Sunday, February 21, 2010

Knee pain messes up 300k

Well, not the best cycling day.

Pat, Matt, Doug, LeRoy and I all started my Natchez Trace Lil Mountain 300 k in very cold 30 something weather. The forecast was for the temps to reach the low 60s. The start was very cold. I guess I was thinking 60 and not 30 at the ride start!

For whatever reason, I started having knee pain behind my knee at mile 12 of what would end up being a 159 mile ride. I am guessing I have started sitting lower on my seat and thus I am closer to the pedals which would cause pain behind the knee. I am also still having problems with my q-rings. If I am riding alone, I can find a cadence that is smooth. If I try to pace someone, I pedal with a pronounced dead spot.

I made the first 60 miles in 4 hours 10 min. I had thought about turning around at that point, but since I was making really good time, I decided to keep going. The next 30 miles I cycled really strong. I could not always match Pat's accelerations, but I could catch up to him eventually. Legs, minus the knees, felt really good on the hills and I made it up Lil Mtn without a problem even with the knees singing.

The next 30 miles my knees started really hurting all over. I slowed down considerably and decided to quit at mile 126. I knew I could make it in, but I was afraid how bad my knees were going to be if I kept going. Doug and I exchanged some texts that were not well timed. I thought he was picking me up and he thought I was staying in Kosy. He did come and get me and I feel really bad about it. He and his wife were extremely gracious to get me after he had already made it home. As my knees are killing me today, I am glad I did not have to keep riding the final 30 miles.

The bright spots of the ride were seeing many blue birds and a couple turtles. There were several deer that passed between Pat and I on the way out early in the morning. It finally warmed up after about 40 miles and was really nice. I was comfortable in my patagonia underlayer and my yellow vest most of the day.

BTW, Doug and LeRoy now have the course record at 12 hrs 54 min.

I am getting concerned that I can actually accomplish riding across the US. I am glad I still have over 4 months to train.

Friday, February 19, 2010


I am an Olympics junkie. I look forward to getting home every night to watch the winter events. Same for the summer Olympics. I admire the athletes that give up normal life to train for years to attempt to be the best at their sport. Congratulations to all of the US Olympians that have achieved their dream by preforming a personal best after working their butt off to get there. I admire you.

Along that line, David and I were eating at my favorite Chinese restaurant the other night and he got this fortune in his cookie "Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up".

I am afraid I am not fast enough to be successful on my cross country trip. I am faster and stronger than last year, but I don't know if I am fast enough. Fortunately, I still have just under 5 months to continue to train. I can't give up!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What a difference a week makes!

So, after my comical Franklinton ride last weekend, I got my calendar from my coach, Michelle Grainger. She is having me ramp up to my Desert Camp next month. She is wanting me to ride a 200k+ every weekend in February. Plus, the 200k+ can't be an easy flat 200k, it needs to be pretty hilly. So, that means I need to ride either the Franklinton 200k or my Roosevelt Rough Rider this weekend. I posted the fact that I wanted to ride and the guys jumped on the chance to ride Franklinton again.

Friday night I drove to McComb to spend the night with Butch and his parents. His mom made a spectacular vegetarian chili. Saturday, we got a late start towards Franklinton arriving in the parking lot at the start time of 6:30. With Steve's help, I was able to get myself ready to roll in 15 minutes. Pat, Leroy, Butch, Steve and I pulled out ready for a great day of cycling.

The temps were 10 degrees warmer (high 40s) and I wore my wool gloves instead of my gore gloves and I wore toe covers instead of my thermal shoe booties. The rest of my layers stayed the same as last weekend. Within 3 miles, I took off my wool gloves and changed them to my PI gloves and I took off my jacket and buff. After taking the layers off I felt much better and was able to catch back up to the guys.

