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  1. #1
    Affable Aberrant G-Whacker's Avatar
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    Scenic Schuylkill report

    This was my first foray into the hills. As a matter of fact, I climbed more in the first 20 miles than I have this year, and more in the first 50 than my lifetime totals! I had done my training though (big gears against the wind) and it paid off. The ride challenged me, but didn't beat me.

    The organization was well done and professional, check in was easy, the rest stops were well stocked and clean, the sag support was visible, the route was well marked and the volunteers were friendly and helpful. The BCP even got me a great rate on a Center City Suite! The pizza at the end was a nice touch.

    I spent most of the ride not knowing where I was, but enjoying it like crazy. The wet roads early caused some problems on the downhill portions of the course, I saw a crash at a "switchback" after Manayunk, but seemed to be caused by panic over the sudden change in direction. (perhaps a sign at the top of the hill rather than a flagger at the bottom would have been better) Other than that, the day went smooth and as the nice weather settled in, everyone's spirits rose.

    A rider I was chatting with and myself followed a group of what appeared to be Germans between rest stops 1 and 2. Their leader was incredible- he led the pace line the entire leg, did track stands at lights and stop signs, and I noticed at some point he was doing the whole thing with a rubbing brake!

    After the second rest stop, people had to make decisions about which route to finish, the weather convinced a lot of people to do the whole century. This was the 'hilly' leg of the ride and being a flatlander, I was on edge most of the time. At the third rest stop, the guy I had paired up with accused me of 'riding like an animal' on that portion. I explained that my inexperience with hills left me with only one way to ride them- gogogo! I dropped my group during the climbs, but was usually caught during the descents- I was a little nervous and had no idea where we were, so groups were good. The third rest stop was at a church that had a carpeted basketball court, you don't see that everyday.

    I hooked onto a couple of guys doing my pace during the next leg. One guy led the flats (the wind was starting to blow) and one guy led the climbs. I didn't do much work, but they didn't seem to mind and pulled me through some truly beautiful country. I lost them behind me at a stoplight and had to work alone for a few miles until the crowds started to reform in Valley Forge. I need to go back to that park, what little I saw of it was terrific.

    The BCP provided alternate routes to the finish from the VF rest stop. I chose the (longer) road route, cause I came to do 100 miles and that was what was going to happen! Not long after starting the route, I found myself questioning my decision. We went through the VF park past the monument and then into the 'burbs'. This was a very lonely leg! I passed maybe five riders, but that was all the contact I had for twenty miles. I wasn't even sure I was following the route until I got to Conshahocken! riders again started to coalesce from there into Manayunk.(which was like a festival town and packed with cars and pedestrians and outdoor bands...)

    From there we crossed the Schuylkill again and eventually got on a road closed to traffic (with a big gate that cause confusion) I asked a rider behind me if I was going the right way, he said "uh huh" and we set off toward the city. I pulled him for a mile or so and he asked if I wanted him to pull me at a stoplight, sure. I eventually took back over as we were getting into the city and I asked him how we were supposed to get to the art museum (ending)- seeing the confusion on his face made me realize he wasn't on the century and he realized he was being pulled by a guy who had just done 100+ miles!

    The scene at the finish was relaxed and well stocked with pizza and refreshments.

    I just want to thank the Bicycle Club of Philadelphia for just about the best time I've ever had on a bike! I'm never missing this ride again if I can help it!

    CLICK HERE for a slide show of cell phone pictures I took during the day. (Apologies to anyone I may have sketched out while taking them)
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Won't you pour me a cuban breeze, Gretchen?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Febs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by G-Whacker View Post
    CLICK HERE for a slide show of cell phone pictures I took during the day. (Apologies to anyone I may have sketched out while taking them)
    Looks like you got a great shot of my back!


  3. #3
    Affable Aberrant G-Whacker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Febs View Post
    Looks like you got a great shot of my back!
    A belated "hello" then!
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Won't you pour me a cuban breeze, Gretchen?

  4. #4
    But on the road more MTBLover's Avatar
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    GREAT report and pics, G-Whacker! You obviously had a great time. Unfortunately, I had to go out of town unexpectedly and had to forfeit my registration, but your pics reminded me a lot about last year's ride and (sort of ) satisfied my pining for the ride this year. BTW- the road they close of the weekends is Martin Luther King Drive (formerly West River Drive). The lower portion (Art Museum to the Sweetbriar Cutoff) is open after 12noon, but the rest of it is open 7a-5p. It's a nice flat road to practice, well, flats. If you want some nice hills, go up into West Fairmount Park (by the Mann Music Center)- they aren't long, but they are intense and the top is definitely worth it- what a view!

