After several days off the bike due to illness, it was awesome to be back in the saddle.
This time last year I got my obligatory once-per-year full-on nasty cold "thing", which usually coincides with the coming of the first sub-freezing temps, and subsequent "wait! I'm not done!" from summer, when temps soar to near-record levels for a week, then it gets cold and wet. Ding! Illness. "There's somethin' goin' around...", ya know. Another Kansas winter starts to take hold, but not before it knocks over half the population first!
Anyways, after some serious NyQuil trials, I was feeling mildly better - so it was time for a nice ride, and Sunday was IT. Had to be - it was the date of the first CCCR ride! I mounted up the fixxer, and rode off to the local high school to see if anyone would show up, and lo, it was Lee! Hadn't ridden with Lee since the coffee ride back in August, I think, so it was good to hook up again. While we waited for 8-bells to sound, we talked, compared headlights, talked about the weather, the usual - while I occasionally took a pause to hack something onto the pavement. Nice. Classy.
No-one else showed up --- BAH! Common, people!!! --- so we departed, and started to head northward on the wet-from-last-night's-rain pavement. Woodland Rd. was in great shape, a little muddy in places from construction, but otherwise pretty darn good. It's a great road, not too hilly, but generally up-hill until about 93rd St, where it pitches downhill at 8% for about a mile or so! A real thrill-ride on a coaster, but a little dicey on the fix. Still, pretty cool, and one of the best vistas in the county at the top, just before it drops off. After levelling off, we paralleled a freight train for a while, and eventually ended up at 83rd St., where we turned uphill to Monticello - but not before a quick pee-break. We hooked up with Badger, and proceeded north again, into the relentless and chilly headwind. Ugh. 38º if warm enough, as long as the wind isn't blowing too hard.
After a little bit, we arrived at the decision point for the short/long route, and hearing no objections, we went straight onto the long route. Ok, it's only 31 miles - but it's a longish ride for this time of year out here. Unfortunately, nobody wanted to take the short route, so I was commited to the hills that lay ahead. Ugh.... I was starting to wonder if I'd made the wrong bike choice! On a geared, coasting bike, with all the long downhills, this would have been a BLAST! Granted, I was still having a great time on the fix - but I yearned for a deep aero-tuck and a fast descent --- but on the flip-side of that coin was the fact my legs were never cold, and I was always ready to climb. We tee'd up with Holiday Drive (actually 47th St.), and began our trek east-bound, finally out of the clutches of the headwind, but headed towards some serious climbing. We got lucky near the railroad tracks, as the crossing gates started dropping RIGHT as we passed over the tracks, a freighter approaching from the west! We enjoyed paralleling along with it as it chugged up the grade towards the railyards ahead.
Soon, we stopped near Holiday Drive and Quivira Lane, to doff a few layers for the climbing, fuel up on Newtons, and hydrate a bit. The next 2-5 miles would be a challenge! We began climbing, slowly and steadily, and the grade increased -- the fix was doing fine, as was I, but I knew the worst was coming. Lee threw a chain during a shift, but was quickly back on the saddle, and Chris was smiling along as usual - no problems after having ridden in Colorado this summer!
After that first long grinder, the fast downhills began, leading up to the first of three monster rollers. Legs flying in a coastless downhill dive, I transistioned nicely, and stood up to check the first biggun off the list --- success! Ouch... The second big downhill, legs flying, and then the 2nd steep-one, which was the steepest of the three ---- Standing, cranking, pulling against the bars -- UGH!!!! It was a close one, but I managed it --- what a grunt-fest, and the biggest pain is the stop-sign at the top of it at 55th St.! After a sorta-trackstand, and no cross-traffic, I went on, up the rest of the grade, and then the third and final big downhill bomber down to the base of the third and final steep roller of northern Pflumm. DANG!! Made it! The trafficlight at Johnson Drive came up, a brief stop, and then the very last of the steep climbing was done! Whew!!!!
Made it, and on the fixxer no-less! Even though it was reluctant, I was no glad we chose the long route, because it means the brevet series on fixed-gear is now a very real possibility!
We continued south on Pflumm, over it's (by comparison) shallower rollers, to 83rd St., turned thru residential, and made our way to Santa Fe Trail Drive, to bisect Lenexa and mosey southward towards Olathe and the coffee stop.... yummy! Another couple of train encounters, too -- a really good day for railroad watching! Santa Fe turned into Kansas City Road, and make a perfect leg cool-down for the last part of a pretty hilly ride. We bid Badger farewell at College, hit the coffee stop and I enjoyed a nice, hot cuppa somethin' gooooooood. Sweet.
Back to the parking lot, bid farewell to Lee, and rode home to wrap up a nice 42-mile (for me) Sunday climbing ride! An excellent time, as usual, and the fix proved a worthy weapon for the counties steepest offerings... but next time I might bring the gears and enjoy a deep aero-tuck, or two. Maybe.... no matter what I ride these days, the fix seems to make it something special, and I really enjoy that feeling. But, it might be time to dust off the "good bike" one of these days. Ya'll that couldn't make it, ya missed a great ride! Get with us next time - you won't regret it!
The best part, the few days I took off the bike paid off -- not only was I well rested for this climbing-fest, but I managed to hack the rest of the lung-butter all over the pavement, and felt 100% better after arriving back at the house again. That's one of the best parts about cold-weather riding -- it tends to clean things out, if you wait until it's under control -- last year, riding too soon simply drove the junk deeper into my lungs -- this year, I waited until it slowed down a little, and THEN the riding helped finish it off. Excellent! So, Dr. Dude is up in the house now: you get something upper-respiratory, slap it across the face with some NyQuil for a few nights, take time off the bike, then take 30-miles of climbing, and call me in the morning.
That'll be a $10.00, co-pay, please. :)