Six Miles South of North Platt

Distance: 59.5 mi.

Time: 3:06:32

Avg. Speed: 19.15

Weather: 60-73º, 94-57% humidity, wind N4-SSE2, sunny/partly cloudy

Song stuck in head: A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left - Andrew Bird

A ride with quite a few interesting and different facets to it. But let's begin the tale last night at about 9 p.m. when I was hard at work in my office editing some photos when I got a wicked cramp in the back of my right leg. No amount of straightening, bending, standing on it or cursing would alleviate the incredible pain. My wife rushes glass of water to me - I didn't bother telling her it would be some time before my body absorbed the water, so I just drank it down. It took about five minutes of hobbling around and massaging before I felt like I could sit down again without feeling that "I'm gonna cramp again soon" twitch.


At 11 p.m., My wife and I were just starting to watch the ch. 7 news when we heard someone on our front porch. It's our habit to have the porch light on only when one or both of us is not home so as I got to the door, I flicked on the light and opened the door to reveal a guy who looked like he belonged in Foghat.

Skinny, droopy mustache and stinking of drink, he burbled out, "Is she still here?", before I had a chance to say anything.

"You got the wrong house, bud," I tersely informed him.

"Oh, ok" was all he was capable saying as he stumbled down the porch stairs and around my house to the left (I live on a corner, with the road running along the left of the house as you look out the front).

I lean over the side of the porch to watch his retreat and see him mount a slightly-too-small mountain bike that was parked on the road across the street. He could barely pedal away and stay on the road. I don't know why I didn't call the cops, it was late and most youngins would be safe and sound in bed and if this guy crashed his bike making his way home, that was his problem, I thought. Not very charitable, I know.

Finally crawled into bed at 11:30.


Overnight, we were serenaded on and off by a bunch of female revelers somewhere down the block drunk-talking joyously but unintelligibly.


I got out of bed 5 minutes before the alarm went off, prepared some tea and a bowl Grape Nuts while I suited up for the ride. I felt no worse for the wear considering the various "intrusions" the night before.

As I arrived at Stow Plaza, it was evident that the day would be a real winner: sun was out and I already had my arm warmers off. By 6 a.m. the extra credit riders had arrived, Rebecca and Diane pulled up and got ready and a few others appeared too. I had my camera with me and snapped a few photos (click this one to see more):

We spent a little time figuring out what the game plan would be and settled on the following:

The 20 mph squad would ride the route to West Rindge, NH and back, perhaps adding some extra miles at the end. Rebecca, Diane and I would ride the route until we hit the 12 or 13 mile mark when the two of them would double back thus bagging a 25 mi. ride for themselves. I would continue on and turn around when I spied the then (hopefully) returning 20 mph group. Unfortunately for them and us, I misread the map, leading them to believe that we'd pick up Rte. 119 out of Littleton Station which is right along our usual route up to Oak Hill.

We started off and right away, Diane dropped a water bottle, which put the 20 mph group ahead of us by a fair amount. No matter, we had our own agenda. But when we got to Central Ave. on W. Acton Road, they were turned around and heading the other way. We passed each other, trading little jokes about being lost, etc. but Rebecca, Diane and I pressed on.

We kept a decent pace (20 mph or so) all the way through LIttleton Station and into Ayer on 2A and at the traffic circle there, Rebecca and Diane looped around to head for home. This was about the point where I realized I goofed on reading the map: I assumed that traffic circle was where we would pick up Rte. 119 but I mistook downtown Littleton for Littleton Station. I should know better: I cross Rte. 119 often enough on my "roller route".

The other group figured out my error and made their way up Newton Rd. towards downtown Littleton as the route indicated. I kept going into Ayer, thinking there must be some way up to 119 from where I was and sure enough, I came upon Rte. 111 running north past Groton Academy. The route was a nice change from our usual big hills, mostly long grades up which you could maintain a decent speed. The light was so good, skimming across the fields I passed that I was tempted to stop and take some pics along the way. But I pressed on, wondering if my route would put me in the path of the other group sooner than expected.

I got to 119 in good time and started west out of Groton towards Townsend. The road surface was so-so and there was a fair amount of traffic, but it was not as bad as riding Rte. 117 to me. Maybe my experience riding motorcycles has made me a little too comfortable riding with traffic... have to remember how vulnerable you are on a bike.

I cruised along through Townsend and made my way to Ashby. No sign of the 20 mph group. I checked my odometer and I was nearing 30 miles and it was a bit past 7:30. I needed to be home pretty close to 9 or after so I turned around, expecting to have the other riders catch me on the way back.

As I entered Townsend, I looked ahead and to my left and saw the other group in the parking lot of a convenience store, re-watering and re-fueling. I pulled in and we traded info on how we all arrived there. Apparently, they got messed up in Littleton and so never got to the NH border at all. In fact, they were surprised to see me coming back at them from that direction.

So off we went as one group, picking up speed behind Smudger's strong pull, hovering around 25 mph. He relinquished the lead position and drifted back to the rear only to flat out his front tire as soon as he slid into his new slot in the back. The group stopped on an incline to wait for him to swap out the tube, which he did in very little time. Off again we went, this time with Tony in the lead.

Tony gave way to Vic, I think, both of whom kept us going at a steady 23 mph. I was next and as far as I could tell, I gave a respectable pull as far as speed goes - 21 to 22 mph, but felt like I was spending a lot of time pointing out the pot holes and rough road surface we faced on this particular stretch of road. I pointed left, then right, the left again as our pace line wove it's way through.

I flicked my right elbow, drifted left and let the pack start to pull through. As soon as I got in behind Gary, who was now last, I hit a pot hole so solidly that it shook me right up off my saddle. And it flatted my rear tire.

The group was pulling away fast up an incline and I called out to Gary, "Go on, go on!" and so they did.

Unlike Smudger, it took me at least 10 minutes to change my tube. Continental tires have a notoriously non-stretchy bead. Once I got the thing mounted, I set to the task of pumping it up. As I did, I swore to myself that I'd buy some C02 cartridges the next time I visit Landry's. Arms fully pumped up and ripped, I was ready to strike some good Dave Draper poses for the passing cars. Instead, I mounted up and got going towards home.

I decided that since I was on my own, I might as well reverse the errant course that I took to get to Ashby and so I turned down 111 from Groton to Ayer and then took 2A west for a while. I had a change of heart when I got to the traffic circle in Ayre and took 111 into Harvard so that I'd have a few steeper climbs under my belt by day's end.

At Harvard Center, I was nearly out of water again, so I parked at the water fountain there, loaded up my bottles and called S to give her an idea of how much longer I'd be.

Up 111 out of Harvard Center and down Stow Road, and the rest of the way along familiar roads. I bumped into Scott S as he made his way home from the other direction and got the lowdown on what the 20 mph had done after we separated. After that, it was an uneventful ride back home to tally nearly 60 miles at 19+ mph average. As of today, I am down 10 lbs in weight since returning to riding at the beginning of May. I now weigh 168.

Too bad 119 was in such poor shape and so trafficky, the terrain is perfect for some nice wide open riding. I'm quite pleased with the ride I got in despite the flat and my navigational idiocy. I made the mistake of not eating enough after the ride (I only had a salad) and was found myself totally spent about an hour later as S, G and I went to Drumlin Farm for a visit. Once I got some decent grub in me, I bounced back.

No comments: