The season has started out great with some warm days and a few opportunities to do more dirt road exploring on my new bike. My first two rides were 40-45 miles with some fast riders, and while that was a major struggle for me to keep up at that pace, it jumpstarted the season’s training for longer rides. For the next three rides I focused on seeking out dirt roads again (really, the purpose I bought this particular bike for) and make some great routes in Danby (35mi), Waterburg (53mi), and Newfield (59mi). these routes had plenty of hills to get my legs working again.
There was some chatter about trying to do a ride around Seneca and Cayuga lakes (aka Senecayuga), but the others were busy this past weekend. I thought about trying other routes, but realized that I was still falling far behind my planned amount of miles to ride if I’m going to do some of these randonneuring rides this season. There were no replies to my email (no surprise there), so Sunday morning I left at 7:40am for the Senecayuga route.
I recently bought race wheels, and while they look goofy on the Soma with fenders meant for wide tires, they really fly on the smooth pavement. Nothing worth writing home about happened on the approach to Watkins Glen on my typical route. In Watkins, I found that the park bathrooms don’t open until next month, so I started up the hill and found a spigot to refill water, and a parking area to take a short break. The climb continues (the only major one in the first 90 miles) and I tried to hold back the pace to save energy for later.
Once at the top, I started to really fly. The new wheels were doing great, the sun was out and getting the road warm, and the slight downhill 40 miles to Geneva with a tailwind was the icing on the cake! I’ve been around Seneca Lake before, but higher up the on the west side, which has many more turns to navigate. I was trying to keep this a fast and efficient ride, and stuck to Bike Route 14 all the way north. I must have passed at least a dozen wineries, probably more like 20. This route was perfect, but I would expect it to be less appealing with summer wine trail traffic.
In Geneva, I found the bike shop, but it is closed on Sundays. I continued on to the Sunoco station I was aiming for and bought more water. This was only a waste of time, as the only bathrooms around were in the park where I stopped for a short bit to rest my legs from all the spinning. I then wasted more time trying to find my way out of the park, which apparently doesn’t exist on the east end. Back on track, I took River Rd. headed towards the top of Cayuga Lake. There are no good routes east/west in this area, as there’s a lot of highway traffic and people in a rush to get somewhere. With only one girl in a truck yelling at me as they passed, I made it the short way to Cayuga Lake and my last major stop of the day.
I took a little more time here, and not only refilled my water and soda, but drank another bottle worth, thinking that services were non-existent from here. Apparently that thought came from the ridges route farther from the lake, as I did see two places to stop at along the way. But as a rando training ride, it was good to minimize my stops anyway. My knees only felt tight a few times, and I was still feeling good energy-wise and 3/4 of the way done. Then came the hills, and the wind.
My tailwind from Seneca was now a headwind as I headed south past Aurora. The major climbs of the route were in this last 30 miles, and while the overall climbing of the day was low (33ft climbing per mile average) this was tough. I had been holding 16mph overall speed until Cayuga, which had then dropped to 15mph and not going up again. I lost a little more speed on the hills, and the data shows a spike at 9mph which must be my established climbing pace. I found myself standing for short sections even on the flats to try to keep my speed up, but I just couldn’t hold >15mph with the headwind at this point.
I finally hit the big descent to Lansingville, and then made a good effort back up the other side. The climbing to Lansing was slow going, but I made it to the top in good spirits and knew it was all downhill to Ithaca. A few speedy guys on race bikes pulled out from a side road, and I caught up to them and took the draft while they rotated – not knowing I was behind them. Surprisingly they didn’t look back in that ~5 miles. Just before turning to weave through Cayuga Heights, one looked back and saw me. I turned off my route to follow, and the three of us chatted.
I rolled downtown, took a short break to chat with some friends playing disc in the park, and then headed up the final climb to get home. With a steady pace, I got in after 8.5 hours. Only one hour of stopped time must be a record for me, since typically a ride like this would see 2-3 hours stopped. The average moving pace was 16.5mph, and average overall pace was 14.5mph. Rando rides have time cutoffs that require going at least ~9.5mph overall, so I’m hoping that this is a good indication of how things will go on longer rides.
I definitely need to work on a few things if I’m going to survive longer and hillier routes though. My feet were hurting towards the end, which is an issue with SPD pedals. I need to focus on making smoother rotations and limit the times when I’m mashing hard on the pedals. I definitely could have improved on food management too, as I didn’t eat most of my food until later in the day when I had already felt out of energy (on the hills). I did do great on getting enough fluids down though, mostly because I tried to drink nearly a bottle at each of the 3 major stops before then leaving with full bottles again.