Misdirected Misadventure

12 Jul

Ooh, lord, honey child! There’s a reason R2R calls these things “challenges.” I’ve ridden further, and done more climbing than we did yesterday (80mi with 5890′ of gain on our route from Verona to Lake Iseo), but I’ve never done it in such hot weather (98*) and with such a high average slope (8.2%, with max of 21%). It was a solid ass kicker of a day.

For those keeping track at home, you may note that the mileage and climb data that I just gave is substantially more than what we were told to expect during our pre-ride briefing (75mi with 4,500′). This phenomenon is a patented part of every R2R adventure: Bonus miles! Yay!

R2R has a formidable challenge trying to plan our routes from a continent away and then they have only a day or 2 before we arrive to scurry around the country to paint route- marker arrows on then road and then they have to contend with the fact that other groups/events may need to paint arrows of their own before we actually embark on any given segment. And so it came to pass that the Coffee Club got distracted/misdirected by some freshly painted triathlon arrows that looked exactly like ours.

They crazy thing was that 2 other R2R groups (the Bs and the Ds) independently got lost in the exact same manner, albeit at different points in time, with all of us ultimately/accidentally choosing the same spot (at the top of a STOOPIDLY tough climb!) ย to reasses and attempt redirect ourselves … nothin’ like earning an extra half-mile, 10% climb. Whee! At least it took us to a poignantly beautiful lookout with Lake Garda below us on one side and an charming castle ruin on the other (pictures will be made available eventually … damn Internets …)

Our reassessment/realignment plan failed to put us back on route, but it actually saved us from a different, far-less-picturesque climb, so *that* was a pleasant surprise! After doing another reassessment stop in the middle of a hayfield, we got back on track.

Having successfully re-synched with our Garmin/GPS systems, Coffee Club stopped at the nearest possible feeding option. This proved unwise. Less than 0.5mi after having filled our bellies, we were confronted with a 3-mile relentless, ridonkulously hot climb. Several group members resorted to the rescue wagon to get them to to top. The rest of us “enjoyed” delirium and dehydration upon making it to our support/refueling van at the summit. What restored me even better than the bananas and Powerade, however, were statements like: “Damn, Zeisler, you’re tough!” Or, “Cristin, you can really climb!” Or, my favorite: “Maybe we should call you ‘Nike,” ‘cuz you just get out there an DO IT.” Nice!

And then it wasn’t so nice… Six miles later, the “real” fun began: A 9-mile 8.5% climb confronted us AFTER we’d already logged over 100km of riding. This beast served to send approximately 50% of the riders into the SAG vans/rescue vehicles. Of the 19 people in my group, only 8 of us completed the ride and 4 of these were our group leaders. I feel very fortunate to have been to expertly coached / prepared for this event (thanks, Ron!).

And I felt even better to be riding with Rob, who was like a mad-ninja of pace planning and –more importantly– water finding. Using some sort of Spidey Sense, Rob intuited that there was an ice-cold, spring-fresh water fountain tucked away in a little spit of a pocket park. That miracle water fountain quite literally saved my life. Refreshed and restored, we enjoyed (relatively speaking) the rest of the long, hot, hard climb and then super loved every minute of our glorious descent.

I definitely won’t be able to join the R2R Racer group (the As) at any point during this adventure but I am feeling pretty good about what I’m accomplishing here.

I am NOT feeling good about what I’m delivering in this blog, however. Time and technology are constraining me something fierce. I may have a remedy for a the next log post but for now I have to turn off the machine and saddle up for today’s ride…

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