We rode without incident to the 40 mile point at the Dry goods store to turn into the headwind. I felt the wind was much harder to ride in this week to last week. Leroy disagreed saying that last week had more gusts. I know I was cycling harder, so maybe that was the difference. Anyway, I stopped a mile or so from the store for a bio break and all the guys passed me. With the headwind, I was never able to catch back up with them. This discouraged me. How can I ride in Arizona and across the US when I can't catch up with my friends that typically ride on the flats? I argued with myself trying not to let the fact that I had been dropped like a hot potato bother me. The guys were waiting for me at the turn, but I needed to stop for a bio break again, so I knew that I would get dropped if I did not take care of my business quickly. Alas, all but Butch passed me as I was pulling up my shorts and sprinting to the bike. The worst part of being a girl riding with guys is that I have to march into the woods to pee and they just barely pull off the road to take care of their business. This easily takes me 5 minutes longer than the guys (waaa, waaa). As Pat and Steve pass me, I yell at them and call them names that would get my mouth washed out with soap had I been caught by my parents! But calling them bad words made me laugh and I was able to continue this stretch with a smile on my face and I tried to treat that portion of the ride as a big training ride. Who needs to be pulled? I am strong enough to make it without sucking on someone elses wheel!

We got to Nick's grocery and once again I hurried to get my stuff together before the guys left. It was getting colder so I put my buff and vest on before heading out with Pat. I kept up with him for the most part until we hit the Gillsburg Church and turned out of the wind. I needed to pee again, so I did not wait on the guys at the info control. This time only Leroy passed me as I was taking care of business. Eventually the guys did catch up and we rode together to Kentwood and for the most part, we rode the entire rest of the way together.

So, I really felt like I was riding strong - especially after the turn at Gillsburg Church and even more so after Kentwood. There were no mechanicals or really even anything funny to report.

We finished with a new course PR - 11 hr 13 min - 58 min better than July 4th. However, my average speed was exactly the same. This bothers me as I am not showing any true improvement. I really hope this changes soon. I know I have to be faster for my cross country ride.

Final stats:

127 miles; 9:22 ride time; 11:13 total time; 13.5 mph ave; ave cad 81, max 107; ave HR 147 max 167; spent 8 hrs in HR 135-166; climbing 5001 ft (in July the monitor had 4500).

Monday, February 1, 2010

Comedy of Errors 200k formerly known as the Franklinton 200k

Well, I would have never thought that my Saturday 200k would turn out like it did.

The Franklinton 200 has always had my number. We have never completed this route in less than 12 hr. The route was changed last year to make it more cheat proof - as if anyone of us would cheat. So, you really can't compare apples since the routes are different, but both routes are difficult and we just can't seem to make good time on it.

Saturdays riding of the route ended up to be very comical - hence the new name - the Comedy of Errors 200k.

First, our fearless leader, Pat rode his Ponchatula 200k with a rando from New Jersey, Rick. I was originally going to ride with Pat and Rick, but ended up with a lunch meeting for Friday. To pile on miles, we decided to ride Franklinton on Saturday. Alas, Pat's ride was plagued by heavy rain for the majority of the ride. They finished but due to the rain, it would have taken Pat too long to get everything ready for the Saturday 200, so he bailed on us.

Second, I wake up at Dennis' hearing wind chimes. He has wind chimes like ours that are really heavy and it takes a good wind to make them chime. As pretty as they sound, it is not a sound you want to hear getting up on a ride morning.

Third, the weather originally called for temps in the low 40s with highs in the low 50s. It was 42 when we got up, it was 38 at the ride start. The temps continued to drop during the day. I checked it several times at 36 and as dark approached it was 32. Needless to say, the cold weather was a factor in this ill fated 200. On the positive side, I was dressed perfectly. I have dialed in the appropriate layering for riding in 32-45 degree weather. I was never "cold" on the bike. Even stopping at the controls I would warm back up within the first mile. I brought a change of clothing, but unless the forecast calls for rain, I will probably not take it again as if it is going to be colder than this ride, I am not riding!

I don't think Dennis will mind me saying that he does not ride as well in the cold weather. I do not ride well in hot weather. If we could share our extremes, we would both be better off. I will say that we never ride this route unless it is very cold or very hot. When we rode this route this summer, the temp topped 118 on my cyclometer. The variance between the two rides was 80 degrees. I melted on that ride and without Dennis sharing his Gatorade, I would have died. So I felt for Dennis on Saturday as even though our extremes were different, they affect us the same.

