Perfect weather for a bike ride . . .

July 26, 2010

Sweet, summer rain

With a lot on my mind, and a careful eye on the forecast - back pockets full of lessons-learned from almost 30 days prior - I saddled up for another shot at the Free-State Border Patrol permanent: 217 kilometers of fun in eastern Kansas. Spencer K. was along for the fun, as was Robert L., proving he's as glutton for punishment as I am when it comes to these things. anyone with a brain would have chosen a shady route, if such a thing exists around here. Four-AM... here we go again!



Riding along 175th street in the pre-dawn hours of a weekend morning is a magical experience - the streetlights are gone, and the natural darkness of the night takes over, this time punctuated by a nearly-full moon to the west. The confident glow of LED headlights against the pavement, wind from the south, and stars. LOTS of stars... except to the north, where the storm front that was still dozens of miles away loomed, occasionally lighting up the sky with the silent, orange flash-over of lightning beyond the horizon. With the temperature already at 82 degrees, and the humidity very high, I was looking forward to rain at some point in the day this time out, which was forecast at a 50% chance after 1:00pm. Spencer, Robert and I took up our positions on the road - Spencer on the fixed gear, slowly spinning away in a comfortable, warm-up pace fell back about 1/4 mile, and Robert on the recumbent ended up about a 1/4 mile ahead of me... evenly spaced, no headlight-shadows, silent running. Even without my usual 7-Eleven ride-start coffee, my mind was alive - just looking around and scanning the skies, enjoying the sights, and I was lucky enough to be looking slightly up when a bright green shooting star blazed across the atmosphere... perhaps a good sign. I smiled to myself, and took another drink of water.


Pre-ride hydration was working already - a quick nature break along 199th Street after climbing the big hill on Antioch - which to my delight was FINALLY repaved! I don't mind gravel when it's gravel, and there's no notion that the road was ever meant to be "improved", but when an otherwise paved road falls into disrepair, it's frustrating dodging potholes when tasked with climbing a 12% or better hill. After a couple years of degraded conditions, we were finally blessed with only having to climb the hill instead of having to find a good line, too.


Metcalf - uneventful, quiet, blissful conditions... despite the headwind. The wind was markedly stronger than last month, but the cooling effect was welcome with the humidity. We hit the BP station at Louisburg around 5:45am, found it to be open, so we topped off the water bottles and took another restroom break.



Already sweaty, and the sun isn't up. Louisburg, KS.


Jingo Road... the heat of summer had clearly taken its toll on the over-the-road trucking industry... or it was just a bad month for tires. Compared to last month, the shoulder along highway 69 between 335th and 359th streets was littered with detritus from re-tread blowouts and sidewall failures. "Road gators" were more common, and while I did my usual best to avoid running over anything obvious, it wasn't too big of a surprise when my rear tire went soft about 10 miles after getting off the highway shoulder and back onto rural roads. Probably a mile away from the turn onto K-152, I found myself with the bike upside down, digging into the seatbag to fix the resulting flat tire, and finding the typical radial-tire casing wire sticking into the tread: which is about the only thing most Kevlar anti-puncture belts are eventually powerless against, with enough weight and revolutions. I went through the usual thoughts about how "worthless my tires are" and such nonsense, but this was the first time I'd flatted on this route since March 2008, so I had no room to complain. That would come later. I still love my tires - stick with what works, but sometimes the negative thoughts are automatic.


Continued notes-to-self to keep an even pace, and slow down, and that it doesn't matter who is ahead and who is behind - difficult thoughts for someone who, hard to admit, is a touch competitive on the bike sometimes. I knew it was hot, and I knew the day was long - but I could feel my shoulders tense a little once I had the seat-bag repacked and the bike upright again. I knew Spencer had passed me a few minutes earlier, and I knew Robert was WAY ahead - and I also knew that none of it mattered, and I'd logged hours of solo-time on this route in the past... but, I felt that urge to make up time. I tucked and screamed down the long hill into the valley once on K-152... but quickly came back to my senses once the road flattened out. They had to stop at Casey's, just like me, so there's no reason to rush. Besides, the hills were coming... and while I'm not bragging, the simple fact was recumbents aren't good on climbs, regardless of rider strength, and Spencer was on the fixed gear, which to a certain degree would make him slightly slower up the grades that were coming. He's a terrificly strong rider, however - so, I resorted to the notion that I'd at least see Robert again. Casey's came, and they were still there - which was cool, but they were wrapping up their time there. So I fell into my usual control routine, and then headed out, maybe a few minutes behind them.


