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Archive for September, 2009

Every year in September hundreds of cyclists flock to the Bristol Mountain parking lot in order to participate in the Highlander Cycle Tour. This epic ride consists of a century that takes place around the Finger Lakes, and includes the most challenging and steepest hills in the Finger Lakes area. This year the ride was 105 miles with over 10,000 feet of climbing. Yikes!! Luckily for me, there is an “easier” ride, the Lowlander. The Lowlander is still a very challenging ride. This year it was 101 miles with over 7,000 feet of climbing.

View of Bristol Mountain.

Bristol Mountain in the morning.

I have ridden the Lowlander for the past 3 years. I always wonder why I keep doing this ride. It’s not exactly an easy ride. This year Joel decided to ride the Mountaineer, the mountain bike version of the ride, so I figured that since he was going to be at the ride anyway, I might as well do the Lowlander again. :) Also, the ride is well organized so it is an “easy” way to do a century, since you do not have to carry your food. There are lots of rest areas where they have yummy things like PB & J, pretzels, cookies, bananas, and drinks. The only bad part for me is the fact that they only offer Gatorade, which I do not like very much and it hurts my stomach. Beggars can’t be choosers now, can they! :)

View of Stid Hill.

Stid Hill in the morning.

For about a month prior to the ride, I kept trying to recruit friends to ride it with me, with no luck. One day, as I was riding with my friend Bruce, I casually begged him to join me. I even offered to pay the entry fee for him. He laughed at me and told me that he would think about it. He did not seem interested at all. A few days later, as I was trying to recruit others, he told me that he would do the ride with me if the weather was going to be nice. I was so excited!! I promised him that we would not ride in the rain.

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September 12 finally came. The recommended ride start was 7:30 am. Joel and I arrived in the parking lot around 7:00 am. Bruce arrived shortly after. We registered, put on the bike shoes, helmets, and gloves, and off we were at 7:40 am. The weather was cloudy and the mountain was in the clouds. The weathermen were forecasting a 30% chance of rain and clearing by late morning.

Rest area

Rest area

We took a left out of the Bristol Mountain parking lot, rode to Cheshire, to West Lake Road near Canandaigua Lake (nice view of the lake), up the ridge and down into Bristol Springs, up and down towards Honeoye (nice view of this lake too), up and down towards Wayland, on to Neils Creek Rd (RT 6) towards Wallace (past Cohocton), on to the flats of 12 Mile Creek Rd (RT 9), down into Naples (awesome descent!!), up RT 12 (ugh! Is it really necessary at mile 90??), and straight back to the Bristol Mountain parking lot. We did it!!

Rest area at mile 50ish. The drizzle finally stopped.

Rest area at mile 50ish. The drizzle finally stopped.

The ride overall was good. It was not a rain free day. :( The drizzle started at about mile 15 and it lasted until mile 50. In some spots it was heavy drizzle. I was very annoyed! A couple of times I really considered turning around and not completing the ride. I hate riding in the rain! (And no rainbows this time.) I am really glad that I kept riding though. My favorite part of the ride was the section on Neils Creek Rd and 12 Mile Creek Rd all the way to Naples, which was the 2nd half of the ride. It was incredibly beautiful there!! It reminded me of the Adirondacks. I was in the Finger Lakes! This is what I love about riding. You never know where you will end up. There are so many parts of this area that are just so beautiful! Riding a bike allows you to view the area from a completely different perspective. It also allows you to smell the different scents of the surrounding area – grapes (YUM!!), fresh crisp air, car fumes (some people are so mean!!), damp air, burnt rubber, French fries (YUM!!), laundry, manure, other fried foods, more car fumes, fresh air (much better), grapes (YUM!!). The views are usually incredible too. Unfortunately, since it was cloudy and foggy the entire day, the views were not as memorable.

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One disappointing part about this year’s ride was the fact that there were not that many cyclists on the route. There were some spots where we did not see a soul for a long stretch. Every other year, there were a ton of cyclists everywhere along the route. Even the volunteers at the rest stops as well as the folks who rode the Highlander commented about the lack of other cyclists. This I think is due to the route change and the fact that the Highlander and the Lowlander routes did not cross paths at all. It was kind of unfortunate, because it is much nicer to share the experience with other cyclists. It is very motivating.

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The ride ended up being 101 miles and we averaged 15 mph. It was definitely a major accomplishment. There were some very difficult parts of the ride. (All the folks who rode the Highlander might think that this ride was a piece of cake, though.) Since the route was new, there were a few surprising spots where it was a flat section and then you turn a corner and there is this wall that you have to climb up it. Also, the fact that it was cold and rainy made it a little difficult for me. I ride better if the weather is warmer. I also did not wear my leg warmers, which would have helped. It took me 3 full days to fully recuperate from the ride. My legs were fine (surprisingly) but I felt very tired, especially the 1st and 2nd days after the ride.

After the ride

After the ride.

I think that Bruce forgave me for not keeping the “no riding in the rain” promise. He did say that maybe Joel should ride it with me next year though. HA!

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