Well, I’ve reviewed the pdf file of the CCC route I will be embarking upon this October 2. I’ve studied the cue cards and discovered a kind soul has already mapped the route on mapmyride.com. I’ve watched the 3D fly thru and have carefully reviewed every aspect of this undertaking. Here are my detailed (and scientific) conclusions:
1. 65 miles is a long way to ride a bike. Not as far as 66 miles, mind you, and certainly not as far as 67 miles, but it’s still pretty far. Making a trip this long in a car would not be considered trivial. Doing it on a bike is certainly significant. I grew tired just watching the fly thru.
2. I don’t know much about organized rides, but I think this is a good route. The first 15 miles are generally downhill, which is a pleasant way to get warmed up. The next 30 miles are hilly and generally uphill – a good challenge. The ride finishes with a somewhat pleasant descent and a mild incline back into town. Not a bad combination, IMHO.
3. While we’re on the subject of elevation, take a look at that gray bar near Mile 46. That is Mapmyride’s helpful notification that I will be embarking upon what is known as a Category 5 climb. Cat 5’s are nothing to sneeze at – they can generally be found at the Tour de France on the mountain stages. My only solace is that this climb will be considerably shorter than the ones Mr. Armstrong et al take on. This one is only 1.3 miles long. It’s arrival relatively late in the ride will be critical. I cannot be smoked before this climb. Period.
4. Another thought on elevation (if you haven’t figured this out yet, much of cycling revolves around climbing), the overall elevation gain is a rather modest 1,318 feet. This is encouraging as I generally do this much on my 40 mile rides.
5. There are FIFTY FOUR separate turns on this route (yes, I counted them all). That’s 54 opportunities to screw up and get lost. I don’t know how well this route will be marked, if at all. Lets just hope I can see some folks traveling ahead of me and those folks know what they’re doing. I won’t actually get lost (as a retired Army officer, this would be more humiliating to me than failing to complete the ride) but I would prefer this not turn into some sort of orienteering event, with me repeatedly pulling out my map to check my azimuth.
6. There are plenty of rest stops – more than I would have put in place if I were organizing things. There are stops at Mile 15 (Rapidan Vol Fire Company), Mile 26 (Prince Michel Winery), Mile 39 (Salem Fire Dept), and Mile 56 (AJ Store/Deli Carry Out). The fire departments are certainly coming out in force! I’m looking forward to seeing the setup at the winery – there’s all sorts of potential at that stop – and I can only imagine what sort of carry out people will be ordering at AJ’s.
This concludes my terrain analysis. Now all I need to do is figure out what to pack, when to pack it, what to eat, when to eat it, and what to wear (I’m pretty sure I know when to wear it). But that’s the purpose of this whole drill anyway. I’ll learn some lessons and be ready to take 2011 on by storm.