Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The January Century

So it isn't every year that you get to bag the elusive mid-winter century, but the last week in January was unseasonably nice. The very last day of the month fell on a Tuesday, but I was able to take the afternoon off and the day (and night) proved to be perfect for a tour of the rail trail system surrounding Morgantown. The 50 miles of car-free trail provide for two relatively flat rides along the Monongahela River south to the Meredith Tunnel just outside Fairmont, WV and also north to Pt. Marion, PA, while a third route climbs a fairly consistent grade 1000 feet up along Deckers Creek to Morgan Mine Road outside Reedsville, WV. Each direction is enough for a great ride, but combining all three out-and-back gives up the century.   

Riding south along the Monongahela River towards Pricketts Fort State Park

It started out innocently enough. A 1:00 pm start for 100 miles chasing a 5:40 pm January sunset. You can do the math...I brought a light, halfway charged. I took the cyclocross bike to provide a nice smooth ride on the mostly-cindered trail. Apparently, bottle cages aren't in style any longer, so I filled up two bottles with tea, grabbed a can of coke, and deposited them in the pockets of my vest. Food? Well all I had were three small Raw Revolution bars, two HoneyStinger gels, and a banana. That should do it - it's flat, right?

Still riding south towards the Meredith Tunnel

Down to Fairmont and back gets you about 45 miles or so. I was feeling fine, and upped the pace on the way back to Morgantown and then northward to Pt. Marion. On the way back from Pt. Marion the sun was setting and I was glad I brought a jacket, gloves, and a wool hat. I had just finished the Coke and had 1 gel left with about half a bottle of tea. 75 miles in on the Deckers Creek Trail, I was beginning to feel a bit tired and finished the gel and half of what was left in my last bottle. As I had suspected at the beginning of the ride, things were shaping up to potentially be interesting in the bonk department...

The sun behind the ridge and fog settling for a cold night on Deckers Creek

Made it to the end of the trail at Morgan Mine Road and headed for home. A few miles of flat before things start to gently tip down hill again...

Those last few miles were soft-pedaled and the bonk was staved off, but next time a little more food and water would be a good idea, even though what I brought was just enough in the end (this time).

So it is done. The elusive (for me) mid-winter century. I'm not complaining, but I am thankful for having the best on-the-bike nutrition available :)

Next stop - Southern Cross, the first race in the 2012 American Ultracross Championship Series. Come on down to northern Georgia for a what promises to be a great race. Thanks for reading!