After some time and patience, I bridged back up with my counterparts right around the first hill of the "middle section" of the Free State Border Patrol, and settled in. The headwind was strong, but the downhills were still a blast as always - and the hills themselves; I felt strong, confident, and was spinning out a decent gear - but not too hard. Wrens were in song, meadowlarks, too. The sky was endlessly clear, and it was getting hot. Really hot. I was regretting my black helmet -- not my first choice in helmet color ... not even my LAST choice... but, it was all that was available in my size and preferred model at the time, after discovering that my previous helmet had been more than sufficient in absorbing the blow of my bike falling onto it while it was parked at a control back in May. I'd ridden it for a while before discovering it, and initially it didn't seem that bad - but in subsequent weeks I kept discovering new cracks, some that were through and through with the clear imprint of my bar-end shifter on the outside shell. Yeah, my chances of finding the limits of the material with my head were pretty slim, but when my friend Noah hit a deer last month, that was it for my second-guessing. Spurred by the wife, too, I got a fresh lid. I just don't think the color fits me, and it certainly doesn't reflect heat very well. Heck, it was blinkin' hot either way... something tells me that a white helmet would have felt a little cooler. Who knew a shop would run out of white helmets? I'm not a fashionista when it comes to bike gear... just ask my safety-yellow jersey, my mismatched gloves, and garish socks... but, I prefer a white helmet. Maybe next time.

The hills were done - and we stopped at Pleasanton, rested, I washed myself off and applied new sunscreen, got fresh water and ice, a bit of a refill to my back-pocket munchie supply, and we were off again. More pacing on the hills on the return, and especially after turning north for the first time, more dousing with water. Tailwind... all cyclists revel in it, the speed rush, the high average speed opportunity. Today, however, I was almost wishing for a double headwind: as soon as we turned north and the wind turned off the temperature seemed to climb 30 degrees in an instant. It was hot. Literally, like riding in a bread oven. Eventually, despite how much it really WAS helping, dousing with extra water would prove futile. The humidity was high enough that it really didn't matter...but, it did help. Since the skin is no longer radiating heat, because the temperature is too high... and the humidity is too high for evaporative cooling to work... the only thing dousing does is temporarily cool the surface of the skin. Once your body warms that water... or the sun does, whichever... you're right back to being hot, wet, and miserable. BUT, my ears were not popping, my sinuses were not crushing, and my vision was clear and focused. So, there is a benefit. The only thing I noticed about myself: I have to practice breathing when it's this hot: in through the nose, out through the mouth. That is how it's supposed to go - but I guess I end up breathing through my mouth a lot more when I'm under effort... but when cognizant and concentrating on breathing correctly, I could notice a difference in how I felt, and how much cooler and composed I felt. Interesting... and, if it works, do it. Vascular benefits, perhaps? I don't know - not going to research that part right now... but, there you go. I found myself a lot of time having to remind myself to "just breathe", in order to keep myself under the red zone.


We arrived back at La Cygne before 11AM, shockingly, despite the long break at the halfway. It was difficult to believe with the heat that it was still early... I honestly did a mental time-warp in the wrong direction, and did a double-take when the girl working the counter at Casey's entered the time on my card at 10:47am. HUH? I whipped my head to the clock, thinking somehow it was noon at least. Nope. Man, it's hot. Time-wise, this was pretty good, and I was continuing to make mental notes to NOT try and catch anyone or hurry (Spencer had been out front again after Pleasanton, leaving the halfway just a bit before Robert and me). I even stopped, full-stop, on the roadside near the last downhill, took a picture of the valley below, and rested.



