Crush the Commonwealth 2013
Are there any other geezers contemplating riding if only there were a support group of similarly-minded non-XtrEmE kindred riders willing to form a kerass/gaggle? With a target time of somewhere above oh 55 hours? Just wondering. I like the concept, I’d like to ride the event, but I don’t see myself doing it in 48 hours.
On the level of difficulty, didn’t Nick pretty much roll out of bed and do this the year before last?
He doesn’t even commute that far(much?)
Or maybe I’m getting that confused with a charity ride
I only participated once and that was 2012 when I finished with a craptastic time.
Hmm. Anyone who finished last year shouldn’t judge their finishing time harshly. About half of us who started didn’t make it at all, including yours truly. Craptastic indeed. I will redeem myself this year. That’s the plan, anyways.
No – different Tom.
But I am meeting that other Tom (Tom Rosenbauer) this Saturday. I am doing one of the Eastern PA Rando’s 200Ks.
BTW, if you’re still on the fence about this you could try one or two randonneurs prior to it. http://www.pittsburghrandonneurs.com/ has the calendar. There are 100 and 200K rides before CtC, which is 600K or so.
I’m planning on doing it again this year if an overseas trip doesn’t conflict. It was loads of fun last year until the last day when a thought 6 hr century turned into 10 hours or something. That trail sucks and I’m looking forward to getting it out of the way first.
@Pierce in 2011 I think I had about 200 miles under my belt for the entire year. This isn’t to say it wasn’t hard and I inured my knee which took about 2 months to heal.
Anonymous 01/04/2013 at 6:28pm #
I’m doing it.
I was already slow, and I haven’t ridden much over 30 miles in a couple of months.
This is an open invitation to anyone who wants to put on some slow miles with me now, hopefully to turn into some slightly-less-slow miles as spring approaches and I get back in shape. I don’t need to set any records for the fastest CtC time; I’d just like not to set a record for the slowest.
Edit: Oh, and because I really hate myself, I want to attempt to train for the Endless Torture… I mean, Puppies and Kittens 1240k that Stef was talking about. This endeavor will be amusing to watch.
PS. the turnpike tunnels are the darkest place
that I have ever been. It was like 100%
humidity inside so my light just reflected
back at me.
I thought I read somewhere that a group was trying to fix up the abandoned turnpike and maybe even put some lighting inside the tunnels.
I’m really starting to question my sanity now, because I’m thinking about doing it, too. I ride way more than Nick, so why not? Maybe my wife can bring me around…
I don’t plan to do this, at least not this year, but I could hold a few long-distance road rides (100+ miles) to help others get geared up for it. Start in the South Side or Waterfront and go south to Fayette County, then turn around and return another way. This would merge nicely with a plan to help a friend prepare for the Wilderness 101.
For anyone on the fence, just do it … you can’t do it when you’re dead, you may as well do it now.
A friend of mine from work and I are planning on doing it. Neither of us has ridden more than 30 miles in the past 3 or 4 months. I can’t speak for him but I know I am very out of shape.(the 3 miles of the Icycle ride I got to do before I got a flat even felt hard)
Our serious training needs to start next week.
I rode the abandoned turnpike by myself about three years ago. Very scary. Towards the end of the second tunnel, when it started getting light, I looked away from the ground and hit a huge pothole and bent my back wheel – 10 miles from my car. Luckily, I could still ride if I unhooked my brakes. I really want to go back and ride with more people so I am not as scared and can stop and explore inside, instead of just thinking about getting out!
That being said, unless it was part of a trail going somewhere (is it am I am just ignorant?) I think having no lights in it is what made me want to go-so I would vote for no lights!
I would love to do crush the commonwealth, but I usually start bonking at mile 85-90 on a century, so I don’t know how I would do on a ride like this… combined with the fact that I am too soft to ride in most of the cold weather, doesn’t look like I would be able to do this.
Anonymous 01/05/2013 at 5:56pm #
http://www.extrawheel.com/ — extra wheel, low rolling resistance almost all load caries extra wheel and not bike frame. Just got a word from a guy on russian bike forum. He used it his 1,000 mile trip. And likes it much more than small wheel trailers.
You still have time to order it for CtC.
DanB seems to bring everything but the kitchen sink, though he fits it all on his couch on wheels.
On a Dan B. related note…
Dan B, do you think you’re going to participate this year? Do you find this direction more appealing?
On a navigational note,
What’s the GPS versus cue-sheet breakdown? Do some people go without GPS units? It’s hard to fathom when maps were king, despite that being the case when I was younger
CTC is so easy for navigation, neither a cue sheet nor a GPS is really required. just follow the signs.
The only place i thought a GPS was needed going westbound was finding the place to turn off the bike route to get to the abandoned turnpike. it isn’t marked. Now going eastbound, it is probably marked or easy to find in breezewood. I am glad I ran into Ryan in McKeesport, because I think people tended to get lost in the past because of poor signage to the trail. I had never ridden through there.
I got pretty lost two years ago and ended up riding an extra 40-some miles. I suggest at least checking out a map before hand and having a detailed cue sheet.
Basically, don’t do anything I have done, like get a new bike fit and saddle two days before leaving.
Here is my standard advice to those contemplating CTC for the first time.
In my opinion, the keys to doing CTC are: being comfortable enough on your bike for the time durations involved, keeping your pace reasonable (never going anaerobic is a good rule), keeping up on your hydration and fueling, and not letting the distance intimidate you (just think of it as a series of 50 mile chunks between food/water/rest stops).
