Sunday, March 29, 2009

Natchez Trace 300k - a lot of work to be done

I held the Natchez Trace 300k yesterday. Alan and John from Memphis and Pat and Steve drove down/up for the ride. Actually, Pat drove down Thursday and rode my Roosevelt Rough Rider 200k Perm. He is on a major K tear. His goal is to get 10,000 k this year and he will be 1/3 of the way through by the end of April.

Anyway, Friday night we were all watching the weather closely. We were having major tornadic storms all over the state. Steve got a real late start and got mixed up in the mess having to drive 30 mph on parts of I55. We could not figure out what the weather was going to do for Saturday. It looked like lows in the low 50s and highs in the low 60s and windy. Some forecasts called for rain and others indicated that it would be over in the early am. Knowing that there was a good chance for rain, I bought a Showers Pass rain jacket hoping that I would not need it.

The wake up call was for 4:30 and at 5:00 the temp was already 59. If I wore my wool, I would burn up so I unpacked my ss jersey and arm warmers and put them on. At this point, it looked like the day would be sunny and warm, but it would cool down after dark. I added my wool underlayer, tights, gloves, extra socks and chemical hand/foot warmers to my bag. 5:45 it starts to rain - ugh. We stand around and debate if we should start or see if it will pass. It is still raining at 6:15 and we pull out anyway. At least I would get to use my new rain jacket. We opt to take the bike trail up to the trace instead of walk through the field. At the left turn on Agency Way a possum runs out and I almost hit him - not sure how I missed him actually. We accessed the Trace at the bridge and were on our way. The first two miles are little rollers that help you get warmed up and I get hot fast! I feel like I am cooking and I know I am sweating in the rain jacket. I remembered that they recommend releasing the wrist velcro so that air can funnel through the arms of the jacket and back out the venting in the back of the jacket. It worked perfectly. I was instantly cooled. Looks like this jacket is worth the $ I paid for it.

It continued raining for about an hour - not hard, just a slow steady rain. Once it stopped it warmed up really fast. I was riding very well and felt great. I was having problems pacing behind anyone as the rooster tails would hit me in the face. I felt like I was getting wetter from the rooster tails than from the earlier rain. Regardless we were making great time. We passed up Ratliff Ferry and opted to get bathroom water if necessary on the way back.

The Trace was absolutely beautiful. The dogwoods were in full bloom the whole 90 miles to Jeff Busby. Everything was greening up, there were still a few red buds blooming and a few patches of wisteria putting out the most glorious aroma. These are things you can't enjoy from a car. At one point a funny looking bird flew out of the trees. I got a real good look at him to see that he was an owl. You don't get to see owls very often. With all of the rain we had this past week, the brooks that usually run dry in the summer were all full and flowing. You could even hear some of them trickling.

John and Alan were riding ahead of Steve, Pat and I. When the inclines started near Kosy, I was dropped and rode into town by myself. I knew Pat and Steve would eat at Subway and I was going to just stick with Hammer products so I opted to go to Parkway Pure. John and Alan were still there, so I felt good that I was only 10 minutes behind them. I was up 1.5 hours at that control. I am pretty sure that this is the fastest I have ever ridden the 60 miles. My batteries in my GPS had crapped out and I did not feel like stopping and changing them out, so the last reading I had before I lost power was 15.5 mph. I fixed my perpetuem and ate a Hammer bar and left just after 11:00. The next few miles I started feeling really bad. I became nauseated and extremely tired. I caught myself drifting all over the place. I could not stay awake. I pulled over on a bridge to take a caffeine pill. Steve and Pat were riding up as I attempted to take the pill. I told them how I felt and tried to swallow the pill. That was not going to happen. I choked on the pill and spit it up. At that point I could tell I was not going to keep anything else down. I walked to the edge of the embankment and hurled. Everything I had in my stomach came up. I tried to keep it off my shoes. The weird thing was that as soon as I puked, I felt alert and ready to go. We debated for all of 3 minutes whether I should continue to Jeff Busby or go home. I probably should have gone home, but I continued. I actually felt good. Although I ended up slowing down on the hills, I don't think the hurling effected me to any great extent. Maybe I was more sluggish, but I don't really know.

