My muscles have voted, and it's official: I'm not in riding shape yet. Since a century in Dothan is a few weeks away, I'd better get it in gear! DST begins tonight so look for me to be prowling the hills Tuesday and Thursday nights after work!. It's a few weeks before sundown will be 7:15 or later and we can start the official Prattville series, but I can slip out and get in some good work before then. The ride today actually started out pretty well. I had plenty of pep and felt good for the entire 1st half of the planned 62 miler. As it happens, it takes 2 halves to make a whole. Even with the "New Math." It was 40F when I left the house, and the clothes layers were just about perfect. Knee warmers today under wool shorts, and a wool Tee under a long sleeve jersey. Wool cap and light wool Giro gloves. Some new shoes that Sharon found for me on some site called "Rue LaLa" (Sounds Mardi Gras, oui?). These are a last year's color of Patagonia Boaris shoes. (They are pigskin based. "Boar-is" How much do they pay those marketing types anyway?). The shoes had a good roomy toe box, narrow heel (avoids crank arm strike) and firm Vibram sole. Very excellent choice for non clip-in cycling.I think my pair was about 70% off retail.
We were running about 17 - 18 mph for most of the first half of the ride. No winds, mostly flat, and good roads. Roger B joined us and was a welcome addition. He peeled off in Millbrook to visit a grandchild, but looked like he was not having any trouble after the long time off the bike. He roller blades, so the legs are fine, I am sure. Frank motored like the diesel he is on that Bilenky, and Steve cut a dashing, Rapha-clad figure on his Orbea. (another one who has discovered Competitive Cyclist's after season sales. My hat came the same way) Pete had the looker of the day though. His NOS 1988 Trek 520 is a gorgeous Imron blue, and he has set it up very nicely. Here is the gang at a store stop:
Along the way, we did find a few discouraging notes. The nice shoulders on Hwy 143 have been "rumble-ized" which renders them useless for cyclists. Marion Spillway Rd behind the prisons is AWFUL. It was less an issue for Pete, Frank & I (steel bikes, 30mm and up tires) but Steve was dying on his crabon bike with 15mm tires. Here is Steve letting out some steam on my route planning today:
As it turned out, the section I recalled as awful was actually a little better. Plenty of dogs today too. None were vicious but Frank scored the 2 best encounters. The first was in Elmore with a great Dane who loped over to check us out. Frank could have gotten off the bike and ridden than dog. He went back home immediately when his owner called, and also apologized to us. Very courteous. The second was a Millbrook mixed-breed pooch who just wanted to race. He ran alongside Frank for a long way. I was sure the dog was a loser when Frank reached a down hill, but the dog found another gear and stayed with him, until he ran out of room on the roadside at a bridge crossing.
Store stop #2 was Frank's house! Sandra (Mrs. Frank) was icing the second tier of a large chocolate cake and applying strawberries to strategic locations. She loves to bake, it turns out, and a coworker had a wedding in the family. What more reason did she need? We said "Hi," refilled our water bottles and hit the road. About the time we turned on to Old Prattville Highway, I started cramping. 1st it was the sartorious muscle that wraps the inside of your thighs. Then it was the leg biceps (hamstrings). I wasn't thirsty, but drank anyway. It was manageable just by slowing down a little. Most of the climbing was ahead of us, the wind had picked up a lot and was in our faces (of course). The wind and the hills and the cramps made it harder to enjoy the gorgeous day, but I managed.
By the time we had traveled 40 miles, I begged the others, who were waiting for me a stop sign, to continue on, while I detoured. It only shaved 6 miles off, and none of the climbing, but I wouldn't feel like I was slowing them (which bothers me a lot). I also could stop any time I needed to and rest/drink/stretch. I picked the most direct route home, but all roads led UP. Mine had a long pull with a couple of 9% and 10% sections, but that's why there's a granny gear on my crank. My moving average fell from 16.3 to 13.8, but hey, I was "in the advertised range." :)
Cramps and wind did nothing to hamper enjoyment of a lovely day. The recent rain is greening the countryside right up.
Tomorrow's Beginner Ride is shaping up nicely. Max is coming back of Rouge Croix, and bringing his wife AND daughter. Frank's wife may come, and Pete's too. Should be fun times!!