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Old 09-16-07, 08:32 PM   #1
Neil_B
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Another 'failed' century attempt

This morning at 7:20 AM I left the Audubon Trailhead on the Schuylkill River Trail in the company of two fellow MS City to Shore riders. The destination was Manayunk. about 16 miles SE. Normally such a ride would follow the SRT through Manayunk to its end down at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (25 miles), but a run was scheduled downtown that morning and we decided to avoid the congestion. I kept up with my companions through the first 2/3 of the ride down, but I needed to get a drink, so I pulled over and I was dropped. (Due to balance problems I can't grab a water bottle while riding.) I caught up with them at the turn around point, after a big climb into Manayunk. My speed for the first 16 miles was a 13.23 average. I didn't mind, since the temperature when we started was cold enough that I could see my breath, and despite my long sleeved jersey and tights over my bike shorts (the same tights and jersey that appear in my Bike Forums avatar) I was chilled. After a minute, we started back. They dropped me within two minutes and I didn't see them again.

At Spring Mill, 20 miles into the ride, I pulled over and consumed two blueberry toaster pastries in a nod to the Bike Forums 50+ Blueberry Pie Ride. I was back in Audubon by 10:00 AM. Having secured 32 of the desired 100 miles, I plotted my next move. Finding a men's room took priority. After some searching near Audubon, I decided to head to Betzwood in Valley Forge Park, the next stop on the SRT. Having 'un-hydrated' and refilled my water bottles, I continued south.

At Norristown, seat of Montgomery County, I turned off from the trail and took the connector route to the Norristown Farm Park. The Farm Park is a working farm run by the county on land formerly owned by Norristown State Hospital. The connector required me to ride in traffic through Norristown Borough about a mile and a half. It was well-worth the hassle of dealing with motorists, since the seven miles of park trails had some rollers, which made a nice change from the nearly-flat SRT. And since I live in farm country myself, I felt at home riding with rows of corn on both sides. I'll have to go back sometime.

After a few miles, and some walking of hills, I turned around and headed back to the SRT. Once there, it was on to Conshohocken, where I purchased more Gatorade from a small store in a converted train station. The woman who runs the place loves cyclists, and there's always anywhere from three to a dozen riders gathered on the benches in the little courtyard outside the store. Once again I 'un-hydrated'.

Having emptied me and refilled my water bottles, I noticed I was both hungry and feeling queasy from a lack of real food. It was 1:00 PM, and I hadn't had anything aside from two toaster pastries, two Cliff Bars, and water mixed with Gatorade since breakfast seven hours before. I rode into Conshohocken and picked up a turkey sandwich from a gas station, along with a small bag of pretzels. The trip for real food was almost more trouble than it was worth, since I had to ride on Fayette Street, the 'main drag' in Conshohocken, where it crosses the entrance ramps for Rt. 23 and the Schuylkill Expressway, the main highway from the suburbs into Philadelphia. I hate driving the 'Sure-kill', and I didn't like riding near its mouth.

Fueling done, it was back south to Manayunk. I was at 52 miles. I knew I wasn't riding 100 miles today. But 75, as suggested by MTBLover here on Bike Forums, was doable. As I reached Manayunk I decided to ride the Canal Towpath, but once I reached it and rode about a mile I realized that gravel wasn't the best choice of surface for my bike. So back I went up the trail. I rode part way with a family of three on Huffys. They were amazed that I was riding 75 miles that day, and that my bike was so fast compared to theirs. One of the group was a ten year old boy, and he and I had an extended conversation on bike repair. At Spring Mill I showed him my tire pump and multitool.

By now, I was tired. I was dismounting every five miles or so to drink. The temperature had warmed up to about 75 degrees, and I was still wearing tights and a long sleeved jersey. My back had begun to bother me at about mile 30, as usual, and as usual in the same spot, beneath my elevated right shoulder. My legs were sore, and my left hamstring and hip flexors were annoyed at what I was asking of them. My left knee was sore. And my butt was complaining each time I sat on the saddle. Leaving home without any of what cyclists call "Vitamin I" (Ibuprofen) wasn't the smartest thing I've ever done. But I pushed on.

