Thursday, July 14, 2016

Mission Report 27 March 2016

The Hell of Hunterdon is a beautiful ride.
Scrumming in the first wave! 
I am told that the roads of the Hell of Hunterdon  twist around very scenic and beautiful central New Jersey showcasing  the best that NJ has to offer. As we crested a long dirt road hill Buddy the Leg Breaker, looked over to me and said, "It's a shame we don't get to really see how beautiful this area is, you know because we are bleeding out our eyes..."

I grunted, wiped the drool off my chin and nodded in agreement, as we continued to tap out tempo up the climb.

So while I am convinced that aesthetically the Hell of Hunterdon is a beautiful ride, that's not really what I mean.
another Fatmarc and Buddy the leg breaker adventure! 
The ride was beyond expectations for me. Fun. Challenging- the gravel roads had some hairy spots and  benefited my brand of deception and guile (bike handling).  Mileage was longer than anything I normally do and with enough elevation that it is a true test of fitness and endurance. This was not a ride for the uninitiated.


I'll admit I tend to get bored on long rides, but the parcours this weekend offered up 17 sections, over 14 miles of gravel and dirt roads. The promoters do an amazing job of having the ride supported, two wonderful stops, major intersections all manned- and motos buzzing around checking in on riders. AMAZING.  I can't say enough about the after ride food and beer accommodations. Already planning on 2017.  As I type this, I still have a smile on my face.

It's not a race, it's not a race: Okay maybe it's kind of a race.

I've done a number of Grand Fondo Style rides. I like the challenge, the semi-competitive nature of those rides. Despite the announcer reminding everyone that this isn't race, it felt an awful lot like a race. Scrumming for a starting position... Monkey and Anne Rock taking a hole shot... It felt like a race. But it wasn't...
Photo Credit : Greg Kaplan- How many 'Crossers can you count? 

Look - it wasn't the douche-canoe "I'm gonna win the Charity Ride" vibe, but the "there's a ton of really strong, good riders here, who all understand this is going to be hard, and lets shake things up a bit." vibe.  It was cool, like being a part of something special...

Perhaps it was lots of folks getting prepped for the spring season. Maybe it's Battenkill in the minds of many.  Perhaps it was the pro grand-fondo riders. Perhaps it was 'crossers who haven't raced in three months that needed to scratch an itch. I really don't know, but it was beautiful.

I had set a goal of sub 5 hours, and while our rolling time was 5:03,  with two flats and rest stops- our riding time  was 4:39. So yeah, I was stoked.

Monkey Miles:

wish my camera captured this better! 
Monk and Rock had planned on doing a modified loop. Monk had never done a ride longer the 50 miles. Rock was her Jedi. I'm not gonna lie, I had started calling Monk Stress-Monkey during the week. She was obsessive in her preparation. I've been riding with her, she's been riding really well, and I was confident she'd do great, even if she was still figuring it out.

Laura C joined Monk and Anne as they worked together across the course. In typical Monkey and Anne fashion, they took the hole shot and lead out the entire first wave until the start of the first climb. Diane and Anne killed it. They ticked off 63 miles, taking one small short cut. This was the longest and most climbing Monk had ever done. As she sat next to me at our table following the ride, she was smiling ear to ear. I was super stoked and proud of her. I was also grateful for Anne Rock her partner in crime and adventures. We are lucky to have Rock in our life!
Life lesson: if you catch your wife on the road, and she had a flat, your group
better stop to help. Buddy thankfully booted her tire up!

If you can Dodge a wrench: 

The ride took off fast. Joey, John, Buddy and I kinda got separated. John and I were probably going too hard too fast, and nosed our way further up in the group. Cruising along at 30 mph, I figured I was going to have to pay the piper soon. Up the first steep pitch, mile 11 or so... the I started to drift back a bit. I felt like this was a long ride, and I was working way too hard too soon. I came off the front group. Luxy came back for me.
Monkey, Shane and I head to staging. This would actually be the last time
I'd ride in front of Shane! 
Sure enough, just as I was good and gapped the route turned right and flattened out. John went to the front and drilled it trying to get us up back to that front group. I took a big long pull, and noticed we were dragging a train behind us. I rolled back aside Luxy and said, "dude, we can't drag these guys up by ourselves...
We are not drilling it in this photo. 

Just then, a skinny dude in all black pulled through. The pace bumped up a few miles per hour. I looked over to John and whispered like a fan boy, "DUDE, THAT'S CAM DODGE - THIS MIGHT HAPPEN!" Just then Jay, Cam's father pulled along side me, "morning Marc!"

We entered sector 2 of gravel and were flying. Cam was ripping. Luxy and I were following closely. It was one of those moments on a bike that is just perfect karma. I admit I was being a little aggressive but it felt good to push the edge just a little. Then I hit something.  I said to myself "don't flat, don't flat, don't flat..."

Fuck. I flatted.

Luxy says, "you're flat man"
"motherfu... "  I said under my breath. I encouraged John, "keep going don't let that wheel go! "

Luxy replied, "not gonna happen, we are in this together.."  We were quickly joined by Mr. Joe and Buddy. Buddy helped me fix my flat, because I ... I was flailing... I'll point out here that Buddy helped both Vanderbacons fix their flats today... (thanks man)

Four on the Floor:
My big fat belly busts out of my vest and ruins an
otherwise cool picture.
After my flat, we were all together as a group of four. And we rode the rest of the ride as a pretty cohesive unit. Not surprising, Luxy is a great road captain. Along the way we had a couple of folks work in an out of our group: Conair, Dennis, and Otto.  Shane danged off the front of us, and I'll let him know we were coming to get him on all the climbs. It was rad to ride with the core of the four of us. Each of us working, each of us hitting a spot of bother, and all of us taking care of each other. I was stoked. I'm a team guy, and that just added another level of awesome to the day for me...

A seat at the table: 

As the post ride activities commenced, Buddy the Leg Breaker, and 5/6 of the Deluxx Bikes Cyclocross team (Luxy, Monk, Rock, Mr. Joe, and Fatme) sat around a table in the Elks lodge with too many miles in our legs, too much food on our plates, and huge smiles on our faces. Luxy began to wax poetically, "you know in the weeks before this ride, I know we all wonder why we would do a ride like this... some thing as tough as this...."

I interrupted him.

"Eff you John Lux!" I said, "I didn't wonder why I did this, you told me all cross season- "fatmarc you need to do the hell of hunterdon!" I'd say, "I don't ride 80 miles- ever," You'd say "you're gonna do it this year, you'll love it ..."    So I know exactly why I did this ride- because you told me to! "

Everyone laughed.  Buddy pointed at me and added, "You made me do it!"

More laughter. We truly enable our friends.

Don't tell John, but I did love it. It was beautiful.

Truly a great day. Looking forward to getting everyone back together next week at the Brandywine Roubaix. Should be another great event by the folks that bring you the West Chester Cross Classic!

looking forward to that ride ! Looking forward to getting the band together again next week.

thanks to the kind folks at Kermesse Sport for a great event.

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