Looking north on DG-1095, at the top of the last downhill before the river valley.

Still, the time was not bad. From there, on, however - slower going was the order. I recall even feeling fairly good at this point last month, but the last 47 miles is where everything started to go WAY south. I felt exceptionally good this time... but I wasn't going to take advantage of it. I don't think any of us were. We still remained gapped and separated on the road, each leaving the controls spaced a little bit apart - but no-one catching up to anyone on the road.


The big hill on K-152, coming out of the valley... and Jingo Road again. Mentally checking off landmarks, I stopped again for a bottle change and photo near one of my favorite parts of the route. I could, at that point, see the glint off of Spencer's crankset on the next hill ahead, as he climbed towards 359th Street, so I had closed some ground: time to rest, then. A bit opposite of my usual approach of "you're close... push harder".



This is the junction of Jingo Road (continues straight north), and the old alignment fo US-69 highway (which curves to the east here, closed long ago). The new highway is about 3/4 of a mile to the east.



Back on US-69 highway again... and diligence against the road debris... seemingly, this side of the highway was a little better off - but still a good amount of crud scattered about. Rutlader, at 335th Street. 319th.... 311th... 295th... yes, literally, I was just riding to the next street: feeling good, staying relatively cool, but aiming for the BP station at 280th and Metcalf, air conditioning, ice, cold drinks, and a restroom. Once again, thanks to the sun being almost perfectly overhead, I caught the glint of Spencer's crankset rhythmically pulsing atop the next hill, and watched his tiny figure pull into the gas station... whew... won't be long now.
Robert wasn't terribly far behind, but I'd started to wonder about him -- turned out, he was taking the same, safe approach: more rests. Good work!


Almost on-match with June's ride, some clouds started to appear overhead in the sky - which was quite welcome, but they were spaced far apart. There was still a chance of rain, but one o'clock would eventually come and go without a drop. Ugh... no relief. Plus, it seemed as if our tailwind was dying out. Hmmm. After another long rest, one by one, we all left the BP station and headed north. This was not my favorite part: Louisburg traffic headed north towards 247th street (the next closest US-69 interchange) and the place where I don't remember much about last months ride... hanging in my head. Breathe, pedal, drink, douse, repeat.


"Wha?.... " squish squish... that tell-tale feeling in the bike handling when there isn't any air in the rear tire anymore, second time that day. Grrr... oh well: I suppose, in some way, this is what I get for starting a ride like this with 3,300 miles on a tire that is generally good for 4,000 miles. Simply not enough material left to really fend off sharpies effectively. Once again, after finding a safe place to get off the road, the offender was one of those radial tire wires, sticking into the shoulder of the tread where the anti-flat Kevlar belt isn't. Not much to be done about that, and probably a result of the highway section again, combined with my thinner tire. On the first flat, I didn't want to "waste time" patching it - I just tossed in one of my two spare tubes, and carried onward. I figured, one-flat per ride... just use a tube, and carry on. This time, flat-number-two, I opted for patches to keep my last spare tube in reserve. This may end up being "one of those rides", after all. Hole found, patch applied, reinsert tube, frame pump... pump pump (repeat about 50 times), done.

"Hey, ya'llright?" It was Robert, rolling past...

"Yeah, just a flat... again! I'll catch up to ya...."

Right about the time he was out of sight, right about when I'd had the seatbag repacked...
Pfffftsssssssssss......

"wha?" Grand... been here before... remove wheel from bike, tire from wheel, tube from tire... first patch held just fine... but there's a tiny hole right next to it that I missed... nothing in the tire corresponding to it... oh well... that's why we carry 12 patches, right? Right. Patch number 2. Mount tire... inflate... start to pack seatbag.... PFFFTTTTTSSSSSSSSSSSsssssssssss....

