600K Day 2

13 06 2007

img_0628.jpgSaturday followed quick on the heels of Friday. Three hours after I’d drifted off to sleep I was awoken by several alarm clocks and bright lights. We hurried to get everything packed up and into the truck so that we could make the 1 mile ride down to the brevet organizer’s house for registration. At the house we were shocked to be among the first to arrive, rolling in at 3:40. We got signed in and availed ourselves of bagels and cream cheese ahead of the start. Several other riders came in as we waited on the lawn for the start. Among them was a guy on a handcycle that had arms like tree trunks and a dude on a BikeFriday folding bike. Ultimately there were 15 of us at the start. The pre-ride meeting was pretty lax and we got rolling a little after 4AM.

The rollout took us out a couple of blocks and then a left turn up a shocking wall climb that was a bit much for that hour. For the most part the group held together and we hit a 10 mile rolling section towards Saratoga Springs as one. The six of us led the charge with the rest of the bunch sitting in. At the first stoplight, crossing a medium-sized county road with no traffic at 4:30, we were scolded by one of the older members of the bunch for rolling through at which point we began to worry about any efforts to hold this train together. We were still all together as we hit Saratoga and slowed down a little as we passed Uncommon Grounds, lamenting their lazy staff who couldn’t roust themselves from their slumber to open the shop before 5. As we turned out of town we hit the first of a set of long stretches: 30 miles until the next control, no turns. As we hit the opening set of rollers in the gathering dawn we dropped the riders behind us. Dropped may not be an entirely appropriate word as they seem to have selectively held behind. After we stopped for a nature call they all hung back and paused themselves 50 meters behind until we rolled on; I suppose we can be a bit much to handle. Richie and Mikey led the early charge in the morning and pulled for the first 15 miles before handing off to me and AccuJoe who took up the charge most of the way into the first control.

When we hit the first control we made good on our promise to limit stops and got rolling again within 14 minutes (Mikey was our timer); just as the rear bunch was catching up. We headed out and turned north on Rt 30 which would be our course for the next 70+ miles. This took us up a long gradual climb into the Adirondack State Park. It was rarely a grueling climb, but always up and never a img_0644.jpgrestful coast. As we slowly pushed uphill the population density dropped from sparse to really sparse and the interval between homes and services increased. Also as we climbed, the sun slowly started peaking through the clouds as the massive storm front that had cut a swath through the eastern US the day before made its way out to sea. We hit the top of the course, 2500 feet above where we started just as the clouds began to fade away and the landscape gave way to a collection of rolling hills separating spectacular mountain lakes . Not long after we were into this idyllic setting I managed to hit a piece of large gravel and flat my rear tire, so we paused by a lovely cobbled stream and soaked in the warming sun as I made my change.

The course rolled and rolled for the next 60 miles, occasionally giving us a strong 300 foot kick in the mouth. At mile 103 we pulled into the next control at Indian Lake around 11 AM. We’d known about the big Americade motorcycle rally but this was the first time we really crossed paths with the riders. The parking lot of img_0664.jpgthe Stewarts was packed with big touring motorcycles, most with aftermarket exhausts that roared like a construction site. We got some funny looks, but the crowd was generally nice to us and we managed to take some reciprocal photos, though I was so afraid of knocking over one of those chrome and steel beasts that I couldn’t do much better than just stand cautiously beside one for my shot. We struggled to keep this stop down to 20 minutes, but managed to keep it to 22, which meant we were still on target given our speedy stop at the first control.

From there onwards to the next control 50 miles away in Tupper Lake through the same rolling lake country. The rollers got a little bigger and there were a couple of big kickers that started to break the group up a bit. Mikey started dragging through the ups complaining of low energy that eating didn’t seem to help. Most of the little lake towns we went through were quaint and full of ticky-tacky and souvenir shops. The folks we saw were cheerful and supportive and once a woman commented that we were much more pleasant than the thousands of roaring hogs that were disturbing the peace all weekend. Tupper Lake was a bit larger than most of the places we’d been through and appeared to be entirely under construction so the roads were torn up and the shoulders, which up to this point had been wide enough to ride 2 abreast, were non-existent. We tried to make quick time at the control because, as with all the towns so far, there was no coffee shop and we were in desperate need of espresso. I’d seen that there was a shop 20 miles further in Saranac Lake and we made the push onward in search of the dark mother.

On the way out Mikey was still struggling a bit and we stretched out over the rollers. Steve got a rear flat and we all took the opportunity to get a little extraimg_0685.jpg rest while he made the repair. From there we rolled easy onward to Saranac Lake, and when we pulled in we saw the telltale signs of an enlightened town: younger folks, outdoors shops, a college. This place had to have coffee. After a couple of inquiries we were directed to an empty storefront that had a sign indicating the black nectar, but appeared to be closed while they changed names and management. Dejected and at our lowest point of the ride we pushed onward. We were 15 or 20 miles from the end of the high lakes region and what would be a 40 mile rolling descent into Plattsburgh. The mood was somber and the sun heated the pavement to its peak for the day. At Bloomingdale we had our last opportunity img_0687.jpgfor services before Plattsburgh and we made a stop at a general store for water. Spirits were stressed and, this being NY, I was able to make the necessary adjustments to raise everyone’s spirits: a big can of Labatts! (thanks to Elk and Yozell for setting the tradition of a beer break on every brevet)

A quick rise out of Bloomingdale and we started into the descent to Lake Champlain. Mikey took the roll down easy, but the rest of us couldn’t resist opening up the legs a bit on some the long flats and, buoyed by a little liquid gold, we managed to take a few fast turns through the pace line and jump a few town line sprints. We regrouped for the last 15 miles into Plattsburgh which rolled through semi-rural suburbs and some nice smooth descents. The time was getting on towards 7 and the setting sun started to cool the day off and freshen the legs. The approach into Plattsburgh took us through a long section of strip malls and we made a pause for coffee at a Starbucks before rolling through town to the control on South side.

At the control a woman came in to get a case of beer who was pouring out of her tight v-neck t-shirt. All a little stunned (and a bit relieved that 210 miles in the saddle hadn’t stopped all blood flow), she called out to us as she was getting backimg_0699.jpg into her car that we should come for a cool down to Diamond Dolls, the strip club down the road where she worked, “Ask for Angel”, she told us. Admittedly, as we rolled out, a stop for a drink and distraction was tempting , but the state of the place was not ideal and we pushed onwards along the lake shore.

We rolled through miles of flats and light rollers along the shore of Lake Champlain before the course turned us back inland heading up towards Lake Placid.  We managed a fair way before the the dark settled in and we had to turn our lights on.  As we got closer to the mountains, the rollers got bigger and the backside descents got smaller.  With 5 miles to go we turned up a big wall climb and dropped over into Wilmington at the base of Whiteface mountain.  With 1 mile to go we made a quick pause for a celebratory 6-pack and rolled on to our motel for the night around 10:20.  The organizers had set up a guest house and some food and we made a quick dinner of it before retiring quietly for the night, packed into our own room so we wouldn’t be disturbed by the riders coming in behind us.

The total on the day was 256 miles, 400k down 200k to go.

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One response

15 06 2007
Peter

Matt,
Great report.

At mile 103 we pulled into the next control at Indian Lake around 11 AM.

Jess and I were there a couple of years ago. Beautiful roads.

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