Sunday, February 11, 2007

cold moutain riding II

There's no better way to end a rest week than with a 5.5 hr, flirt-with-hypothermia, cold mountain ride, minus the flirt-with-hypothermia part, and probably the 5.5 hr component as well.

Last Saturday's failure to make it all the way to Mt. Holly Springs has been gnawing at me all week. So with temperatures still in the 20s (I don't think it's been above 30 degrees in south-central PA for 10-14 days) I decided I'd give the ride another go.

This time I made it, but it turned out to be a rather looong ride; 61 miles in 5:33 with likely something between 3500 and 4500 feet of climbing. Plus I wasn't making tracks through fresh snow the whole way, which made the riding generally faster, but less idyllic. Descending on the south slopes, where the dirt roads were mostly clear, was certainly faster and safer, but descending on the north facing slopes (where the snow was compacted into road-width sheet of ice) was decidedly hairy.

In Mt. Holly Springs I stopped at this little Chinese restaurant to refuel on a shrimp & cashews dish with steamed white rice. Yummy. I was soaked from the effort to get there, so while I was waiting for my food I excused myself to the bathroom and changed my base layer. Afterwards, I spread out all the other stuff--hats, gloves, jacket--on chair backs to dry a bit while I was eating, but of course that wasn't near long enough to have made any real difference, and by time I began to pack on the layers again I realized I was in for an extremely wet, cold, and generally miserably ride back.

And then it came to me, this:

I got my change in quarters and followed the nice Chinese lady's directions (across the street) to Dolly's Wash House. I felt like a character in a TV commercial (absent an encounter with a beautiful woman) as I stripped down and threw all my wet stuff in the dryer. Even my socks.

(Can you see my eerie reflection in the window?)

Despite feeling a little uncomfortable with the looks I was getting from the crowd of motley middle-aged on-lookers, the kind of people frequenting a laundry mat in rural Pennsylvania outpost of a town on a Saturday afternoon, the idea proved a stroke of genius and I was feeling rather proud of myself. In less than 10 minutes I was dressed in dry, warm (if not clean) gear and on the road again.

The ride back was uneventful, only tremendously long. When back in Ship I was riding in the dark.


In other news, the new Vandy kits are in, and mine came in the mail Friday. (Thanks, Josh.) They are really pretty fantastic. Easily the best looking kit I've ridden in.

Here's a trail shot of my handlebars modeling the vest:

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