Always 70 and Sunny
Always 70 and Sunny

Seizing an Opportunity – 200 miles of heat, humidity and hills


Sorry about the delay in getting this recap of my ride to everyone. I can tell you for sure I wasn’t going to do it Thursday night when I finished. I had all the intention to get it done on Friday, but that didn’t happen. The fartsack got me and I bathed in A/C on my recovery day.  Surely, I should have gotten it done on Saturday, but once again, life pulled at me.  So, I got a draft of this started on Saturday evening and posted this after my first ride and a beach trip. I posted here on the new F3 RVA site as I thought it would be a good venue for this posting and maybe, just maybe, you might want to see what F3 is about.

The day started out well as I joined some of my riding buddies at our usual haunt – the Milestone clubhouse at 5:30am.  Unfortunately, Nelson Eby, immediately had a mechanical as his crank once again showed its unreasonableness and loosen itself magically. So, he was unable to continue after 5 meters.  However, Nick (F3 – Hearst), Ed (F3 – ), Brent, Matt, Mark and myself began my journey together.  In fine friend fashion we headed out Peaks Road to 301 and then over River to Hanover Town.  From there we split as four of them headed up to King William and me and my next door neighbor, Brent, headed out to New Kent via Old Church.  Brent, headed back after a solid 25 miles and I headed to my first stop at mile 40 in New Kent and exit 144 off of 64.  There I meet a beast of a rider, Jason Walters.

I pulled into our meeting spot 1 minute before my ETA of 7:45. The day was off to a good start.  After leaving Brent, I fully adopted my plan of keeping my heart rate in the 120s for the day.  I figured, I might visit the 130s, and may peak into the 140s once or twice. But the plan was to stay in the 120s. Jason, is a beast and there were several times I watched him ride away as I kept a reign on my efforts.  However, he was very aware and soft pedaled for me and played his role as a wind blocker and companion like a champ.  Jason pulled me through Providence Forge, James City, Hopewell and into the out skirts of Petersburg. I tried to bribe him to continue.  He remained strong and committed and denied my requests.  He did lend me his sunglasses as I forgot mine. (Not the only item I neglected this fine day).

The next part, miles 72 to 201, was the lonely part.  Yes, I had me, myself and I, as well as God over the next 130 miles.  But it was still lonely. So, I put on some tunes, listened to some Matt Chandler preaching and listened to some audio books (The Like Switch and Assassin’s Apprentice).  However, when it got bad (I will go into that a little later) I just spent time with God pondering my journey and how I just need to keep pedaling.

I got into trouble twice, and both times threatened my ride and by the grace of God ended okay. The first time was when I hit a section of road they were prepping for a “tar and pitch fix”. That is when they fix the road by slightly prepping the road, putting gravel on the road, and adding some pitch. Then you wait for traffic to “smooth” the road out over time. This makes for a “rough” road but “maintains the road for pennies on the dollar.”  Well, I came upon a 2 mile section right in the middle of this process and I was then ceremoniously baptized in grade C (for crap) gravel for two miles.  I thought I got through this section okay, but about 5 miles down the road I saw my tire was slowly leaking air and I was down to about 20psi. I went along over another hill and found some shade and with a whopping 10psi left, I elected to change my tire.  This was when I realized, that 3 tubes will not do any good with 1 CO2 cartridges and no hand pump. Dang it!  Now with out any CO2 left, I was concerned. One more flat, and I was going to have to get really creative.  Limping into Powhatan, I thought of all the people I may know in the area. Well, Jim Fantz was out of town watching his daughter crush it in Indianapolis. Karl, likely out riding his bike, but a potential option.  Relief came through by the great Fire and Rescue squad of Powhatan.  As they helped me get all the water I needed and found some more needed air for my tire.  I left with a half CO2 cartridge and two tires full of air and ready to finish this ride.

