Yesterday I bagged my 11th ride of my 2nd R-12. An R-12 is an award that can be earned by riding 12 consecutive 200 k (or longer) rides - one each month for 12 months. I earned my first one in 2007. I had a couple difficult rides earning it as I was much slower in 2007. I started this R-12 in February. I really had no intention on earning another one as some months you just don't have time to get a 200k ride scheduled. This year, however, it has been incidental. Up until this month I had already planned on doing one or more 200k rides anyway. So as December approached I had to decide if I was going to keep it going. Since I have already completed 10 and I know I will ride at least one 200 in January, I decided to finish the task.
So last Saturday, I was going to ride the ride to get the monkey off my back. With Christmas and the Wedding, I did not know when I would be able to ride if I did not get it done that first weekend of December. Alas, it SNOWED!! Snow is rare in Mississippi, but we got it Friday night and early Saturday morning. Needless to say I did not ride. The snow was virtually gone by 12, but I did not know the road conditions and there is no need to ride in suspect conditions and break a hip 7 months before my big ride.
Looking at the forecast showed a dismal day coming for Saturday. Highs in the 40s and a 90% chance of rain = yucky! I started worrying about this dumb ride. I knew that riding it the weekend before or after Christmas/the wedding was most likely out of the question leaving Dec 31 as my last option. Boy, that was pushing the envelope a tad bit. So, was doing it Friday an option? The forecast showed a 20% chance of rain most likely starting after 6 pm and lows in the mid 30s and highs in the mid 40s. I live in the south for a reason - those temps are cold and I don't like cold!
Thursday, I posted the fact that I was going to try and ride Friday and what to my wondering eyes should appear, but an email from Dougie saying that he would be there!! We knew it would be cold and there was a chance that I would have to work. We decided to let that be our decision. If I did not have to work, we would brave the cold and get the 200 done. As it turned out, I did not have to work and thus we were riding. Twice that night, I almost texted Doug to back out. It was going to be so cold. David surprisingly told me not to ride. But I would think of all my friends in Dallas and my coach in Colorado. 40s would be very acceptable temps to them. So I but my big girl long johns on and stopped whining.
It was 38 when I woke up. Warmer than the 32 I thought it would be. I still hoped that Doug would call and bail so I could crawl back in bed. Alas, he did not. I decided to wear two wool jerseys, my thermal tights, wind proof gloves, one pair of wool socks, ear headband, shoe covers and my neck buff and of course my Showers Pass jacket.
We left the house at about 6:10. It really wasn't as cold as I thought it would be, matter of fact, I had to stop 7 miles from the house to take off my under layer of wool as I was sweating. We did have a headwind that I was fighting and my heart rate was staying well above normal in the 160-170 range. My legs were really heavy feeling as I have been working on intense intervals and weights the last two weeks. It was obvious that I would not be able to hold an average pace above 15 mph today.
Doug needed to stop at Ratliff Ferry to get fluids. I took the stop to adjust my layers. I needed more than just one wool layer, so I decided to try my silk underlayer with the wool to see if it would wick better than the wool under layer. I also added a second pair of socks with a chemical hand warmer for my feet. One of the bad things about riding recumbents is that your feet are out in the elements leading your body through the cold air. The cleat feels like it is searing your foot with cold. Even though I had on my heavy booties over my shoes my feet were freezing and numb. I took way too much time at this stop, but it was probably good as I got my layers perfect this time.
Leaving Ratliff Ferry the temp felt much cooler. My bike computer said it had dropped to 35. I am guessing the wind had picked up too. Even Doug said it was tough when we came to the clearing and the wind ripped through us. My legs were burning and I really was glad Doug was with me as I knew that I was going faster riding with him than if I had ridden alone. About 10 miles or so up the road I realized that I was really comfortable. My layers were now perfect. I was really amazed to be riding in 30-40 degree weather as comfortable as 70. I am so glad I decided to get out of bed and ride.
We made it to Kosciusko in 5 hours. A little slower than what we predicted, but with the wind and the sluggishness of my legs, that was not a bad time. Plus we were going to have a tailwind coming back (ha!). We stayed in Kosy for 30 min or so. I decided to eat, so that took a little more time than I would have liked. Plus I spilled my water when adding it to my hydropack. We got stopped by a funeral procession on the way out of town and I noticed that there was no tailwind. It changed to a shear crosswind. ARGH!
So, we diligently and efficiently rode home. I did not drink as much, deliberately, as I think I drink too much which makes me have to pee too often. We did have moments of tailwind although they were not as strong and prevalent as I had hoped. I think we only stopped briefly 3 times. One of the stops I took the chemical warmers out of my shoes as my toes were burning. That was a mistake. I should have just repositioned them. I did not realize how well those things were working. Within 5 miles my feet were cold and numb again. I decided to tough it out as we only had 30 miles to go.
We opted to take the bike trail home as neither of us like heavy traffic and that last 3 miles to my house is awful. The trail probably added 5 min to the trip but it was much nicer to not have to worry about the Friday afternoon traffic.
We made it back in 10 hrs 7 min. This is 40 min faster than my previous best time! With the cold, wind, and sluggish legs, I was very pleased. I know I am getting stronger and riding with Doug will sure help me get faster.