Monday, July 9, 2007

New Orleans 200 k (Birthday Bash Brevet)

I have been looking forward to this brevet for a while. Earlier in the year Dianne agreed to travel down to New Orleans with me for it. After her more difficult 200k in Franklinton, LA, I did not know if I would ever be able to get her to do another one. Since this one fell on her birthday and I guaranteed her that it was flat, she decided to try it again. What made this brevet really special was that not only was it Dianne's birthday, but it was Pat's too.

I intended on starting to train with Dianne the first weekend in June. She had some good base mileage, but needed to start ramping up. Unfortunately, we hit a snag in that my knee was out of commission because of the Mineral Wells 400k. Dianne and I were not able to ride together during the month of June except for a short 12 mile ride on the Trace my first day back on the bike for rehab. Dianne rode some with the group and purposefully got some bonus miles by herself on those rides. I was able to do rides in Arkansas and Long Leaf before the 200k.

Friday night before the ride, I went to pick up some birthday surprises. I had pin wheels for every one's bike and flashing spoke decorations for Dianne and Pat birthday present.

Saturday morning I went by Dianne's house to pick her up. We had not yet decided if we were going to do Pat's bonus miles or if we were just going to stick with the 200k. If we left with Pat from his house, we would end up doing close to 150 miles whereas if we drove to the ride start, we would only have 130 miles. I worried about Dianne doing 150 miles since her longest ride of the year so far was only 80 miles.

The drive went by very fast and we arrived at Pat's by 10:30. The weather was not too bad at the time. It was hot, but a storm was brewing and made the temperatures seem comfortable. On a whim, we decided to do the bonus miles. I hope we would not regret this later. In order to arrive at the ride start by 2:00, Pat wanted to leave at 12:30. Dennis had come in sometime near 12:00 and we were all getting our stuff together to leave. I was really glad we had gotten in as early as we did as we did not have to rush to get our bikes together. I ate a PB&J and some of Pat's famous piggies (cocktail sausage wrapped in biscuit dough) and an Ensure. I was not sure how good of a pre-ride meal this was going to be, but it was good at the time.

I decide to let Millicent the Magnificent ride on the back of the rack today. Normally she sits comfortably in the front pouch of my bike bag, but today I thought she might like a different view. This was Millie's first ride in Louisiana and I know that she was going to have fun. Tomorrow, we had big plans for her to go to the French Quarter and eat Muffalettas and benets and hang out at Burbon Street.

At 12:25, large rain drops started falling and it started thundering and lightening. I am pretty lucky as I have well over 300 miles of rain riding experience, but I have never been caught in a complete scary down pour. Dianne, Dennis, Pat and I huddle in his garage waiting to see if the rain lets up. I decide to put on my toe covers, front fender and shower cap. Since I dried out so well in the Texas rain, I decided not to bring a change of dry clothes - just socks. This ends up being a bad decision as the high humidity keeps my clothes from drying out after the rain stops. The rain does let up some, so at 12:45 we head towards the levy and Audubon Park. Millie immediately lets me know she is on the ride. I have never heard her be so vocal. At first I thought she was happy then I thought she may be upset about being in the rain. She chatters almost non stop. About 7 miles or so into the ride, the rain stops abruptly. You can see the rain line on the pavement. Millie is still chattering. It did not take long to decide that she was unhappy with her view. Maybe she is like me and just can not face backwards or maybe she was upset knowing we were headed for the zoo, but she let me know she was not a happy monkey all the way into Audubon Park.

At Audubon Park, we met Steve (did not get his last name), an architech, on his first official brevet. While waiting for the official 2:00 ride start, I moved Millie back to her pouch on the bike bag. She seemed much happier at this point.

We started the official part of the brevet at 2:00 on the dot. This is a first for any brevets that I have done with Pat. On one occasion, the late start was my fault, but we don't have to discuss that on this blog! Not far into the ride, Steve notices that I am on an IF. I immediately know that I am going to like him. We discuss custom bikes, components and trips on and off for the whole ride.

I don't remember when it started raining again, I think it was somewhere around the bathrooms on the levy. We stopped at the bathrooms and again at the gas station on River Road. If we were doing a harder brevet, we would not have needed to have stopped twice before the first control for time reasons. Since this is a casual brevet ridden in the audux style, we all stay together and stop when someone needs to stop. It really is fun, but if we were doing a 400 or 600k the extra time on the stops would eventually add up to major time. The rain continues for a couple hours. Nothing bad. We are getting a few honks - all happy - but not as many as the 300 k last year.

