This past weekend was the Eastern PA Randonneurs Hawks Nest 300k. It was a scenic but difficult ride that demanded more and more from riders as the day went on. Keeping with my goal as mentioned in my previous post, I did this ride on my fat bike.
About 30 of us clipped in to start the ride at 5 am in Easton, PA. I rode with my friends CJ, Nick, and Ryan for the whole ride; they are always great company.
The first half of the ride was really pleasant and included some unfamiliar roads, which was a nice change of pace from some of our old recycled routes.
My memories of these longer rides are always peppered with various images throughout the route. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always make for a great coherent story. We rode through some beautiful vistas at sunrise and in the early morning. We rode down an amazing gravel road heading into Delaware Water Gap. After Water Gap, it was pretty much uphill all the way into New York. This route also featured a little over 10 miles of riding along the Lackawaxen River. This is normally a pretty quiet road, but on this ride, we were dodging runners in an unexpected marathon.
By the time we got to The Corner in Eldred, NY, we had most of the distance and most of the climbing behind us. I should have been worried by how good I felt, but it didn’t sink in until we left the stop that the worst was yet to come. Leaving the stop, we rode straight uphill and straight into the wind. In fact, there would be a headwind the entire way back to Easton.
A few miles past Eldred, we were treated to stunning views of the Delaware from high above. Shortly after this, we turned south down Old Mine Road, which I’m told is one of the oldest continuously used roads in the US. Old Mine Road is infamous to our club’s riders for its pothole filled climb on the approach to Delaware Water Gap. Not only is the road steep, but it forces you to choose your lines as if you were mountain biking. Typically, we’re rewarded with a nice downhill and a right turn onto a rolling road before crossing the Delaware. Not today.
On this ride we went left up Millbrook Road instead of right to climb an additional 600 feet up one of the steepest roads I’ve ever ridden. That road was misery. That road stole part of my soul that I will never get back.
Thankfully from the top of the hill, it was downhill all the way to our next stop in Blairstown. We took a decently long rest to eat and regroup before the final push back to the finish. The final miles were a blur. It was all I could do to even stay awake at this point – about 15 hours of riding after waking up shortly after 2 am. As we walked our bikes across the Delaware into Easton, the finish was only a couple of miles off, and even though there were a few annoying climbs left, it wasn’t too bad. We rolled into the finish at just over 18 hours, 2 hours ahead of the 20 hour cutoff for a 300k. I immediately forgot about how miserable I felt. I was just thankful I got to share the ride with my friends.