Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for the 'Century' Category

Clay City Century

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

I took advantage of the beautiful weather on Sunday to ride the Clay City Century. This would be my first solo century. I have been interested in trying this route since the club rode it earlier this summer, and since I realized that it goes through Patricksburg, a destination I’ve long wanted to reach by bicycle. I’ve photographed it a couple of times (the best shots are here) — it’s one of my favorite little quaint/creepy run-down little towns. However, when the club was riding it, it was somewhere around 90 degrees. I didn’t feel like a(nother) tough century in the heat, so I didn’t go. And overall, I’ve found that while I don’t really enjoy riding with the club that much, they do have a lot of great routes.

Actually, I’ve been mulling over a route to Patricksburg for some time. I have some ideas of some great roads to take, but the club route takes a very different route than I had been thinking about. After riding their route, I realized that services were scant, even going through the bigger roads and towns. My smaller-roads version would take some very careful planning to be able to execute without running out of water. Still, I hope to do it my way someday.

Anyway, here is the route from Sunday. I had to make some modifications to the club route due to construction. I also ended up with a few “bonus miles,” some intentional, as the route originally only went 96 miles, and I wanted the full 100, and a couple more due to missed turns.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day, bright and sunny, with not a cloud in the sky, and the day’s high only in the upper 70s. It was a bit windy, enough for the wind to make its presence known, but not enough to make riding much more difficult.

The route was fairly hilly from the start, and I rode on a number of vaguely familiar roads as I headed away from town.

DSCF7258

DSCF7299

DSCF7302

DSCF7344

DSCF7347

DSCF7353

DSCF7357

DSCF7362

DSCF7364

DSCF7369

DSCF7370

DSCF7373 DSCF7385

DSCF7394

DSCF7396

Around 25 miles into the ride, I rolled into the small town of Spencer. I made a conscious effort on this ride to spend a little more time in the towns I rode through, and took more photos in the towns to try to capture their character.

Spencer is a neat little town that I’ve photographed before. The square is always eerily vacant on a Sunday.

DSCF7398

DSCF7399

DSCF7400

DSCF7403

Once through Spencer, I stopped at Casey’s General Store for some food and drink, and a short break.

DSCF7408

Unfortunately after this point I spent a couple of miles on IN 46, a busy two-lane highway. Traffic wasn’t too heavy, but the high speed limit (55 mph) made me a little nervous.

DSCF7412

Fortunately that was over sooner than I expected, and I turned onto Patricksburg Road. This would end up being one of the highlights of the ride. The traffic quickly dissipated and left me to climb, climb, climb, for over a mile, then immediately ride down the other side of the hill, only to climb for over a mile once again. At this point I rode along a ridgetop with fantastic views for several miles.

DSCF7450

As you can see, I was enjoying the climb. The cooler weather made it much more pleasant.

DSCF7454

DSCF7453

DSCF7465

DSCF7469

DSCF7470

DSCF7475

A side note: I noticed several gravel roads that looked quite inviting. I’ll have to go back sometime to explore them.

DSCF7476

DSCF7483

DSCF7492

Soon, I approached Patricksburg. It has a bit of a ghost town feel, generally, with run-down buildings and often no people out. Today was a beautiful day and I saw a few more people out than I have in the past, in Patricksburg.

DSCF7495

DSCF7496

DSCF7501

DSCF7506

DSCF7507

DSCF7508

DSCF7510

It’s hard to tell in this shot, but there is a sign on the barn below that reads “Patricksburg.”

DSCF7512

DSCF7513

DSCF7514

DSCF7515

DSCF7517

DSCF7524

DSCF7525

Once I reached the edge of town, I decided this would be a good opportunity to get some bonus miles, to make sure my total would be over 100 by the end of the ride. I rode out through some farmland.

DSCF7527

DSCF7529

DSCF7530

DSCF7534

I reached the edge of the maps loaded in my GPS. Several months ago when I loaded maps on my GPS, I loaded enough to cover a larger riding area than I thought I’d ever cover. Looks like I need to rethink that …

DSCF7536

After a couple miles of this, I headed back to get back on the route.

DSCF7537

DSCF7541

Next I got on State Road 246, which is technically a highway, but there was no traffic. I couldn’t believe how quiet the roads were, given that it was Labor Day weekend. My time on 246 began with a huge downhill. What fun! At this point, the terrain got flatter, with just some rolling hills.

