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Challenge of the Centuries 2010 Charity Bike Ride Skate Report

JonathanS's picture


Sooo, I was the lonely only skater at the Challenge of the Centuries.  And that was fine because it left all the comments of “what you are doing is amazing” all for myself.  Ha!  No, the bikers where great there, and even the traffic was very considerate.  I had a good time talking to people, and felt very welcome.  I almost brought my camera on the road with me, and now regret I didn’t.  So many cool things.  And so many lessons learned.

I went down friday night and slept in the gym.  There were showers available as it is on a high school campus.  I think next year I will see if the whole family wants to go, as many had pitched tents there on the property and brought their kids.  There was a mom, dad and three daughters, probably ages 6-12, that had a tandem and a triple bike, and they all did the 64 mile ride on Saturday!  So cool.  

The ride started at 8am, and I was doing the 64 mile route.  Started out drafting behind one bike, but he was only doing the 37 mile route, so I knew I would have to find a knew group to draft off of.  After about 4 miles, I noticed a group about 400 yards in front that had not pulled away from us.  So I killed myself and finally caught up with them.  Drafted them off and on till probably mile 25, when I came to the realization that most of these bikers liked to do 15 to 20 mph between rest stops, and then rest for 15 minutes in between.  

After 2 hours of this with my heart rate averaging 10 to 15 bpm faster than it should have, I needed to back off.  And while I have heard the heart rate guru Roadskater speak to the fact that you can’t keep that kind of thing sustained, my ego spoke louder than wisdom.  By the 3rd hour, I felt the same thing I did at A2A 2009 when I went too fast too long again: after 3 hours of too high a HR, the Reaper climbs on my back and does everything possible to drag me into a ditch.  The only thing that kept me going was the sound of Roadskater ringing in my ears saying “I’ve never sagged before, and I’m not starting now”.  Thaaanks!  So I plowed on.  

Getting slower and slower, I rolled up to the 56 mile check point considering whether or not to go on.  “If it was down hill the last 8 miles, would I finish: NO.”  I arrived there ready to sag for the first time ever.  I was exhausted, dehydrated, recovered from dehydration, 2 massive blisters from bad form trying to keep up with bikes that were too fast and now my legs felt like jello.  I had nothing left.  And there were 3 lady on bikes, sweet as can be.  So I sat and talked to them, and after 10 minutes, felt a little better.  

So when they were ready to roll, I thought, “Oh, why not.”  They were like angels.  I only stayed with them for 5 miles before they left me, but the conversation kept my mind off my own misery.  This left only 3 miles for me to finish on my own, which I did, at 6 hours and 20 minutes from the start.  

The pavement was 90% great, low traffic for almost the whole route, 5 rest stops along the way.  I saw wild turkey’s, beautiful wild flowers and long horn cattle.  There was a tandem bike there made of bamboo and hemp joints, and those people had that thing hauling tail!  I had planned to do Sunday also, but I was too far gone for that.  Great ride, well run.  And I have learned that my reason must out rank my ego, finally! 



eebee's picture

Great Report!

Very enjoyable report, Jonathan! Sorry you were out there alone. I thought some of the APRR skaters might show up but I guess not. I'm glad you had 90% nice pavement.

It's tough to decide to try to bust it a little bit to catch someone to draft, or to hang back so you can stay within your range and skate alone for 65 miles! Great job, by the way.

roadskater's picture

He Said Hemp Joints

Great fun reading that one. I always enjoy other people's skate pain as long as it's temporary! It's way impressive that you did over 100k as a solo roadskater. It's also impressive how long you must have been cranking some high heart rates without bonking. I'd like to claim some wisdom but mostly I forget any wisdom I might have had when leaving town with the camera and friends and cyclists flying by saying hi. 

Hartwell Challenge of the Centuries is a great one, and not easy, but that's good too. It's an early season reminder of what it's like to skate hills in hot weather. They've always been really nice to roadskaters there, and like eebee said, we thought there might be some Atlanta skaters there. It used to be a tradition for a group to do Hartwell. Now I think they have a pool party and some local gehangingouten. 

That bamboo & hemp tandem bike sounds way cool. Did they build it themselves? Was it a demo of some sort? Interesting possible stories there maybe. Did you skate over the dam? That's usually kind of fun if not exhausted by then!

I think they have a downtown cars and guitars thing there in Hartwell the same weekend. Not sure what the guitar part is but I assume picking, not displaying. With the cars it was a pretty nice group of autos when we saw it. 

It's sad that we missed it, but there were multiple reasons for it seeming not viable beforehand, even if it turned out after the fact that we might've been able to. I got to skate with northinsouth and also got to go to their party Sunday by being in town, so that's good at least.

Northinsouth definitely had me at my max avg within a few laps. I'd like to think it was because I had skated the day before, but I don't think that was it. He has a very efficient style and plenty of power to apply, and no matter how "out of shape" he may say he is, his generally active life helps keep him always ready to skate well. All that ice skating experience from childhood can't hurt, either. 

