Mostly recaps of two wheeled rambles through the countryside, but sometimes thoughts on other things.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Middle of August Already! - Pictures added

August has been a good month so far for riding. Our local hill rides after work will wrap up at the end of the month, but I'll continue to ride solo doing laps in our neighborhood in the after dark hours as last year. Everyone who has been coming out and riding on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons has shown climbing improvement. Even me. I had a head start from my winter work, so I was usually leading the pack. Now, despite being almost 2 mph faster in avg speed than in April when we started, I've fallen back to last place as a rule. It bothers me a lot less than it used to though. My goal is to feel good about the ride, and generally that is how they are going. About a month ago, when others were showing serious improvement and dropping me, I got "serious" and lightened my "racy" bike as much as possible. No dice. Same results. Well, a little data review of all my rides on all 4 bikes showed that I ride about the same speed on ALL of them, no matter what they weigh (excluding the Saluki when fully loaded on tour). Breathing a sigh of relief, I knew I could just ride whatever I WANTED to and not feel like it was a concession of any kind. Life is good when you can relax about your choices.

Last Saturday was a new route in hilly Elmore and Autauga counties. I had committed to the church men's group breakfast, and decided to include it as a rest stop on a morning ride. 3 friends came along and we enjoyed a good talk about fathers and sons and tasty food along the way of our 100Km ride.  Max, who has been aboard Frank's borrowed road bike for about 3 weeks, is riding awesomely. He wad been riding with us on his MTB, and then tried slicks for the 1st time (eye opener there) and then a wow! when he had a racer under him. Frank's Scattante is set up nicely with TA Carminas and good running gear. Frank has a Bilenky and a Surly LHT as well, so he's not walking anywhere during the loan time.  Joe and Ray always ride well and this day was no exception. It was pleasant, if a bit humid to start, and warmed up as usual in the later morning. We were done by noonish though and off our bikes in the blazing Sun of the afternoon.

I made the Tuesday night hill ride, but skipped Thursday's. Both were well attended, given the heat, which was at or over 100F both days (as it has been the past 3 - 4 weeks!). Thursday was difficult at work. Our corp HR lady came up and laid off 3 people, and it got ugly with a family member of one of them who came to help box up personal items. I was stressed to begin with and that added to it. It would be great if an improving business climate would let us add staff instead.

Yesterday was the 2010 Multiple Sclerosis bike ride. This year, upstate, it was a one day event, 25, 45, 75, or 100 miles. With 102F, and a 3 hr drive following, I opted for 75 miles. As last year, I stayed at the Holiday Inn they were based out of. I remembered that I used to have a frequent stay account, and logged back in. I hadn't checked it since 2003! Lo and behold, there were enough points there for a free stay! So, I drove up Friday afternoon and didn't have to make the trip in the morning. I got jersey tag #9 which was kind of nice (it means I was a top 10 fund raiser last year. Much lower results this year, as people have less to donate with). Meeting up with people I met and rode with last year was cool. Nancy was wearing the Amici Veloci socks I gave her last year (I packed the jersey to wear, but they asked that we wear our fund raising "top banana" jerseys). Charley was on a Brooks leather saddle! Last year his bottom was hurting the whole ride, and I went on about how comfy a leather saddle can be. He said he was very pleased with his pre-aged B17. I rode the same bike as last year, Louise the Rambouillet, with the same Selle Anatomica saddle. Sharp eyed Nancy observed, "But your shorts have padding this year!) I wore plain Joneswares shorts in 2009, but a pair of Ibex Duo shorts was on top of the stack this time, so they were used.

The morning was delightful and the 1st 30 miles or so were on good roads, with no wind, decent humidity and not too hot. Pretty flat too. Just before and after the 30 mile rest stop, there was some tough climbing, followed by atrocious roads and extended distance between rest stops. This coincided with a spike in temperature to 102F, and cyclists not used to the conditions were hurting. Nancy, who I had generally been riding with, bagged it at 39 miles taking the SAG wagon home. I intended to continue on with Phillip, Sheryl and Laura, but we separated on the 1st big climb. I caught up with Ken who was really staggering, slipped ahead of him and pulled for him to get him to where he could rest under some shade trees, spending just enough time to be sure he was okay then went ahead and flagged down a SAG truck about 6 miles later to go back and get him. Caught up with Sheryl and Laura too (they passed me while I was stopped with another rider). Laura was hurting some, Sheryl was fine and said I could go on, which I did. Found a guy walking with his bike on his shoulder, and notified the SAG about him as well. The very coarse section was a bad choice for dehydrated, tired riders. Too easy to lose control. The 61 mile rest stop had some very hot and tired people trying to get cooled and re-hydrated. 22 miles was too far to spread the water points out in this kind of heat. I drained both water bottles in the interval and could have drank more. There was another rider sitting on a bench in front of a store, and I stopped to spend a few minutes with him and make sure he was okay. The final insult was a stiff headwind coming back the final 10 miles or so.

The good news is no cramps, or real heat problems for me. I averaged 14.6, but would have liked to be over 15. Given the conditions, that was probably okay. The bike did fine. 28mm tires this year instead of 37 and a standard Ultegra double crank instead of the Sugino Triple.

I expect they'll send around a comments email, and I'll suggest some ideas. Get someone who RIDES on the planning committee. 102F in August is a bad time for a ride like this, but put water stops closer together towards the end, when people need it more if you continue to do it in the hot weather. Start earlier. 8:00 is wasting some good cool riding time. 6:30 or 7:00 works better. If you say you'll start breakfast at 6:30, be ready then. Actually, I'd be fine if they skipped that and started earlier. I can find my own breakfast pretty easily. I almost went to Waffle House anyway. Consider the kinds of riders that do these events.  Find smoother pavement towards the end, it was bone jarring. A little more variety of food at the rest stops. The route marking system was good. The route was generally scenic.

The thought remains with me though that the challenges I faced on this ride pale next to what people with MS deal with, so I am not grousing all that much. Just a little :) Rhonda, Nancy, Terry, Chris, Annalea; I don't know if any of you will read this blog entry, but it was a pleasure and an honor to do this ride with you people in mind.

I did not bring my camera this year, but here are some taken by the event staff.

Before the ride. Rapha meets Chiquita?

With the APSO team. Rode with some of them again this year. Nancy has THE coolest "Top Banana" jersey.

Back at the start point after the ride. After the last 12 rough paved miles, leaving last year's fatter tires on might have been a good idea. The bike was great however.

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