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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Tour De Cure Diabetes Pittsburgh 2011, Often Alone but Guided by Velocio

6/26/11 #223

Rode the Tour De Cure (diabetes) 50 mile course today; great weather, perfect conditions, had a great time.

The discredited auteur once explained that 86% of life is just showing up. I almost didn't show up for the ride. I woke early, went back to sleep for a bit, and woke up much too late. Argghh.

I had my gear packed the night before. I drove quickly to the start, and I rushed through the registration. Fortunately the event was a little behind schedule and I joined the group of riders for the start of the 100 mile ride.

The logistics of the start were very well organized, and in fact the entire ride was a demonstration of planning and execution.

The riders doing the 100 mile ride were a quite fit bunch, and they were off and well out in front of me. Essentially, the peleton dropped me coming out of the starting blocks. As I rode along contemplating my lot, feeling unprepared in terms of breakfast and chamois creme, I considered my option to switch to the 50-mile route, and I chose to do that. Success in the 50 was as certain as these things could be, but the 100-mile distance was a stretch, and the hills in the area were more than I'm used to. What tipped it for me was Velocio's Maxim: Ride Within Yourself.

Velocio was the pen-name of Paul de Vivie, father of French bicycle touring and randonneuring and the developer of the derailleur. That's quite a palmares. Mssr. de Vivie was a contemplative bicyclist and philosopher, which may be redundant, and he distilled his advice for bicycle riding into seven rules:

  • Make your stops short and infrequent so as not to lose your drive.
  • Eat lightly and often. Eat before getting hungry, drink before you are thirsty.
  • Never ride until you are so tired that you cannot eat or sleep.
  • Put on extra clothing before you’re cold, and take it off before you’re hot. Don’t be afraid of exposing your skin to the sun, air and rain.
  • Don’t drink wine, eat meat, or smoke – at least during the ride.
  • Never rush things. Ride within yourself, particularly during the first few hours of a ride when you feel strong and are tempted to force the pace.
  • Never pedal out of vanity, don’t be a show-off.

The course was very well marked. Navigation was no problem. It was a bit hilly, but no more so than is necessary in this region.

After the 100-mile and 50-mile routes diverged (I took the path less traveled), I was in a new situation for me; I was the first rider out on the 50-mile course. All the cars that passed, all the dogs that barked, I was their first rider of the day. I was first into the rest-stop at 29 miles.

We rode west into Beaver County, then turned north and rode by the Cemtex smokestack I've been passing on the highway for a long time. The route included beautiful homes and trailer parks, golf courses and boat clubs, industrial and pastoral settings. It was a ride through America.

I finally got to see McConnell's Mill, and it was a challenging climb out of there. At the 38-mile marker I was joined by the leaders of the 50-mile's main pack, and at around the 42-mile marker we were joined by riders on the 20-mile and 30-mile routes. (Sally Wiggin rode the 20, I'm told)

There was quite a bit of climbing - nothing epic by Western Pennsylvania standards, but it was a significant bit of work.

The finish line was great. There were folks applauding as the riders arrived, they checked you in against the tally of starters, there was lunch (ice cream!) and t-shirts. It was very well organized.

This was a great ride, I look forward to doing it again next year, especially after I eat breakfast. I think the decision to ride the 50 was a good one, a great experience and 50 miles is better than a DNF and 85 miles out of 100.

I'd like to say Thank You to:
Marc Yergin, President WPW, Team Lead of Red Riders
Nicole S of the American Diabetes Assoc for a well-run event.
Ambridge Bike Shop

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