The ride to the first and second controls are really uneventful. I am guessing we have a tail wind as we are cruising pretty fast. We probably only averaged 14 mph on the levy and River Road, but from La Place to Ponchatula, we really pick up speed. We end up averaging 15.3 mph at the turn around. We are about 2 hours up when we reach Ponchatula and head for the McDonald's. I had purchased candles that read "52" since not only was it both Dianne's and Pats birthdays, it was also both of their 52nd birthday. They both seemed to get a kick out of the candles. I let them know that they would get to carry the candles home as I did not need the extra weight on the way back! I ate a $1 double cheeseburger plain with a small fry. I really enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. Dianne bought two - one for the end of the ride. She really was smarter than me here! I must remember this for next time.

We left Ponchatula close to 6:30, I think. This was a little later than we would have liked as Dennis and Pat like to leave in time to cross the Manchac bridge before night fall. We probably would have made it except....

This route has 3 sets of nasty railroad tracks that cross the road at weird angles. On the way out of Ponchatula, we crossed one of these tracks that was much rougher on the return side. Pat went over it first followed by Dianne and then me. I hit the tracks at a very uneven spot. Millie lept from the bike bag as I hit the tracks. I grabbed her and immediately noticed my front wheel had flatted. Steve and Dianne both commented that it was weird that I flatted on the front tire. Dennis observed that I had flatted on the back. I started to correct him when I turned and noticed that the back tire was flat too!!! I could not believe that I had two simultaneous flats! Well dusk was approaching and we acted like we were part of a NASCAR pit crew! We changed both tires in 15-20 minutes all working as a well oiled machine!

We continued the ride very uneventfully after this. I am sure I drove everyone crazy though as every few minutes I said "I can't believe I flatted simultaneously"! We were still cycling strong through La Place all the way to the levy. As I was not wearing my helmet light, I could not tell what our average had been. According to Pat and Dianne, we were still averaging 15 when we hit the levy. Obviously we slowed down considerably as we only ended up averaging 13.5 overall for the return trip. We completed the official ride in 11 hrs and 12 minutes. Had we not had the simultaneous flat, we would have beaten our time from last year. Once back in Audubon Park, we were going to leave Steve, but he lamented that he was the only one without bonus miles and rode the 10 miles back on the levy towards Pat's house. We made it in sometime near 2:00 am. What a great ride!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Long Leaf Trail

Left early Saturday morning - about 5:45 for the 1.5 mile drive to Prentiss by myself. No one wanted to go and I wanted to ride the Trail. I have it set up as a perm and no one has ridden it yet. I was surprised to find the gas station I intended on using as a control was boarded up. I then went to the bathrooms at the Long Leaf and they were locked due to excessive vandalism. Great! I need to go and there is no where to do it that I wouldn't be booked for public indecency. I drove back towards the main street and the gas station on the corner looked pretty scary. There were several people hanging out there and I was not comfortable going in. I drove further down the road to another gas station and there were only three people hanging out. I walked in and asked to use the bathroom. The cashier was not eager to say yes, no, or kiss my butt. When I could tell she was about to say no, I informed her that the ones at Long Leaf were locked. She sullenly gave me a key a pointed to the hallway where the restrooms were located. Both the men's and women's restrooms had large signs on them indicating that they were out of order. Opening the women's restroom, revealed a clean toilet that was in good working order. I drove back to the parking lot knowing my mileage would be off by a mile and got started. I wondered since the Prentiss rest rooms were closed if any of the depots along the way would be open. I also wondered if my car would be there when I got back. I started at 7:41 - 11 minutes late. The weather was cool and humid. I knew that it would be getting really hot before the ride was over. It was probably in the high 60s at that point.

Within the first mile, I saw a rabbit scampering off of the trail. Remembering the number of rabbits I had seen on the trail last time, I decided to count rabbits today. 1,2,3 before the 10 mile mark! So far the new Body Geometry seat was working - but boy it was ugly. I hiked out of Prentiss knowing I would be climbing all the way to Bassfield. I thought the majority of the route was uphill to Hattisburg, but I apparently was wrong. I really try to push it as much as possible. I wanted to finish with a 15 mph rolling average. 4,5 more rabbits darting across the trail.