North of Conshohocken I turned onto the connecting Cross County Trail in an attempt to add miles and ride fresh pavement. The CCT travels about a mile and a half through some wooded areas before it enters the retail district of Plymouth Meeting. Not having the desire to go shopping at IKEA that afternoon, I turned around. On the way back to the SRT, I rode with one of my fellow members of Team Copaxone. Ken, a five year veteran of the MS City to Shore, gave me tips on pacing myself for the ride, and we talked about our team captain. As always, I gave Dan credit for making a cyclist of me, as well as for bringing me onto Team Copaxone. As we approached the SRT, Ken said goodbye, 'dropped the hammer', and I was back alone on my homeward journey.

I stopped again just south of Norristown and left a voice mail message for my team captain and bike mentor Dan, advising him I'd just hit 70 miles, set a new person record for miles and speed, and that I was going for 75. Back on the bike, back up to Audubon, and I arrived at my car with 75.03 showing on the bike computer. A few trips around the parking lot brought it up to 76.30, and I called it a day. I had toyed with attempting 80 by riding a couple of miles down the SRT and back, but I was tired, and there was nothing left in my legs and my water bottles.

So the ride was a mixed bag of results. I set new personal records for speed - 11 MPH over 76 miles, with much of the ride being considerably faster; distance - 76 miles is 7 miles further than my previous longest ride; and stamina - not that there were many hills, but the hills I did walk were because I needed to give my butt a break, not because I couldn't climb them. I didn't get 100 miles in, but 76 is certainly respectable, and more than I ever thought I'd be able to do. (When I took up cycling and was signed up for the MS ride in January, I thought 25 miles was the most I'd be able to ride in September.) 100 miles in two weeks is certainly within belief, and within my grasp. And more importantly, I partly redeemed myself, in my mind, from my "failure" on the Bicycle Club of Philadelphia Scenic Schuylkill Century the week before. Success and failure mean different things to different people. If my ride was a soft bike tire, some would say it is half-flat, and some would call it half full. I'm sure some folks think my 76 miles of a century was a failure. I don't.
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Old 09-16-07, 09:00 PM   #2
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great job Neil. I tried a metric today but wimped out at 47 miles. Maybe we both will have better luck next time.
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Old 09-16-07, 09:13 PM   #3
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Neil-
Fantastic job! I know exactly where you were riding today, being a denizen of the SRT, Conshy, and the towpath, and you did great! I sure hope you don't consider today's ride a failure! You will do fine on the MS150. BTW, I'll be riding on the SRT and Audubon, probably a bit on the Perky too next Saturday, but I'll be coming from the opposite direction (I live in Philly), but I'll keep an eye out for ya.
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Old 09-16-07, 09:26 PM   #4
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Anyone that would call your ride today a failure really doesn't deserve to be heard. Congratulations on the next step up from the metric. Isn't it fantastic feeling all the pain and soreness combined with the elation of riding 76 miles when just a short time ago 25 was all you thought you could do.

Keep on Keepin on Neil.
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Old 09-16-07, 10:04 PM   #5
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Neil-
Fantastic job! I know exactly where you were riding today, being a denizen of the SRT, Conshy, and the towpath, and you did great! I sure hope you don't consider today's ride a failure! You will do fine on the MS150. BTW, I'll be riding on the SRT and Audubon, probably a bit on the Perky too next Saturday, but I'll be coming from the opposite direction (I live in Philly), but I'll keep an eye out for ya.
I'm leaving the Audubon trailhead on Saturday at 8:30 AM for a trip downtown and back. I'm not sure I'm going to attempt a full century that day - it might hurt me the following week.

Oh, and today's ride puts me over 2000 miles for the year. Miles in 2006 were 2.5. :-)
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Old 09-17-07, 02:17 AM   #6
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You increased your miles by 10%!
Sounds good to me!!!!!!
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Old 09-17-07, 05:33 AM   #7
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Well done, Neil! I am inspired by your efforts!

-soma5
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Old 09-17-07, 06:19 AM   #8
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WOW!