DSCF7549

DSCF7559

I reached Clay City about 50 miles (halfway) into the ride. I was amused by the sign when I entered town, that proclaimed Clay City the “Mayberry of the Midwest.” Riiiiight …

DSCF7575

I was hoping to get some food in Clay City, but I didn’t see any options that looked appealing. There were a few local restaurants/pubs, but I was a little hesitant to go in them in full bike gear. And, I didn’t bring a lock with me.  Here are a few other shots of the town. It was another ramshackle town along the route, not as “charming” as Patricksburg perhaps, but there was more here, at least. Truth be told, though, I actually love these bedraggled municipalities.

DSCF7580

DSCF7581

While I didn’t get any food, I did manage to get some water from the vending machine at the Beverage Place.

DSCF7582

DSCF7589

DSCF7583

DSCF7586

The sign as I left town read, “Small Town, Big Pride.”

DSCF7588

I turned onto State Road 157, another vacant highway, where I would spend the next 20 miles. I was getting hungry, so I was pleased to see that it was merely another 16 miles to Worthington, which I thought might be big enough to have a Subway or something.

DSCF7592

For a while, the terrain was quite flat. The wind became more of a factor, due to the flatter terrain and several long southerly legs of the route, and a wind coming out of the south. Corn and soybean fields dominated the landscape.

DSCF7602

DSCF7608

Before long I reached Coal City, which I had seen on the map, and which was smaller than I had imagined, consisting basically of a neighborhood, a couple of churches, and a couple of businesses.

DSCF7615

The sign below reads:

Welcome to Coal City
Town Full of Happy Folks
AND
one old GROUCH!”

DSCF7617

DSCF7619

DSCF7621

DSCF7623

DSCF7624

DSCF7625

DSCF7626

DSCF7628

DSCF7630

Soon I was through town and rode through alternating fields and woods.

DSCF7634

DSCF7647

DSCF7649

DSCF7650

DSCF7652

DSCF7654

DSCF7655

Soon I re-entered Greene County. I started to see hills again. One gravel road in particular looked inviting. This definitely warrants some exploration in the future.

DSCF7665

DSCF7671

DSCF7678

Some brilliantly-colored fields caught my attention.

DSCF7681

DSCF7685

Soon I was in Worthington. I didn’t take much in the way of photos here. I was just too hungry.

DSCF7692

DSCF7694

The best option I could find for food was a convenience store. My lunch consisted of a convenience store pizza that was a lot better than I expected. I picked up some other snacks for the road, and headed out.

DSCF7695

DSCF7696

I remained on State Road 157 for a while, which in this section had been recently chipsealed. This was quite frustrating as the road was just fine before, and the chipseal made for a very rough ride. It would have been better off it they had just left it alone! I can’t figure out why the state keeps pouring chipseal over perfectly fine roads, and ruining them.

DSCF7697

DSCF7704

DSCF7711

DSCF7712

DSCF7715

In this next shot, you can really see how bad the chipseal is. The left part is the part they’ve “fixed,” with new chipseal. The right part didn’t get chipseal and shows the much smoother old surface of the road.

DSCF7721

These folks had a lovely driveway!

DSCF7731

I passed a construction company with a bit of limestone laying around.

DSCF7741

It’s hard to get a sense of scale, but the truck below is HUGE. Its wheels were probably as tall as I am. See how it appears to be taller than the building in the background? That’s not just because of perspective. It really was taller than the building.

DSCF7743

Fortunately, I was not on 157 much longer. I turned onto another road, which did not have the chipseal problem. I rode in a flat, shady creek bottom for a bit, but it was short-lived.

DSCF7751

That would be the last extended flat section of the ride. 75 miles into the ride, the hills started up again, in a big way. In fact, I would be on the Hilly Hundred route for a while … I rode other parts of it earlier in the ride.

Needless to say, I was getting tired at this point and all the hills slowed me down a lot. In fact even though it was in the 70s, all the climbing made me feel hot. Fortunately, with the hills came improved scenery.