I stop in Sumerall to get water, stretch, and go. I walk across from the Depot to look at the cafe to see if they would have any V-8 - it was closed. The knee was stiff, so I stretched it some more. 6,7 rabbits to Jefferson Street. I stopped again to stretch. There were two black girls resting on a bench at this depot. One in jeans and the other in long pants. They apparently were on bikes and had come from Hattiesburg. They had no idea how far they had come and did not have helmets or water. One asked if I could look at her bike seat as it was rotating on her as she rode. It had a quick release lever on it and I tightened it for her. I made it into Hattiesburg at 10:45. I was up 1.75 hours. At the depot, I realized the signs were wrong and that the final two miles were not complete. I would end up 5 miles off. I bought a powerade and a water and started back out at 11:05. 20 minute stop...

Passed Jefferson Street depot, the two young ladies were still there. I wondered if they would make it back. Apparently, I had a cross wind with a slight push on the way down and now had a cross wind angling toward a headwind. I really wanted to find a place to stop to get a v-8. I knew Sumerall was not that far ahead. I pulled into one of the gas stations in Sumrall and bought a V-8. I filled up with ice and water from a drink machine. The water looked like it was coming from the machine pretty fast, but I really did not think much about it. Stretched, finished the V-8 and got back on the bike only to realize that the water I had in my camel back was carbonated water - blech! I rode over to the Sumerall depot and poured out the water trying to save the ice and refilled it from the water fountain. My speed and stamina had definitely dropped off. I did the first half in 15.3 mph. I was having trouble maintaining 13 mph now. The time off the bike really hurt my cardiovascular system and endurance. I am beginning to think that there is no way to attempt the 600. If I could finish the Long Leaf at a 15 mph average, then I think the 600 attempt would be feasible, but I am struggling. I feel tired - not bonked - but just physically tired. I stop to stretch in Bassfield. A little girl is at the depot which is just up from a park. She is probably only 2 or 3 and is enthralled with my camelbak. She asks what it is and I told her it is for my water. She really wants to try to drink out of it. I leave quickly. I haven't seen any rabbits on the way back from Hattiesburg, but I now see what in the distance looks like a large rat. It ends up being a baby armadillo. He was not scared of me at all - that is probably why they are dead on the side of the road all the time! Not long after that, I see a doe running on the horse trail just in front of me. We ride/run together for 1/4 mile or so as the deer looks as curious at me as I am of it. The doe finally stops and we look each other eye to eye as I continue to ride off.

I make it back into Prentiss at 2:30. My speed has fallen to 14.3 mph. So I was definitely slower on the way back. I ended up 2 full hours thought. I go to the gas station that I skipped over this morning. I did not need to use the restroom, so I don't know how it looked, but the cashier was pleasant. The seat preformed well - no complaints. I will see how it does in New Orleans next week. Hopefully, my cardio and endurance will miraculously appear and we can average at least 15 on the 200k. If so, then I may still try the 600 - if not, the pursuit will be over...

Recovery Rides

My knee seems to be healing pretty good. However, it has taken longer than the two week healing time that I was hoping for. I have lost a lot of my endurance and what little speed I had. My 600 attempt is in grave danger.

I started Physical Therapy with Mark Ware the Tuesday after Memorial Day. He did some ultrasound treatment and got me started on some stretches. I have been going twice a week ever since.

June 2nd - did not ride at all. My knee still hurt pretty badly. It really was stoving up at night. Drove up to Mom & Dads for the day. Sucked not being on the bike. I really wanted to be back on it.

Mark added some exercises to my stretches during PT. They also message the heck out of it.

June 9th - Dianne and I rode 12 miles from my house down the South Trace to the bridge before 49. Basically 5 miles out and back on the Trace and mile back to the house. I was trying out David's Fizik Alliante instead of my Selle an-atomica. I really lost confidence in it on the 400 k. Hated the Alliante. I felt like I was sitting on my girly bits. We stopped a couple times for me to adjust the saddle. All in all it was a good ride and my knee did not hurt.

After the ride, Dianne and I cleaned up and rode to Jeff Busby Park on the Natchez Trace to develop a 300 k route. We found a 600 ft climb over .8 miles inside the park. I can't wait to do this ride. We listened to the State Game on the radio the whole time. We stopped in French Camp for lunch and it was great. French Camp is an older looking town that has a few old buildings to look at along with a cute craft shop and cafe. We had the best BLT I have ever eaten.

June 16th - Drove to Magnolia for Fathers Day to see Pal. I got up early and rode out to Logoly State Park (nothing there) and then out to Waldo and Stamps. The North/South portion of the route was hillier than the East/West portion. The total route was 57 miles. The weather was overcast and humid. The temps were probably in the 60s to start and 80s by noon. I saw three deer on the route. The dogs behaved themselves - most acted like they have never seen anyone on a bike before. There probably aren't many cyclists in Southern Arkansas. I really can tell my cardiovascular system has been compromised during this layoff with my knee. I changed my saddle back to the new Selle An-atomica. It was slick and I probably need to adjust the nose down slightly. It wasn't perfectly comfortable, but I guess it needs to be broken in now.