I love reading success stories like this. It makes all the efforts we went through 3 years ao to get this 50+ forum started very worthwhile. Your story is exactly why this forum was started. Keep up the good work and keep on telling us about your successes!
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Old 09-17-07, 06:26 AM   #9
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Well done matey. You certainly make a meal of things but that's good, it's obviously the way you work and it is working for you.

Did anyone else notice that this bloke's planning a huge ride ... and complains about part of it being too flat?

Richard
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Old 09-17-07, 06:32 AM   #10
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Man, you've got to change the title of your posts. These are not failures. Rather, they are significant incremental steps toward your goal.
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Old 09-17-07, 07:20 AM   #11
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Man, you've got to change the title of your posts. These are not failures. Rather, they are significant incremental steps toward your goal.
+100,000,000. Yeah, Neil- really! How about something like "Getting ever closer..." or "Almost there!"?
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Old 09-17-07, 07:22 AM   #12
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+100,000,000. Yeah, Neil- really! How about something like "Getting ever closer..." or "Almost there!"?
I put the word "failure" in single quotation marks to emphasize the irony of my post. :-)
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Old 09-17-07, 07:23 AM   #13
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I'm leaving the Audubon trailhead on Saturday at 8:30 AM for a trip downtown and back. I'm not sure I'm going to attempt a full century that day - it might hurt me the following week.

Oh, and today's ride puts me over 2000 miles for the year. Miles in 2006 were 2.5. :-)
OK- we'll probably pass each other- I'm just going to do 75 on Saturday myself, but since I will have just had my wheels trued, I'll probably stay off the Perky (and definitely the cobblestone hill connecting the towpath with Nixon . I'll be wearing an orange or yellow jersey- if we see each other, let's chat if it's a good stopping place.

on the 2K- sensational!!!!
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Old 09-17-07, 07:24 AM   #14
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I put the word "failure" in single quotation marks to emphasize the irony of my post. :-)
oh, we got that! But there are some words that shouldn't used, even in quotes
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Old 09-17-07, 07:27 AM   #15
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Well done matey. You certainly make a meal of things but that's good, it's obviously the way you work and it is working for you.

Did anyone else notice that this bloke's planning a huge ride ... and complains about part of it being too flat?

Richard
I was 385 pounds. I make a meal of everything. :-)

It wasn't the lack of hills so much as the boredom. I've ridden the Schuylkill River Trail many times. And during the midday on a weekend it's very busy, often with joggers, runners, and folks walking three and four abreast in the wrong lane. In Philadelphia it becomes a human obstacle course at times.
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Old 09-17-07, 07:29 AM   #16
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Great job. But as others have said, that's enough of the "f" word.
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Old 09-17-07, 09:56 AM   #17
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I think its a great sucess. Congratulations
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Old 09-17-07, 10:01 AM   #18
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OK- we'll probably pass each other- I'm just going to do 75 on Saturday myself, but since I will have just had my wheels trued, I'll probably stay off the Perky (and definitely the cobblestone hill connecting the towpath with Nixon . I'll be wearing an orange or yellow jersey- if we see each other, let's chat if it's a good stopping place.

on the 2K- sensational!!!!
Look for me in the Team Copaxone jersey - white with an American flag pattern. I'm proud to wear it, even if it makes me look fat. :-)
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Old 09-17-07, 10:28 AM   #19
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Thanks for the inspirational message!

Three years ago was a year of centuries for me. I crossed two threshholds and lost 100 pounds and rode a metric century.

The last couple of years, due to depression, I have moved backwards, and gained 50 pounds, and didn't ride much at all this year (I did ride 50 miles+ 3 times last year, and did no long rides this year).

I have decided to get back to it, and have lost 6.2 pounds in the past 2 weeks, and will ride 100 miles for the first time in my life next year. In order to do it, I will need to lose at least 100 pounds, and hopefully 150... So, Historian, I'll see you at the Covered Bridge ride in August... By then, I will be under 250 pounds, and will complete the 100K ride with the group!

100 pounds and 100 miles to go!!!!
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Old 09-17-07, 12:51 PM   #20
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Great job again Sir. And a good write up to boot.
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Old 09-17-07, 04:47 PM   #21
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Congrats on a great ride...I am replacing my Gu with Blueberry toasters as we speak!
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