DSCF7764

DSCF7769

DSCF7771

DSCF7772

DSCF7777

I stopped in Solsberry at mile 85, hoping to top off my water bottles. Alas, the store was closed. I knew there was a fire station down the road that had a vending machine, but their machine wasn’t working. I had to press on and hope I found water soon. I wasn’t out of water yet but I was getting low.

DSCF7782

DSCF7781

DSCF7784

DSCF7785

DSCF7788

DSCF7793

DSCF7796

Fortunately, in Hendricksville, 91 miles into the ride, I spotted a vending machine in front of an old, rickety building. It didn’t look like it would work, but I tried it anyway.

DSCF7799

I was a little surprised to find that it was turned on and appeared to have water in stock. I was even more surprised when my bottle of water came out, frozen solid!

DSCF7798

I bought another bottle and the second one was not frozen. Perfect. I bought a third bottle, also not frozen. Excellent. What an odd place for a vending machine …

DSCF7800

… and a motorcycle.

DSCF7801

DSCF7803

I got back on the road. Thankfully, I didn’t have far to go now. But the hills kept coming.

DSCF7804

DSCF7813

DSCF7814

DSCF7815

DSCF7819

Before long, I was back home. I finished the ride, 103.8 miles, in 8 hours, 33 minutes. I had guessed it would take me nine hours, so I felt good that I finished faster than I expected. I was absolutely beat at the end — those hills in the last 25 miles were pretty harsh — but it was still a great ride.

I still want to put together my own, backroads route to Patricksburg. I would probably just turn around in Patricksburg. It would make for a shorter ride than this one, but it would be hillier.

Ride Across Indiana

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Saturday was the 24th annual Ride Across INdiana (RAIN), and my first time riding the event. The ride covers 160 miles in one day, starting just west of Terre Haute, IN (on the Illinois side of the border), and ending in Richmond, IN. I finished the ride in 12 hours 45 minutes. Here’s a map.

My wife Sarah drove our car, not only to meet me at the other end of the state, but also to provide support along the way. She spent all day doing this — I am incredibly lucky to have such a supportive wife! As a bonus, she took some photos along the way.

We stayed the night in Terre Haute the night before, and got up at 4:30 am to get ready, check out of the hotel, eat a large-but-mediocre IHOP breakfast, and drive over to the start point. The sun was just starting to come up when we got there.

DSCF5620

2010.7.18 002

I had planned to ride with Bill Lambert. We had a little trouble finding each other at the start. While I was waiting for Bill, I ran into Charles, who I rode the Nashville 90 with the previous weekend. Here I am on the right in the orange jersey, and Charles is in the middle, in the blue/green Upland jersey. The lady on the left is Sarah, a friend/colleague of Charles. Anticipation, and spirits, were high.

2010.7.18 028

2010.7.18 038

Just as the ride was starting at around 7:00 am, Bill and I connected, and we were off! He’s in the yellow jersey below.

2010.7.18 047

There were over 1500 people at the ride, so it was quite a large group of riders. Bill and I were off to a good start, passing slower riders and watching faster ones take off ahead of us. We had vowed to start off at a sustainable pace, and not jump out of the gate. I think we did a good job. A police escort made the beginning of the ride go very smoothly, as they blocked traffic to let us pass. It wasn’t too hot yet, but it was very humid — foggy, even. We were riding into the rising sun which meant we had to put on our sunglasses earlier than we expected.

DSCF5628

Most of the ride was on Historic National Road, a four-lane highway also known as US Highway 40.

We rolled through Terre Haute. Frankly I didn’t pay much attention to the town, between watching out for other cyclists and talking to Bill, I didn’t get to see much. It was a beautiful morning.

DSCF5629

DSCF5630

As we got out of town, I started to realize that the ride was going to be a bit hillier than I expected. The terrain was very mild compared to the hills around Bloomington, but there were numerous long, gradual climbs. I like hills, so I enjoyed this quite a bit. The scenery was gorgeous as well, mostly consisting of fields and hills.

The first 20 miles were over very quickly and arrived in Brazil, IN.

DSCF5637

Sarah was waiting with the car. We topped off water bottles and ate a little bit before continuing on our way.

2010.7.18 064

The hills got a bit bigger. They were still mild, but a lot of fun.

DSCF5649

DSCF5652

DSCF5654

It didn’t take long before it started warming up.

We passed the Putnamville Correctional Facility, and noticed guards looming in the guard towers. It looked like serious business.

