Thursday, August 4, 2011

New Jersey North to South - Port Jervis, NY to Cape May, NJ - 320k

Todd rides through Central Jersey en-route to Cape May
For a long time I've wanted to traverse the state of New Jersey, the long way.  Bill Olsen's "North to South" permanent would finally provide the means to do so while gaining RUSA kilometers in the process, a must for this K-Hound hopeful.  Three riders would join me for the 4am start in Port Jervis, NY, just a scant mile from the New Jersey border.  Katie, Al and Todd, all regulars of the New Jersey Randonneurs series, were my companions.  I had decided just a few days before the ride to attempt it on my fixed gear.  The first 60 miles or so where a bit hilly, but manageable.  The remainder were mostly flat.

Things did not go quite according to plan.  I had hoped for a fairly aggresive 16 hour finish (8pm).  Unfortunately multilple problems made that goal unattainable.  As always the back up plan is simply to finish the ride within the time limit.  The first issue was mechanical.  Al's crank arm fell off twice before the first control.  The initial time during the early morning darkness which took considerable time to repair.  Katie, suffering from back issues, decided to pack it in at the Chester control.  Choosing to ride her bike the 40 miles to home.  On the very next section we encountered a bridge closing in Bound Brook.  The resulting detour added about five miles to our route.  At the East Millstone control Al would receive a replacement bike, transported there by family,  in the hopes to avoid further problems.

On the next section the temperature reached the upper nineties with strong sun.  The Browns Mills control was a welcome site.  The next section to Egg Harbor was without doubt the toughest with heat, sun and a headwind.  Both Al and Todd suffered from leg cramps and limped into the Wawa at Egg Harbor.  After a lengthly break Todd was ready to go on, but Al had decided not to continue, as his cramping did not ease up.

Darkness fell during that final fifty mile stretch.  Todd's cramping had improved, although he needed to ride a bit conservatively to avoid a relapse.  Some broken glass on the side of the road caused him a flat.  We worked together to quickly change the tube out.  There were a couple of long sections on a single road which made the last miles pretty boring.  For entertainment we had passing cars who's alcohol affected occupants would jeer at us.  Finally, the lights of the Cape May Wawa beckoned us in to the finish.  Our arrival was at 10:20pm. Three hours in advance of the 1:20am cut-off.  A succusful ride with another 320k added to the total and my longest one day fixed gear effort.

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