The slow inclines are prevalent on this part of the Trace. The hill slug that I am just could not hang with the guys. Now that I had stomach issues, I was afraid to eat or drink much for fear it would happen again. I am guessing that the issues may have been caused by my hammer bar, but I have eaten one on the last 3-4 long rides without any problems at all. I was riding pretty slow, but the guys had stopped for me just before French Camp and we decided to wait and stop on the way back. From French Camp to Jeff Busby is only about 13 miles, but it gets really hilly here. Last time through, I had to walk the hill at mile 90 and Lil Mtn. Both hills are over 200 ft elevation gain. The hill at mile 90 is really not that bad. It is longer that Lil Mtn, which is much shorter and steeper. I have never gotten up Lil Mtn on the recumbent and was hoping to do so today. When I got to Jeff Busby, I could not see the guys so I figured they were already atop Lil Mtn. so I started straight up. There were people walking up the hill and I was gaining on them, so I was able to pedal faster than they could walk. This is comforting to me. I actually make it up to the "switch" (not really a switch back) on the mtn. This is the farthest I have made it on the recumbent. So now up to the really steep part. I am determined to make it up. I am noticing how much windier it is up on the mtn. It is very noticeable since I was in my granny granny and only going 3.3 mph. At that moment a car starts down the mtn. I am not afraid of it, but it does cause me to lose my concentration. I am still pedalling ever so slow. Just after the car, a Sheriffs car, passes a big gust of wind hits me and bloop over I go! It was really funny. I was going so slow that it did not really hurt. Both feet were still clipped in and I was in a very awkward position. I heard a car coming and knew there was no way they could get around me and get up the hill, but it is not easy to unclip lying on your side. Fortunately, it was the sheriff. He had seen me fall in his rearview mirror and turned around to check on me. That was really nice as if I had a broken collarbone, I would have had a good escort. Once he knew I was okay, I could tell he was trying not to laugh. He did comment that he couldn't ride a bike 10 miles and asked if I would like to have him sign my brevet card. I chuckled to myself as I knew that he had talked to Steve and Pat. I walked the last little way up the hill to find Steve and Pat going through there stuff.

I am starving at this point. Pat has a salmonella bar - peanut butter cliff bar that the "best by" date was in early February. I am sure it is on the do not eat list, but I am starving and I was afraid I would puke my food, so I figured it wouldn't hurt if I attempted to puke his too. It is actually really good and I am able to eat it and keep it down.

So, as is our fortune, someone almost always has a birthday on one of our rides and this year it is Steve. Dougie had just so happened to be able to route his way from North Carolina back to Jackson via Jeff Busby park. He wrapped a gift and hid it in an old hollow log just on the other side of the restrooms. I did know that it was there and did tell Steve about it the previous night. I know he worried for 90 miles that Doug had left him the 5lb weight (see the Mardi Gras blog). Doug of course has not been around Steve and Pat long enough to become that evil and the present was along the line of Stuckeys crap. As I recall, the gift was funny looking sun glasses, a towel and toilet paper. I don't remember the saying on the towel or toilet paper, but it was funny! I think that Pat may have taken a picture of us on top of the Mtn. I will see if I can get a copy of it for the blog.

It was very cold and windy on top of Lil Mtn, so after I got my stuff together, we took off down the mtn. The hill at mile 190 is much longer but much less steep than the other side. It actually starts from mile 192 ish and ends at 190 or so. I have never had to walk this hill, but I am very slow. I had averaged 11.5 from Kosy to JB, so I was hoping to speed up on the way back. I kept reminding myself that it was "downhill" from there and technically it was, but there sure seemed to be way more inclines on the way back than I remembered on the way to JB. The guys would pull ahead and turn around and circle back to get me. I got really lucky with this as at one point I was still just behind Pat when I could tell my front tire went flat. I had always wondered how I would tell if I had a flat on the front and it is very obvious. I was perturbed that I had a flat because my tires had less than 300 miles on them and should not even have a nick yet. Pat came around and made a very fast tire change. I got "lucky" as the flat was pinched and not a puncture. I guarantee that Pat had my tire changed in less than 10 minutes. So we were back out on the road again. The pattern would continue, I would hang on as long as I could (not long), the guys would get ahead, they would then turn around and come pick me up. At some point along the way before French Camp, I took another salmonella bar. I ate it up real fast w/o throwing up. It kept me fed until close to Kosy. So, we actually did this ride only stopping at Kosy both ways and Jeff Busby. Had I we stopped at all the normal stops, we would have never made it home before daylight Sunday. I would love to know our off the bike time as I guess it was less than an hour.

We pull into Kosy and somehow I make it into Parkway Pure before Pat and Steve. I go for the fried burrito. I could not wait - there were two left and I was getting one of them. I ate one of these on the 400k in 2007 and it was the best crappy burrito I had ever eaten. I am so starved that I wolf this one down. I decide to buy some nutter butters and rice crispy treats for the ride home. I am still concerned about puking my hammer stuff. I really don't think the hammer stuff caused me to be sick, but I wasn't taking any chances. At this point, we were still 1.5 hours up. I had not lost or gained any time for the last 100k. I only averaged 11.5 mph, but with only a little time off the bike, we still were not down any time. Hopefully, I could speed up some on the way home.

Well as luck would have it, I did not speed up. One of my problems was that I remembered one of the two reasons I like to drink Hammer products on the bike. I can't eat and ride at the same time. I have to slow down to fish a cookie from my pouch and then eat it. This just won't work for me. I know that I will have to work harder to figure out exactly what Hammer combinations I need, but I just can't eat solid food and ride at the same time. I can see eating real food on occasions, but not in between controls. So, as I mentioned at the beginning of the blog, Pat is trying to become a K hound (see Lone Star Ranndonneurs). And as any good randonneur that rides with their slower counterpart, panic, well maybe not panic, but certainly stress crept into his voice. He reminded me several times that we might not make it at our current rate of 10 mph. I just could not speed up. I was hungry and I don't like eating or drinking anything when someone rides behind me at night (neurotic, I know). So knowing that my goal is not to be a K hound this year, my goal is to get faster and stronger, I did not have any qualms stopping and DNFing the ride. I decided to call David to come pick me up at Red Dog road - 40 miles from home. The guys still had 5 hours to complete 40 miles - very doable without me. However, Davids phone decided not to work. After calling him for several minutes and just getting voice mail, and since it was very cold off the bike, I decided to call mom and dad as they were only 10 minutes away. I send Pat and Steve on their much faster way!

Imagine getting a phone call from your daughter who is on a bike on the Natchez Trace at 9 pm at night! I know they think they switched me at birth with some sane child. What a boring life they would have had with their real baby! I asked mom to come sit with me until I could get ahold of David. Well, even though my parents have lived off the Trace for some 20 years, apparently they are not familiar AT ALL with the north Trace and the mile marker they access the Trace from. Of course, if I was not a cyclist, I probably would not know that I live on mile marker 100 either (exactly .7 miles off mile marker 100). I knew that I was 5 miles from the highway 16 exit at the Red Dog Road pull off. Well, my parents thought I was in a dangerous part of town near Thomastown, some 20 miles further north. Dad freaks that I am out here all alone, blah blah and I try to humor him because it is REALLY cold when not riding. So he agrees to come get me and I get back on the bike and ride towards him to keep warm. In no time at all he is calling me asking if a car with funny lights just passed me. I tell him I have no idea, but a car did pass. Well, what he was seeing was Steve and Pat. They really do look like a car when they are riding abreast, but it really freaks you out when Steve drops behind Pat. I think Dad calmed down when he realized that the funny car was the two guys. You can really see us at night. So moments later Dad and I were attempting to load my bike into his SUV. This is really funny. The whole day is really funny. Rain, puke, falling over, flat tire, Davids phone on the fritz and being rescued by my Dad. It really was funny. So, Dad gets me a hamburger from Wendys and we make it "home". I think mom is really pleased to have me over. We talk about everything until 1:30. It is really good to have time to talk to her. I don't remember the last time we had any alone time. Now that Aidan is around, we always have family time.