    Thanks for a great report!

  5. #5
    Neil_B
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    Friday night I and my bike headed into Philadelphia for what promised to be a weekend of hard riding. Not only because Bicycle Club of Philadelphia's Scenic Schuylkill Century was a challenging course, but because I had to deal with a new fitting on the bike, and learn to use clipless pedals as well. Would I be able to finish the rides unscit did mirror the concern I had in my heart. Would I have a deluge of problems on these rides?athed, and ride in Bike Philly the next morning? The heavy rains on Friday didn't dampen my enthusiasm, but

    I arrived at Chamounix Mansion Hostel in Fairmount Park about 11:00 PM, and was assigned a room with three other riders, John, Kevin, and David, all Clydesdales, who had driven up from Virginia for the rides. We soon formed a plan to leave at 7:00 AM the next morning, I leading the group. We settled to bed, they dreaming of their rides, and I having a nightmare about falling making a left turn in traffic from Leverington onto Umbria in Manayunk.

    Next morning we headed off, I leading the pack through Fairmount Park, over the Strawberry Mansion Bridge, and on a roundabout trip to the ride start at Lloyd Hall, in the shadow of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. A flat tire on John's road bike delayed us a few minutes.



    After the repair and a slight wrong turn on my part, we reached the ride start. We let the mass start take place before we entered the stream of cyclists riding towards the Art Museum, in front of the "Rocky" steps, and onto West River Drive. Philadelphia closes West River Drive to motorized vehicles from 7-5 on weekends, so it was a wall of cyclists. Here's the start at Lloyd Hall:



    At the Falls Bridge, cyclists had to face traffic as they headed into Manayunk.



    Well before this point, I had been dropped, by agreement, by my hostel friends. So I, and my clipless and fit concerns, were riding solo. I wasn't bothered by the traffic in Manayunk any more than normal, although I became alarmed at how long it took me to get unclipped on the left foot as I approached one light. When I turned onto Leverington I got up and walked the hill and the left onto Umbria, and so avoided fulfilling my nightmare. Once on Umbria, I clipped in and pedaled up. And up. And up. Clipless pedals forced me to climb the hill as a whole because I knew if I stopped, I'd never get unclipped in time. My quads were screaming by the end. The downhill was fun, except that I was required to dismount at the bottom - it's a sharp left onto Shawmont, and six cyclists that morning had spilled on the wet gravel there.

    The first rest stop was Cedar Grove Park, 13 miles out. Food and drink was inside the building. While I was inside, a fellow from Keswick Cyclery replaced the tube in my front tire, which had begun to get soft.



    By here I had scaled back my plans from doing a metric century to the 38 mile route, going out to Fort Washington and back. The hills earlier in the ride had gotten to me, and I walked up a couple of quadbusters at the halfway point. As I turned around, I decided, since I wasn't going for a metric, I could treat the rest of the ride as just a test of the fit and clipless, and take the opportunity for photography as it arose. St. Peter's Lutheran, site of a Revolutionary war battle, was one such opportunity.



    As I approached Manayunk, a volunteer on the ride passed me and asked if I was alright. He persisted in questioning me, and I suddenly realized I hadn't eaten in hours and was out of water. I didn't feel lightheaded - yet. Not wanting to either tempt fate or the climb onto Umbria from Shawmont, I chose to ride the flat Manayunk Canal Towpath, and stop at a place in town for food and water.



    After food and drink, I rode back to the Falls Bridge, over to West River Drive, and towards the ride end. I can see the city skyline in the distance.



    Soon enough the Art Museum came into view.



    And before I knew it, I was at the BCP end of ride pizza party, walking around in my socks like half the other clipless riders.



    Two of my hostel friends, David and Kevin, finished the 38 an hour before me, and they headed back up the hill to the hostel. John showed up shortly afterward, bushed from the metric century. He also left as I stayed for a massage. Then I too headed back to the hostel for a shower and dinner, reaching there just as some rain started to fall. The four of us went out to dinner, carbed up, and prepared for Bike Philly. I went to bed happy to have completed a long, hard ride without a clipless fall or an accident like my gashing my leg on my chainring.




    I'll write about Bike Philly in a later post - I need to get the photos up on Flickr.

  6. #6
    Affable Aberrant G-Whacker's Avatar
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    He also left as I stayed for a massage.
    You got a massage after the 38 mile route!
    I "got" to ride 5 miles to the car so I could drive it back to the wife and kids (hanging out at the pizza party) after the full century!

    Seriously, though, really nice pictures and congrats on a good premier clipless ride!
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Won't you pour me a cuban breeze, Gretchen?

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