couple of pieces and woke right back up. In fact, I probably had the fastest average speed on this section for the entire ride. It started to get light as we entered Geneva at about 5:30 am and then proceeded in the next couple hours through the towns of Waterloo and Seneca Falls. Andrew was familiar with these roads having done a triathlon in the area. Finally, we arrived at the Super 8 in Auburn at mile 285 around 7:15 in the morning.
The control in Auburn was great. The ride organizers had reserved a set of rooms for the riders to use, though as it turned out, not one would get any real sleep. Even though I would not be getting any sleep, I was still able to grab a quick shower and change into some fresh riding clothes. It felt like a brand new day. In the main control room, there was a volunteer cooking pancakes and eggs. I down some pancakes, then dozed a bit while waiting for some eggs. During this time, both Chris and Matt showed up. I had not seen Chris since the control in Springwater and Matt since the start back in Ithaca, over 27 hours earlier, so it was good to see them still moving along. After a good breakfast, Andrew and I got back on the road at about 8:30. We had twelve and a half hours to go 115 miles. For the first time, finishing within the allotted time of 40 hours actually seemed doable.
For the next couple of hours, we dealt with a fairly hilly route. We began to see the signs that a major storm had come through the day before or during the night. On one road, it looked like a tornado had come through with numerous trees down, some in the road that a work crew was clearing. I had one scary moment here. I was coming down a hill at about 25 mph and as I came around a bend in the road, I saw a large amount of dirt and rocks had washed across the entire road. Grabbing the brakes would have meant skidding out, so I ended up hitting the debris at full speed. I was able to maintain balance, but I think the bike became airborne for a brief moment. At mile 311, we faced our first major climb of the day - Hitching Rd. This was the climb that cue sheet noted as "a real ass biter." It was by far the most difficult climb yet. It was 1.7 miles long with the first half being at least 20 percent grade. This was the one time where I was very glad to have a triple chain ring. This was an absolute monster to grind up. After this climb, we were rewarded with a couple of fun descents, but the hill really sapped my energy. The last six miles into the next control in Tully were rolling hills with one climb toward the end. It was hard going as I was nearing a bonk. We finally arrived at the control at about 11:30. There were no volunteers at this control, so we had to have one of the clerks sign our cards. I also bought a steak and cheese sub, which hit the spot. While at Tully, Matt and Chris rolled in. While they ate lunch, I ended up taking one more 10-minute catnap on a bench outside. Again, just dozing for a few minutes, plus eating some "real" food brought my energy back. Matt got back on the road, then Chris, Andrew, and I left about ten minutes later. It was now 12:15 pm and we "only" 75 miles to go.
More climbs awaited us after Tully, the first being only three miles into this section. The route proceeded with a hard climb, followed by a long descent or flat, then repeated - one ridge after another. But, by far, the hardest climb of all of Quadzilla had to be Church Hill Rd., also known as the Sawmill Climb. This was probably the steepest hill I've ever gone up. Even though it was only a half-mile, the grade was far above 20 percent. I had to start traversing back and forth almost immediately and it took every ounce of strength to just turn over the pedals. To make matters worse, my cadence was so slow that I couldn't shift into my smallest chain ring, so I was forced to climb it in my middle chain ring. We got to the top and had to take a short breather. After minute of so, we continued on with the road still going up.
We knew that there would be one more secret control up ahead. Looking at the cue sheet, we figured it would be at mile 355, where it was noted that there was a park right on a lake and port-o-potties nearby. We thought it would be a good place for someone to hang out for the many hours between the first and last riders. At about mile 350, there was a long fast downhill. I managed to pull away from the others and in couple miles, stopped at an intersection to cross a major road. I looked right and left, saw that there were no cars, and proceeded to zip down the hill on the other side. It was only three short miles to where we thought the secret control would be. Andrew quickly caught up with me, only to let me know that the control was, in fact, back up at the intersection. In my hurry to get across the intersection, I had not noticed the volunteer standing and waving next to her car. So, we had to turn around and climb back up the hill to where the control was located. Matt and Chris showed up a few minutes later. There would no tarrying at this control. We quickly grabbed the food we needed and refilled our water bottles (more Perputeum for me) and took off. It was now 3:00 pm. We had six hours to go 50 miles, but we now had the end in sight.
The next several miles was pretty section along Skaneateles Lake, but the climbing some began again as we turned back into the hills. Matt dropped back at this point, with Andrew, Chris, and myself continuing on together. Andrew let us know that once we hit the town of Moravia, it would be smooth sailing until the end, with only some "minor hills" yet to climb. We got there at about 5:00 pm and had now been riding for 36 hours. After making a quick water stop at a convenience store, we continued on. We made a feeble attempt at forming a pace line on the way out of town with Andrew pulling Chris and me, but after 375 laborious miles, keeping up was easier said than done. There were no thirty miles to go and four hour in which to do it.
Being from the area, Andrew was now very familiar with the upcoming roads and was able to give us a good description of the remaining miles. We hit the next climb just three miles out of Moravia. It was another long and steep climb, lasting about a mile and a half. We were now making an effort to stick together, so we regrouped at the top of each hill before continuing on. At we passed through the small town of Genoa, we could see our next climb up ahead, which appeared to go straight up. Andrew assured us that it would not be as nearly as bad as it looked from a distance. He was right, but it was still a hard climb. After a nice ten-mile downhill, we faced one more hill that the cue sheet noted as a "last little grunt." Then it was over. All that remained was the last ten miles into Ithaca. With five miles to go, we turned onto a road that offered some spectacular views of the gorges and waterfalls overlooking the city. However, we were so ready for the ride to be over that we barely gave these a glance and entered into downtown Ithaca.