DSCF5659

DSCF5660

More fun hills presented themselves … it was hilly enough to keep things interesting, but without being grueling. That said, as it heated up, the riding got harder. The first official stop was around mile 40 … I hardly remember it at all at this point.

DSCF5666

DSCF5670

Around 50 miles into the ride, I had gotten a little ahead of Bill. I looked back and didn’t see him. I waited for a few minutes, assuming he would catch up with me. I still didn’t see him. So, I turned around to find him. When I turned around, I rode into the wind … at this point, I realized that we had been riding with a decent tailwind all along. Lucky! Eventually, we connected by cell phone and Bill said he had gotten a flat tire, but he was rolling again.

Unfortunately, the fix was not going to be so simple. He got a flat tire again, with a fresh tube. He inspected his tire and discovered it had a crack in it. He talked about booting it, but neither of us had a patch kit. This bothered me, because I had been riding around for months thinking I had a patch kit, when apparently I didn’t. More pressingly, we couldn’t get Bill back on the road at the moment. He called his wife, who was in Indianapolis, a ways away. But she said she would come back with the truck. Bill said he had extra tires and tubes in the truck, and suggested I go on ahead.

Now I had a decision to make. I had been looking forward to riding with Bill, and I really didn’t want to leave him by the side of the road. But, there wasn’t anything I could do to help him, at this point. He insisted he’d be OK. I rode on.

The ride retained the same character for a while. Somewhere before we reached Plainfield, I could just barely make out the Indianapolis skyline in the hazy distance from the top of a hill. It’s very difficult to make it out in the photo, but here it is anyway.

DSCF5704

When we reached Plainfield, the route diverged from US 40, we would take smaller roads through some suburbs and across the south side of Indianapolis. We passed through the Plainfield Correctional Facility — on roads marked “Authorized Vehicles Only,” which they had opened up just for the ride. It was interesting riding ride by another prison.

DSCF5717

DSCF5718

DSCF5719

DSCF5721

Soon I reached the second official rest stop at mile 66 or so. As before, Sarah was there waiting for me.

2010.7.18 090

2010.7.18 095

The stop was at a high school, which was fine but the bathroom situation was a little unfortunate. They asked you to remove cleated shoes before entering the building, which meant using a public restroom with no shoes on. Gross. And only one stall had a door on it. Not great. But it worked out OK.

It was heating up. I filled up on food and drinks, talked to Sarah for a few minutes, and headed out. The next segment had us taking some smaller roads across the south side of Indianapolis.  We rode through some residential and commercial areas, but none of the roads were very busy. As someone who’s not a fan of urban riding, I was pleasantly surprised. Eventually we hit more rural-looking roads again. I rode with some other riders for a while, including a guy on a gorgeous Titanium Roark frame with leather handlebar tape and a couple of other interesting people. Riding at my own pace afforded me the opportunity to speed up or slow down as desired to talk to different riders.

DSCF5728

DSCF5729

DSCF5736

DSCF5737

At around mile 96, I reached the lunch stop at Franklin Township Middle School. It was really getting hot, and I took an extended break to try to lower my body temperature and eat and drink as much as possible. I thought I had eaten all I could, but once I took the time to go to the bathroom and come back, I was hungry again, so I ate some more. I felt the more I could eat, the better off I’d be. On some recent long rides, I had trouble eating enough and consuming enough calories to continue to ride strongly.

After lunch, I headed out. Almost immediately I saw two guys trying to fix a flat tire. I asked if they were OK and they yelled back, “Know how to use a CO2 cartridge?” I didn’t, and rode on, but then I realized I had a pump and could probably help. I went back and helped them pump up the tire. They had a pump, but it was a high-volume one and there was no way they could get the pressure high enough with it. My pump did the trick. These two obviously weren’t very experienced riders. But they were just having a great time, and their enthusiasm was contagious. They were not riding the entire length of the ride; they were planning on stopping in the next 15 miles or so. This would net them 110 miles for the day — still a very good ride! I rode with them for a couple of minutes, but ultimately picked up the pace and went ahead.

Soon I reached the century mark in the ride. It was odd to see 100 miles on my GPS and realize I still had 60 miles to go.