I try every so often to get David to no avail. At 1:00 I call and get Pat and they had just gotten in. He wakes up David and I get to tell him everything that had happened. He had not gotten any of my text updates or phone calls all day. We make arrangements to meet at the Dollar General on Hwy 25 at 10:30 in the morning. I should have ridden the 50 miles home, but I was tired and my knees were sore.

So, I have a lot of work to do. Since my last blog, I was able to make arrangements with Michelle Grainger to be my coach. I will blog more about that later. So hopefully by September, I can do this 300k at 17 mph. That may be a long shot, but I do hope to be able to do it in less than 16 hours. We will see how it goes...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday March 22 Goals for the Week

Goals for the week:

Continue to record meals in Livestrong
Workout Tues-Thurs
No cake type products
In bed no later than 10 3 nights this week

Things to look forward to:

Should drop into 160s this week
Possible perm weekend May 29-31 I wonder if there is a way for me to stretch it further?
PAC Tour 2010

Things I need to work on:

Speed and hills
Program for improving - coaching may be out for a while

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Cavalier Hill Repeats - March 21, 2009

Woke up this am to my alarm at 6. I felt pretty rested. Dianne was coming over at 8 to do hill repeats. I know that my two main weaknesses are hills, speed, and headwinds -okay that is three weaknesses. I can ride in a flat pace line and downhill pretty good.

I did not get my stuff together the night before like I should have, so I was unorganized when Dianne showed up. It was probably 50 degrees when we left the house at 8:30. I am having trouble deciding what to wear most days. I get messed up going between sunny and 50 and cloudy and 50 as they are two entirely different temperatures. I ended up with a ss jersey, arm warmers, buff, leg warmers, normal socks and my PAC tour jacket. By the time I got to Livingston, I took off the jacket and buff.

We decided to go down Cavalier, past the church and turn around at the stop sign at Coker Rd to get the steep hill at the church. Going to the stop sign is good rollers that are very easy for me, but Dianne mentioned that the hill at the church on the way back can be challenging and I agreed that it would be good to work on too. On the way down Cavalier I noticed that we had a good tailwind and I was able to get up to 41.6 mph. It amazes me how comfortable and at ease I am going that fast on the bent. I guess it is because my center of gravity is so much lower. On the way back from the stop sign, I am able to spin up the hill at the church with ease. It was early in the ride and my form is coming back. I was behind Dianne getting to the foot of Cavalier and I really wanted to push hard going up the first time, but knew that Dianne would most likely be faster than me at the mid point, so I touched my brakes and just followed her. And, she did out climb me as the hill pitched up mid way to the top. I just don't know why I fall back so on hills. I guess that is why I am out here working on them. At the apex, Dianne stops and looks like she is heaving. She still had on her jacket and started getting to hot so she stopped to calm down. She amazingly was able to hop back on her bike and ride to the fire station. She shed all her layers at that point and was ready to go. I don't think I had to go into my granny-granny gear the first time. We casually cycled back to the top of Cavalier and back down. This time I noticed that I was only able to get to 39.? mph. We turned around at the bottom of the hill and took a bio break before starting up again. When it was all said and done, we went up the hill 5 separate times - 2 more than we had ever done in one day. I had to go into granny-granny each of the next climbs, but had a good cadence and control over the bike. My hill climbing handling skills are so much better. I am not getting panicked like I was in the past when I am climbing while a car passes. The last 3 times down Cavalier I tried to see how fast I could go, but could get no faster than 41.5.

Unfortunately, we both had afternoon commitments and need to be back at the house between 11 and 11:30. I think I could have easily ridden up Cavalier at least 2-3 more times. My hips were starting to burn as I climbed, but it was not awful. Maybe we can push 10 times later. We really had an advantage in the weather though as the temp was probably in the low 60s with at mild wind. Cavalier will be a lot harder when it is hotter.

So, I drank most of a 3 SE+1H bottle and a shot of expresso gel. I did use my whey w/a green smoothie for recovery. We only ended up doing 26 miles, but this puts me at 801 miles for the year. Next weekend I should pass my 2008 total!

