Well, the ride is done and we all survived. Despite some mechanical issues and thunderstorms creating muddy and wet roads at the finish today. 4 BF members that I know of were riding this year - Matt (northbend) was doing his third and Roger M, Dave (etherhuffer) and myself were doing our first. Matt's son Phillip also rode his first Cino. Everyone is probably on their way home and I drove over 4 hrs to my parents for the night.
In short, the ride was one of the toughest I've done over the years and also was one of the most fun and rewarding. 150 riders participated on a myriad of vintage bikes that made just walking somewhere a slow experience as you constantly stopped to check out peoples bikes. The oldest was from 1939. There was a huge array of 1980's vintage bikes and quite a few French bikes, which was nice since Roger, Matt and I all went French. One of the best things was the huge number of Campagnolo equipped rides. Only 7 ran with tubulars this year and there were quite a few with Pasela Tourguards including my PX10.
All kinds of mechanical things happened to people including three for me - my rear derailleur return spring wouldn't keep tension starting about mile 25 of 58 on Saturday. Roger and I took it apart that evening and cleaned it and reinstalled with enough spring tension that it worked well today. I kept it functioning Saturday by unclipping, reaching my foot back and pushing the derailleur back as needed (not a fun proposition on the heavier graveled/rocky sections). That created some mild tendonitis in my knee that 800mg of ibuprofen fixed. Wine, beer and ibuprofen were defintely in good supply in camp. At the end of the first day I noticed my front brake lever was really stiff. I discovered I had not used the correct ferrule and it had pulled about an inch of liner through the housing. With Roger's help (again) we flipped the housing around, threaded the cable through and had a makeshift solution. Even though I had a working front brake I didn't really need it today and didn't use it. The last problem was a front flat 3 miles from the finish after we were back on pavement.
John Howard was the guest rider last year and came back as a registered rider this year. Jackie Phelan was the guest rider this year. Howard still posesses an amazing engine and finished toward the front both days. Overall, I was very happy with my performance.
The course is definitely challenging with silty, sandy climbing, rocky/washboard steep descent and a rutted descent. And, did I mention climbing - there's a lot of it. Conquering the day two monster climb is a great feeling. The most fun was keeping up with John Howard on the muddy final descent (although I had to stay to the side of him because I kept wearing his mud from the rear tire on my face) and then joining up with him and another rider for a fast paceline as we hit the pavement.
Now it is time to get a little rest - there will be a myriad of photos posted in the next couple of days as we all get home and start going through them.