The roads were pretty decent for the most part - various degrees of chip seal with some smooth or old pavement mixed in. Normally the road surface changed at the county lines. I was on 79 and 82 some. The shoulders were pretty wide in most places. Just past Waldo however, the shoulder on 82 was very rough chip seal and the road was pristine black top. I fixed my mirror to see the traffic behind me and rode directly on 82 only getting on the shoulder when cars were approaching from behind. When I entered the next county, the shoulder changed to smooth pavement and made the trip much easier and safer.

I started back to spin class on Tuesday and on Wednesday I tried out the spin bikes at Northeast. I liked them, but the women's locker room is still disgusting. I will stick with the crappy bikes at Lakeland instead. I also rode the South Trace on Wednesday night. I switched saddles to the Lady Gel Flow from Selle Italia. It is the newer version of my old saddle that had worn out before I got the Selle An-atomica. I hated it to. It felt like I was sitting on a brick.

My knee and quads felt very fatigued. I probably over did it doing 2 spin classes and riding the trace within 2 days. Mark looked at the knee and pronounced it okay. He said as it starts showing up on rides to get off the bike and stretch.

Went in to see Josh on Friday to get re-fit on the bike. Sammy helped me instead. He was really good. I told him how uncomfortable the Selle Italia was and that I thought my sit bones were coming off of the seat. He suggested the ugliest bike seat I have ever laid my eyes on. It is much wider that the others I have tried and has more cushion. Within 2 seconds, the seat felt comfortable.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Mineral Wells 400k

I had intended on doing ride reports for all of my rides this year, but have failed to do so. However, after almost completing the Mineral Wells 400k this weekend, I hope to start doing my ride reports regularly.

David and I drove over to Mineral Wells on Friday May 25th. It was a very uneventful drive and we arrived at the Executive Inn sometime after 6:30. We walked over to Baris' Restaurant where a birthday party for Pam was already underway. We sat next to Brannon Oats, a Houston Randonneur who completed over 10,000 km in brevets last year. We also sat near Edward (1000km) and Pat Nolan (Monkey Club). During the evening we also formerly met Rani and Jorge. Dennis (San Angelo) and Jeremy (son-in-law) came in sometime later.

Sharon Stevens stopped by our motel room later that evening. She had a small gift to celebrate our one year anniversary of randonneuring. She did her first 200k last year at Mineral Wells just like I did. She has gone on to become a Super Randonneur last year and this year. She was excited to tell me that she was doing the 1000 this weekend to celebrate. I was really happy for her.

David and I finished getting everything ready for the next day. I prepared maps for him as he was helping with SAG and then going to help me at the late controls. I was able to get to bed around 11:00 and slept very well. The rooster crowed at 5:15 and I was up at 5:30. I hoped I would be back in bed by 5:30 the next morning, but wasn't sure how the day would progress. It was raining at that moment although the forecast was for 30% chance of scattered thunderstorms. Maybe it would burn off before the 7:00 start.

Breakfast: My new tried and true 500 calorie breakfast: One toaster strudel (warmed in the microwave; I will buy a small toaster for the next ride), two pieces of turkey bacon, one bottle of V-8 and one bottle of chocolate ensure.

6:30: I headed outside. It was still raining - pretty steadily. I decided to use the fenders even though it scares me to do so. I am afraid they will start rubbing the wheel and slow me down. David was putting them on for me and discovered that since I was not using my back rack, my cateye tail lights were in the way of where the back fenders needed to be mounted. Oh well, I just wouldn't worry about it. Surely the rain would burn off and I wouldn't need them anyway.

7:00: The group of near 50 randonneurs took off in the rain. I had on a sleeveless jersey, my PAC tour jacket, PI shorts and my leg warmers. I was also sporting my wool socks (wick pretty good in the rain), shoe covers and shower cap. The shower cap became a very wonderful addition to my wardrobe and I hope to never leave home without it!

To Control 2 Pak & Sak in Lipan (38 miles): I had completed this part of the route a couple times now. So I was fairly familiar with it. 2 miles into the ride I hear a sound that reminds me of baseball cards stuck in bike spokes - not a good sound to hear. I dismount the bike and find that one of my tail lights has slipped down the seat stay and twisted into the spokes. I take the tail light off and hope I can fix it later. At mile 4, I realize I am uncomfortable and need to tighten the tension screw on my saddle - I would repeat this exercise way too many times during this ride. I also pulled off my jacket as it was only drizzling and I was a little too hot.