DSCF5753

The next 15 miles or so were the most difficult of the entire ride, for me. It wasn’t hilly. There was no headwind. But, the heat was incredible. The sun was agonizingly hot. I passed some riders who had passed me when I stopped to help with the tire. Once I got ahead of them, I hardly saw anyone in the next stretch of road. We were still on back roads, these weren’t even on my GPS for some reason, and I had little sense of where I was. The route made several turns, so sometimes we had a crosswind and other times it was a tailwind, but either way the heat was nearly intolerable.

DSCF5741

DSCF5747

As I passed endless cornfields, I wondered if this section was ever going to end. The photos just don’t capture the sweltering heat.

DSCF5750

DSCF5743

Things got worse before they got better. For quite some time, as I rode along, I saw cyclists collapsed on people’s lawns. Some were laying on their backs, others were working out cramps in their legs, others were attempting to eat. They were all clearly suffering. I decided that the only way I could make it through this was to push through it. Somehow I ran out of water, even though it was only 20 miles or so from lunch to the next meeting point with Sarah. I just kept riding, no matter how strong the temptation was to find a spot in the shade.

Physically, I was exhausted, even though I felt strong when I left the lunch stop. I tried to eat something, a gel packet. I managed to get it down but the gel was hot and really gross. But, real food wasn’t any better.

Mentally, I was not in a good place, either. I started to have doubts about whether I could finish. I just kept pedaling, and told myself not to even consider any change in a course of action until the next segment. I had a feeling that things would get better, although I also suspected I might be fooling myself, in thinking that.

I also realized, once I passed mile 106, that this was the longest ride I’d ever done. And each pedal stroke meant that I was setting a new personal record. That was some motivation, at least. It was funny having to play mind games with myself to keep moving.

DSCF5756

DSCF5758

At Greenfield, the route rejoined 40. This was my next meeting point with Sarah. I rolled up, I think she could see the pain in my face. I had thick layers of dried salt crystals on my shorts. Sort of gross, but an indication of how much salt I was losing through sweat. It looks a little exaggerated in the photo, it wasn’t quite as bad as it looks here. I was glad that I had sports drinks and Endurolytes to help replace lost electrolytes.

2010.7.18 099

I took some time to douse myself in water and eat as much as I could. Most things were difficult to chew. We had some grapes in the cooler in the car, and those were great. I wasn’t sure how much they would really help, energy-wise, but they were about all I could eat. I did manage to eat half of a peanut butter sandwich. We sat in the shade and I tried to get myself back to feeling decent.

After the last segment — which was difficult for others as well — I was nervous about what was next. I hoped that being back on the main road, with a tailwind most of the time, would give me renewed energy. But I was worried that I was being overly optimistic.

However, I found that I did, in fact, feel better. I saw a sign that said 47 miles to Richmond. Now 47 miles is significant, but I know I can ride 47 miles, and I thought they would be relatively flat.

DSCF5761

The miles started to go by faster again. It was fairly flat, but there were a few hills. I actually felt strongest on the climbs, where some others struggled. It was still hot but somehow I wasn’t quite as bothered by it now. I was pretty much riding by myself most of this way, but that was fine. There were some groups I was leap-frogging. It seemed like we were just enough out of sync that I didn’t want to try to ride with them. I seemed to ride faster than some of them, but I took longer breaks.

DSCF5765

DSCF5762

DSCF5776

Here is Knightstown.

DSCF5781

DSCF5783

DSCF5787

By the time I reached the last official stop at the fire station in Dunreith, I was getting pretty tired. I overheard someone say it had been 92 degrees for 4 hours, earlier in the day. No wonder I had so much trouble! Fortunately by this time it was cooling off … slightly.

2010.7.18 105

Now, in addition to the salt crystals on my shorts, there were some on the back of my jersey as well. Weird!

2010.7.18 102

2010.7.18 108

Here I am with my wonderful support crew.

2010.7.18 110

I still needed a break to eat and cool off. I tried to eat as much as I could — it felt like the next section was the home stretch, but I actually still had some 30 miles to go, and I’d need energy to finish. It was tough to get back on the bike after this stop, given how sore I was.

