Time rolls on. Autumn is in full swing: leaves are beginning to turn and create their postcard worthy landscapes, daylight hours continue their downward crawl, cooler temps are here to stay, and daylight savings time ends in a couple of weeks. In normal times, not ready to label CV-19 influenced environment the new normal yet, outdoor rides will shortly be relegated to predominately weekend affairs. Length of long rides decrease and hover around the metric century mark. Often a time to reflect on the previous cycling season – what went well (awesome epic adventures), what didn’t go well (USAC race calendar), lessons learned (high mileage great for fitness (CTL) but doesn’t necessarily translate to improved performance (40K TT) – and planning for next season. The great unknown. Not overly confident there will be a full USAC race schedule. Nothing has really changed – no CV-19 vaccine – many areas are experiencing rising infection rates and the service-based economy is still at reduced capacity. Most short term predictions paint a depressing picture with the dynamic duo of CV-19 and the regular influenza strain wreaking havoc again during the winter months. With that cheery outlook, difficult to imagine a return to the normal racing season in 2021. Likely that USAC-sanctioned TT events will return but not so sure about road races (don’t care about criteriums – they’re just crashes waiting to happen).
Will defer discussing 2021 plans for a few sentences while recapping a few recent rides. Participated in my third (Tidewater Classic USAC road race in Feb and Bike To the Beach in July) organized ride of the year, Culpeper Century. The ride reached capacity, 500 cyclists, covering 3 distances (100, 60, or 30) a couple of weeks before the scheduled date. Several accommodations were made to emphasize social distancing where practical. No same day registration, no mass start, packet pick-up times based upon distance, face covers required when not cycling, and lots of hand sanitizer. Weather cooperated although it was a bit cool at the start ~ 43° F. First opportunity to wear thermal, long-sleeved VLR team jersey. Add a sleeveless base layer, knee warmers, and a head covering and good to go. Eventually removed the knee warmers and head covering. Finished the 101 miles, 6614 ft of elevation in 5:19 moving time, averaging 19 mph. Never found any groups going my pace so rode it solo.
Two days prior to the Culpeper Century, rode the popular SkyMass route with a small group as part of a birthday ride. As the story goes, the guest of honor requested this route as he had never experienced the pleasure of riding Skyline Drive. SkyMass is an 80-mile loop with 7K ft of elevation that includes the first nearly 32 miles of Skyline Drive exiting at Thornton Gap towards Luray then climbing over the Massanutten Mountain ridge and returning to Front Royal. The birthday honoree wasn’t the only one unfamiliar with the route. While the Skyline climbing portion is longer, the Massanutten portion is substantially steeper. Everyone survived to tell wild stories afterward although the British contingent did spoil things a bit by discussing soccer trivia with the manager at Pavemint.
Returning to the quandary that is 2021 cycling season, the plan is to focus on 40K TT effort for 2021. Even if there aren’t any sanctioned events, the flat 40K course isn’t going anywhere. So there’ll be lots of SST workouts with goal of holding as much power as possible on the TT bike for 55 minutes. The non-competitive cycling goal is to traverse the Great Lakes Seaway Trail along the shores of Lakes Erie and Ontario. It’s a 513-mile scenic byway that doesn’t have much challenging terrain but it passes lots of lighthouses (another minor obsession) and traverses a new state, New York. And if the CV-19 situation improves, the excursion will also include a detour to Montreal and cycling in another country.
The Missus continued her exploration of pie recipes and made two chocolate-based varieties: Tarheel Pie (essentially a brownie in a pie crust) and Mississippi Mud Pie (chocolate custard ice cream pie). As always, both pies were delicious.