Wednesday, March 17, 2010

March R-12 Noximixon 200k! The Final Chapter!

Photos: Top - Mrs. Al supporting her husband at the Lambertville Control.
Bottom - The two finishers reflecting on a good ride.

I vowed to jump on the first decent weather day in March to complete my R-12 Series.  As luck would have it I would not have long to wait.  The first weekend of the month was predicted to be dry with temperatures ranging from mid-thirties to upper fifties.  I contacted my friend, and R12 riding companion, Al alerting him to the intended Sunday 7am start.  The proposed route was the newly approved Noximixon 200k, designed and owned by my friend Paul.  Al was agreeable with the plan. 

We meet at the Southfield Shopping Center in Princeton Junction a little before the scheduled start.  It's just prior to 7am and the shopping center is very still.  The coffee shop and pharmacy open at 9am.  The food market opens at 7am.  We agree to use the market as our start location, waiting at the door for them to open.  By the time we make a purchase, get documented, and use the rest room, it is eleven minutes past the hour.  I've come to accept a late start as normal for permanents..

Princeton Junction to Lambertville - 26 Miles

Once underway I feel the chill of the morning.  The temperature is a little under 35F with a slight wind.  I'm somewhat underdressed for the current conditions, but it is a very clear day.  I'm confident the sun will warm the air considerably in an hour or two.  I can manage some temporary discomfort.  It beats having to lug a bunch of uneeded clothes around the route for the majortity of the ride. After a few miles we cross US 1 and enter the town of Princeton.  It is eerily quiet at this hour as we pass by the University buildings.  With little to no traffic we are out of town in no time, headed for Pennington on some very nice roads.  With the sun shining, the pleasant scenery and the smooth roads it is a great day to be on a  bike. So far the route is mostly rolling.  However, once we reach Pennington we encounter Poor Farm Road, a fairly steep climb with nice scenery to look at on the way up.  Upon reaching the top Al places a call to his wife to coordinate her meeting us at the Lambertville control with energy drink bottles which were inadvertantly left at home.  Phone call complete we descend the back side of the hill.  The nine miles left to the control are a mixed bag of flat, rolling, and hilly terrian. Valley Road and Goat Hill Road are the final two lumps. The Lambertville control is a flexible one allowing the rider a choice of establishments.  We choose the coffee shop on Bridge Street.  Al's wife is there waiting when we arrive.  After a coffee and muffin we depart headed for PA.  I notice we are leaving with not much time to spare.

 Lambertville, NJ to Richlandtown, PA - 31 Miles

A few blocks past the the control we reach the bridge to New Hope PA.  Riding across the 1/2 mile span is not permitted.  As I'm walking I notice the wind has picked up.  Unfortunately, the direction will not be in our favor on this leg of the route.  I was hoping to pick up a little time to give us a cushion in the event of a mechanical, or other problem.  Given the increased wind and the terrain in front of us that doesn't look likely.  After negotiating the downtown area of New Hope we start with some gentle climbing, with a few steep kickers mixed in.  We pass through Lahaska on Street Road, which features a very steep little climb that I recall falling over on when passing through on the recumbent.  With the ability to stand and leverage the pedals I have no such problem today.  Although, it does take significant effort. We pass through the small little town of Carversville continuing our uphill trend.  Finally, the terrain eases up for a bit allowing us to pick up some time.  We contend with some rollers, and another sizeable climb on Route 313 at Quakertown at which point  we've reache the route's namesake, the Noximixon Resovior.  The remaining roads to the Richlandtown control are quite pleasant.  Were it not for the wind it would be perfect. We arrive at the 7-11 control with little time to spare.  We agree to keep the stop brief.  But with the temperature increase, now mid-fifties, we need to make clothing adjustments, as well as take in some calories.  Our goal is to leave in advance of the control closing time, even if only by fifteen minutes.

Richlandtown, PA to Milford, NJ - 18 Miles

Back on the road with our small time margin in hand we immediately feel the difference with the wind.  Now blowing more in our favor.  I'm encouraged that we may be able to pick up a little time on this leg.  Once again the road selection of the route is excellent.  There is almost no traffic for the first ten miles.  We deal with a few good sized rolling hills which present no problem as the wind, stronger than ever now, is aiding us.  Quickly we are Route 412, which leads us to a climb I've been dreading, Center Hill Road.  I climbed it before with Paul while accompanying him on a cue sheet test of some of the route.  It goes better for me today than the prior time.  Perhaps knowing it was coming helped.  Or, more likely riding the Salsa in lieu of the 'bent was the difference. I didn't even use the triple.  I wait a bit for Al at the top of the hill.  This is his first encounter with this bump and wisely he is climbing it conservatively.  We regroup and undertake the descent to the river.  Which is fast, twisty, and features an abrupt stop at the bottom with a hard right onto Route 32.  We then parallel the river for the next 2 1/2 miles, crossing back over into New Jersey at the Milford Bridge which brings us right to the control, a Citgo Mart.  We are 35 minutes in front of the cut-off.  