My main problem now was soreness. I was sore all over — especially the contact points  (hands, feet, butt) and my ankles were hurting too. I was still riding well for the most part, and doing especially well on the climbs, but there were some false flats that were quite demoralizing. The road looked flat, but had a very slight upward slope, for quite a long time. These sections felt slow and painful. And there never seemed to be enough downhill after them to get to coast. Actually, riding on the false flats wasn’t bad, but they made me feel awfully slow. Fortunately I had one more stop planned between here and the end so I only had to go roughly 16 miles, and then 16 more after that. It was a good way to break up the last segment of the ride.

DSCF5792

DSCF5796

Approaching Lewisville.

DSCF5802

DSCF5804

An amusing sign: “CAUTION: SLOW MOVING VEHICLES NEXT 3 MILES”

DSCF5805

DSCF5806

DSCF5811

Looking back at some amazing clouds.

DSCF5816

The last unofficial stop I had planned in Cambridge City. I was feeling very sore. It hurt to put too much weight on my hands, my butt, or my legs. I felt best when I was riding up a hill, I guess my legs took the brunt of the weight then, but that hurt too. I was anxious to be done, but I had to sit for a few minutes to rest my legs. I couldn’t really eat much by this point but I was so close to the end that I wasn’t really worried about that. I just needed to keep turning the pedals for another 13 miles.

DSCF5818

I felt better after that and rode more strongly for the last few miles. It was finally cooling off and I was very excited to be almost done.

DSCF5820

DSCF5821

There weren’t really any false flats after this point and I just ate up the few remaining hills. They were small and not difficult, but I enjoyed them.

DSCF5825

DSCF5833

DSCF5837

DSCF5839

DSCF5841

At the very end, we rode through a construction zone to reach the finish line.

DSCF5844

The finish was at Earlham College.

DSCF5847

As I turned into the campus, I could see the finish line, and I was elated that I had made it. There was some very nice cheering and  applause — quite unexpected, and exciting. I zipped up to the finish line. I think they thought I wasn’t going to stop. I did, they read off my number and handed me a pewter “finisher” keychain. Awesome! I finished at 7:45 pm, the ride took me 12:45. I had estimated at some point that it might take 12 1/2 hours, so my guess was pretty close.

2010.7.18 113

2010.7.18 114

DSC_6432

I later heard from Bill, who finished at around 8:30. He ended up with a total of three flat tires that day. The fact that he finished only 45 minutes after I did, with the extra delays and challenges he faced, is quite impressive. Way to go, Bill! Too bad we couldn’t finish together.

Nashville 90 + 10

Monday, July 12th, 2010

On Saturday, I rode the Nashville 90 route with the Bloomington Bicycle Club. By the time I got home, I was looking at 98 miles on my odometer. I rode around the neighborhood for a few minutes to get to an even 100 miles, thereby completing my third century ride. Here’s the ride, not counting my trip to/from the ride or my trip around the neighborhood.

This was a lot different from my other two century rides, since it was a club ride. For some reason, I was struggling more to keep up than I should have. My legs just didn’t have the juice to keep up, or even to sustain the pace we rode at last week. I haven’t figured out why I felt so sluggish. That problem was exacerbated by a lack of planned stops: only two in the whole 90-mile ride. I did find a couple of other riders who were riding at a similar pace to ride with, but I still had to push it to keep up.

The route was quite beautiful, and had a nice mix of hilly and flat sections. I didn’t get to enjoy the scenery as much as I would have liked, because riding was intense.

We started out riding south on IN 446.  We were moving at a good clip, but some conversation was still possible. I spoke with a couple of interesting people. 446 took us toward, and then across, Lake Monroe.

DSCF5566

DSCF5568

After crossing the lake, we climbed up the hill on the other side. The group started to become more fragmented during the climb.

DSCF5571

I did pretty well on the climb but shortly thereafter, dropped off the back of the faster group. That was fine, I didn’t really intend to try to stick with them for the entire 90-mile route anyway. When we turned onto IN 58, there were a few other riders going a more comfortable pace, so I tried to stick with them. Overall, the first 30 miles of the ride just flew by.

DSCF5572

However, around this time I was nearly out of water. There had not yet been any planned stops. At about mile 35, we rode by Kurtz, which has a perfect opportunity for a stop, but we rode right past it. I thought about stopping, but figured I should stick with the group. By this time our group was down to me and two other riders, Charles and Doug. We turned onto IN 135. It turned out there was a stop at around mile 40, so I didn’t have to wait too long, but this meant that within the first 40 miles I was already a little dehydrated. Also, we had trouble finding the stop. Not a good way to start a long ride.

