I rode the Highlander today, the hardest ride I do each year. One hundred miles around Canandaigua Lake (one of the NY Finger Lakes) with a total of 11,000 ft. of climbing and several hills > 20% grade. There is a good summary of the ride at the Highlander website.
I drove up to Corning on Friday night, leaving myself a 1-hour drive to the ride start on Saturday morning.
Up at 4:00am to get ready for the ride, eat some breakfast, and pack up. By 5:00am, I was in the car and started the drive north to Bristol Mountain for the ride start. Got there a little after 6:00am, checked-in, picked up my ride number (#32) and went back to get loaded up. The roads were wet from overnight rain and the skies were cloudy, but I managed to get through the whole ride without getting rained on. Temps were a comfortable 70F but high humidity.
Sorry no photos but I already killed one digital camera in the rain this summer, so I didn't want to chance it with another one. I intended to bring my GPS but it could not lock onto any satellites within 15 minutes due to the heavy cloud cover, so I left it in the car.
I headed out of the lot by 6:55. Within 5 miles, I was in the middle ring. Within 10 miles, I was in the small ring (granny gear). This is probably the only ride where I use every one of the available 27 gears, and the only ride where I need to use the little ring.
Got a rear flat tire at mile 17, which was a bit of a disappointment as I had just put on a new Michelin Krylion Carbon 80 miles ago for the specific reason to avoid a flat due to a worn tire. Alas, the upstate chipseal went through the rubber anyway. I now have had a flat on 3 of the 4 Highlanders I've ridden.
Up Miller Hill, a photographer was taking pictures at the usual spot so after they post them I will try to include a link if I can find one of me (here is the 2007 photo). After that, I made good time riding solo, up the first two "monster" hills Bopple and Gannett.
Rest stops were plentiful and well stocked, just like last year. I was partial to the fig newtons, bananas, home-baked cookies, and watermelon.
At the rest stop at mile 62, I hooked up with a rider named Rob from Buffalo, NY, and we tackled Sliter and Griesa hills together all the way back to Bristol Mountain.
I collected my "goodie" bag with a Highlander calendar, bottle of wine, etc. and ate the included dinner. I drove back to Corning, took a quick shower and continued with the marathon drive back home.
A decent ride, really hard, but satisfying to have finished.