The next issue I had was with my planned breaks.  I did great on the first one, the next few didn’t go as planned.  I had to extend my 11am break from 15 minutes to a hour and fifteen minutes as I had an interview that I couldn’t reschedule. (Remember, Mat still needs a job!)  It was a good interview, but the timing wasn’t great.  Especially, since my next stop was a complete bomb.  The next store I marked was a convenience store where I planned on eating a lunch, grabbing some water, snacking on some chips and consuming some milk for my big afternoon replenish.  However, when I walk into the front door I get hit over the head with a wave of smoke from our fitness challenged teller. The A/C, was not sufficient on a cold spring day, and on this day, was grossly inadequate. Pushing through this dark, unkept store did not bring confidence in the water supply. I decided not to spend any more time in this cis pool of smoke and dirt. I refilled my water bottles and grabbed a bag of chips and decided to re-fuel hard in Powhattan.

This would have been a good decision without much consequences if it was a cool day without any unfortunate events.  Layering my incident with my flat tire heading into Powhattan, I began to enter a dangerous situation.  I was cooking, good on hydration, low on fuel and slowing down.  Then in Powhattan I found my stop was not open and I was consumed with getting air for my tires.  I got the air and water at the fire station and headed to Goochland.  This was a mistake. I should have stopped at a Sheetz I saw a bit out of the way. But air and water was good and I had a cliff bar, so I thought, it won’t be too bad. Ugh.  As I headed to Goochland, I noticed something interesting. My heart rate was in the low 120s. I thought it would be in the low 130s. I took this as good news and with a nice flat to descending path to the James River and Goochland, I married on.

I knew the store I had targeted in Goochland would be closed as I was coming in after 4pm.  However, I knew I had a couple of other options.  The problem was, I had modified the route and ended up going a different way out. Thus, the place I was thinking, was miles to the south as I headed towards Rockville. This was bad. I was hot, tired and my heart rate now was dropping and I knew it.  This is not good. A smarter man would have pulled out his phone and found a store, but me, I thought I can get to the next stop… And the next stop was Midnight Brewery.  The stop I had been looking forward to for miles and miles.  Midnight has some great food trucks. I just couldn’t stop thinking about a quesadilla and a Rockville Red. That will be glorious I thought as I pedaled through rolling hill after rolling hill.  But concern gripped me as I knew my body was starving and my fuel was depleted. I forced myself to eat and it felt like eating liver on a full stomach.  Ugh.  To pour salt on the wound, I didn’t feel better after eating my last Cliff bar.  As I fantasized about multiple food trucks and a cool Rockville Red, I began to envision Midnight Brewery closed or without any food trucks. I also thought about my route and began to see every rise, or upcoming rise in the road as steep as Reed’s Gap. With nightmares raining on my mind, I hedged my bet and stopped at the next store I saw.  Heaven! A/C, cold water, friendly tellers, decent potato chips, a sandwich, a moon pie and rest.  I sat on the counter and bantered with the workers for a few minutes and after about 10 minutes felt a ton better.

I was only a mile away from Midnight Brewery at this time, and stopping at Midnight Brewery gave me some more rest. I passed on the food truck and finished my chips as I sipped my favorite beer – Rockville Red.  Trae was there and we chatted for a few and then feeling a ton better I got back at it.  20 miles to go. As the sun set on my back, I felt good.  Here is the Strava summary of my ride – www.strava.com/activities/1060346105

It was good to go out and push my body. It was good to bring awareness to people needing seizure dogs as they tackle epilepsy. I was able to do a radio interview on this topic that reached a lot of people.  This is a beginning as we are just over 3 months away from the Tour de Midnight – a ride to raise money for seizure dogs, medicines, education and a lot more that Epilepsy Foundation of Virginia does to help out.  As we say this year – “Help Is On It’s Way”.

If you want to help out EFVA, there are two ways you can do that – 1) Sign up and ride in the Tour de Midnight – www.bikereg.com/tourdemidnight (Don’t worry it doesn’t start at midnight, but leaves from Midnight Brewery)  2) Donate to my team that is raising money for EFVA at www.Pledgereg.com/136245

Thanks everyone who have already donated, rode with me, “liked” my postings, texted me, offered words of encouragement and supported me in this way I got to cherish another year of being alive.