I was trying to eat at least 200 calories an hour. I did not keep up with what I ate very well, but I know I ate a banana on this leg and probably some apple hammer gel.

During this part of the route I rode some with Hans Rose (son Tim, we rode Cleburne together), and Angela (marathon runner and 200k cyclist). Angela and I agreed to try and do some of the Rockwall perms together later in the year. I reached the Pak & Sak at exactly 10:00 - perfectly on schedule one hour up. I met the wonderful SAG patrol, Sonny and George. They were just fantastic to everyone during this ride. Took care of business and got back on the bike by 10:10- 10:15. Pretty good time.

Control 3 Gabe's Mini Mart, Glen Rose (40.8 miles) This was the longest distance between controls and I was looking forward to getting it done as the controls would come by quicker after this one. I had also been on the biggest portion of this route on last years 200k. Jim Bronson (Thanksgiving perm in Houston), who got a late start, caught up with me and rode a couple miles with me on this stretch. He had on the greatest Texas jersey with a cow on it. I decided after riding with him, I would try to buy that jersey and start a Texas jersey collection. I already have 2. Little did I know that as he sped up (or I slowed down) on a hill, this would be the last time I would ride with anyone for the next 200 miles!

I started noticing that the Texas wildflowers were phenomenal today. Probably a dozen different varieties of black eyed susan, cone flower, thistle, blooming prickly pair, yucca. It was amazing! I don't remember what I ate on this stretch, but it was probably a pb&j, mojo bar and gel. I do know that whatever I was doing was working. I had taken 2 of everything and also had bora bora bars and paydays in my bag. I was also taking one lyte-n-go an hour.

I made it into Glen Rose and again realized I had been there before; although, I don't think I came into it just the same way and I can't remember which ride I was on when I had been there before. I found Sonny at the rest stop. I was still doing good, but pulled it at 1:37 and wanted to be there at 1:30. I was up approximately 1.75 hrs. I grabbed a V-8 and took care of business. I probably stayed a little too long as I don't know when I left. I need to get better at getting in and out of controls.

Control 4 Meridian, (24.5 miles) I mentioned to Sonny that I was looking forward to the next stretch - only 24 miles! He informed me that this would probably be my least favorite stretch. The main road would be busy, hilly and was paved with the worst chip seal ever. Little did I know how right he would be. I started out and was in a really good mood. Chip seal never hurt anyone, right! The sun had finally come out and it was getting hot. I also noticed the head wind more on this stretch than any other time. The wind was not awful, but I could tell I was pressing into it. Before long I was on the worst chip seal I have ever ridden on. It was really large chunks of rock pressed into tar. My average speed dropped dramatically - I was probably only doing 6-8 mph on this particular 12 mile stretch. It also had some long uphill stretches and my speed dropped to 2-4 mph - UGH. I started getting hot and realized I still had on my shower cap, wool socks, and toe covers. I stopped and took them all off and changed into dry socks. Somewhere along this stretch I started singing some song that I can't figure out, but the words I kept singing were "I'm over my head, I'm over my heeaaad, nananana". Probably not a good song to sing on a 400 k brevet. It is weird what goes through your head on these long rides.

I finally got off the worst of the chip seal in Walnut Springs. This was a really neat little town. The chip seal and wind were still around, but the chip seal wasn't as rough. It was about mile 90 when I realized my knee and saddle were bothering me. I tightened the tension screw again and kept pedaling.

After what seemed like forever, I rolled into Meridian and met George at the Exxon at 4:40. I went from being 10 minutes behind schedule to being 1hr 10 minutes behind schedule on a 24 mile route! That chip seal sucked! I was still up approximately 1 hr 25 minutes on the closing time, but definitely was not putting time in the bank like I should. 10:00 am Sunday really seemed like a long time away, so I was not panicking, but maybe I should have. I bought a v-8, vitamin water, and lunchables and casually ate while talking to George. I should not have spent this much time at the control, but I hadn't eaten anything real, so I thought I should rest a bit. It was probably 5:15 when I left Meridian. George and I looked at the clouds before I left. I told him I was hoping to stay behind the rain. It looked pretty clear towards the south(right) where I was heading, but was pretty ugly on my left (north?). I thought the weather was moving toward the left, so I wasn't concerned. Off towards Hico!