So, Dennis and I met Leroy Richard at the Winn Dixie parking lot. Leroy is a cool dude. It is because of him that I have my CA2. Jim showed me his frame when it arrived at his shop. From that day on I coveted that frame! Leroy decked his CA2 out with a fairing and a wind sock. He looked like a yellow torpedo! I would have loved to have known what people were thinking when they passed us!

We started our typical 15 minutes late. Not sure why, but we always seem to start late. My legs were heavy the first 8 miles and I seriously thought about bagging the ride right then. I had made changes to my bike set up and could feel the differences and doubted whether I should have made them. My knees hurt right off the bat and I did not want to worry with sore knees all day. By the first control thought, the pain and weariness in my legs were gone. I am in this thing for the long haul.

We all were doing really well until we hit the Exxon in Amite. The next stretch of 8 miles is the only flat on the course. I was really hitting my stride at that point and started pulling between 15-16 mph. This was the point that I noticed Dennis started slowing down. Leroy and I slowed for him and he caught back up with us but still was not able to latch on. I was feeling really good and my head was in a good place just enjoying the ride. Slowing down did not bother me at all. I was not planning on a PR for this ride and was content just riding. This was wonderful. I wasn't even listening to my music. Even in the cold temperatures, I was just glad to be on the bike.

We got to the info control at the Feed Store. The Feed Store was actually open and we probably could have walked in and had someone sign the card for us. However, they way they were looking at us (3 recumbents - one with a full sock) made me feel very uncomfortable. I am sure they thought we were aliens!

At that point we turned north and would be headed into the wind for 30 or more miles. Personally, I did not think it was that windy. I have cycled in much worse. Relating this to my coach, Michelle Grainger, she laughed and told me I was just getting stronger and did not notice the wind as much. I hope she is right.

Along this stretch, we stopped and I checked the temperature. It had dropped to 36. I think we all thought it would warm up into the high 40s, but it sure was not in any hurry. We stopped at Nicks grocery and the guys got a bite to eat. I ate a banana and stuck with my Sustained Energy. Hammer Rocks!

We were still traveling pretty slow, but I was still feeling very good. Even in the cold, I was just enjoying myself. I did not worry about anything. I did not care that we were going slow, I did not care that it was cold. I just enjoyed being outside riding my bike. So often I am trying to go fast, to beat my best time, that I forget about just cycling. I hope I can remember that feeling as I continue to train and then ride in the trancon. That true blissful feeling is what I would like to have as I spend my time experiencing the wonder of our country.

Back to the Comedy of Errors #4: At about mile 80 or so we start up a nice incline, erh, hill. I had stopped for a bio break and was behind Dennis. I noticed that he had gotten off of his bike and was walking! I have never seen Dennis walk - not on any of the hills in Nashville. Boy he really was having a bad day - as he had a flat. Leroy had not seen us stop and continued on ahead of us. I stopped to help Dennis fix the flat. I did not do much really, just handed him the tire tool and the hand pump. It was really cold while changing the tire. My hands especially started hurting they were so cold - and I had my gloves on. Dennis had taken his gloves off so I could only imagine how cold he must have been.

We made it to the control in Kentwood with 15 minutes to spare. I had not been keeping up with the time, so I was surprised to find out we had fallen way off. Dennis decided to DNF and head back to Franklinton at the control as he knew it would be difficult for him to make the cut off. Leroy and I should be able to make it back in time. So off we went.

Comedy of Errors #5 - I noticed that I was more sluggish than I wanted to be after leaving the control and started thinking about riding at night. I hate riding at night and really did not want to. So I tell Leroy, who probably would have been done had he not waited on Dennis and I to go on ahead, I would ride in with Dennis. Well, he then informed me that some time back his Garmin battery died and he was without a cyclometer and did not know his distance between cues. Ah, the wonders of technology.
I decide to travel on with Leroy - we won't be in the dark for much more than an hour or so.

