Monday, November 2, 2009

November R12 - Eight Down, Four to go!

The beach at Belmar, NJ

The month of November arrives on a Sunday this year, coinciding with day light saving time. Combine those two factors with a reasonable weather forecast and all forces seemed to be aligned to get the required monthly 200k in the books on the first day of the month. After numerous discussions with my friend Paul, and an equal amount of visits to the online weather sites we settled on the Princeton-Belmar-Princeton 200k. Since I have written two prior reports on this ride (Jul. '09, Sep. '09) I will not go into much detail this time.

The morning of the ride arrived with an extra hour added to the clock. The additional sleep was appreciated, as was the daylight which arrived at about 6:30am, one-half hour prior to our 7am scheduled start. The only problem was that it was most definitely raining. The forecast called for rain to end by 5am. While loading the car at 6am it was still raining steady. Fortunately, it was not a downpour. Additionally, the temperature was about 50F, which didn't feel too bad for the moment. However, I do remember a with rain and low fifties temps a few years back where I was absolutely soaked through and hypothermic. That is an experience I don't want to go through again. I make some changes to my choice of wardrobe to accommodate the possibility of spending at least some of the ride in the rain. I reason that wool base layers, wool jersey, wool socks, wool skull cap, full tights, full fingered gloves, and my Showers Pass rain jacket should keep me warm enough. The ability of wool clothing to keep one warm, even when wet, is a well known fact among randonneurs.

With all the last minute scrambling to prepare for different weather than expected we started out one-half hour later than our planned start time. It rains steadily, but never too heavy, for the first two hours. Then rains intermittently for the remaining miles to Belmar. The clothing worked well. I vacillated between comfortable and a tad too warm for the first one-third of the ride.

It was not raining upon leaving the beach at Belmar, so I strapped the rain jacket to my pack. The skies still spritz on us a few more times, but never heavy or long enough for me to put the jacket back on. The temperature stayed in the low to mid fifties for all of the day. I remained comfortable with my two wool top layers, tights, and full fingered gloves.

We wound our way smoothly along the route with variable winds, albeit light as well. I felt strong and was able to take a number of hearty turns at the front. Paul also took some good pulls mostly through the pine barrens area around the Fort Dix/Maguire military installation.

The skies remained overcast for almost the entire day. The only real appearance of the sun was about one-half hour before sunset at 4:30pm. By this time we were not far from Hightstown, which we had predicted to be the point we would have to switch to night riding gear. We stop a few miles before the town to use a port-o-john and take the opportunity to go into night mode. The sun sets just after we pass Hightstown en-route to the final control at Cranberry. An ATM stop takes care of our documentation and we are on to the finish. We arrive at 5:55pm for a total time of 10:55. If we were to adjust for the late start it would be 10:25.

Over a cup of coffee at the Dunkin Donuts we agree that although it didn't turn out to be the sunny 60F day predicted it worked out just fine. We were both happy we did the ride. The rest of the month is pressure free. My rides can be for the sheer pleasure of riding, or purposeful in commuting to work. No brevet cards or store receipts required, until December rolls around. Sooner or later, I expect this R12 quest will get tougher. I hope to be ready for that.

Four to go! Stay tuned!

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