Here is some video I shot on a recent ride on NY RT 73’s new paving from the Ski Jump to Cascade Trailhead. This is the first part of the Ironman Lake Placid bike course and WAS one of the worst sections of the course.
I decided I needed to see some new territory on my long bike ride this week. This along with Longswamp Township decided to cover their entire road system in oil & chips, confirmed that I needed to get out of dodge. I searched around the internet for some century rides and came up with the Round The Valley century out in Lebanon County. It was only an hour and twenty minutes west via a easy drive on I-78 and the registration was a mere $30 + $15 for day of registration. The ride was described as scenic and challenging on the website, and it certainly lived up to that.
The ride started at the Campbeltown Fire Station where i arrived around 7:30am. The parking lot was nowhere near full, which I was rather surprised. It was a pretty low key event. I went inside, registered and made a bathroom stop and headed on my way. They offered a vegetarian option for post-race food which I was happy to see. I also picked up some car window stickers displaying the 4 feet law for vehicles which I will gladly post in my back window.
I noticed on my drive it was quite windy, but it had seemed to subside a bit since arriving. The ride wound out through some beautiful farmlands and then ascending with a nice climb into some wooded mountainside. The roads were all well marked with an orange “V” with a circle around it with the pointy end of the V indicating the direction. The wind had picked up a bit but the ride was very well protected and it really did not cause that much issue.
The ride had a great variety of scenery as well as terrain. We went through some tiny old Furnace villages, gamelands, and forests. My favorite part was the long flat stretch through the Mt. Gretna area. It was mostly flat, well-shaded and nicely paved large shoulder. I was able to get down in the aerobars for the majority of the stretch just cruise.
I was really surprised at the size of the shoulder on most of the roads on this ride. I really didn’t think that PennDOT knew what a paved shoulder was, but apparently they do in this part of PA. The majority of the roads were in very good condition on the ride with only a few that were a little rough. I only remember hitting one that was recently oil and chipped, but they must have swept up the extra chips because it was pretty nice. Apparently Longswamp Township does not know what sweeping up chips is all about.
The rest stops had a good assortment of foods with water and Gatorade. Not quite the level of the Suburban Cyclists for the Nockamixon ride, but more than adequate. I actually skipped a couple of the stops all together since I brought my own race-day nutrition consisting of Amrita Bars, Skratch Labs and Chunks of Energy. There was also SAG vehicles monitoring the ride which was probably difficult since it was not very well attended by riders.
I was frequently riding alone but would occasionally pass people here and there. It was reassuring to see others every so often just to make sure I didn’t miss a turn. On one wide-shouldered section of Rt 322 I came up behind 2 guys and a girl with matching kit going at a pretty casual pace. Instead of moving single file and letting me pass, the guy put his arm around the girl and started pushing her faster. What the hell is that? Then the third guy on the left, who had been riding just a foot or so behind them sped up and put his around the other guy. WTF? Is this a love-in or a bike ride? So they still would not let me by and the traffic was steady enough I could not get out in the traffic lane. They eventually caught up to another pack with similar kit on that was going even slower, so with no vehicles I was finally able to get out and pass by them. I really don’t understand why they could not let me by them.
I have to say this is probably one the best century rides I have ridden so far. The scenery and challenge of the course was extraordinary. I cannot believe this ride is not more well-known. If you have a chance to ride this course or do the actual ride next June I would highly recommend it.
For some strange reason I got the bright idea to attempt doing an FTP test on Trainer Road last night. It was my second ride of this week, which is also the 2nd build week in my training cycle. Ya know when your body really starts feeling some fatigue from the previous weekend? Not only that, my first ride of the week was a pretty much a 40k time trial(below) so an easier ride this day would been a smarter option.
When I first started warming up, I felt a little stiff but didn’t think much about it since it was a warm-up. During the 3 1 min high cadence spin-ups I could still feel the stiffness in my quads and I was struggling to maintain the goal watts. Then the 5 min “clearing effort” pretty much destroyed any psychological help I may have had to help get me a little further in the actual 20 minute test period.
I managed to hold on for about 5 minutes and after that I realized there was no way in hell I could maintain this for another 15 minutes. An easy spin then ensued. Another day maybe.
I awoke to my Jawbone Up vibrating away at around 7:15am. A quick Heart Rate variability check revealed a 74 and to “continue training as usual”. Gitty-up! Next was to fuel up with a banana, raspberry, spinach, and beet smoothie. A much more normal, at least to me, alternative than pancakes. Beets are supposed to give you the ability to carry more oxygen in your blood similar to what blood doping does. Even if it is a placebo effect I will take it. They taste good too.
