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

Saturday, October 29, 2011

I wonder if I can do this

The "this" is a 300 Km brevet next Saturday. This will be my 1st ever attempt at anything over a century, and I am both excited and experiencing a healthy dose of reservation. The keys will be pace, pace, pace. And, nutrition, hydration, and comfort. And a fully charged cell phone in case I need to call for a bail out. :)  We test rode the hilliest section of the route today as an out and back. That is, we ended up with about 4,235' of climb in just 48 miles. The 300 will have 6,900' total in 187 miles. I was slow, to be sure, but finished ahead of where I would need to on that section of the brevet. I also was not dead tired, or out of gas at the end. I could have just kept plodding along, which is fine by me.

The ride today saw 7 riders meet at Stuckey's, but 1 just pedaled up from Prattville to see us off, and then turned around and returned. 6 of us continued on. Ray also pedaled up from town (about 23 miles), did the ride, and pedaled back. Strong ride, pal. Here we are getting ready to go: Left to right, it's Frank, Max, Larry, Ron and Joel. Ray is trying get his frozen plumbing out of the bib shorts and use the stores non frozen plumbing. Yes, it was cold. My solution was wool boxers under wool shorts, under wooly warm wool tights. No freeze ups, if you get my drift..

 Here I am a little later. By 10:30, it warmed enough to ditch the jackets. Below is Max's very cool adaptation of a solar battery charger to run his Garmin. I'll be using either an Energi pak, or plug mine in when we stop to eat.

 Here is a typical view for most of the ride. Fall foliage starting to be very pretty and steep rollers. Most were 6% - 9% grades, a few were 10% - 13%. The ride had 3 cat 5 climbs.
 As we crossed the Coosa River, I caught the sunlight glinting off the water, which was rippled from the very brisk breeze we rode in today.
 Here is about as ramshackle a store as I've ridden by. The fuel pumps are long gone and the proprietor lives in a small trailer next to the store. They did have working plumbing (always a consideration for a group of 50+ year old riders) and Propel Zero, and a decent little grocery inside. This was in Kellys Crossroads, which is literally a description of the place. This is ALL there is to it.
 The country NE of the river is quite hilly and some of the rock was blasted away to make the road grades more manageable. It makes for a very scenic drive  or pedal.
We got back to the cars around noon, and headed on home. Frank has loaned me a higher power headlamp than the one I have. If the rando bug bites, I'll get my own.

We're talking about a pre-ride dinner on Friday. The couple coming down from DC says they won't arrive in time. They are stopping in Atlanta to do a 200K the day before. Oh geez. Real rando types, you know? Don't know about the guy coming in from SC. So we locals will go have a hearty meal somewhere, and encourage one another. The ride starts at 7 AM on Saturday with 3:00 AM the following morning as the limit.  LynneF, if you're reading, any advice/encouragement/offers to fly out and pull for me will be appreciated...

At least no snow is forecast...


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pintlala 75

I've been getting psyched up over the 300Km Prattville Brevet coming on 11/5. As a "where are my legs these days?" check, 4 of us rode 75 rolling miles yesterday morning. The idea was to stay at a steady pace and not go too fast. I was the slowest of the group and turned in a 13.5 avg which is faster than I need to be to finish on time. Counting breaks, I used 85% of the allowed time for this distance. Biggest issue was leg cramps for me on hills. At about mile 50, I found myself in too tall a gear for a 13% grade but hammered it anyway, which caused true pain in both quads. Then, there was that vibrating feeling in my lower legs that says, "you need to drink more!" I blame Joe of course. This steep hill was NOT on the route, but when he sailed past a turn, we had to go this way to get back to where we needed to be. Joe rode with a bent derailler hanger and only had this outer 2 or 3 cogs available. That seemed to make no difference to him. He had, but never used, his granny up front. Like me, he did the entire ride on the middle ring. His is a 36 and mine is a 42. You know, since I never use the 30 on this bike, I may as well put a 53/39 back on in place of the 52/42/30. Nahhh..

It was a beautiful day, sunny, cool, and light breeze. All of this conspired to keep my jersey dry, so I never felt that I was using much water. When I got home, the fluid tally was 78oz in 75 mi. I need 1.5 oz per mile in this kind of weather, so I was almost 1/3 under. Hence the issues 2/3 of the way out on the route!  This is not the first time I have failed to drink enough. I will have to chart it and make sure I drink certain quantities by certain mileages on any longer ride if I want to avoid cramps. It made me slow up the hills, but didn't do too much on the flats until the very end. I actually had to pull over and take a brief rest just a mile and half from the finish.