Control 5 Ranglers Store, Hico (36 miles) UGh, there was a big mountain at Meridian State Park that I had to climb out of right off the bat. Soon I found out I was wrong about the weather, too. It was moving left to right and the rain started falling and falling hard! I did not want to stop to put my rain gear on. It only took seconds and my feet were soaked anyway. I did grab the shower cap as I could put it on while riding. That was probably my best move of the day. Even with the rain this stretch would be my absolute favorite and ranks up on the all time best scenery list with California and Maine. The wild flowers were in huge abundance on this stretch and I was absolutely stunned at the beauty. I started thanking God for putting me where I was. I really am lucky that I can participate in this sport that can be so selfish since you do have to have alot of time to complete it. I am really seeing how wonderful our world is and I am blessed to be able to witness Gods glory. It is really raining hard now and I am really behind schedule. I stop at a store in Crandalls Gap and try to call David. I use the bathroom and put on my rain gear and night riding stuff. I waste way too much time at this unscheduled stop. I tell David to meet me at Hico instead of Dublin as I will probably be 2 hours behind my schedule when I get to Hico.

The next 20 miles were my absolute favorite. Not long after I got back on the road I noticed the biggest most colorful rainbow I had ever seen in my life. It was spectacular. It stretched from one side of the horizon to the other. It was perfect. I was really reflecting on that rainbow for the rest of the ride. Along the way an older gentleman was sitting on his porch and waved at me and yelled out that I was welcome to come inside and dry off. I declined, but was impressed with the hospitality.

When I finally got to Hico, I could see David and Sonny in the parking lot. I was glad to see David. I rolled in at 8:43 - 1 hr and 45 minutes behind my schedule but still up 1 hr and 15 min overall. I got a ham and cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread, but I was choking on it. I apparently don't do well with crust or whole wheat bread on brevets. I ate half of it, grabbed a banana and a v-8 instead. I asked David to see if he could find any duct tape by the next control to see if we could fix the rattle on my Ixon. I probably stayed at this control at least 30 minutes. I really need to work on my control times.

Control 6 Dublin (35.3 miles) It was definitely dark when I left Hico. And I just couldn't get my act together. I rolled out of the parking lot and realized I had forgotten to put my glow gloves on and wanted to tighten down the Ixon as much as possible. The rattle was driving my crazy and the vibration made the light virtually useless. I stopped on the side of the road at the corner of the control and started making the adjustments. David pulled up and had the tape. Until just now writing this down, I did not realize that I may have been disqualified right there. Note to self: make sure I don't leave the parking lot until all my stuff is adjusted properly. I finally took off and travelled down the road.

Somewhere on this stretch, I almost crashed. I was cycling along and I may have been looking down at my chain or something and just noticed a plastic coke bottle. I hit it and rolled over the neck of it or something, but I lost control of the bike for a minute and swerved out of control for a couple seconds. How I did not go down, I do not know.

I stopped to pee a couple times on this stretch. This was the first time I had gone in the bushes - I had made it to the controls or to other stores on the route to this point. I continued to eat whatever I had in my bag.

I rolled into Dublin at 11:20 - 2 hours and 20 minutes off my intended pace :(, but still up 1 hour. As I drove up to the control, I saw another cyclist! Yeah, I was going to have someone to ride in with! Unfortunately, that was wrong as Hans was sick and sagging home. The control was closed and I had to pee again and wanted to change clothes. I went behind the store like a homeless person and changed my sports bra and jersey. I traded the jacket for arm warmers and my vest and put on my leg warmers. I tried to eat some pasta salad, but it needed salt, which I had left in the motel. I drank a v-8 and ate a banana instead. I have no idea when I left the control, but I know I stayed too long...

Control 7 Bar B Travel (28 miles) Leaving out of Dublin, I got confused right out of the starting gate. I thought we were supposed to make 3 quick left turns - in all actuality it was only 2. I wasted a good 10-15 minutes figuring this out. A cop stopped to tell me I looked like a UFO. Good, at least I knew I was being seen! He confirmed I was on the right road and away I went!

Somewhere around here, my knee really starts hurting bad. I try to pedal differently to see if it takes any of the pressure off. Sometimes I have to grit my teeth through the pain and at other times, the pain subsides. I remember reading something recently where Lon Haldeman said to keep going if the injury would heal in two weeks. Lets hope that my knee will feel better in two weeks...

This stretch was also a good stretch. I did not know until I rolled into the control, but I had been on this stretch before on the Weatherford 200k. Night riding really became enjoyable at this point. My eyes had adjusted to the darkness/bike lighting. The night noises were entertaining. The cattle were lowing - really lowing. This is not a sound you hear them make in the daytime. Birds (bats?) were up "tweeting". You could hear the occasional owl as well. "Away in a Manger" replaced whatever the other song was in my head...