Error #6 - within 5 miles of finding Leroy without a cyclometer, my Sigma starts flashing. The entire screen is blinking at me - great. It told me when my front sensor battery needed to be changed, but apparently it does not do the same for the main monitor - Great. At mile 94 it completely crapped out. Nothing. Notta. Kaput.

Error #7 - Following Pats cuesheet!!!!! So Leroy and I are in the middle of NOWHERE trying to find the cues without knowing our distance between the cues. Fortunately/unfortunately, I know how Pats cue sheets work. He uses T junction in instances that I don't think it is a T. It is more like a -l. So, we are looking for Vernon School Road at a T junction. Dennis made the statement that it is easy to miss, so I knew it was at at not true T junction. Well, about the time we thought we should be getting to the turn, we come across an unsigned street - Great! I had only done this portion of the route once and was dying (118 degrees) when I did it. So, I couldn't remember if we had turned on this street or not. Fortunately, a car came up and we waived it down and asked if this was Vernon School road. We got lucky that the guy knew that the road was several miles further down and well marked - Good!

Error #8 - Following Pats cuesheet!!!!! So we continued on, making what seemed to be better time - without a speedometer, who the heck knew? We were on a part of the route that was part of the old route as well. We came to an intersection that said Right onto HWY 38. Well this intersection was not marked either. ARG! But we turned anyway. I really should have known better as I had ridden this part of the route multiple times, as the correct cue would have been to continue straight. So we roll on, longer than I thought we should have, but finally came to the control at Brooks Cafe, or is it Sweet Dreams Cafe???? Ah, we are at Sweet Dreams and should have been at Brooks. The nice people, who really thought we were nuts, helped us figure out where we were and where we needed to be. By this time it is dark. We would have been 30 min up on the control, but now we would have to back track some 4 or 5 miles back to the correct control in the dark and then proceed with the cue sheet in the dark without a cyclometer. Or we can cycle 2 miles down the road and pick up the cue sheet at Mt Pisgah and continue 10 ish miles to Franklinton. We decide to bag it and head home.

Error #9: So we find Mt Pisgah just fine and I scurry up the bad hill (Ha! I have had to walk this hill before - more than once and I climbed it in the dark). I notice that my light is tilting down toward the road so I pull over and at that instant my light falls into the grass! I was glad I was stopping or my light may have busted! I fix the light and swear that I heard the latch on the mount click. On we go!

Error #10: Beep! CRAP! Beep! My stupid cell phone is in the process of running out of power! Beep! Who knows if I will need it, so I turn it off.

Error #11: We are doing good and should not have any problem getting back. We are 4 miles from the end of the ride when we hit a really bad patch of pavement and POOF everything goes dark. My crappy light has taken flight and shattered in the middle or the road! Now what!!!???

Error #11: Leroy and I decide he will finish the ride. I would just call Dennis and have him pick me up. He should be able to get me without any problem. I turn on my stupid cell phone hoping I have enough power to get Dennis. Yes, he answers. I tell him that I am on the corner of 1056 and 440. Well, I did not explain that I was still on 1056 by a tree so he hurries on and is looking for me on 440. I wait. Beep! I check the temperature - 32 - Crap! Beep! Crap! And I wait. It is really cold. I consider pulling on more clothes, but I had dumped my hydropack (Error 12)in my brain box and doubted they were dry. Beep! Surely, Dennis will get here soon. It is only 4 miles to the end of the ride. And I wait. Beep! Crap! I call Dennis hoping my cell phone doesn't die. He doesn't answer! Beep! Shut up stupid phone! Ring! Dennis, yeah! We figure out that I am on 1056 and he turns around and comes to find me. I don't know where he ended up, probably half way to Kentwood! Somewhere around 30 to 40 minutes after I originally called, Dennis shows!!! Yeah!!!

So ask me how much fun I had on this ride - I had a BLAST! The Errors just made the ride more fun. I felt bad for Leroy as he could have finished this ride in 7 hours. His response was "sh!t happens" - good attitude for a randonneur. So ask me what I am doing this Saturday - Going to Franklinton to ride the Comedy of Errors 200k!!!!