Felkerino and I returned to the Appalachian Adventure (AA) 1000K course this past weekend to staff the second night of the actual event.
Having ridden the pre-ride exactly the week before, I had a fairly vivid memory of my own shattered mile 418 arrival. The second day took more out of me than I bargained for, and it was only through redemption under the sweet crescent moon during our night ride that I mustered the desire to continue.
With that as the background, I was curious to see how others would experience this part of the ride. I was also excited about sharing their progress with the outside world.
Staffing the overnight control was like watching a ferris wheel. The early riders arrived around 8:00 p.m. and people arrived steadily until 12:40 a.m.
Riders staggered their arrivals and departures into four- to six-hour increments. Those arriving at 8 p.m. got off the overnight ferris wheel at 2 a.m. Most who arrived between 10:30 and 11 p.m. departed between 3:30 and 4 a.m.
Certain groups chatted more than others. Some had a bit of the randonneur loopies, and everything anybody said resulted in laughter. More than a few people made an arrow straight to the cooler of beer, their reward for more than 200 miles of riding that day.
Riders experienced rough spots during the second day, including mechanicals (a crankarm falling off, for example!), uncharacteristic heat in the region, and passing thunderstorms.
Some woke after a shower and a rando-nap and took off into the early hours looking like it was nothing. As one person told me, “Even though you have only slept for 90 minutes, it feels like a new day.”
Riders spent between 3-6 hours on the mile 418 ferris wheel, everyone making sure to keep themselves safely within the control window while bagging as much sleep as they felt they could get away with.
Knowing what the course had delivered over the past two days, I was impressed by the determination of these randonneurs. All committed to finishing, no one lingered past 5 a.m. at mile 418.
As fellow overnight volunteer Matt H. said, I “kept the internet alive” by updating people’s times on the Google Drive Rider Tracking Sheet and posting photos of riders, their bikes, as well as their comings and goings on the club’s Facebook page.
I felt like the town crier, wanting everyone to know about the 1000K participants’ progress. In turn, Matt (who works at a bike shop, which makes him the best kind of volunteer) made sure everyone’s chains were lubed and addressed any mechanical issues that arose.
All had endured 418 miles of challenging terrain and they all did whatever necessary to keep moving and complete the challenge.
Even though their bodies were physically worn and in various sleep-starved states, everyone left mile 418 committed to the full 1000K journey, no matter when it ended. And everyone who rode out that final day successfully completed the ride.
I told Felkerino that, as I saw them leave, part of me want to go with them. Instead I thanked Felkerino for making all the chili and keeping the control well-stocked, and went to bed to dream about their progress.
Congratulations to everyone who rode the inaugural D.C. Randonneurs Appalachian Adventure 1000K. You inspire me.