I rolled into the Bar B at 3:10 am. I am now 2 hours and 45 min off my intended time and only up 1 hour. David was asleep in the car. I hated waking him, but...
I get a V-8 and PB&J, but I don't feel like eating much and ask David to let me take a 15 minute nap. I KNOW I took too much time at this stop and probably leave only up by 15 minutes.

Control 8 Whataburger (32.5 miles) The first 20 miles of this stretch was enjoyable and I remembered it from the Weatherford 200k. I got up and over Apple Pie Hill without much of a problem. I stopped and peed and was eating stuff out of my bag. Somewhere in here I started getting a really awful taste in my mouth. I don't know what it was and it did not matter what I ate the taste lingered on my tongue. The roads were in good shape all night long. The chip seal was not a problem and the roads were painted with good reflective paint and the little square reflectors. I rode primarily right down the left side of the lane unless I saw car headlights.

I turned onto Hwy 180 with 11 miles to go to the control. I really struggled to stay awake. It was near 5 or 5:30 by now. I had been awake a full 24 hours and I could feel it. For the most part, my speed was okay, but I was fighting staying awake. I was talking to myself out loud, slapping my face and pulling my hair trying not to fall asleep. The next thing I know is that I feel myself swerve. Apparently, I had fallen asleep and jerked awake at the last moment. Somehow, I do not crash, but keep going. Finally as the sun starts rising, I turn onto Hwy 16 - 2 more miles until the control!

I roll in to the control at 6:40 - 3 hrs and 40 minutes behind my goal, but still up 35 minutes. Bill Fox is there with David and they both try to hurry me up. I did sit down and drink a Rock Star and eat a pb&j. I grab a banana for the road. David takes my front lights off the bike to lighten it a bit (ha). I am on the road at 7:00. I have 3 hours to do 32.5 miles. I can so do this!!

Control 9 Executive Inn (32.5 miles) I am full of a new alertness. I do not feel tired at all nor do I feel any body aches except my knee. It has started throbbing and I try to rest my leg on the pedals and only use my right leg, but this isn't working. I take a few more Aleve and keep going. I am probably averaging at least 15 mph on the first part of this route. I get up and over Crazy Lady Hill past the Brazos river. I love switchbacks! I stop to pee and get back on the bike again. Within a minute, I feel something funny - my back tire has gone flat! Oh crap! I lean the bike against a barbed wire fence and decide to just try and pump the tire up - maybe it was just a slow leak - I had been riding it for 24 hours, ya know. I took the pump off the bike and connected it to the valve and pushed. All of a sudden a large squirt of water shot out of the pump or the tire or who the 'ell knows? I was too tired to care. Not really knowing the best course of action, I decided to go ahead and change the tire. I looked at the tire itself before pulling the tube out and thought I saw a new gash. I was able to find a small thorn on the inside of the tire. I pulled it out and proceeded with the changing. I probably did alot of stuff inefficiently at this point. Finally, I got the tire fixed and aired up and went to put it back on the bike. At this point I realize that somehow I have gotten a long length of barbed wire tangled around my bike. How did this happen? Was it like a snake, intertwining itself around the spokes and pedals? Was the fence taking my bike hostage? All I knew was that the barbs were sharp and it was costing me time and energy. I finally got my bike free and was back on the road. I don't remember the exact time, but I do remember I was about 15 miles from the finish with a little over an hour to get it done. If I time trialed it, I could still finish in time. Little did I know what was coming up.

I made the turn on the 2nd to last road SR337. I had been pushing as hard as I could. My energy was waning after the long tire changing stop. My knee was screaming. It hurt more than child birth at this point, but I just tried to push it out of my mind. Unfortunately, the turn onto 377 was into the wind. It wasn't horrible, but it was definately going to hurt my time trialling fast speed. Somewhere in here I noticed, I had 45 minutes to finish 11 miles. Could I do it? As I watch the speedometer drop from 17 mph to 15 to 10 mph, I really start to panic. I top the crest of a small hill and disappointment spreads all over my body. It is the first of the 3 Amigos.

The Lonestar Randos name their hills - all of them! I had ridden Cherry Pie, Apple Pie, Crazy Lady, Dinosaur and I know I am leaving several more named hills out. I had heard of the 3 Amigos, but thought I had already conquered them. I thought they were before the Brazos. And it wasn't until later that I realized that it was the 3 Amigos that were staring me down daring me to cross over them.

