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

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ride - Fail

Some days are just great to be out on the bike and some days are not. A biking friend has as his motto, "Your worst day on a bike is better than your best day in an office." His full-time job is leading bike tours across America ( ) though and he may be somewhat prejudiced. Yesterday might have been a day to stay in the office. I planned to ride 50 hilly miles with a few friends hardy enough to get out in the cold and wet. Putting the cleaned up fenders back on my Saluki was excellent foresight, eh? The mercury was barely above freezing and roads wet from several days of rain. The humidity was close to 100% and a brisk west wind whistled through the double layer wool I put on. Fortunately, this was during the pre ride trial run. I went back in the house and added an ear warmer band and a rain jacket. My hands were a little cold but I stayed with the Giro gloves and my feet were comfy in double layer wool socks, in Keen sandals. This was sort of a sandal homage to Sheldon Brown, famously photographed in just such a get up against a snowy backdrop. Sheldon passed away 3 years ago this past week. I was reminded of the sandals when leafing through a Bicycle Quarterly and decided to give it a try. So far this winter, it's been wool socks inside Sealskinz, which has been problem free.
Pete came by at 8:00 and we pedaled off together to pick up Joe about a mile and a half away. When we got there, Joe got his bike down and we took off. After making the turn onto ridge road, I realized that they did not follow me, so I pulled off and waited. A few minutes later Pete came and said Joe was a no-go due to a seat problem. We went uphill and into the wind to meet Tom and Frank at the high school. Tom drove there but Frank had pedaled from the next town over. It worked out well, as they stayed warm while waiting for us in Tom's car. By now my hands were warming up and feeling good, but my feet were cooling down and feeling less good. I just figured that once we reached the 1/2 way mark and turned out of the wind, they would warm back up. More of an issue was my chain jumping off the larger cogs and down shifting to smaller gears, while under load as I climbed. It certainly made it more of a pain to haul up the hills!
At the high school, I got out the tool kit and attempted to tighten the bar end shifter, which was not gripping tight enough to maintain the cable tension in the rear derailleur. My blade screwdriver was too fat and wouldn't work. Pete loaned me his smaller one, which made some improvement, but didn't prevent more skips between the school and the 1st store stop. There, I tried Frank's multi-tool which allowed some torque and got it properly secured. No further chain skips! I was pretty cold by the time we got there, especially my feet. The off bike rest allowed for walking around in the store where it was warmer, so I did some of that.

Here are Pete and I as I was working on the shifter. Don't let the smile fool you. I'm cold.

By this time we had done most of the climbing we would face on the outbound portion and it was just about 7 miles until we made the turn out of the wind. Uhh, not exactly. I had to GET there 1st and my forward speed was steadily declining. Generally, my theoretical max HR is around 165
and I looked down to see that I was running 154 at just 7.5 mph into the wind! (About 12 mph with gusts to 19. Windy but not as bad as I have ridden in many times before) I couldn't figure it out. Yes, the wind was really icing down my feet by now and I was starting to think that I was getting too cold in the core as well. My hands were still good however! Thank God for small favors, as my dad used to say. I did notice that the new Giro gloves from my son last November (birthday) were separating at the seams already. They will go back for a replacement! Pete was kind enough to slow down to fat-burn range and keep me company. And we do not stay at 7.5 all the time of course. While Tom and Frank were ahead, they paused at strategic points along the way to regroup, and were uniformly good natured about my issues today, much appreciated.

At White City we turned south which I had assumed would be out of the wind, but it wasn't really. We were pushed sideways by a crisp cross wind except when it swirled and came from the front some as well. About 4 miles into the southward leg, I realized that the winds blowing hard over the open fields were chilling my right foot down to seriously cold levels, and I told Pete that I was going to call Alex to come and get me when we made the second store stop in Old Kingston. He said he also was not having any fun in this weather and asked if there was room in the car for two. Catching up to Tom and Frank at the store, we filled them in and wished them well on the final leg of their ride. I called home and fortunately Alex was both awake and available to come and get us. Then I sent Sharon a text so she wouldn't worry if she happened to find out Alex was coming. The last time I needed any help at all was in 2006, after I crashed following a run in with a pit bull. Then, I needed help getting out of the car when I arrived home. While we waited at the Old Kingston store, we chit chatted with the shop owner, who we learned was a retired school teacher and coach. Newspaper clippings mounted on the wall attested to his excellent career with hundreds of victories at two area schools. There were pictures of his students who had gone on to successful activities after high school. Locals who came in while we waited all addressed him as "Coach" and he wore a high school team ball cap. He and I shared blood sugar strategies as well. We appreciated the store's warmth, but to be honest, my feet were still not in good shape.
Alex arrived and we loaded up the bikes and headed home. Pete took his leave of us, and I gingerly undressed and took a warm, but not hot shower. That right foot had 3 toes which were white for the outer 1/2 length and a big toe that was purple. The soles of both feet were white with purple borders. Gee, I was hoping they would warm up okay. The thing I dreaded most was having to tell Sharon (who is in FL mid way through a 2 week teaching stint) that Alex was running me over to the ER "just to check on things." The shower followed by warm dry socks and roomy shoes did the trick. After taking him to lunch as a picking me up thank you, I commented to Alex that my feet felt normal again. phew!

So, 31 miles, 11.5 avg moving pace, 1,763' climb, very cold feet, split seams in gloves and sluggish all afternoon from being too tired. Back up and try again next week, eh?


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