Monday, August 15, 2011

Philly Phondo

I don't like blogging about the weather but don't think I can tell this story without focusing on it The forecast called for rain and I was scheduled to ride the 108 mile version of the Gran Fondo Philadelphia as part of my iron training. I figured if the rain was bad I could always step it down to the 73 mile route. I was stressed out a little with the amount of climbing (I thought it about 3000ft but later found out it would be closer to 8000 ft). Yikes.

When I woke up early to get ready for the ride, I first looked outside and from the 18th floor of the hotel I was able to see that it was pouring. Hard. This view was lit up by the lightning and punctuated by thunder. I put on the TV to see the weather report to see if this was just a passing shower and it was raining so hard that the satellite TV signal couldn't make it through the weather.

I ate breakfast, took a shower and generally got ready to ride by loading up my nutrition on the bike and pumping up my tires. Still no TV weather. I hopped on the ipad and the weather report from the local weather folks was abysmal. I went down to the lobby to gauge the mood of the rest of the cyclists. There were a lot of cyclists there waiting it out. I got my bike, put on tri shoes instead of road shoes since I could go sock less (figuring that they would be drenched in moments), donned my rain gear and joined the crew in the lobby. The ride was supposed to start at 7AM so at about 6:40 people started heading out. The rain was like a water fall.

On the ride over to the start, we rode through a few portions where the water in the street was so deep that our shoes were under water while pedaling (yea for tri shoes). All were realizing that this was not going to be a good day. The announcer said that the 108 mile route was cancelled and it was recommended that people choose either the 73 or the 33 mile routes. The riders huddled under trees near the start trying to keep somewhat dry while watching the lightening. Some got on the starting line and the inflatable arch that was going to be the entry to the corral blew over onto some riders. I looked and guessed there were about 600-700 riders out of 1500 registered. We laughed at each other and then, we were off.

About 100 yards into the ride there was one of the volunteers warning that a tree fell down on Kelly Drive. As a New Yorker I had no idea where Kelly Drive was but you had to pay attention since the pack slowed down when the water got too deep. Braking was challenging so descents were done cautiously. I was concerned that the uphills might cause the rear wheel to spin out. Luckily that didn't happen.

The rain, if anything, got worse. The hills made for slow going. My glasses kept fogging up but the rain was so hard it was still hard to see. I did bring some tissues to clean my glasses but it was still dark and rainy. I was taking it easy not pushing it until I came to the first rest stop.

No riders were there.

A few minutes later a bunch of riders showed up complained that they were rerouted off the course. I then decided to go the 33 mile route. I headed back with a whole bunch of riders to the finish and just when we approached the finish, the rain almost stopped. Almost. I handed in my chip and got my medal. The press release later from the Gran Fondo website says "Congratulations to all the “heroes” of this epic day that will surely remember for a long time!" The day was epic indeed.

I rode the few miles from the finish line to the hotel. We spent the rest of the day in Philadelphia and the rain never stopped. We drove home and portions of the highways were closed due to flooding. New York, if anything, got even more rain so it was a long drive home.

While I did less training than I hoped, the day was still memorable. Luckily I have 2 more centuries in the upcoming weeks. Next up, the Golden Apple.

PS: Later on I found out that Philadelphia had almost 5 inches of rain that day, the fourth highest daily total in history. Some areas outside of the city had up to 9".


Unknown said...

You certainly can't control the weather, sounds like you made the best of it that you could.

We've had maybe 2" of rain so far this year. 5" of rain in one day is A LOT.

Kate Geisen said...

Wow, that's a lot of rain. And while it limited your miles, it makes for a better story. :) Way to get out there and ride anyway. I think I'd have thought that over a few times before probably wimping out.

x said...

kinda sounds like oregon. :)

good luck in the big apple one... sounds fun.

Shelly said...

So glad you are coming up for the Golden Apple.... it's a great event. The century is challenging, but the roads are beautiful and the people are super friendly.

I will be out of town, otherwise I would be making pnut butter jelly sandwiches and mixing Gatorade at one of the foodstops.

I did the Farm Ride this past weekend in Amherst MA, which was mostly a Saturday event and it was a good day. Drove home on Sunday in those torrential downpours.

Keep your "go with the flow" spirit and have fun.

Carolina John said...

That's insane! I thought my century ride had a lot of rain. It rained all day here, but I still got in 103 miles. We didn't have any flooding on the course or trees blowing over or anything that bad though. geez.

Lora Abernathy said...

Good grief that's crazy rain! Memorable day, indeed!

MissFit Island said...

E-gads that is a lot of rain!!

Al's CL Reviews said...

I would've bailed. So good job!