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French Creek Iron Tour 2013: Part the Second

(Part One is here.) The toughest inclines on this year’s version  (34 mile/54.7 km) of the Iron Tour seemed to occur before the first rest stop, and though there were climbs after the second stop, there were fewer.  For less-fit riders like me, having the rough stuff up front was a bonus!

Instructions were sprayed on the pavement at several points along the route.  Mr. Diarist, in a bow to my weak navigational skills, had driven the route with me the day before, and we had seen a volunteer stencilling the arrows.

The Iron Tour offers circuits for all levels:  10 mile/6.2 km; 20 mile/12.4 km; the 34 mile/54.7 km that Basil and I did; 50 mile/80.4 km; 64 mile/102.9 km; 75 mile/120.7 km; and 100 mile/160.9 km. The splits were well-marked.  I did have a cue sheet, and the tour offered GPS downloads, but it was very helpful to have these cues along the way.

Basil and I encountered these equestrians, but talked only to one of the riders. According to her, the horse to the left does not like bicycles; this was probably not a favourite day for this particular creature.

This was the second covered bridge of the tour.

This part of Pennsylvania is famous for its covered bridges.  Most of them, like this one, are made entirely, or nearly so, of wood.  They’re prized  for their picturesque contribution to the landscape, and their tourism value, so they are also preserved and maintained.

Basil and I had scaled this hill, and then I looked back; somehow these inclines never look intimidating in review. How could this mild stretch of road offer any challenge at all?

Sometimes I chose to walk the hills because I’d been so sick the day before, and was afraid that I’d burn my personal resources before I finished the tour, but sometimes I walked because it was faster than I could pedal.  We made up the time on the down hills, which, fortunately,  were just as plentiful as the inclines.

This shot is for Mr. Diarist, who is fond of a certain Pennsylvania micro-brewery.  The cyclist in front is wearing a Hop Devil jersey from Victory Brewing Company.  It’s a handsome jersey, and, though not high-vis, high-orange.  Mr. Diarist wears one.  I think the rear cyclist is wearing Victory’s Golden Monkey jersey.  Fine graphics on both.

We were promised two covered bridges on this tour, so this one, the third, was a bonus.  The interiors must be seen in person; they’re not easy to photograph on the fly, particularly as one shouldn’t hang about in a narrow, one-lane bridge.

I took this while riding Basil, and after a thorough check for oncoming travel.  The trusses, and the curve of the side supports, are just marvelous.

The second rest stop, at about 24 miles/38.6 km, was at North Coventry Elementary School.  I took no pictures, probably because so many people wanted to get a look at Basil.  Several  said that they didn’t know that bikes like Bromptons exist, and others were amazed that they’d seen me riding terrain like this on a small-wheeled bicycle.  I had to confess that Basil’s gearing was just fine with the landscape, and that my fitness was the real limitation.

Several people asked me if 34 miles was the longest I’d ridden on Basil. I pointed out that I’d often ridden longer, and had done one 62 mile/99.7 km ride with him — and I mentioned that if I’d continued just fractionally further, I’d have ridden a metric century.

And then — oh awful confession! — I proceeded to lie to several other people I talked to.  Yes, lie.  Inadvertently, but still, it was lying. (I’m horrified, even as I write this.)  I’m going to blame it on oxygen deprivation — all that climbing — but maybe I should just call it was it was:  non compos mentis.  I accidentally shortened “metric century” to “century”  It’s not true, folks!  I have not ridden 100 miles/160.9 km on my Brompton!  I have only ridden a (near) metric century!

The worst of it, of course, is that one doesn’t have to exaggerate what one can do on a Brompton.  I apologize to all concerned, including Basil. He deserves better (though that’s true for the humans involved, too).

The last 10 miles/16 km flew by, in spite of another couple of hills, and another couple of short bouts of walking.  Back at the fairgrounds, we were fed lunch.  I have never been so happy to see greens in my life; also, the hot dog (vegetarian!!) hit the spot, as did that lovely, cool, refreshing watermelon.

I asked to use the top of the caterer’s cooler to take this photo, pointing out that I had a blog, so was mandated to photograph everything I could.  The enterprising fellow asked if I would mention the Yellow Springs Inn, who were responsible for this excellent repast.  Naturally, then,I’ve done just that!

The hall was full of exhausted, hungry cyclists, and cheerful volunteers, who, along with the marshals, helped to make the day go so smoothly.

Basil and I started out a little after 9 AM, and finished just before 1:40 PM.  We had two breaks, probably totalling at least 45 minutes, but we owe what looks like fairly decent travel time — for me — to the fast descents.  (Why don’t road bikers go faster downhill?  Is that a bad idea on skinny tires?  Is it a worse idea than I think it is on a Brompton?  Is there something here I don’t know?  I kept falling back on the inclines, and passing the same people like mad when going down hill, but maybe I shouldn’t have been passing so aggressively?)

Afterwards, my feet were killing me.  My feet never bother me when I cycle; the uphill walking was obviously the problem.  If humans were meant to walk, Andrew Ritchie would never have invented Bromptons.  Clearly, I need to become fit enough to do all my locomotion on two wheels, as Ritchie intended!

5 replies on “French Creek Iron Tour 2013: Part the Second”

“Sometimes I chose to walk the hills because I’d been so sick the day before, and was afraid that I’d burn my personal resources before I finished the tour, but sometimes I walked because it was faster than I could pedal. We made up the time on the down hills, which, fortunately, were just as plentiful as the inclines.”

It is essential to listen to your body, even if you don’t like what it says, if you would like to avoid the BONK, or worse.

You know what this means? You’re going to have to go out & do the century – & then you can rest easy? (Maybe we could find one that’s all downhill?)

I had found one, Ian, in the hope of redeeming my [formerly] good name. Though it’s not all downhill, it’s claimed that the course is flat . . . however, events may preclude my participation. We’ll see. Downhill sounds even better, though — I’ll be keeping a lookout for that one!

Araaagh — I did it again! My fingers are saying “century” but my brain is thinking METRIC! I’m afraid, Ian, that there is no way I’ll ever be doing a REAL century — even if it’s all downhill!

You’d think someone who likes words as much as I do would be a little more careful when using them . . .

I had a METRIC century lined up for this weekend, but events have conspired to make doing it impossible. No redemption for me, it seems, any way you look at it. Sheesh.

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