Wednesday, December 21, 2011

NJ Randonneurs Holiday Ride

photo by Shane
 With the Holidays rapidly approaching it seemed appropriate to get together with Rando friends for a ride and celebration.  My Great Adventure 112k Permanent would satisfy the ride part of the plan.  The Plaza Deli and Caterers, who have been the headquarters for my permanent routes, would be our venue for the post ride celebration.  As the date approached the weather forecast began to look a bit ominous with possible snow showers and cold temperatures.  We would escape the snow showers, but the cold was to be a reality. 
Katie and Jon working on getting the tandem off the rack photo by Shane
 A chilly 23 degree air temperature was felt as we met at the deli for the pre-ride buffet breakfast.  After fueling up, fourteen riders clipped in for the start.  It was a few degrees warmer, but still quite cold with a steady wind blowing from the northwest.  My friend Al and I would undertake the ride on the tandem. Which turned out to be a good choice for the windy day.  There was one other tandem on the ride ridden by Katie and Jon. Two riders, Paul and Nigel, were on fixed gear bikes.
Waiting at the start in the cold air    photo by Shane
 At 9am we pulled out as one big group headed south on 206 for the first mile.  Once on Township Line Road the wind could be felt blowing at our backs.  The direction of travel to Jackson is predominantly southwest which would give us a tailwind for most of the way.  We split into a couple of groups with about half of us in the lead group.  The terrain is largely flat with some small hills and upgrades throughout.  With the wind assist we built up a head of steam covering the 35 miles to the A-Plus Market in Jackson in 2hrs 05 minutes.  Others would begin arriving a few minutes later.  The second group having fragmented on the trip down. 

Bob and Patrick headed south to Jackson photo by Shane
Paul on the fixer rides past a fixer upper photo by Shane
Our group at the Jackson Control; Robin, Paul and Shane standing
 Wanting to stay warmed up Al and I agreed to keep the stop to 10 minutes. Five riders departed Jackson with us for the return trip home.  Immediately, the head wind could be felt as we crossed West Monmouth Road.   The tandem has the power of two riders with an aerodynamic profile of a single.  For long grinds into the wind it is as good a weapon as any.  The riders who left the control with us line up on our rear wheel.  We do our best to keep the pace lively over the small hills that are prevalent in the first ten miles.  Upon reaching Monroe Township the roads flatten out and the area becomes more exposed.  The wind is strongly felt for the next ten miles.  Personally, I get a perverse enjoyment out of riding in headwind.  I've learned to mentally and physically endure long windy stretches to the point where it actually feels good.  Sort of  how it feels to climb big hills.  We pull our group through this section with Al delivering steady power from the stoker position.  Upon crossing US 1 on New Road more wind block is available from the reappearance of hills, trees and buildings.  Over the next five miles we begin losing riders off the back.  At Bunker Hill Road, after the crossing of Route 27, there are only two still with us, Bob and Paul (fixed gear).  On a long gradual downhill the tandem builds up too much speed for the single cog bike to keep up.  This leaves only Bob hanging on when we reach Griggstown.  After a short rolling ride up River Road we reach the windiest stretch of the day on Township Line Road.  It is about a four-mile headlong battle across open farmlands to Route 206.  Bob is still glued to us when we make the turn for the final one-mile run to the finish.  We are in at 4hrs and 43 minutes, having taken 22 minutes longer on the return trip then the ride down.
Team work in progress            photo by Shane
Settled in at a table in the nice warm environment of the Plaza Deli, I check-in all the riders as they arrive.  Everyone finishes in good spirits.  The next few hours are spent eating, drinking and socializing.  Our group has a lot to celebrate.  Many riders have reached new highs this season.  Several have achieved new RUSA kilometer goals with the finish of today's permanent. It was a pleasure to be in the company of this group as we all reminisced on a very full season.  Tentative plans are made for future R-12 rides, and a possible road trip to the south is discussed.  Typically the year after PBP is a low point for many.  In the past participation at brevets falls off as does rider's interest.  However, this does not seem to be the case as everyone appears excited for the 2012 season.   Katie, our new RBA, has a full schedule of events planned.  I'm much looking forward to the opportunity of sharing many miles with this group. 

Enjoying the post ride buffet lunch at the Plaza Deli photo by Shane
Paul, Patrick, Steve and Robin        photo by Shane

List of Finshers: Great Adventure 112k (12/18/11)

Beake, Shane
Blanchette, Alan
Chernekoff, Janice
Chin-Hong, Patrick
Costello, Jim
Greene, Nigel
Kratovil, Joe
Landis, Robin
Lentz, Rick
Levitt, Jonathan
Olsen, William
Raschdorf, Katie
Shapiro, Paul
Torres, Robert

Honorable mention:  Though they did not partake in the ride; Leroy Varga, Christine Newman and Steve Yesko stopped in to visit.  Also, Al's wife, Sue joined us for lunch as did my wife Lucy and son Charlie.  

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