of bikes: recumbent, tandems (a surprising lot of them) mountain bikes and very, very upscale performance bikes. It was really neat seeing them all gathered. And it was really neat riding amongst such a contingent. Of course, as the day wore on and we fell further and further to the rear, we were eventually riding quite a bit seemingly by ourselves, although even at the end we were always in sight of a group or two of other riders.
The first 34 miles, until the lunch stop were marvelous. Much more hilly than we'd expected. The lunch tent is pictured here. Not long before we reached the lunch tent we crossed the first of the seven covered bridges, also pictured here. By the time we crossed the other six the weather didn't allow me to stop and snap a picture. Also at about the same time or just before we reached lunch, the weather was good enough to stop and snap a few "candids" along the road. That's Annie and me. Then Annie, me and Alan; then Annie, Alan and Jacob.
After lunch things got messy. The rain became steady, fairly hard at times. I think we still really enjoyed the ride but there is no question that we would have enjoyed it more on a nicer day. We were, however, aware of the fact that more typically the weather for this ride might be sunny and very hot and humid. All in all we agreed it was worth the trade. A very hot and humid day would not have been easy, especially up the hills. Just as we hit the 52 mile mark we made our first and only mistake following the route. This resulted in our climbing a very steep hill that we later learned used to be part of the ride but had been taken off because it was too challenging. When we realized our mistake and went back down the hill we came upon the SAG wagon making its rounds. Soggy and tired and, I think, disheartened by the last unnecessary hill, Annie hitched a ride, her day of riding finished. She did a fantastic job! She had never ridden over 30 miles and certainly never on this hilly terrain and in this lousy weather. She really showed her stuff and I was very proud of her.
Alan and I continued (Jacob had already decided to ride ahead to keep a faster pace for part of the ride.) We made much quicker time and devoured the last 10 miles pretty quickly. I can't tell you how satisfied I felt riding back into the start/finish point, nor how good the ice cream provided there tasted. It was just great. It took us a few minutes to figure out where Jacob was, but then we packed up and headed home for dinner together being prepared at home by Tamar and Shuli. We were all famished!
Among the other highlights to mention in passing were, of course, the country itself. Just stunning. But more than just stunning, inspirational when you really looked and saw that people were still living on the land, working the land and living in small sustainable communities. Given my present feeling that cars are truly the root of all contemporary evils watching the Amish families pass by in their horse and buggies and their bicycles no longer looked like a quaint idiosyncrasy but a reminder of a road not taken. Congestion, people living in more and more isolation, people living too far from work, not to mention the environmental crisis, all can be attributed to the automobile. Maybe these Amish knew something we don't want to know? These pictures were taken while riding and didn't come out too good; one shows an Amish buggy passing and one tries to capture a couple of kids riding behind ion their bikes. It was fun seeing the Amish/Mennonite kids riding in their Sunday best as all of us passed in our Lycra. Also, none of them wore helmets!
The other highlight was the incredible job that the Lancaster Bike Club does to host this ride. I couldn't believe the amount of work necessary and the number of volunteers manning the water stations, the feed stations, marking the route, riding the SAG wagons and generally providing a wonderful time for over 3000 riders. I will certainly write to them and express my appreciation ASAP.
Annie and I both certainly feel ready for our Labor Day ride with Hazon now. That will be 50 miles a day for two days. Piece of cake!