Next weekend is my 300 k to Jeff Busby. It should be a challenge. I would like to complete it in less than 18 hours. I am hoping that even though the route is more challenging than Pat's route that I will be better prepared and 5-6 lbs lighter. Cross fingers for good weather.

Thoughts on rides in April:

4/4 - Shiloh hill repeats?
4/11 - Vicksburg Military Park or Morton 200k
4/18 - Vicksburg Military Park if I did not do it the previous weekend
4/25 - Natchez Trace 400k - this will probably be the only 400 I do this year as I really want to concentrate on the 300 k and speed work. The faster I get the less I have to worry about riding at night.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Ride South Signiture Ride - Pre Ride - March 14

It rained all day Saturday. The forecast for Sunday was not much better. Depending upon which station you looked at rain was predicted early morning for Jackson and all afternoon for H'burg. I was not looking forward to riding in the rain, but only Dianne bowed out.

I drove to Jim's at 7:00 for an 8:00 start. Jim was not there when I arrived so I started getting ready in a light mist. I had on a short sleeve jersey, leg warmers and Davids rain jacket. I was pretty cold and I was guessing it would not warm up very fast so I decided to add my wool undershirt. It was probably 48 degress at this time. Jim still had not shown up and I thought about calling him and going home. Little did I know, he was doing the same thing. I am glad we did not call each other as the day would improve later in the afternoon. Jim showed up just before 8 and we left at 8:10. Doug was going to meet us at the Home Depot on the route. His wife drove his truck to H'burg so we would have a way to get home, so he did not have a vehicle.

This was a new route for me and the first new route that I had been on since last September. Interestingly, the Sept route was with Doug and Jim to Natchez. I had a cue sheet but would only refer to it once or twice since I was riding with Jim and Doug. I quickly realized that the wool undershirt was too much, but could not do anything about it. I was staying up w/Jim pretty good for the first few miles until we hit a long incline. I thought I was going to die. I was burning up and sweating - not good for 48 degrees. I stopped and pulled off David's jacket. Now, I was too cold, but since I don't normally ride with Jim, I wasn't going to mess around with different layers. We pick up Doug on his Giro about 10 miles into the ride at the Home Depot. He is waiting for us just off of the street and so we don't stop in the parking lot to adjust clothing.

The traffic is heavier in this area - as I thought it would be. Jim will have a police escort when they do this ride at the end of the month. I don't know how comfortable I would be riding alone here on a Saturday. There is some church traffic, but I think it is lighter that what we would see on a Saturday. Fortunately, the first rest stop is at about mile 15. I was able to stop for a bio and adjust clothes. I have a hard time all day being comfortable. I do not have the right combination - I am either uncomfortably cold or hot all day. At this point I add my vest and take off my buff and ear warmers.

Some cars really pass us close, but this stretch is pretty fun. There are a lot of rollers that allow you to pick up speed and shoot right up and over the next hill. We pick up a good bit of speed here are are averaging close to 15 mph at the next stop. Doug and Jim eat a biscuit and I grab a drag of gel. This stop is in Florence. I am pretty sure that I had been here several times before - the Casting Crowns concert and taking Meagan to see Daniel - I wondered if we would ride by his old house. After a while, we do ride right past the house! Not long after that we would turn into the hilly part of the ride. We have a really long hill up to a rest stop at a church. It is a winding climbing hill, not too steep, but pretty long. I am able to get into a good rhythem and although slow, I don't have a problem getting up it. The stretch to the next rest stop is just a few miles. The guys have figured out that the store on the route is closed for good, so we stop accross at a church and Jim inquires if we can stop for water and restrooms there in the future.

