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

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Marble City Metric - Sylacauga, Al

An information notice for this ride was posted our bike club FaceBook page and it seemed like something I might want to try. Sylacauga is less than 90 minutes north of here, and I like to ride in some new venues each year, to get out of doing the same old thing. As it turned out, 5 Montgomery area riders went up to attend. We saw some folks from Birmingham and Auburn as well. That left very few locals on the ride, as total show up was less than 60, according to the event staff. Since 2010 saw only 37 riders, this was seen as a step forward. Threatening weather probably dissuaded others from coming, which is too bad, as the people there did a nice job of organizing and supporting the ride.

We drove through rain to get to the start. Joe and I carpooled with Max and our bikes got plenty of water in the back of Max's truck. No rain at the parking lot though, and as I often do, I carried my no-rain talisman on the ride: a rain jacket. It worked. We never had a drop fall on us, despite riding over still wet roads where showers had recently passed by, but prior to our getting to those particular points on the route. I left the camera in the truck, not wanting to risk getting it wet. The route was clearly marked and the cue sheets were thorough, but I never needed to look at mine.

The toughest climb was about 3 1/2 miles out from the start, and it was not very difficult. Beyond that point, there were plenty of rollers. I never used the small chain-ring, unlike some of our local rides around here. Rest stops were spaced 17 -- 20 miles apart and had friendly volunteers and enough stuff to satisfy most tastes. I packed Sharon's Blueberry Oat bars, but also had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and some pecan sandies along the way. The weather was a mixed bag. Temps were in the 70s all day (very cold for July in Alabama) but humidity was near 100% which drenched us in sweat. A stiff headwind the last 10 miles back was bothersome as well. The clouds kept the Sun from broiling, but the overcast took some of what was probably a pretty ride away.

I skipped the mid week rides this week to allow a saddle sore to heal. Last Summer, I had to see the doctor when lymph glands upstream from the swollen area were getting tender, and he provided both injected and tablet form antibiotics. This year, I was able to lance the thing open and drained it twice a day, changing the bandage and applying more Neosporin each time. After Monday, the swelling went down every day. By yesterday, I was willing to try it out on a ride. It was fine for a while, but began to get a little sore by the 2d rest stop (33 miles) so I opted to cut the ride short to 43 miles, rather than take the other fork in the road for 65. Max looked at the sky and opted to join me. What turned out to be really sore was not that saddle issue, but something new for me. The muscles right under the sit bones were really aching. These could be the gracilis and/or hamstrings. Whichever they are, they were very sore yesterday from being sat on and while better today, are still tender. The saddle sore is fine this morning. It continues to shrink and did not swell at all from use yesterday.

The roads from Sylacauga to Weogufka were really nice. I would like to ride them again sometime. The roads after Weogufka (between rest stops 1 and 2) were very rough and it was more tiring keeping control of the bike on bouncy descents than it was to pedal more slowly uphills. The jack hammering at times was just awful. After rest stop 2, the roads were much better once again.

I tried a new hydration pack insert in the Kelty backpack for this ride. I really like it. Easier to fill than unscrewing a cap, and you can attach/detach the drink tube while the pouch is full of water. Also, it reverses for cleaning. Very nice. I got mine on sale at BlueSky Cycling.

It does hold the stated 70 oz (or other size you may buy) but no more. The screw cap styles can be overfilled. I regularly get about 80 oz into the 70 oz bladder that came with the Kelty.

Joe showed up on the custom Ti Seven Axiom, but with a 12 - 29 rear cluster, a Selle Anatomica leather saddle and rocking a Zimbale canvas bar tube! Just paint some lugs on the frame, will ya Joe? :) He's only about 1/2 the man he used to be, so he can add a few grams to the bike set up and still fly! Max was pulling strong as ever. He likes to think when he rides. In other words, his mind wanders. We'll be trundling along nicely at 17 or 18, and woosh! He's gone at 20 - 22 where I cannot follow. Uphill a couple of times like that. Generally, we noticed that while we were often passed on the flats, we kept passing the same people on just about every climb. We would have gotten further in front of them, had the climbs been longer or steeper. Our mid week hill rides certainly help us to climb better. Joe was way out ahead with the fast boys and Bill R rode with Chris W of the Comp-Velo squad. Joe said he dropped off that lead pack after the 1st rest stop, and one of the pack leaders (3rd fastest on the day, resplendent in a Mellow Mushroom team kit) said the group dissolved when 9 dogs converged on them from both sides of the street. Some guys sprinted, some stopped, some reached for spray cans. It was mayhem. We never had any dog issues ourselves. Maybe 3 or 4 dogs showed interest in us the whole day and they all stopped at the ringing of our bells.

So for the say, Louise (the Rambouillet) and I did 43 miles at 14.7 mph and climbed 1,897'. Cadence was 79, a little slower than I would like. I'm still working on that. Good times with the guys. None of us won the prices raffled off, and I passed on a Tee shirt (only 2010 and only XXL) but we would probably do that ride again especially on a nice day.


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