Overall it was a light weekend, especially after Friday and Saturday were over. OK after that it was a zero skating holiday. I'd better get back to it. Working lots on the website background issues even if nobody can tell! 

JonathanS's picture

bamboo bike

The bamboo bike is commercially made.  I don't remember the brand (should of had a picture).  The company took measurements of the couple and built it custom for them.  The couple choose the bamboo because she has arthritis and the road vibration can really get to her.  She said she has not had a single problem since they have bought this bike.  They also said that even though is was made custom for them, it still came out $3000 cheaper than a carbon fiber model!  It looked as if the hemp joints had been coated in some type of an epoxy. 

roadskater's picture

Bamboo is strong stuff and grows like crazy

Thanks for the info. Bamboo could be an important material for some things. I have fond memories of my grandfather making a fishing pole for me as a kid out of a bamboo piece harvested from the woods. Low tech, but effective. Small panfish, but tasty to a tyke. If you hear more about the bike, do tell. As I recall, bamboo grows and spreads rapidly, so maybe there's a future in bamboo bikes, since carbon fiber layup is a labor intensive process. I've seen some cracked carbon fiber bike frames, and it's pretty sad because I see cash instead of carbon when I look at those frames.

timv's picture

Calfee perhaps?

I've been hearing about Calfee bamboo bikes and seeing pictures for a while now and wondered if they did tandems. Turns out that yes, they do:

Click for big picture.

timv's picture

Build Your Own Bamboo Bike

I was looking through my bookmarks and happened to see a link to an NPR story from last December that I'd totally forgotten about, about a workshop for building your own bamboo bike. The weekend workshop is presented by Bamboo Bike Studio in Brooklyn, NY, and at $932 for a full bike class including components, and $632 for just a frame, it seems quite reasonable.

I think it's also interesting that not only is the bamboo they use a renewable and carbon neutral resource but it's even locally grown, as it's harvested from groves in nearby New Jersey. Bamboo is easy to work with simple tools, it naturally grows in the ideal structural form of hollow tubes, and it's a natural composite of strong fibers within a foam-like matrix making it supple and resilient.

That looks like it might be a very cool experience.

JonathanS's picture

That's the one

Yeap, that is the bike.  They had replaced some stems and seat posts with carbon fiber, but that is it exactly.

roadskater's picture

Bamboo Laptop Notebook Computer

I don't know much about this one, but it looks like bamboo has some cachet among the eco-techno crowd. Here's a link to an article on PC Magazine's web...


It seems this is a good one for first-adopters in that set, and not a bad PC at all, but more time will pass before we have an idea of the viability of using bamboo as material for a notebook computer. Looks nice, though.

timv's picture

Flooring too

I've noticed the frequent use of bamboo flooring in environmentally-conscious (supposedly) renovation projects such as those on Discovery's Planet Green channel. As they say about the bamboo bikes, it's a grass so it's ideally renewable and grows back fast, and it can be raised locally to wherever it's used or processed.

I think my days of buying $1000 laptops are past but it looks pretty cool. Maybe they'll make an Eee Pc in a case like that eventually.

roadskater's picture

$1000 Laptops and Bamboo Floors

I'd have to be convinced that the laptop in question was going to be much more durable than my HP Pavilion dv4000 series piece of plastic. Beautiful screen, nice operation, junky case. 

I think I saw a show on the Proximity hotel and the guy (too lazy to look it up) mentioned bamboo flooring. I think he may have said they did not go for that for some reason. They found lots of other more cost efficient materials and methods I think was the gist. But unsure. He does a great interview. They've done some good things in Greensboro, including Lucky32 of course. 

I agree the bamboo looks cool. In fact I wondered (briefly) about making some sort of case for my aforementioned laptop. I think USPS Packing tape might be great if they still gave that stuff away (which is probably why they don't). I thought about gluing aluminum rulers to the top or finding a sheet of aluminum. At least I covered up the HP advertisement. 

timv's picture

That's the thing about laptops

Fast, durable, or cheap, pick any two. And I'm afraid that $1000 is probably still cheap enough to count as one of them. That's a big part of why I'm out of the laptop game these days.

I built a little travel PC inside a Cooler Master Elite 100 RC micro-ATX enclosure, which is small enough to fit inside the nice Targus bag that came with my last real laptop. (Back when they were expensive enough to include extras like that.) It's a heavy steel tank and, as long as I have a monitor, keyboard, and mouse to use when I get where I'm going, it's great. If not, I'll bring the Eee Pc, which is slow but more or less disposable and I can toss it in just about anywhere.

I saw a nice clearance price on 3K filament 2x2 twill carbon fiber cloth yesterday. You could use that to make a neat HP laptop case. It's listed as "damaged" though and they don't say how badly. :-)

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