I did not realize it at the time, but we have 20 or more miles before we can get water now - I will probably be really low by the time we reach the next stop, but I don't worry about it. My speed drops considerably at this point. The hills are pretty constant. Doug warns me that we have a real steep hill coming up. Complicating the hill is the fact that right below it is a small wood plank bridge. So as you are coming down the hill in front of it you have to make sure you hit the plank right or you will be tossed. So, picking up speed on the preceeding downhill is not wise. Matter of fact, Doug said to make sure we were in our granny gear as we hit the bottom. He was so right. I really worried about this bridge and hill for a few miles. In all actuallity, the bridge is plenty wide as to not be too scary when crossing it. The first part of the hill is really steep - probably more than Shiloh. I got lucky and was in the right gear when I hit it making the hill much easier than I thought it would be. However, this was just the begining - the hill is really 4 hills - similar to yogi hill. It was pretty challenging by the time we hit the apex. I did not have to walk, but I was as slow as Christmas. The guys laughed at me since I said it was easier than I had imagined. I really did enjoy this section a lot.

We stopped in New Hebron for the next rest stop at a grocery store. I bought a full gallon of water and filled up all my bottles. By this time I was finally getting comfortable. The sun was peaking out from the clouds on occasion, but I don't think the temp ever got as high as predicted.
Since we had passed the "bad hill" I thought the worst of the hills were gone. Alas, I was wrong. The road leading out of New Hebron to Prentiss was very hilly. Long 2% hills with decent traffic. I really slowed down here. The hills persisted until about 5 miles before Prentiss and then they were rollers with more of a downhill than uphill.

Finally, we reached the Long Leaf. I knew though that the first 5-7 miles were a long slow grade. I was only averaging 8 mph or so at this point. We had averaged 13 to Prentiss. What a hill slug. The guys were waiting on me at Carson and I was able to stay with them more on this stretch to Sumrall.

New Orleans 300k March 7

Dianne and I left work after 5 to head to Pats. I picked her up and we got a little later start than I would have liked.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Harder to blog than I thought

I have been trying to get online to catch up on my blog. I want to blog at least once a week. I am still so undisciplined that it my take a while. It is difficult to do everything I need/want to do on a daily basis.

I have really made up my mind to do the Elite PAC tour next June. I have 15 months to train. I am pretty sure that with hard work and determination that I can do it. I will really have to be strict though. I am starting with my food intake. February 24th, I started logging my food on's daily plate. This is a really neat site. I have not had an opportunity to play on the site much, just log in my food. I am attempting to lose 1.5 lbs a week and eat healthy. It has taken a week, but I can tell logging my food has helped. I am trying not to cheat by not logging something in. It is amazing though where my calories are. I eat more calories daily from either peanut butter or salad dressing. I don't think I can give up my pb yet, but I will try to make better decisions on the dressing.

Food goals:
No fast food - hamburgers, fries - I am going to examine salads on a day to day basis. Big fast food salads are "healthy" but they are loaded w/calories. The Zaxbys salad I like has 480 calories without counting the dressing. The Sherry vinaigrette on Newks salads has a ton of calories.
I want to match my calories with my workouts. Today I just stretched - 50 whopping calories, plus I may have to go out to eat, so I am trying to keep it small. Yesterday I burned 600+ so I ate a little more.
No packaged sweets - cupcakes cookies gas station crap.

Wow, I started using Race Caps Supreme two weeks ago. Boy can I tell a difference. I take one on non workout days and 2 pre workout and 1 post work out on regular work out days. I will take 2 pre long ride and 1 per hour during long rides. The other Hammer products work so well for me. I am also starting Appestat today. It is an appetite suppressant. I may not really need it, but I am going to try it for a while.

Saturday Feb 28 - It was a really cold and miserable day. It wasn't raining, but there was a fine wet mist in the air. I decided to ride up to River Bend to get 50 miles in and push my yearly total to 600 miles. Remember, my pump did not work last weekend for Steve. Well, it did not work for me either! As I pulled out of River Bend I noticed that the tail wind wasn't with me like I thought it should be. And as last week, my legs felt heavy. Of course, the first thing I wanted to sluff it off on was a flat tire. Knowing it wasn't a flat tire I just kept trudging along. About two miles later, I decided to stop and assure myself that it wasn't a flat. I was extremely surprised when I reached down and realized my tire really was flat! Well, of course, my pump would not work and I was stranded. Fortunately, I was able to get ahold of Dianne and she came and rescued me! I was pissed that I did not get my miles in. I ended up with only 582 for the year so far.