I really struggle on the 1st Amigo. I knew if I stayed on the bike I could probably go 2 mph more than if I walked, so I kept heading up the #$%^ hill. I haven't really started cussing it, but I should have. I just did not have the energy anymore. I was so hoping that it would be all down hill after cresting this one. As I pull up and over the top, all I see was another @#$^$#$# hill - no, it was a freeking mountain. Maybe I was seeing things, maybe I was halucenating! It wasn't long before my legs and knee told me it was not a halucenation, but it was actually a living nightmare. At one point on one of these two hills, I notice my watch and realize I have gone 250 miles and it was 9:53 am. I had unoffically ridden a 400k. I just had 7 more miles to go and 7 more minutes to do it in (time trial my a$$). Okay, one more time, maybe just maybe it would all be down hill from there. I crest Amigo #2 and see the 3rd %$&%&% Amigo. My spirit is officially crushed. I haven't started crying, but I knew I was done. My knee hurt, my pride hurt, my butt hurt, I was tired. It is past 10:00 now and I can't do it anymore. I don't care if I walk 2 mph slower than I can pedal up hill, I can't crank it one more turn. My cell phone had died some hour ago or I would have already called David to come pick me up. I trudge up the hill wondering if I will ever make it to the top. Soon, I see a familiar truck - it is Bill Fox, coming to rescue me. He said he was afraid I would be here. He asked if I wanted to ride on in or get a lift. I took the lift without question. He ferried me to the motel and disappointed faces met me. I knew I should be proud of my accomplishment, but I was still disappointed. I tried to stay positive - I did ride 252.4 miles! I thanked Bill for his help and he gave me some advice (don't stay at the controls so long hahahahaha). I hugged and kissed David and then I went on into the motel room and fell asleep at the end of the bed. I did not even change clothes.

RECAP - I am proud of my accomplishment. There is more to randonneuring than the $10 medal and the mileage points! There were a lot of "what if this hadn't happened". I got close. I am better than I was last year and I can complete a 400 in the future.

The Good:
1. I stayed positive the whole ride and never went mental
2. I ate the right food and never bonked
3. With the exception of the knee, I did not hurt anywhere
4. With the exception of the knee, I recovered remarkably fast
5. I only slept a total of 2 hours Sunday afternoon and was up and awake the rest of the day
6. I realized how many people were pulling for me - this is remarkable!
7. My husband is wonderful - I already knew this, but I just wanted to list it anyway!

Could use improvement:
1. Speed - I am a Slow Spoke for a reason - need to start more intervals
2. Control times - must get shorter. I need to plan them better
3. No unneccesary stops. The time at Crandalls Gap may have been all I needed to have finished. 4. Practice taking time off of changing a tire

Well, as I am writing this, I know that as long as my knee allows it, I plan on attempting the 600 k in Florida in July. Here is hoping for tail winds in all directions, cool weather, good lights and strong tires!

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Musings from a Mississippian's First Cold 200K

1. I have a deep respect for all randonneurs who regularly ride in cold weather and think that 38 degrees is a comfortable temperature.
2. Remind myself not to complain and wish for cold when the temperature is 98 with 100% humidity. At least you are not lashing additional clothing to the bike.
3. If your teeth are not chattering in the parking lot before the ride – you are overdressed. However, don’t leave your cold weather gear in the back of the car. See #4.
4. 38 degrees at the beginning of a 200k and 38 degrees at the end of a 200k are two entirely different temperatures.
5. Wind chill – figure out what it means and how to dress for it!
6. Wind burn – how is this the same as sun burn and how do you prevent/recover from it?
7. It is more difficult to find an adequate bio stop on a winter ride as all the leaves from the trees and bushes are gone – much easier to moon someone.
8. Still have hydration issues. Never felt dehydrated but had to find way too many places for bio stops. See 7 above.
9. Hammer gel at 38 degrees and Hammer gel at 98 degrees are not the same product. How many additional calories do you burn trying to suck the thick gel from the flask?
10. Saddle sores/hot foot don’t happen on winter rides – your feet and butt are too numb to feel the pain.
11. At what temperature can you get frostbite and gangrene?
12. Is your heart rate typically lower on colder rides – mine stayed about 10 beats below a normal summer rate.
13. Yes, you can wear Gore-tex in Mississippi without having heat stroke. Finally got to wear my jacket more than 5 minutes.
14. See #1 above – how do they ride in the cold rain and snow? Not looking forward to my first cold and wet ride.
15. The sense of accomplishment finishing a 38 degree 200 k is the same wonderful feeling of finishing the 98 degree 200k.

Happy New Year and Happy Randonneuring to All.