Recently, my riding partner and I head out to ride from Plymouth to Provincetown as part of an organized "P2P" ride. We left at 6:01 AM, arriving at 17:45 after some road adventures and 152 km of riding.
I ride a 2010 Felt 95X Cyclocross bike. Over the years, I've replaced the seat, the pedals, the brake pads and added a Jandd rack. I've stayed with the original Vittoria Randonneur Cross PRO 700c x 35c Kevlar Reinforced tires, as they handle mixed surfaces well; even when the bike is fully loaded. Also, the lower pressure adds to a smoother ride. I'm a huge fan of Jandd bags. They last forever, are easy to clean, and never fail me.
The ride is pretty straightforward. You can make it even more so by simply taking Route 3A to 6A and just following that until the Cape Cod Rail Trail and then back on 6 to 6A through Truro into Provincetown. Shortly after the start, you encounter some hills, some with 9% grades up and down.
The toughest part for me was the first 30 minutes. I'm not awake, my muscles are still warming up, and nothing feels good. As one continues, the ride gets easier and easier. The last hill before the Bourne Bridge is a killer, especially when loaded down. However, when you've climbed it, you're awake and ready for the next few hours of riding. A number of riders show up on high performance racing bikes. They whip by you in packs or singles and a few asked why I was carrying the bags. There was a sag wagon, but the point was to train for multi-day touring, not just this one event as a sprint. Many people were trying to take the 15:00 Provincetown to Plymouth ferry. I was carrying lots of gear for my partner and I, partially to slow me down, partially because I had the bags and setup for it all.
We stopped twice for water along the way, but otherwise decided we were going to each lunch at the end of the Rail Trail. We made a bathroom stop around mile 17 of the Rail Trail and let our muscles rest after about 7 hours of constant riding. At about mile marker 20 on the rail trail, the heat and lack of breakfast or any food got to me. I hit the wall. I powered through it because I knew PB Boulangerie Bistro was on the other end as our first meal and designed break point. And what a welcome meal it was.
We finished off sandwiches, 2L of mineral water, and some quick desserts in about 45 minutes. They have a nice outdoor fire-pit going all day and night. It's a great place to sit, relax, and enjoy the food. The taste of the food and the preparation remind me of trips to France, but the environment is all Cape Cod. After mapping out the plan to the end, we re-filled our water bottles and off we went to finish the ride. We took Ocean View Drive to avoid a death-defying ride on Route 6. The great views and cooling winds from the ocean do help a lot as well.
Somewhere in the midst of Truro, my knee stopped working. It was a bit sore, likely tendinitis, along the rail trail, but after lunch, it felt pretty good. Not anymore. I ended up taking a water/snack break for 15 minutes, and then walking for 30 minutes until it seemed well enough to keep going. We rode to Jams Gourmet and stopped for some water and to let my knee recover again.
After a fruity popsicle and some fresh, cool water, we rode off to Provincetown. The rolling hills seemed quaint at this point. The flat straight up 6A to the Ptown sign was a welcome run. It was this flat run which highlighted the limits of the two front sprockets. I'm in top gear and could go faster if I had a third, smaller ring up front. This may be an excuse for either new front gear set, or a more adventure-oriented touring bike.
And here we are, at the Ptown sign, after 11 hours on the bike:
We then headed into town to our room, cleaned up, caught up on some work, and headed out to dinner with friends.
A few lessons learned:
- Pay attention to my knee earlier.
- Eat smaller bits along the way, rather than starve until lunch break.
- Bring my solar panel to charge my phone, which was at 1% battery by the time I arrived at the Ptown sign. It was 100% when I left at 6 AM.
- Get a new water bottle, as the one I have isn't so great (even if it is recycled metal and BPA-free).
- Adjust my handlebars higher to avoid the temporary palsy in my hands after roughly 11 hours in the same position.
All in all, it was a great time. Next up is a full ride from Boston to Ptown. And then some rides around Vermont and Maine. Maybe a ride from San Francisco to Carmel or Monterey.
The adventure continues.