The Fourth of July weekend is usually a big milestone on the way to August’s Pan-Mass Challenge, and this year was no different. I led into the weekend with a 50-mile solo ride on Thursday and a 12-mile kayak trip up the Charles River on Friday; both perfect, gorgeous days just before a massive heat wave hit Boston.
Saturday saw me joining a group of six other Quaddies for an extended ride out to Littleton, Harvard, and Sudbury. We did a nearly-identical ride last year, which was my second century of 2009, while this would be my third century of 2010.
Last year’s Fourth of July ride is also particularly memorable as the ride where the Plastic Bullet first developed the ticking noises that would doom it to ridiculous a three-month stay in the bike shop, as documented here.
Ironically, I was 70 miles into this year’s edition when my bike suddenly shifted into its hardest gear and wouldn’t shift out again. I’d broken the rear derailleur cable, which I knew in an instant because I’d broken the exact same cable last May.
I nursed the bike back to Quad Cycles, where I hoped I could get it fixed. Given that it was a sunny Saturday on Fourth of July weekend, I expected the shop to be too busy to help, but the store was completely empty except for two service guys watching television. However, when I told them what the problem was, they told me it was a very involved repair requiring them to disassemble the whole shift lever, and they couldn’t fit such a lengthy job in at the moment. When I asked whether I should wait for them to fit me in, they told me they had to fix two bikes that were ahead of me, and that would take them more than the two hours and eight minutes before the shop closed. It was obvious they had no intention of helping me, so I thanked them and left. Yes, I verbally thanked them; I didn’t “storm out” as they later told another friend who came into the shop later.
I was eager to get the bike repaired because I had major rides planned for both Sunday and Monday, so on the way home I tried my local bike shop, Back Bay Bikes. They’re usually way too busy to accommodate walk-ins, but this time they surprised me by putting the bike right up on the repair stand, despite being considerably more busy than Quad Cycles had been. After I took fifteen minutes to rest, drink a Coke, and eat a Klondike bar, that “really involved” repair was complete, the derailleur was shifting as good as new, and my whole holiday weekend was salvaged. Back Bay Bikes: 1, Quad Cycles: 0.
Sunday Jay, Paul, and I went out to Sterling to do a very hilly ride around Mount Wachusett. Since the park’s access road was closed, we couldn’t get to the mountaintop. Although the ride was only 35 miles, I did convince the guys to do the ludicrous Mile Hill approach road, which was particularly debilitating after doing a century the day before. We rounded out a fine day by getting ice cream at Meola’s, canoeing and swimming at Comet Pond, then fulfilling my Fourth of July tradition of Indian food with an amazing meal at Surya in Worcester, which is right near the always infamous Liscomb Street.
Then on Monday Jay, Kelly, and I did a very easy, short 32-mile ride around Cape Ann, which included wading at Wingaersheek Beach and swimming at Singing Beach in Manchester, followed by steak tips and ice cream. Another great day, closing a really superlative Fourth of July weekend.
Despite my aspirations, Saturday’s century took an awful lot out of me, and I wound up only doing 170 miles over those three days, when I’ll need to be able to do about 285 miles in three days for my Pan-Mass Challenge ride four weeks from now…
On the fundraising side, I think I’m doing well. I’m on the verge of having 50 donations, with a large number of donations still outstanding from people who said that they would help. That still won’t get me all the way to my goal of 100 sponsors, but it’ll put me in the neighborhood, from which I can make a last-minute push toward the target. Please visit ornoth.PMCrider.com to donate.
Next big event is the Climb to the Clouds century up Mount Wachusett, a traditional warm-up for the Pan-Mass Challenge. I am skeptical that they will open the access road, because the road resurfacing project is supposed to last until next summer! So this may be the second year in a row where the Climb to the Clouds doesn’t actually go to the summit, with maybe a third year happening in 2011! Very disappointing!
However, that can’t change how much I enjoyed the rides we took on this year’s baking-hot Fourth of July weekend.