Milford to Ringoes - 20 Miles

We are underway having spent 20 minutes at the control.  I know the roads pretty well on this section and am hoping to make up a little more time.  The first few miles to Frenchtown are flat, add to that the wind and we manage a nice pace.  Coming out of Frenchtown we turn onto Horseshoe Bend Road which featrues some short steep climbs.  This is followed by Rt 519 in Kingwood which is basically rolling terrain as are the remaining roads to the Ringoes control.  I notice on the cue sheet that a bank ATM is an optional control should one decide to pass up the deli, which is listed as the primary control.  I convince Al that we should use the ATM through Ringoes to pick up some additional time. He consents providing we spend at least five minutes there giving him an opportunity to stretch.  Upon arrival I handle getting the two bank reciepts from the ATM while eating half a pb sandwich from my pack.  Al stretches out his fatigued legs while waiting for me.  The stop takes us less than 10 minutes.  We depart with 40 minutes in hand.

Ringoes to Kendall Park - 19 Miles

The first section of this segment is on Wertzville Road which takes us across US 202.  Wertzville features more of the rolling variety of hills.  I am quite familar with it having ridden it countless times.  With the wind still in our favor we should do well over the next 4 miles.  I start doing some mental math to project a finish time.  I would like to see us come at 12hrs or less.  That leaves us about 2 1/2 hrs to cover the remaining 30 miles.  Although there are a couple of substantial climbs ahead of us, and we have over 100 miles in our legs, I'm thinking we can make it. Once again I confer with Al laying out the plan.  He is tired, but agrees to give it his best.effort.  In a short time we turn off to the right to face Lindberg Road a sizeable climb up the Sourland Mountan Ridge.  After grinding our way up the two mile hill we have about nine miles of downhill and flat terrain.  Using this to our best advantage will be paramount to meeting the goal.  We do well descending our way down the other side of the ridge.  We then head east on County 518.  With the wind mostly at our tail we maintain a nice pace. I am feeling good at this point pulling us along at speeds between 18-24mph.  We quickly reach the US 206 crossing followed by our turn onto Canal Road and an abrupt climb up Old Georgetown Road.  This being the last major hill between here and the finish.  We both give it a good effort putting the climb behind us without losing much time.  The control, a CVS, comes up quickly.  We clock in at 5:56pm leaving us with 1hour 4minutes to make it to the finish.  With sunset just a few minutes away we need to switch to night gear and full lighting as well as document our passage through the control.  We depart at 6:11pm leaving us 49 minutes to cover the distance and document our finish time.

Franklin Park to Princeton Junction  - 12 Miles

My recollection of the roads on this part of the route are that of the flat and flatter variety.  Although, when we turn onto New Road just a few hundred yards from the control it is somewhat of an uphill for at least two miles. Once past that point it is mostly flat, save for a couple of little bumps.  I'm giving it a good effort with Al hanging right with me.  It's fully dark now which makes the going a little slower.  Navigating in the dark is trickier as well.  I'm not familiar enough with the route to know the turns without the aid of the cue sheet and street signs.  Fortunately, both have been quite accurate so far.  A navigation error at this point would put the goal out of reach.  I take the extra time to pay close attention to the cues and road signs until we are at the point where I know my way.  That point comes up on Plainsboro Road with about 3.5 miles to go. With no further need to navigate I pour everything I have into turning the pedals.  Al falls back at one point.  I ease up a bit to get him back on my wheel.  I announce when we are on the final road to the finish.  We have a little more than a mile to go.  Al gives everything he has rocketing out front and almost dropping me in the process.  I focus solely on spinning fast and smooth for the next few minutes.  Then the shopping center appears on our right.  We are in with a couple of minutes to spare.  The documented time is what counts so we fly up to the entrance of the same supermarket we started out from almost 12 hours ago.  We run to an open register, each grab a pack of gum, I ask the lady for a receipt, while blinding her with my helmet light. In my rush I neglected to switch it off.   She hands the slip over and I look at the time stamp printed on top, it reads 7:00pm exactly!  Boo-Ya!


Back outside the market we ask the shopping cart guy to take our photo.  He graciously agrees.  Taking one with my digital camera, as well as well as another with Al's I-phone.  I'm happy to have the R-12 behind me.  It's been a worthy goal and has kept me motivated during the off season.  The permanent rides were especially enjoyable.  I've developed a new appreciation for their value as flexible and fun alternatives to calendar brevets.  Eight of my twelve R-12 rides were permanents.  All started and finished in New Jersey.  Not a bad thing considering two years ago there were none available in the state.  The Noximixon 200k is a very welcome addition.  I look forward to riding it again.

As for Al he is rapidly becoming a full fledged Radonneur.  He has completed three official 200k's this year, one fourth of the way into an R-12.  He is planning to be at some of the calendar brevets this season.  How far he takes it will be up to him.  It would not surprise me to see him undertake a 300k or longer before the season wraps up. 

My focus is now on completing a Super Randonneur Series and a 1000 kilometer.  I'm hoping to do so on an upright bike.

Stay tuned!

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