Monday, June 17, 2013

Manayunk Metric, April 2008

Another 'historical' repost from my old blog. I was shocked when I read this entry. In 2008 I could complete a 50 mile ride in a little more than five hours. On the Lehigh Gorge Trail Saturday I took the same time to complete 30 miles. I need to not only find that old speed and stamina, but also the determination.

Well, it wasn't a metric century in Manayunk. But I did pass through this trendy part of Philadelphia. And I did ride 100 kilometers. So the title is partially correct.

The ride began back at the Pawlings Road trailhead on the Schuylkill River Trail in Audubon. My friend JT and I set off at 8:47 AM under cloudy skies to ride down to Philadelphia, loop around the Art Museum, and head back. It's a 49 mile ride, largely off-road with the exception of about five or so miles through Manayunk. It's also largely flat with the exception of several hill climbs in Manayunk. While there is a Manayunk Canal towpath that's flat and reduces the road mileage for the trip, the gravel surface wouldn't have been good for JT's 23cm tires or his carbon-fiber Orbea, so we used the road routing the Bicycle Club of Philadelphia recommends.

The 'inbound' part of the trail is on a slight downhill grade, and there's usually a slight tailwind from the west, both of which helped us make excellent time. We reached the Art Museum and Lloyd Hall by 10:43, taking less than two hours for the inbound trip of 24.35 miles. This included about a five minute rest stop at Conshohocken, halfway to the city, and negotiating traffic and stoplights - I hit every red light I came across in Manayunk. I felt in fine shape, although I struggled to keep up with JT. My extra winter weight was telling against me, along with my spotty riding these past few months. Plus JT is about ten years younger than me, and about 50 pounds lighter.

After hydrating, eating, and 'unhydrating', we headed back at 11:00 AM. All of a sudden the uphill and the headwind caused me problems. My speed slowed to a crawl, and JT pulled ahead, gradually increasing his lead to a half-mile on Main Street in Manayunk. During one of the hill climbs, I had to stop at a red light to make a left turn, and I chose to walk part of the hill because I knew I wasn't going to safely negotiate the intersection. I barely made it up another hill, getting over the crest as my legs began to fail me.

Eventually I got out of the city and back to the trail, where JT was waiting for me. As I pulled up I did what I do best.

"JT, I'm sorry I'm not in better shape. I'm slowing you down."

"Nah, I'm happy to have someone to ride with."

Having gotten my obligatory apologizing out of the way, we continued north and west out of the city, slowly climbing and fighting the headwind. We stopped for an extended break at The Outbound Station trail store in Conshohocken, and again in Valley Forge at Betzwood. We reached our cars in Audubon at 2:00 PM, where JT packed it in for the day with 49 miles ridden.

I felt like packing it in too by this point. My legs were spent, my back was slightly bothering me, and my butt was sore. Still, I wanted to get a metric under my belt, and so I mounted the bike again, and headed off into Lower Perkiomen Valley Park to get more miles. Between riding on the Perkiomen Trail, back down the Schuylkill River Trail to Betzwood, into Audubon, and searching for a decent lunch, I reached 62.20 miles at about 5 minutes to four PM.

Now, seven hours later, my butt hurts, my legs are sore and stiff, my back feels stretched, and I am dehydrated and fatigued. Isn't cycling wonderful?

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Manayunk Metric, April 2008