I had hopes of getting out the door by 8am, but as usual I tend to poke around in the morning and it takes me awhile to get going. Eventually I got all my nutrition stuff ready to go, oiled up my chain and pumped up my tires. I was on the road a little before 10AM. With a forecasted 6 hour ride I would get done around 4PM. It looked to be a nice day, so I might as well use it all up. It was also a bit cool in the early morning, so I didn’t feel like dragging arm warmers and all that crap along too. The only bad thing was the wind was supposed to pick up as the day went on, but I am pretty used to that with all the windy days I encountered this year.
I headed out River Rd and jumped on Rt 73 at the ski jumps. The stretch from there to Keene is the worst part of the whole race course. The road is so mangled, especially on the shoulders, that you must be on high alert the whole time. With traffic along side of you too creates an even more tension. There was a traffic light at the Cascade Lakes where they are doing some road construction. It actually was pretty nice if you let all the cars go, then follow behind them and let it fly. You can pretty much guarantee no cars from there to about half way down Cascade mountain descent since it is a pretty long light. The descent down to Keene is a bit scary at times due to the poor road conditions and the high speeds.
One down into Keene I can breathe a big sigh of relief. From here to the town of Jay it is big shoulders and fairly flat terrain. It is cruising mode and I just love this stretch. The out-and-back section to Ausable Forks is also fairly flat as well, but I hate out-and-backs so this section isn’t as fun for me. Once I got back to Jay, I made the turn towards Wilmington, it is climbing time! The stretch to Wilmington is about 5 miles of mostly climbing. It is pretty consistent grade so you can get in a rhythm and just spin away. It isn’t too bad.
The stretch from Wilmington back to Lake Placid is kind of a false flat push. It is very deceiving. Once you get past the narrow canyon section it isn’t too bad. The wind had started to pick up a bit by this time and it always seems to just get funneled through this river valley and amplified. When I reached the last uphill section before Lake Placid, known as the “three bears”, my legs were feeling a bit tired and my mind was starting to struggle with the fact that I had to do another loop. I cruised through town and then stopped back at the house to refill water bottles. After that I was ready for another round.
I was now at around 60 miles with all the back-and-forth to the house on River Road, so I decided to chop off the Ausable Forks section…Yay!! I only wanted to do 100 miles so without that it would give me another 40 miles. They key parts for me are to do the hilly sections anyway. Once back out on the second loop, my legs were feeling good again. In fact, my legs were feeling better as I went. The only thing that really bothered me was my ass. Six plus hours in the saddle is a bit rough on the derrière.
Now on my third loop of this course in two days. Going over this road that many times you start to become intimately familiar with every pothole, beer can, bolt and other rusty metal artifact along the road. It was almost to the point where you start naming these things. What else do you do for this long on a bike? I wondering if they will still be there in a month and half? Ok..back to reality again. There was a Mountain Bike festival in Wilmington this weekend, so there were a lot of fat tire aficionados out and about. Roadies and Mountain bikers…could get a little tense.
The winds had picked up to a pretty heavy gust. I could not figure out which way the wind was coming from though. When I went by the North Pole hotel and campground there were two flags next to each other and each one was stretched out in directions pointing towards each other? Huh? I did a double-take..how could that be? Oh it be! The wind does some crazy things heading through this valley. Eventually I made it back to River Road and headed back to the house.
I ended up with 103 miles in around 6:25. I am pretty happy with that since I was not trying to crush it. I really wanted to see how the legs felt and if I needed to go slower. I felt pretty good and I even headed out for a short 20 minute brick run just to really see what the legs were like to run on. They really felt great. If I didn’t have a long run tomorrow and Denise didn’t want to go out for dinner I would have kept going. Ha…oh well.
We got cleaned up and headed over to Alegria Garden Café some dinner. I had vegetable spring rolls and vegetable pot-pie and Denise had a Rabbit-Oatmeal Confit appetizer and Salmon on Quinoa for dinner. Everything was very good. They also have homemade bread which was out of this world. The place was not real busy, which surprised me a bit. It is quite good, so I am not sure why they don’t get more people.
After dinner, we headed home and it didn’t take me too long to start the head bobbing. I called it a day and crawled into bed for a good nights sleep. Tomorrow should be interesting with a 2:45 run on what I expected to be some stiff legs in the morning. We would then have to pack up on my return and head out for the long drive home.
The Spring edition of the Velodromes’ outdoor cycling flea market is set for May 4th from 8:30AM to 2PM. Check it out. Good deals to be had. I always seem to have something going on when they have these.
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