Tim Snyder, a Potential Energy Training & Nutrition athlete recently completed the 1200K Randonnee, “Taste of Carolina”. If you are unfamiliar with a randonnee event, it is a self supported endurance road ride of 200K or more where riders have to pass through controlled check points along the way. These events originate as far back as the late 1800’s in Europe! Although Tim encountered several road blocks, he still completed the 760 miles in 87 hours and 26 minutes. For those of you who are data nerds, that’s: 28,057 calories, 2,893.1TSS, and 28057kJ’s! That’s a lot of potential!!
Taste of Carolina 1200k (Slaying dragons in Carolina)
by Tim Snyder
We started at 0400, Thursday, 08 October 2015, in Statesville NC, for the Taste of Carolina 1200k. As this is a PBP year, there are only two other 1200k run worldwide besides PBP. There were 33 riders that started, with riders from as far away as Japan and Norway. The weather was beautiful with nice and cool temperatures.
We headed northwest, toward the mountains, as the first day was a “taste” of the Carolina mountains. Nice rollers helped warm up the legs, and the group broke up into the typical smaller groups of 3 and 4 people. A nice sunrise met us as we neared the mountains, and by 0830 we began our big climb into the highlands of Carolina.
Topping out at the Eastern Continental Divide, we rode the ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The first major control was at a Shatley Springs, where we filled our water bottles with water from the mountain spring. From there, we headed north towards Virginia. At Mt Rodgers, the tallest point in Virginia, we headed back south to North Carolina towards Twin Oaks. On this leg, we encountered wet roads from some passing showers. On the climb, I pulled ahead of Bill, who I was riding with. There was a nice long downhill into the control at Twin Oaks, and I figured I would wait for Bill there, and we would continue to ride together until the first overnight control. Bill soon showed up, but in a car! At first I could not believe that he a pulled out, but as he got out of the car, his face was covered in blood. They pulled his bike out of the car, and the front tire was a pretzel. He was about a ¼ of a mile behind me when I started the downhill, and when he was in the middle of the descent, a doe popped out of the ditch, and he could not miss it. He hit the doe square on and then the pavement. Once I was sure that Bill was ok, and that there was someone going to get him back to Statesville, I pressed on. We entered the New River Valley, and stopped at a small town called Fries, for a much needed dinner break.
Climbing out of the New River Valley, I continued south back towards North Carolina and the overnight control. I was making good time and hoping to complete the first day of 240 miles before midnight. After a screaming downhill run of about 8 miles, I was feeling great. As darkness set, I heard a loud snap, and knew something had broken. My back wheel felt like it was jammed, and I quickly stopped. Hopping of my bike, thinking my ride was over due to a broken drivetrain, I was both pleasantly surprised and aghast that my saddlebag bracket had broken. It was now completely dark, and I was on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere North Carolina. I discovered that the bolts that held the bracket to the saddle rails had sheared off. After fiddling around for about 45 mins, I figured out that the only way to fix it was to zip tie the bracket to the saddle rails, and pressed on. I limped into the overnight control, ready for some sleep at 0230.
I got back on the road at 0600, right on the bubble to make the next control before it closed. I had 4 hours to go 40 miles, all of it rollers. Knowing my average speed with stops is usually 10 mph, I knew that if I just pressed, I would make it in time. Arriving at the control with 45 minutes to the plus, I short stopped to try and make up some time. At this point, every minute I made to the plus, was time I would get to sleep that night. Pressing on, I made up another hour before the next control at Ellerbe, pressing really hard on some massive rollers as we “tasted” the Carolina Piedmont. From Ellerbe to Lumberton, the next overnight control, the route was pretty much flat, but now the heat was beginning to climb. Again, just as night fell, my next dragon popped up. All of a sudden, by Garmin indicated my Di2 battery was low. I knew that I had charged it to 100% before starting, and I usually get about 3 months on the battery to 50%, so I was mystified. But without the charger with me, there was nothing to do but press on. I arrived at Lumberton around 2300, ready for some sleep, and hoping someone had a Di2 charger. I still could not figure out why me Di2 was almost dead. I knew that when it completely died, it failed to the easiest gearing on both the front and back. As I climbed into bed, I heard a soft whirling noise. Getting up and looking at my bike, I noticed that the handlebar bag was causing the shifter to be depressed against the wall. That is what had happened the night before, and it had drained my Di2 battery! I repositioned the bike so that the shifters were nowhere near the wall, and went to sleep.
Day three started at 0500, as I pressed on toward the ocean. Since we were now “tasting” the Coastal Plains, I tried to shift as little as possible, trying to save my battery. An hour in, as designed, my front derailleur quit shifting and failed to the small chain ring. I was now getting worried that I would be stuck with a single speed for the rest of the ride, spinning like mad. I finally arrived at Sunset Beach and the ocean about lunch time.
Not able to go any further east, it was time to turn around and head west back to the next overnight control. Up to this point we had not encountered any of the major flooding that had struck the week before as a hurricane passed up the coast. This quickly changed. As I headed south away from the coast, towards South Carolina, I can upon the guys volunteering to support the ride, at a road closed sign. They indicated that the road was flooded ahead, and they were ferrying people across, as it was almost 3 feet deep. Just then a pickup truck came along, and the guy said he would give me a lift across the water.
Soon after crossing the flooded road, the rain began to fall, as well as the temperature. Thankfully, the major storms stayed to the north of us. I pushed on to the last overnight control, hoping for a good long night’s sleep. I got to Laurinburg about 9pm, ready for a nice long night in bed.
The last day started with almost everyone back together after everyone took advantage of getting a long night’s sleep. I was back on the road at 0500, with a fairly short day of only 140 miles left. We were leaving the coastal plains and heading back into the Piedmont, so the rollers were beginning to pick back up. At this point, I still had all my rear gears, but was stuck on my lowest chain ring up front. But at this point, nothing was going to stop me. With 100 miles left, I suddenly lost all my shifting on my rear gears. Thankfully, I was right in the middle of the cassette, so I could not speed up going downhill, nor could I downshift climbing the rollers. I was not going to stop this close to the end, nor was I going to give up and walk up any of the hills. I just dug in as deep as I could, and stayed as positive as I could, that close to the end. Just as the sun was setting, I pulled back into the start point in Statesville, NC.
While the mere task of tackling 750 miles under 90 hours is a huge undertaking, slaying the dragons that pop up on a long ride, is really what takes the courage. Being in good physical condition allowed me to tackle the mental issues without having to struggle with the physical issues.