Max and I carpooled down, and we met Joe and Frank at the start. Ron pedaled from Prattville, but just to see us off before he turned around to pedal back. He still had a nice distance himself, about a metric I guess. It was about 51F and wool arm warmers and long finger wool blend gloves were appreciated. Once the Sun rose, temps began to climb, and at about mile 18 when we made our 1st store stop, the warmers came off and the gloves were swapped for short fingered ones. I didn't need a base layer under the Swobo jersey. Un-padded Joneswares shorts today too. They generally were fine, although the edges of the saddle center slot were annoying after 40 or 50 miles. For the long ride, a non slotted saddle will be used. No padding though.

It was a delightful morning for a ride. Recent rains have most growing things looking good. Either still green or starting to show Fall colors. Plenty of livestock out in the grazing fields and all the local canines came out to bark for us. None were a problem, but you never know. The route included some pretty stretches that we rarely get to ride on, as there is a section of about 30 miles with no store stops available.  We made one slight route deviation because Joe, fresh from his assault on the 12,000' of climb at 6 Gap, was floating way out ahead of us and sailed past a turn. We ended up back on the route, and the mileage ended up being about the same so all was good.  Made my annual mileage goal with this ride and there is a chance that some more miles will be added yet this year! This was also the 20th metric or longer outing for 2011. 4 more are needed to make goal. We climbed about 3,000' and except for the one steep up, it was all rollers. An endless series of rollers...

Grandson's birthday party here next Saturday. I am advised that I should plan on attending. Maybe an early Am ride to test the light kit out is in order....

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

No Rides

This past Saturday was SUPPOSED to be the 200K brevet up Chandler Mtn to Horse Pens 40, with Steve Phillips and the Alabama Randonneurs. THEY had a great ride.

Then I was reminded that I had previously committed to wrangle mountain bikes at the Coosa River Challenge the same day! This was my 3rd year helping at the event, where 250 - 300 lunatics do a trail run, mountain bike course and kayak to complete a very different sort of tri. There are "skills" along the way, like rappelling and  compass based land navigation along with some action through mud. It's sort of "Basic Training for Marines Meets Sports." Anyway, our 3 man squad (sometimes with much appreciated helpers, othertimes without) moved all the bikes to and from the cycling venue for that leg of the event. 6 UHaul van loads or maybe it was 6 1/2. I forget. We worked from 4:45 AM to about 3:00 PM. We rested while the bike race was in progress. Here's a video from last year's race to give a bit of the flavor:  I had a great time doing this as it turned out. I enjoyed the company of my Van driver, Steve Sievers. A quiet, unassuming guy, this is the 3rd year we've worked together on the ride but the 1st we really spent any time talking. He always says he wishes he had time to ride more, etc etc. So after a while, I noticed a little tattoo over his ankle, a dot over an M. What's that? I asked. Oh that's from when I did an Ironman. The first one. (He's done it twice, both after he turned 50). You know, a full marathon run, a 112 mi cycle and a 2 1/2 mile swim. What everyone does....

So of course I mentioned RANDO to him. He was also open to the idea of a steel bike for long riding comfort! My kind of guy. Well I enjoyed other stuff we spoke of too. Like his son is a missionary in China, and he was interested in what reformed theology was all about. Then his mom shows up with PB&J sandwiches and a sweet elderly lady I know from church appears with a boatload of cookies! It was really over too soon, if you ask me.

Now with a month until the Alabama Randonneurs 300K brevet, I need to ride regularly. I'm planning on 75 miles or so on Saturday morning, and we'll see how that goes. I had been wanting to ride the Rivendell Road Standard for the long ride, but the painter (Airglow) is waaaayyyyy behind. I finally heard from him saying that he hopes to start my frame next week or so along with a Falcon, but the chances of getting it back and re building the bike in time are slim. I sent it off in mid June with the promise of a 6 - 7 week turn around.  I will probably ride the Saluki over the Rambouillet then instead of the Road. The fenders and fatter tires on the Hound Dog may come in handy. Not to mention that 26 little ring. Speed is not needed on a rando ride, just steady as she goes.

No ride this Sunday; it's the weekend I spend a little time visiting at a prison nearby. I dislike going intensely and I certainly would not go if I didn't know it was a command and not a suggestion (to remember those who are sick and in prison). Prison is a place you just don't want to be at. Which means that it is good for me to go, to have my comfort zone shaken up and so on.


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