Here is a top 11 list of my advice (in no particular order):
1. Learn what foods work for you on the bike, especially on long rides. Stuff that works on fast, 2 hour rides may not be what you can tolerate eating after 20 hours.
2. Learn what ultra-endurance pace feels like and have the discipline to ride at that pace for the majority of the ride. This is a pace that allows you to carry on a conversation without gasping. It’s a pace that allows you to breathe through your nose and still be able to get enough air.
3. Ride on time tested gear. Stuff you trust. Don’t ride your lightest tires, tightest cassette, delicate wheels that are scared of a little gravel or potholes.
4. Don’t make a bunch of changes to your equipment, position on the bike, etc. right before. Everything needs to be tested, proven, and gone through at least a few dry runs first.
5. Figure out how you are going to carry the stuff you will need to see you through reasonably forseeable weather changes and problems with your bike.
6. Figure how you are going to ride at night safely. You need lights with sufficient run time, or the ability to charge them. Ideally you have a backup headlight and backup tailight.
7. Know the course. Navigation on CTC is pretty easy overall due to the route “S” signage, but it doesn’t hurt to have some maps with you.
8. Have a plan. You may not stick to the plan exactly in actual practice, but the process of putting it together will give you confidence and will help you make good decisions on your preparations.
9. Have a goal. One that is realistic yet still challenging.
10. Realize that on any ride like this, you will have some ups and downs. The downs will not last forever. When you feel like giving up, realize that it’s entirely possible to totally turn things around, and a few hours from now you’ll wonder why you ever felt like quitting.
11. Have stuff with you to help you take care of your body. Sunscreen, chamois cream, some basic medicines, toothbrush, vitamins, etc.
I rode the CTC route in September 2012, but in 3 days. The pot holes in the Abandoned Turnpike have been filled. I can’t say that for the rest of it. There were potholes and crap all over the road.
I hate the give away my CTC secrets, but the riding is the easy part.
If you want to prepare yourself, try staying awake for 48 hours straight a couple times.
Anonymous 01/14/2013 at 6:09pm #
Hi all, I would like to crush the commonwealth. Never done it before. I will be coming from Allentown. Do I jut show up at 5am? is there any registration? Will maps be given out? should I get there at 4:00 am for sign up? If this is a show up and ride kind of thing, I a fine with that. I Just want to make sure all is well before I drive out. Also as a technical issue: would I do fine with 28c, 25c, or 23c tires on my endurance bike? I don’t think I can go any bigger. any comments welcomed.
I’m pretty sure a mountain knows more about crushing the commonwealth than any of us ever will.
Edit: but assuming you’re a bike rider not a mountain, it’s a show up and ride thing, as I understand. I think wider tires are useful since part of it is on trails.
@Hawk Mt: Here’s an FAQ I put together a couple years ago, with some basic info. It’s worth every cent you paid for it.
Short answer: show up by 5 and ride. No signup, one short speech by ye olde esteemed ride organizer, no maps, no support, no nuthin’. First part of ride is a neutral group ride, to make sure everyone gets to the trail; then the whistle blows and you’re on your own.
I’d suggest 28s for tires, and paper or electronic copies of the PA Bike Route S maps and the route from Valley forge to the Liberty Bell. Aside from that, just have a vague idea of where you can stop and find food/water/hotels as necessary, and follow the PA bike route signs.
Anonymous 01/14/2013 at 8:00pm #
This seems like a silly question, but since we’re talking tires: what’s the widest size you (where you = anyone that’s made this ride before) would use?
My bike (new Novara Randonee) has 32s on it. Would I see a noticable difference if I went down to 28s?
@jay: I’ve done it on tires as thin as 25 and as thick as 35. Personally, I suspect any appreciable difference in speed is more due to tire construction (sidewall thickness and flexibility) than width. (28 is my general go-to, but that’s honestly more due to habit than anything based on data.)
That said, if the GAP is wet-n-sloppy, wider is generally better; also, this is rural PA we’re talking about, so the road surface is *ahem* less than glassy-smooth.
Short answer: if you’d ride ’em on a local century, they’re perfectly well suited to CtC.
FWIW I can’t tell the difference between a 32 and a 28 on limestone rail-trails… but I do feel that I roll better on the roads with 28s without any loss in comfort (although, it should be noted that I’m also riding an unloaded steel touring bike and I weigh about 190lbs, so the 28s might be rough for someone else? ).
Either way, 28s seem to be my happy spot for century-ish type rides on the 520… regardless of terrain. I keep the pressure at about 90lbs.
I think reddan is right that the tire make matters more than the size (at least when you are comparing a 5mm difference).
Personally, I’d go with 28s for just about any occasion (exceptions being single-track, fire-roads, or carrying 50# of gear).
I am probably going to keep 25s on my bike and inflate to 110psi to avoid pinch flats on the abandoned turnpike. I am actually creeped out by the thought of riding that at night alone. I hope to find someone with a similar pace.
Anonymous 01/15/2013 at 1:23am #
Stef, I’m slower than you now, but my own desire to not ride that alone should be enough to motivate me to get up to your pace by April, if you want a riding buddy
@pearmask if I can get a new bike in time I will ride with you.
Sure. It also helps to have someone to talk to when delirium sets in.
Anonymous 01/15/2013 at 1:40am #
while not bold enough to make the entire run, i’m down for the leg to mckeesport.
then its off for fluffy fluffy pancakes.
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