"oh, come now......" A little tenseness in the shoulders, but whatever... what am I going to do, cry about it? No... repeat previous steps, and came to find the 2nd patch's glue had apparently dried up or I was foolish and didn't prep the surface correctly. Bubbled up from the pressure, a vein of air had pushed past the adhesive. Ok, peel off bad patch - prep, reapply another. Bingo! Much better.....pump pump pump pump, pack seatbag, wheel back on bike...

FFFOOOOOOOOOOSSSSHHHHhhhhhhhhhssssssss!!!!!

Really fast, all of the air suddenly escapes from the tube AGAIN. Heavy sigh. I stopped, stretched my back, leaned against the fence I was up next to for a second, looking off into the trees, collecting myself. Breathe. Drink... you're not riding, but you're still out here. No shade... I seemed to have flatted about 1/2 mile between two stands of trees. Sweat rolled out of my bandana, even though I wasn't "working". Ugh... let's just fix this, and get moving again.

15 minutes had passed, easily, since I'd stopped... catching Robert? Forget it... even if he was going to stop at Stilwell.

Frustration... let it pass a second before you do anything foolish. Okay... wheel off bike, tire off wheel, tube out of tire... this time, the three-in-a-row hammering and rocking action of valve-stem vs. frame-pump had taken its toll, and the rubber had separated from the metal around the base of the presta stem. Welp, been HERE before, too... Spare tube this time, no choice. Gads, this was good practice, I suppose.


Pump, Pump, Pump.... and a long pause. Rotating the wheel, listening, feeling for solid pressure.... I think we're good... THANK YOU LORD. Yep, out loud... with the luck at that point, I was only 8 patches away (give or take) from a phone call, or a LOOONG walk to Olathe. I didn't want to do this ride all over again.... so, I was very thankful when this last fix held true, and the tube would prove to hold air for the rest of the ride. Yeeeeesh.


As a bonus, I got a little of an arm workout for the day. I can hear the critics now, and you know what?... I partially agree: CO2 inflation would have been really handy here... but, considering that I used to only carry three on a 200K back in "the day", I would have been out of air before the 2nd tube would have come into play, and Robert had already passed. It was maybe a four mile walk back to the BP station in Louisburg, where I could have utilized my Presta-to-Schrader adapter at the gas station... but, MAN... even with time to spare on the clock, that would have been a long, frustrating, hot, tiring walk... and, as randonneuring goes, four-miles north of Louisburg isn't exactly "remote". Put this ride on the Liberty route, and ask me how you spell "screwed". On the second tube, I used the included Presta "nut" to help stabilize the valve stem while I pumped - but, honestly, I just think the failure of the first was bad luck. Certainly my frame pump technique isn't THAT barbaric. Theories aside, it's another round of confirmation out on the open road that a back-up air-pump of SOME kind isn't a terrible idea. For me, it's a frame pump or nothing. This was just a bad day for flats, and while I didn't feel too comfortable riding without spare tubes on hand at least I had an endless supply of air, and a handful of patches left. Back to business.


Catching Robert was out of the cards - I resorted to riding this one "08-style", solo. Low and slow. Plenty of water left, and maybe 8 miles to Stilwell? Easy. I pedalled, and coasted, and took in the sights - including my favorite dead tree near 235th and Metcalf. A freight train passed right under me at the 215th street bridge, which was really cool (and loud), and finally I was at Stilwell Grocery at 199th street. I looked longingly to the right at the front of the c-store, looking for figures and bikes... and there were some I didn't recognize, but I did finally see Robert. He was JUST leaving... but he waited. Almost having given up hope, he held back a few extra minutes while I topped of the bottles again, and took a quick restroom break, and we were off.
The other cyclists there? I have no idea. I saw them, they saw me, but they didn't respond to my "how's it going?" query, so that's all I'll say about that. Welcome home, Johnson County, KS. My stunning Safety yellow jersey musta struck 'em dumb.