I tried to rehydrate and eat the best I could. I had a little trouble because I was trying to use mostly Clif bars and gels, rather than normal food, an experiment that didn’t work out well for me. Real food works much better. But, it’s better to reinforce this now, than during the Ride Across Indiana next Saturday.

Once we were back on the road, I still had to push it a little bit to keep up. But I knew that if I fell behind on my own, I would end up going much slower. It was worth it to push it a bit. And this was supposed to be a training ride anyway, so I wanted to make sure it stayed that way.

135 is absolutely beautiful, there are a few hills to climb but often it skirts the edge of various fields with lovely views, sometimes from above.

DSCF5599

DSCF5600

DSCF5605

DSCF5606

Eventually I started lagging behind. For a while I thought about catching back up, but as it got hotter, I got slower. I was trying to eat, but I’m used to stopping to do so. On these club rides, stops are rare. As I slowed down, I saw a hawk sitting in a creek bed, and a lizard ran across the road. Pretty wild!

DSCF5608

DSCF5609

DSCF5614

Soon after that, I stopped to douse my head in water and eat something while standing still. This short break in the shade helped significantly. I got rolling again and when I got to the intersection of 135 and 46, I saw that Doug and Charles were waiting for me. We rolled into Nashville together, where we found the lunch stop at mile 65 or so. Doug didn’t want to eat lunch, so he went on ahead. He said we’d probably catch up with him, but we never did.

Charles and I rode on, I encouraged him to go ahead at his own pace if he wanted to, but we continued riding together for a while. It turns out he’s interested in doing gravel rides, it was great to meet another local rider who shares my interest in mixed-terrain rides — or “adventure rides,” as he calls them, perhaps a better term.

The climb out of Nashville was tough, but after that, Helmsburg Road was wonderful,  relatively flat and shady. As we made our way back toward Bloomington, I could feel my energy level falling. We rode across Lake Lemon, and the climb up South Shore Drive was really rough for me. It’s always a hard climb, but I was running out of steam. From my perspective, it looked like Charles just flew up the hill. We regrouped at a church to refill our water bottles. At this point I let him know that I was going to be really slow the rest of the way, and suggested he go on ahead. He did. It was fun to watch him take off into the distance as I struggled to get my legs going again.

But from here it was only a few miles back to town. I made it and took a meandering route home, as I intended to keep riding until I could get 100 miles on the odometer. I neared home and still had two miles to go, so I rode around the neighborhood until I hit 100 miles. It was very rewarding to a three-digit readout on my trip odometer again!

DSCF5618

I did a few things wrong on this ride. First of all, I should have paced myself better. I was trying to keep up with the club, so this was a problem. I’ve been doing club rides for training, and to experience a different side of cycling, and I wanted to stick to both of those goals. However, ultimately, I pushed too hard. I finished the ride, but I was really having a hard time toward the end.

Second, I had trouble eating. This is normally not a problem for me, but I was experimenting with more Clif bars and such; I usually use them somewhat but aside from lunch that was all I ate. At times I just couldn’t choke them down. That said, some flavors are better than others. Also, the lack of stops meant trying to eat on the bike, which I’m not very comfortable doing.

The flip side is that on a few recent rides, I’ve had success with “Endurolytes” electrolyte capsules. I take about two capsules every hour and they really do seem to help with electrolyte replacement. This also frees me up to experiment more with food and beverages, since I don’t have to depend on a drink for electrolytes. In practice, I still usually use one bottle with water and the other with some kind of sports drink.

Ultimately, this was a good ride, but overall it was more of a workout than it was fun. I didn’t get to enjoy the scenery as much as I would have liked, or take photos, or explore. I just rode, intensely. This is not what I’m usually looking to get out of my rides, but in preparation for RAIN, I think it’s a good thing. Also, I did manage to get to know some other riders, which I enjoyed.

It’s hard to believe RAIN is this weekend. I feel pretty good about it, though, because I know that Bill and I will pace ourselves better than I did on this ride, and I think I have nutrition/dealing with the heat figured out well enough.

Ear to the Breeze is proudly powered by WordPress
Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS).