I’d wanted to do the ride for many years, but was put off by such a long ride so early in the year. In addition, since it was mostly a gay a lesbian event, I wanted to ride with someone who had done it before and knew the group, rather than doing it alone. But this year my friend Lynda served as chaperone, and my friend Jay came along for the ride, as it were.
Having ridden a lot this spring, I knew I was ready for the miles, but I wasn’t sure about the weather. That uncertainty was compounded when I came down with a cold the week before the ride. But when the time came, I felt okay and the forecast looked ideal.
So Jay and Lynda showed up at my place and at 5:30am I found myself leading them down to the Cyclorama, where we checked in and waited around for a while before setting out at 6:13am. It was great that the ride began just a few blocks from my house!
The weather was a factor that demanded one’s attention. It was a stunningly gorgeous day, climbing from the low 60s to the mid-80s, with a light breeze that also increased throughout the day. It was one of those rare perfect days, and enjoying it by spending the whole day biking on the cape was a wonderful treat.
I knew the roads we took to get out of Boston, but once we were over the Neponset River and into Quincy, we were in new territory for me. However, the route wasn’t bad, as we kept to suburban roads a bit inland. Jay dropped behind for a bathroom stop at a Dunkin Donuts, but caught up again after a while.
After two hours on the road, the first water stop in Halifax was a bit of a cluster. We arrived at the place Lynda remembered (and where the arrows painted on the pavement directed us), only to find the lakeside parking area being actively torn up by construction equipment. After a few minutes, we pressed on and came to the ad hoc rest area a mile further on.
But that wasn’t all… The truck the organizers used to move food and drinks for the riders hadn’t arrived yet! Just before we left, it pulled up and we grabbed a couple apples to eat as we continued on.
A few miles before we reached the Sagamore Bridge, Jay requested another stop at a Dunkin Donuts, where I stretched and massaged my legs a bit.
We reached the high bridge and walked our bikes across, since there’s no barrier between bikes and automotive traffic. However, that gave us the opportunity to enjoy the breeze and a wonderful panoramic view of the Cape Cod Canal. Painted on the pavement at the end of the bridge was the message, “Welcome to Cape Cod!!”
The second water stop was just another mile up the road in Sandwich, and it represented the halfway point of the ride. Having been on unfamiliar roads most of the day, the remaining miles were mostly on the familiar route traveled by the Pan-Mass Challenge. I enjoyed showing the roads to Jay, who has spent very little time on the cape, despite living his whole life in Massachusetts. That included the roller coaster ride on the Route 6 Access Road, which Jay and I attacked with abandon, and the painfully trafficky Route 6A that got us to the third water stop in Yarmouth.
Then it was time to jump onto the Cape Cod Rail Trail for a long haul down the cape to Wellfleet. During this time, I rode completely alone, having lost Jay and Lynda and the entire Outriders crew. Although Jay had been ahead of us, he missed the turn onto the CCRT and wound up adding six or eight bonus miles to his ride before he got back on route.
For myself, I’d somehow programmed a water stop in Orleans into my GPS, but having seen none, I thought I’d somehow missed it. The truth was that the next stop was at the end of the bike path in Wellfleet, where I stopped and waited for Lynda and Jay.
This was where everyone started really feeling the strain of the ride. For the first 100 miles, we all did quite well, although often I’d fall off Jay’s pace, and Lynda would in turn fall behind me on the hills. It was only after we got beyond 100… 110… 120 miles that we each started to hit the wall, though no one cracked.
The familiar route through Wellfleet took us by a stunning overlook over White Crest Beach, where I made sure to stop and show Jay what the miles of beaches in the Cape Cod National Seashore are like. However, the Outriders route diverged from the PMC route in Truro, avoiding Route 6 almost completely. The alternative was a little hilly, but more scenic than Route 6’s commercial buildup. By this point, I was having cramps on hills, and had to pedal one-legged for a bit.
We enjoyed the final rest stop in Truro, which featured brownie bites, a light massage, and the shade of a big willow tree billowing in the rising wind.
From there, one final short leg brought us into Provincetown to the finish at the foot of the Pilgrim Tower, where we collapsed and sipped on ice-cold cola. I arrived at 4:36pm after riding 130.5 miles in 10 hours and 23 minutes clock time. That was split into 8 hours of riding and 2 hours in rest stops. My moving average was 15.8 mph.
One of the nice parts of this ride was that they had a bag drop, so we had street clothes we could change into. However, after ten hours on the road in the hot sun, we were absolutely grimy. Jay insisted on taking a quick dip in the ocean by the piers, where he surreptitiously slipped out of his cycling bib shorts and into his swim trunks, while Lynda and I opted for the more traditional route of using wet-naps in a restaurant bathroom.
That restaurant proved to be Bayside Betsy’s, a nice place run by a friend of Lynda’s. Although the food at the rest stops had been superb (Twizzlers, Nutella, grapes, apples), by the end of the ride my stomach wasn’t having any of it. I wasn’t thrilled by the prospect of trying to force myself to eat at a restaurant, but somehow I managed to order a steak, and by the time it came, my system had quieted down enough to enjoy it. The waiter provided Provincetown-appropriate banter that made it a pleasant experience.
By the time we finished dinner, time was already running short before our return ferry to Boston, so we walked down Commercial Street and had an ice cream at Lewis Brothers before boarding the catamaran at 8:15pm, with the setting sun providing a brilliant backdrop.
This was my first time on the Provincetown ferry, and it was quite pleasant. The only disappointment was that between the wind and falling temps, it was inadvisable to go out on deck. The ferry moved along at a solid 38-40 mph clip and had us back in Boston at 10pm, where we mounted back up for the comparatively short ride back to my place from Long Wharf.
We said our goodbyes and headed to our respective beds, reflecting on what a beautiful day and what a wonderful ride it had been. The only negative was that we hadn’t had enough time in Provincetown, but I find that’s always the case when I visit the cape. I was dead tired, but in a good way, with no real complaints about the ride or my performance. It’s definitely a ride that I will look forward to doing again in future years.
GPS Track Log: 2010 Jun 19: Outriders Boston->Provincetown
Sat, 19 Jun 2010 05:26:28 -0400