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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Harrisonburg 300K

A brilliant flash of lightning directly in front of us, followed by KA-BOOM!!! We had just crossed the intersection of Coalter St. and Commerce Rd. in Staunton VA at about 10:15 pm in a heavy rain, slowly closing in on Harrisonburg to finish the ROMA 300K August 13. Maria F and I got off our bikes before the really steep climb up Coalter and sought shelter under the nearest store awning we could find. We were already thoroughly soaked after being in the rain for a good hour (and making it through a "stream" flowing across the road without falling over). If the temperature had been another 10 degrees colder, I'm sure we really would have been shaking - the "in your face" encounter with lightning and thunder was enough to leave us quivering. Byron M had disappeared up the road after staying with us until about mile 160, but no doubt he was thinking of getting in early enough to get some sleep, as he was responsible for driving himself and Maria back to Raleigh in the morning.

Once the fireworks had passed and it was apparent the rain was not going to let up, we had no choice but to keep going. 21 miles doesn't sound like a lot, but it seemed like the longest end to a ride I've been on. We both took a look at the steep hill of Coalter, with a river of water cascading down, and decided to hoof it on the sidewalk. A quarter of a mile later the road leveled out and we began riding, hoping we hadn't missed a turn. Thankfully the lights of US11 appeared (Coalter runs kind of parallel to and eventually merges into US11). We saw some open stores along the route, but we didn't need to say anything - I think both Maria and I didn't care to stop - we knew the rain wasn't quitting and all we wanted to do was get this thing over with as quickly as possible. It was like some non-verbal communication passing between us. The navigating was done - just stay on US11 and eventually the welcome sign of the Super 8 (across the street from the starting location of Southside Diner) appeared. We must have looked like a couple of drowned rats as we dismounted and made our way into the diner at 12:35 am. The waitress was exceedingly helpful - provided some dry towels and hot tea while we looked over the menu. It was a good ending to a tough ride.

Weather for the majority of the 300K was pleasant - things got a little hot and sticky in the afternoon near Buchanan - but it was really just the late evening when our stamina was put to an extreme test. The ride is challenging with about 11,000 feet of climbing, but you are treated to some excellent scenery and exciting downhill runs. Part of the route overlaps with the ROMA 600K, so I "re-lived" my experience of colliding with a dog in May. Things look a lot different in daylight. I was ready with a can of Halt! but there was no sign of a dog anywhere near where I had crashed earlier.

A Performance rack trunk is not up to 3+ hours in the rain, as anything that was not in a zip lock bag got wet. Lights performed flawlessly - I was thankful for the Dinotte taillight as we rode north on US11 in the rainstorm (I stayed in the back or abreast when traffic permitted). We had no issues with getting buzzed by traffic.

My camera is not waterproof, so good thing I didn't bring it. See Maria's report here for some pictures.