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PMC 2006: Day 0, Huckleberries Ride from NY to Sturbridge

Friday, August 4, 2006

PMC LogoUnlike last year, getting up with the alarm clock wasn't such a challenge. I felt rested and ready. Unfortunately, I'd only been up for a few minutes when I felt small cramps — just twinges of discomfort — around my stomach. All my planning and "good behavior" in July went right out the window last night at dinner, and now I knew I was going to pay for it.

Corinne — to my great pleasure — agreed to SAG for us today (something she's never done before, so this would be a sort of baptism-by-fire). This meant she couldn't come back to the room after dropping me at the start, so we had to have the car fully packed when we left at 6 AM for the 6:30 start.

Well, Steve (at least) won't be surprised to read that we didn't actually leave until almost a quarter past. However, last night I'd figured out a shorter route to the start using back roads, and so we were only a few minutes late.

Last year's plan was for everybody to be at the NY/MA line and ready to go by 8:00 AM. This year's plan was to revel in the chaos of everyone starting at different times and from different locations!

  • Mark Stockwell and I started at the line on Route 102, and rode six miles to the intersection of Route 102 and Route 183.

  • Bruce Cohen's group of seven started at his house, three miles north of that intersection, and met us at that intersection at 7:00 AM ("give or take"). (This group included Carl and David, who rode from Vancouver, BC this year (3800 miles), and are raising $100,000. They make most of the rest of us look really bad.

  • Another group of four would start at the NY line between 8 and 8:30. These guys were driving out that morning and so had to leave later or start their weekend with no sleep. We didn't see them at all on Friday, but they're still Huckleberries!

We had to wait at the intersection for about fifteen minutes. They left the house a little late, and then someone flatted just two miles in. Still, I'm the last one who should complain about riders showing up a little late, so I won't.

Route Profile

profile_thumb.jpg

Click the image to see the entire
ride profile (644 kb).
(Thanks, Steve!)

From there we hit the hills and rode the thirty miles to our namesake: Huckleberry's restaurant in Huntington, MA. This leg includes the second-toughest climb, and the most amazing descent of the entire weekend.

Mark and I had left the rest of the group way behind on the climb — don't ask, I can't really explain that — and then on the descent we were both total madmen. Last year I coasted much of the way, enjoying the breeze. This year we both pedaled like we were being hunted. My max speed was no better than last year's (another point I can't explain), but the speed was kept very high for a longer time. We arrived at Huckleberry's minutes before anybody else, and it was almost fifteen minutes before everyone had shown up.

We'd been sprinkled on a little already, but the rain came down in buckets while we sat around at Huckleberry's, doing nothing. Many of the other riders had actually gone into the restaurant to have a sit-down breakfast. After almost forty-five minutes the rain was stopping and Mark and I left...

... but he promptly got a flat tire. So just a mile up the road, we stopped again while he changed his flat. All the other riders passed us (though they all asked if we needed help) before we were done.

Just a couple miles away was the longest climb of the day and weekend. Two (some say two and a half) miles of a fairly easy gradient. It's less steep than Cossaduck Hill, but five times longer! Ugh. Corinne (still driving SAG 1) caught us at the bottom and Mark hitched a ride for a little while by grabbing the passenger-side window frame. Corinne thought I would mind, and she was worried about me being "left behind," so she made him stop. Heh. (Now she knows it's ok, he was just having a little fun.)

We caught about half of the other riders on the hill, and the other half had just stopped at the second SAG wagon (which had driven out from Vancouver with Carl and David) at the very top when we passed them.

It was ~25 miles to lunch at Atkins Farms Country Market in Amherst, MA.

Mark and I made a wrong turn, which added a couple of miles to the trip. I flatted while we were on the wrong route, too, so this also added fifteen minutes. At lunch, we all decided that Mark and I were the group's yo-yo's, or that we were attached to the rest by a long rubber band: off the front, off the back, off the front, off the back. All day.

My biggest mistake of the weekend happened here: I gave Corinne really bad directions for the next stage. I told her to make a right out of the parking lot and head out on Route 9. That was exactly the opposite of how she should have been going. To make matters worse, I had serious stomach cramps and didn't even think to call her until we'd been riding for almost a half hour. By that time, she was very frustrated, lost, and way off the beaten path. Sorry, honey.

Despite my stomach pains, Mark and I were away from the rest of the group again... but I had to stop for a little while, and the whole group passed us again while I was in a convenience store. We finally caught up with them at the last stop (the rest area on Route 20, nine miles from our destination), where we all waited around for one of the two SAGs to show up... but none did. Corinne was still trying to find her way back to us, and the other SAG had been told it would take us much longer to reach the rest area so they were still way behind.

We all stayed together for the last nine miles to the Sturbridge Host, although I did pull ahead for a little while in case anyone tried to sprint for the town line like Steve did last year.

Corinne showed up at the Host about 45 minutes later. They opened registration an hour early so I registered before we went to our hotel in Auburn.

Stats: 93.45 miles (150.4 km) in 4h 48' 18" for an average speed of 19.44 mph (31.31 kph).

The rest of the day is less interesting and mostly a blur, so I'll just provide the highlights:

  • I left my bike parked in the racks (with thousands of others), right next to the mechanics' booths, because I was hearing a lot of grinding in the drive train (again!).

  • Went back to the hotel for a nap, but couldn't sleep.

  • Drove back to the Host for dinner, couldn't find Steve or anybody else I knew (Paul, Mark, Andy, Dave, Tony, or any of the Huckleberries).

  • After dinner, I went back to the mechanics to have one look at the drive train. It was just really dirty, and the mechanic blamed the grease I've been using. He cleaned it up for me, and applied some Pedro's Road Rage grease. The bike was silent for the rest of the weekend, so I'm switching.

  • While the mechanic worked on the bike, the other tallest rider (also 6' 9") in the PMC walked by. I said, "Hi Shorty," and so he stopped to chat for a little while. He was excited that I had "found" a bike to fit me, so I told him all about it. Except I couldn't remember the size! The mechanic measured it at 65 cm (my frame specs say it's 64, but everybody who measures it comes up with 65), and laughed a lot at it's gargantuan-ness. The bike didn't mind, it likes the attention.

  • When the bike was done, I headed back to the hotel. No opening ceremonies for me this year... it's too hot and crowded in there.

  • Mark and his wife had a room at the same hotel, and offered to drive me back to the Host in the morning so Corinne could sleep in. I called him at 10:00 to work out the time (4:45!? Yes, ok, 5:00 will work fine.)

I was asleep just a few minutes after 10, with the alarm set for 4:00 AM.

Page last updated: 8/8/2006




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