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Hicksville Ride

Monday, August 8th, 2011

This weekend, Sarah and I headed to Fort Wayne to visit her family. I wanted to do a bike  ride while we were there, as I often do, when we’re in town. This gives Sarah some quality time with her family, and I get to ride. It works out well.

I rode with Bill Lambert again — this time, we rode with the Three Rivers Velo Sport club. Bill rides with them sometimes, and I rode with them once a few years ago, on the opposite side of Fort Wayne.

This ride started in New Haven, just east of Fort Wayne, took us into Ohio for a stop in the small town of Hicksville. Then back, with part of the return trip along the Maumee River. Here’s a map of our route.

The ride started early, at 8:00 am. At least, that’s early for me. I drove to the ride start and got ready. I arrived a few minutes early, unusual for me. I connected with Bill, and in a few minutes, we were off.

The morning was wonderfully cool. I don’t know what the temperature was, but after weeks on end of 90+-degree days, it felt quite refreshing. Also, there was a bit of fog over the fields.

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A few minutes after we rolled out, I heard a train horn blowing in the distance. Soon the train caught up with us and was moving along on tracks parallel to the road. We picked up the pace a little, as if being pulled along by the train.

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The terrain in northern Indiana is quite different from what I’m used to: it’s quite flat. I enjoy having opportunities to ride in areas with all kinds of terrain, so it’s a nice change of pace. Speaking of pace, we were moving at a good clip, but being in a double-paceline most of the time, I just had to hold on and try to stay with the group. The pace was brisk, but not so fast that I couldn’t hold on. Drafting can do wonders, especially on flat ground.

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As we rode, the sky grew more and more ominous. Eventually, it started raining — lightly at first, but falling harder and harder.

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I’ve done plenty of rainy rides, but usually I’m on the Trucker, which is equipped with fenders. I consider this the “best” way to ride in the rain, but riding in a double paceline in the rain is another experience entirely. There’s something visceral about riding a skinny-tired road bike in the rain, with water and grit flying everywhere, getting drenched to the bone, water getting in your eyes and on your glasses, but still spinning right along. I quite enjoyed it, and the rain cooled me off even more. So refreshing!

It rained for quite a while … maybe 20 miles. It was challenging at times, with brakes not working well in the rain, and not being able to see very well. But we just kept on going.

After a while, we reached Hicksville, OH. At this point I realized that I had been meaning to pay attention when we crossed the state line, but it had completely slipped my mind. After a convenience store stop, we were rolling again.

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At some point, the rain stopped, but it mostly remained cool and overcast. Eventually Bill and I felt that we had had enough of pushing the pace, and we dropped off the back. It was fun to push myself for a while, but really the later part of the ride, once we slowed down, I got to enjoy the scenery, and conversation, more.

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Check out Bill’s snazzy Ohio Randonneurs jersey!

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Crossing the Maumee River

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Amish country

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When we were just a few miles from the end, the sun managed to burn through the clouds, and the air started to warm up immediately. It never got terribly hot, but I sure appreciated the cooler weather earlier in the day.

We rode through New Haven on our way back, and saw folks setting up a tent with a sign that read, “Brew Haven.” Apparently, they were having a craft beer festival. If it had been later in the day, I might have been tempted.

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We finished the metric century around noon. I couldn’t believe how quickly we completed this ride. Drafting a lot, on flat ground, certainly helps. Actually, Bill had ridden to the ride start, and was going to ride home, so he probably finished the day with 85 miles.

I enjoyed this ride immensely. It was different from what I’m used to, but that made it even more fun. Riding in a double paceline in the rain was a blast, the Three Rivers club guys have always been good to ride with, and Bill as well.

Ride to Stanford, with friends

Monday, July 18th, 2011

I haven’t done a lot of epic riding this year, but my riding has been more social. Sunday continued that trend, with a short (25-mile) but hilly ride west of town, to Stanford, Indiana. This is becoming one of my favorite routes, and this time, I got to share it with friends. Dave G and Doug joined me. Dave and I ride together a lot, but I had only ridden with Doug a couple of times before.

I wasn’t sure what kind of bike Doug would be riding. He showed up on a Schwinn Voyageur SP, in an excellent commuting/touring configuration, complete with fenders, racks, and downtube shifters. Like me, he commutes by bicycle year-round. This is the kind of bicycle my Long Haul Trucker is patterned after, so I enjoyed seeing Doug’s bike. Oh yeah … he also wore clipless sandals. A good choice.

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It was a very humid morning, but fortunately, for most of ride, it wasn’t extremely hot. Just really muggy, and a bit hazy, but the humidity was bad enough to keep us sweating buckets.

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This next shot typifies the scenery: haze and plentiful rollers. At one point, we commented that Tim would not have been happy with all the rollers.

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One road claimed to be “closed,” but we got through the construction zone quite easily on bicycles.

