Last month I did the Princeton-Belmar-Princeton 200km ride in record time for me–just a few minutes over 11 hours. Finally, after a very late and slow start to my cycling season, I’m starting to feel the result of consistent miles in the saddle. I still haven’t done a lot of miles, but just riding to work every day starts to have a positive effect.
In any case, I didn’t start this ride too early as I drove to the start from home. In fact, I had to rush to get on the road on time. And it felt like I started somewhat sluggishly, slowly working my way out of the Princeton area, out on roads that are, by now, becoming familiar as I’ve done this route many times in the last couple of years.
At every controle, I was in the unusual situation of having time to spare, time to lolligag if I wanted to. In Belmar, I was particularly happy to have the extra time as the Dunkin’ Donuts was a madhouse. It would have taken half an hour to get something to eat there, so I went next door to Subway (too early for most people to be interested in sandwiches but I was hungry) and quickly got food, a signature in my card, and a receipt.
The next stretch was the hottest and is probably my least favorite, but I kept moving forward and in good time arrived at the Wawa in New Egypt. Paul changed the controle from an older Wawa to this one a while ago–good move as the super Wawa’s are far superior in terms of cyclists’ needs, with clean restrooms being at the top of the list. Again I made quick work of the controle and headed out for another Wawa, this one in Pemberton. I was able to pick up some speed in this section–not so hot, maybe not quite as many hills–and decided to actually sit down with my snacks for a few minutes here.
By this time, almost 100 miles into the ride, I was feeling the effects of the effort I’d put out all day, so it felt good to lean against the wall of the building for a short time and just watch people walk in and out of the store. If I remember right, I had a brief conversation with a couple of guys on motorcycles. Finally, I was up and heading down the road again.
I became cheerier as I proceeded through this segment of the ride because I returned to familiar roads: Old York Rd that becomes Main Street in Allentown, and then continues to Hightstown. I feel relief when I’m riding on familiar roads. I don’t have the worry of getting lost and I already have in my head some idea of what I would do if, for example, I had a major problem with my bike. So I was pretty tired by this point but feeling good–I was closing in on the finish, it was still light, and I was about to chalk up my best time yet on this route. And I’d done it alone. Always a bit more challenging but you can’t always find someone able to ride with you when you have the time.
And so, if I can repeat this process for 11 more consecutive months, I will have earned the R-12. Not such a big task, but quite the commitment.