Saturday, January 12, 2008

2nd Annual "Accidental" Century

Last year, the Accidental Century was named because none of us realized we'd be riding 100 miles that day. Yesterday, almost exactly 1 year after the first edition, Rutgers Cycling put together a Century that was "Accidental" only in name. We met at the Brower, making this a very Rutgersy ride.
There were 10 of us on the ride. DK had proposed the idea, and Jay#1 had mapped out the route to improve on last year's. The Kassassin and BeastMasterChris, both of whom had gottenn monumentally faster since last year, were intent on getting plenty of time in the wind. Grizzly Ray and NinjaDon made sure the ride had enough beards, because if nothing else, Rutgers is a team of style. AlumnusTed joined too, having wimped out (and having been mocked for it) last year. Anthony and Charlie, both new to the team, need nicknames.

In an unexpected treat, Ken joined us for the first 30 or so miles. Ken, an alumnus who races for K2, spent more than his share of time on the front, talked training and tactics with us, and helped make the first couple of hours fly by. You're welcome back any time, Ken!

Somewhat miraculously, we only had 1 flat tire! Even better, it occurred during the steepest, longest climb, which gave us a nice opportunity to regroup and recover.

Anthony, a 1st year student, was clearly enjoying himself. By watching some of the more experienced guys and asking the right questions, he was able to noticeably improve his handling skills over the course of the ride. Now that he's got the technique to match his fitness, Anthony will be ready for the Spring Road Season.

Grizzly Ray dug deep, but he stuck it out to the bitter end and impressed us all! He says he's racing D this spring; let me the first to officially call him a Sandbagger!

This is Charlie's first semester with the team, and he's a welcome addition! Having finished his first summer of road racing, Charlie is using rides like these to prepare for the rigors of the ECCC.

DK is perhaps the most fashionable Rutgers cyclist since AngryMark... but he didn't wear a Rutgers jersey. That made us sad.

Still, the red train rolled on. More than once during the day, we were informed of how great our kits look. Even lined out on a hill, they are stunningly pro-ish.

The red train in action, on the rollers circa Mile 40.

We arrived at Bucks Coffee Shop in Frenchtown, ready for pastries, bagels, and coffee. The place was packed with cyclists and bikers, so we opted to eat outside. We're tough like that.

Just as we were leaving, the Princeton team rolled into town. After a quick exchange of pleasantries, we were on our way... but not before photographing ourselves in Pennsylvania.
(l to r): Chris, Ray, Don, Jay, DK, Anthony, Ted, Charlie, Rich

Notice that DK put his Rutgers windvest on outside his jacket. He may have overheated, but at least he got the rest of us to stop hassling him for being "too cool for school".

For the first 15 or so miles of the return trip, we were joined by another alumnus and his riding partner, neither of whose names I caught (can anybody help?). They took their turns at the front, chatted with us, and even took a jab or two at the Princeton team - that they were stopping at Bucks Coffee Shop for their tea break, for example. The Rutgers Alum was wearing the new official Rutgers Cycling kit, and it looked as impressive as you'd expect.

The pace on the way home was spirited, to put it nicely. Jay explains, "We gave The Kassassin and BeastMaster coffee, then showed them the Princeton team... of course they're going to go fast!". The two spent probably 60 miles at the front of the group, and the average speed over the 100 miles was impressive. Thanks for the pulls, guys!

We rode through beautiful farmland on the way home, encountering the roadkill versions of every animal common to New Jersey. Riding down Hamilton Street, we ran some double-paceline drills, riding in tight formation... looking so pro-ish and riding so close to campus, we were greeted by an unprecedented number of "GO RUTGERS!!!" shouts and honks.

When we got back to campus, we'd only ridden 91 miles. Like last year, we couldn't just stop short of the century, so we rode a Monday Night Loop. Another tradition from last year was the victory salute; as we crossed 100 miles, we all Look-Zip-Balled.

That this was the sort of training day for which recovery is as important as the actual ride. With that in mind, Jay, DK, Rich, Chris, Aaron, and I went to an all-you-can-eat dinner at Round Grill. The restaurant may soon enact a "No Century Riders" policy... For us, all-you-can-eat was a challenge that we were happy to accept.