This past weekend I found myself driving up to Byfield, Ma. To ride the Blazing Saddles Century. After seeing it in the NERAC newsletter I had registered for the century but after having yet another unexpected eye surgery and two weeks off the bike I opted for the metric.
Having never done this ride I wasn’t sure what to expect. One of my coworkers had ridden it 10 years ago with 3 hrs sleep and a hangover. Despite the self induced trauma he said it was a pretty good ride and completed it.
Once there the pre reg process was smooth and organized I was rewarded with my shirt, cue sheet and complimentary North Shore Cyclist water bottle. I hopped on my IF and headed out. I saw a few cyclists hanging around talking and thought they were waiting for friends. What I didn’t know was it was a mass start and I had left 20 minutes early.
Once out on the road I found the markings a little scarce, usually one before a turn and one confidence arrow after. All the marks were white and the same design, so when the splits for the 100, 62 and 50 came they would have the number under the arrow. There were also a lot of different markings painted on the road that made it a little confusing.
At the century and metric split there was quite a bit of confusion with many people missing the turn for the metric, me being one of them. Once back on course you had to be mindful of the turns, when you’re rolling along at 20+ mph all that paint starts to look the same.
Other than that this was a great ride. Once you got out of the school area the roads turned into quiet rolling country lanes that went by fields of purple and yellow wildflowers, wooded areas and farm land complete with cow poop aroma. It also followed the Merrimac River for a time as well, making it a very scenic ride with the smell of the ocean in the air. I was pleasantly surprised on how rural this part of the state is. For some reason I had a misconception that being the north shore of Boston it would be more of an urban environment with busy roads and heavy traffic.
At the rest stops I found very friendly volunteers at lots of food choices. For example it ranged from fruit, cookies, PB&J sandwiches, PB & banana sandwiches, Gatorade and water. The first one was located in a park with a small pond and music playing. The second stop wasn’t open when I passed it so I had to conserve my lone half full water bottle for the remaining 15 miles. I wasn’t alone as the other six cyclists who finished at the same time had the similar issue. I think due to our early departure and a pretty fast pace we simply arrived at the second stop before the volunteers did.
I would recommend this ride, for next year, and would consider doing it again as it had some great scenery, friendly volunteers, well stocked rest stops and a grill with hot dogs, munchies and soft drinks at the finish. -Pete