Climb to the Clouds, Descent into Rain

Distance: 84.5 mi.

Time: 4:48:39

Avg. speed: 17.57 mph

Weather: 61-73º, 95-97% humidity, wind SSW1-S5, cloudy then rain

July mileage total: 699 miles

Song stuck in head: Love Shack - The B52's

After getting faked out by the weather radar not only on Wednesday (no ride) and yesterday morning (did a trainer session only to emerge from the basement to sunshine), I was quite ready to get a proper ride in today.

Goal: to sneak another 100 miles in before July closes out.

John S and I left the Atkinson Pool in Sudbury to ride the Climb to the Clouds route before the rain, expected at noon, came down on us. John's criterions were to get 5 hours or ride time in and to average 18-19 mph - fine with me!

About five miles out, I started getting a small chorus of mechanical noises and thunks from my drivetrain.

Certainly, some of it was my worn out left cleat which is loose in it's pedal (new ones on order @ Landry's) and the rest was likely a combination of my old chain (new one on workbench) and bottom bracket. The latter two items will be dealt with tomorrow morning.

We set a good pace all the way up to Mile Hill Road and the climb this time (only two weeks since the last time I went up) didn't seem so bad. We watered up at the Visitor's Center and saw that the road to the top was open for cyclists so we ducked under the gate and headed up.

John is a good riding partner: his good natured banter and mountain biking stories kept my mind off the effort of pedaling up to the summit, the grade at times 12-14%. Even so, that part of the climb was not as bad as I remembered it from when I went up last October.

Here's John at the top, captured by my cheesy cell phone's camera:

We came back down and headed out onto Mountain Road. I was looking forward to kicking up the speed but we were hampered by a steady headwind, as was the case going down Sterling Road.

As we entered West Boylston, John got the feeling that a bonk was coming on and since we were conveniently near Darby's Bakery, we stopped in for a focaccia (him), a giant brownie (me) and some Gatorade. Refreshed, we got going again as a light drizzle of rain began.

The rain stayed very light as we passed through Boyston - and saw a passel of cyclists (15?) going the other way. John identified them as a Pan Mass Challenge team getting in one last workout before their big ride this weekend.

The rain started coming down a bit harder but as we rode towards Berlin, we were fairly well sheltered by a canopy of trees. When we got to Rte. 62, we made the decision to cut it short and just take 62 in through Hudson, Sudbury and home. Good thing too: it really started to pour as soon as we got into Hudson.

By the time we passed Atkinson Pool, it was a deluge. John turned off Parker Street towards his home and I splashed my way back to Maynard. The rain soaked into my jersey, down my bibs and welled up a little bit in the legs of my shorts above the elastic clinging to my thigh. Every so often, I gave it a wack to expel the accumulation.

So I ended up about 15 miles short of my goal but it was an unexpected treat to summit Wachusett today. I'm starting to think seriously about heading out to Mt. Greylock in August...

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