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I saw the bluish-purple wildflowers all over the place during the ride. I’m not sure what they are, so if anyone can help me identify them, that would be great.

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Here’s one of my favorite views, with quite a bit of haze. By the time we climbed up on this ridge, the sun had come out in full force and we were just boiling in the heat.

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This was a fun ride, with good company, and I still had much of the day left for other activities (mostly just beating the heat). Good times!

Louisville 100km Populaire

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Saturday the Louisville Bicycle Club hosted a 100km Populaire. A populaire is the shortest form of brevet sanctioned by Randonneurs USA, intended to give new/prospective randonneurs a taste of the experience, without having to ride 200, 300, 400, 600+ km. I’ve been interested in randonneuring for some time, so I was keen on riding this event. In this case, the ride was actually a bit over 100km at roughly 104km (65 miles). I drove down and rode with Tim, David, and Asher. By the end of the day I had ridden about 120km (75 miles), as I met Tim at his house and we rode to and from the event together, giving us a few extra miles. Here is the route (only including the populaire itself).

The turnout seemed quite good, maybe 50 people or so? I had the pleasure of meeting Timothy (“Barturtle”), who has commented on my blog a number of times, before the event. After getting our cards, having them stamped, and a few remarks by the folks running the event, we were off.

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These photos don’t really show it, but traffic was rather heavy for  awhile. I didn’t get the camera out much when we were fighting traffic. Having a lot of riders on the road definitely helped us handle the traffic, but it was still tense at times, especially for a small town guy like myself. I like how in the shot below, you can see the Louisville skyline in the distance.

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Despite the traffic, there was some very nice scenery, mostly in the form of the Ohio River. We also rode past a number of parks that looked quite nice.

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Within the first few miles we experienced our first mechanical. Asher’s crank arm fell off. In a few minutes, we were rolling again. The initial roads were also quite flat.

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Somewhere in the first 10 or 15 miles was the secret control. I meant to take some photos, but I forgot. Fortunately, I didn’t forget to get my brevet card stamped.

After fighting traffic for a while, we reached roads with a quieter, more rural feel, and the terrain got hillier. The route had a very interesting combination of shady, wooded areas, and wide open rolling fields.

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At some point, we enjoyed a long, flowing descent of about a mile, riding between a gurgling creek and stone bluffs. This was just a beautiful section of road. Shortly thereafter, we had to climb back up but it was a long, gradual climb that wasn’t too bad.

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Eventually we gained another ride in our group. Ann just happened to be riding at the same pace we were, so she joined us. She had a very positive attitude and was fun to ride with.

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Ann had a much smaller build than any of us, and consequently, she had to pedal on some of the downhills to have any chance of keeping up. She just didn’t have the mass to drop like a stone, as some of us tend to do.

 

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After more traffic, through which I gave a long pull on the front of a paceline, eventually we reached the second control (or first, or third, depending on how you count them. I don’t know how to count the start, or the secret control).

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This control was at a deli called the Red Pepper. We opted to eat lunch, while we were there. This was roughly the halfway point of the ride.

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I think several of us felt refreshed, after lunch. Then it was more traffic, but it went by much quicker this time, as we now had a tailwind downhill.

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So, soon we were on quiet roads once again.

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We had a fun bike blogger geek moment as we were all taking photos at the same time.

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We got to ride the same long downhill by the creek and the bluffs again, this time in the opposite direction. It was a blast going both ways. What a fun stretch of road!

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Soon we reached the last control, this one at a gelato shop. I had some strawberry sorbet that was wonderful. I haven’t mentioned it, I guess, but it was a fairly hot, humid day. Not scorching heat, but it was definitely warm.

Soon after that we rode a lovely low-lying, wooded road with some very large trees lining the road.

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Then it was back on River Road, heading back to town.

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With about three miles left to go, I felt my front tire go flat. I fixed it, with some help from Ann, who held the wheel while I pumped. We were rolling again.

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We arrived at the finish with just a few minutes to spare (there’s a time limit).

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We were all a little shocked that we had cut it so close, but we were happy to have completed our first populaire. We hung out for a while, drank beer and talked about the ride, before calling it a day. Then Tim and I rode back to his house, talked bikes some more, and I loaded up the car and headed home.

I learned a lot from this experience. The biggest lesson was that brevet time limits apparently aren’t as forgiving as I had thought. We finished this one on time without really rushing, but on a 200k or longer brevet, I think I would have to make a conscious effort to keep moving, in order to finish in time. And, even one more mechanical could have meant not finishing in time.

More important than that, though, was another great day on the bike, with a great group of friends. It was awesome  to see Dave C back on the bike again — we’ve missed him on our last couple of rides. I had invited Dave G as well, but he couldn’t make it. Still, we had a good group, and met some new friends as well.

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