Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday Writings for Randos - Re-learned lesson

{Friday Writings for Randos - A weekly post that features pieces from other writers that touch some facet of the Randonneuring experience, even if that was not the author's intent. It's stuff that's best read out loud - slowly.} This week it's:...

An excerpt from:

Schuylkill to Susquehanna Permanent (1/16/2010)

 By Don Jagel*
Riding along River Road, at about 60 miles into the ride, I was really starting to pay for my early effort. My butt was dragging.  Arriving at the Subway Restaurant (Control 3) in Columbia, we stopped for lunch.  By this time the temperature was well into the 40's, and close to 50.  Wow, that is the way January weather should be.  After lunch we started the uphill ride out of Columbia. My fatigued legs didn't like the idea of spinning again, especially after sitting for awhile during lunch. Rick patiently waited for me on the uphills and tried to hold himself back on the flats so he wouldn't leave me too far behind.

Rick going aeroFinally it happened! Around mile 80 there was a T left hand turn at the top of a slight upgrade. I tried to pull out of the intersection rapidly to get out of the way of a car coming up the road.  I could start to feel my left leg cramp into a knot.  I tried standing and stretching the leg, then kept on pedaling.  About 200 yards later my left leg completely locked straight.  It would not bend!  I was able to unclip and get off my bike without falling over. Rick held onto my bike as I got off.  After about 20 seconds of one of the most un-nerving sensations, the muscle in my leg started to release and I could move my leg gently.  I walked the cramp out for several minutes, then got back on my bike and gingerly continued, trying to keep my leg from re-cramping.

Finally we arrived control 4, the Cafe Chocolate in Lititz.  I had heard about the splendor of this control. Rick ordered a Turbo for me and himself insisting it would get me going again.  A Turbo is a rich chocolate espresso that words cannot do justice.  It was almost too rich to finish, but I forced it down. Feeling slightly invigorated from the sugar and caffeine of the Turbo, although my legs were shot, we started the final 36 mile leg of the ride.  
As before, I continued slowly keeping a relatively slow cadence to try to keep my legs from cramping.  Approximately 2 hours 50 minutes later we finally got back to the official finish at the Mt Penn Family Restaurant in Reading. 

From the finish we still had to ride back uphill to get to Rick's house.  When we got to Rick's, the temperature was still almost 45F.  Official ride time was 10.5 hours.  It was a great, albeit very slow and somewhat painful ride.  The weather couldn't have been any better for January.  I really over-cooked my legs early in the ride.  I learned many years ago that it was important to ride your own ride, even when racing.  The best advice I have ever had was given to me by my wife when I was doing a lot of mountain bike racing in the early 90's, "slow down, you'll go faster".  That always applies, but I must continue to re-learn my lessons over and over. 


Don Jagel randonneurs and bike tours out of Pennsylvania.In January 2010, he was on a quest to complete his first R12. The streak of monthly 200k or more rides continues to this day.


  1. I'm willing to try a Turbo for my leg cramps. It may not be the magic cure, but if you have to cramp, working it off with a Turbo going down sounds like the way to go.

    1. I agree. I think would have one even if I didn't have legs cramps. You know - just in case.