After having spent much of the past couple weeks stressing about how on earth I'd be able to qualify for PBP if I couldn't ride the SiR Spring 300k, I'm very pleased to report that IT IS DONE! Yesterday, I finished the 307 kilometer (191 mile) course well within the required time.
Actually I should say we finished it. I was on the back of Robin and Amy's tandem with Amy as my trusted captain. There's no way I could have completed this ride by myself on a single bike. I can't begin to express how much I appreciate what Amy and Robin did to help get me through this ride. Robin, for being our "wrench" and helping to figure out the creative cockpit that allowed me to ride relatively comfortably with a broken arm, and Amy for captaining me through the ride when she really would have rather been at home enjoying the twin miracles of central heating and comfortable chairs.
This 300k turned out to be a pretty tough course with about 9,000 ft of climbing and a fair amount of urban and suburban riding that made navigation a challenge. Add to that the fact that I haven't been on a bike in nearly a month and a half, and my arm is still in a cast, and well... it was the toughest 300k I've ever ridden.
I was hurting nearly everywhere by the end of the ride, but the good news is that my broken arm was probably the least painful part of my body. Robin and I rigged up an aero bar arm rest sideways so that I could rest on my left elbow to get my weight off of my wrist. Here's what it looked like:
Amy, my apologies for posting a picture of your butt on the internet, but it's all in the interest of science.
This was my first ride of any more than a couple miles on a tandem. It wasn't bad, but it's definitely not like being on a bike by yourself. For one, you have to get used to having this as your view all day:
And without being able to see up-coming bumps in the road, you don't get much opportunity to take weight off the seat and absorb them with your legs. Amy did a great job of calling out bumps and twists and turns, but my backside was still feeling it by the end of the ride.
Other than the challenges of dealing with the broken arm and getting used to being on the back of a tandem, it was a very nice ride. It was cool and overcast, but I never felt more than a couple rain drops. The route put us on some beautiful rural roads with llamas, yard chickens and mostly friendly dogs along the way.
I'm pretty sure the farmer who painted that barn was colorblind. You just don't paint barns blue. It's somewhere in the farmer code of conduct.
While we rode long sections of the ride with no other randos in sight, we also spent a fair amount of time with a crowd behind us, apparently one of the pleasures of riding a tandem. This guy kept trying to grab our wheel but eventually we were able to shake him.
As with every SiR ride I've ever done, the ride was very well organized and well staffed with nice folks meeting us at the controls to hand us a Vietnamese sandwich or fill our water bottles. Thanks to Gary, Dave and the whole crew for putting on a fantastic event.
Having this ride in the bag is a huge load off my mind. I still have a long way to go before I'm qualified for PBP, but I feel like I have a little breathing room now. The 400k is a month away and my cast comes off in two days so I'm hoping that's enough time to get somewhat comfortable on a single bike again. "Speedy recovery" is my mantra.