Robert and I, back together on this last, hard, surprisingly challenging final 12 miles. I think it's the nearly continuous, steady climb from 175th and Antioch back up to Lackman Road that does me in, every time. Whatever it is, at least it wasn't the death march that last month's edition was... in fact...

drip....

drop....

The first few miles after Stilwell had been a LOT nicer, as the clouds finally started to gather and organize, providing shade and relief... but now, there was actually RAIN falling... sweet... summer rain! I tilted my head upwards, grinning from ear to ear, letting it just fall upon me. Not a downpour... barely more than a sprinkle, but it felt marvelous. The air smelled of water and wet pavement, the birds sang louder, and I began to feel the miles melt and run off of my arms and legs onto the road beneath me.


Unfortunately, it wouldn't last -- but, for the majority of the last three miles, I felt like a new man. We hit the 7-Eleven to find Spencer sitting on the sidewalk - 30 minutes he'd waited... dang... but, it was good to see him. We all did our final check-ins, and that was it. Later on, back at home, the rain would pick up strength, and thunderstorms pulled in... and I stood out on the back deck and just took it all in. Sure, it was hot, and there were flats ... but, at the end of it all:
Ahhhhhh......


Lessons learned from last month - quality over quantity also applies to water bottles. I've been running Camelbak's new-style insulated water bottles for a while now, but - foolishly - I opted for more capacity in June by using my Zefal Magnum water bottles. There's only one thing I'd like to add to my current bike frame, and that's a third set of bottle cage mounts - and I know, clamps, riv-nuts, repaint with braze-ons added... ain't happenin'. Plus, I'm not wearing a hydration pack - not for me. So, I opted for the largest bottles I could find. The larger capacity bottles allow me to carry 66 oz. of water, without having anything on my back, and without losing rear rack space - which is normally reserved for extra layers. The larger bottles aren't insulated, though - something that isn't ever a problem when the temperature is below 80 degrees, really... but the June edition, it never dropped below 80, and as the distances went long between stops the warm water just wasn't refreshing or helpful. The insulated bottles are shorter, and because of the insulation there is not as much internal capacity: they only hold 21oz. each. Two bottles total 42 oz... which isn't bad at all, really, and the colder water is FAR better for the body. Being a touch paranoid, however, I decided to carry a third insulated bottle on my rear rack, bringing my total capacity to 63 oz.: practically the same as the Zefal bottles afford me, all while keeping the water inside much colder. I'm not sure what I was thinking last month, because, to my earlier point about the rear rack space, ...well, I don't need to stow extra layers in the summertime, right? After re-educating myself on hydration method and reviewing previous ride notes, I stuck to a steady intake of "a bottle per hour max", based on what the body can normally absorb - combined with a consistent 1-per-hour Hammer Endurolyte capsule. No cramps, despite what I had previously thought wouldn't be enough. I felt better all around as a result. Three bottles, though? I know... you might think, why carry all that water if you're only going to drink a bottle-per-hour? The rest of the water on-board was used to douse myself and keep my temperature down - something I didn't do last time out. I ended up being soaking wet, but I felt MUCH better this time during the hottest part of the ride, though it was a constant battle of tailoring pace for the conditions, and keeping cold liquid on me. Carrying the extra bottle allowed me to continue keeping cool, without running short on the water my internals needed. Plus, I couldn't reach the third bottle (safely) from the saddle, so it made a between-control rest-stop/break a welcome necessity. Good time for photos, too.


Pace: I tell ya, I swear... I had zero-intent on this ride. Finish, and finish safe. It was going to be hot, with blazing sun and high humidity. As the morning progressed, and even with conscious efforts to actually SLOW DOWN my pace despite what my riding counterparts were doing, I averaged fairly well. As you'll read later, I had a little bit of "race radio" in my head at times... but it was really only for fun, and was not accompanied by a heated pace or high effort. It reinforces my notions that the mid-June vacation and layoff from exercise may have left me well rested, but the accompanying recreational activities might have had a negative effect on my abilities. With higher temps and stronger headwinds, we arrived at the Casey's in La Cygne in really good time, and arrived at the halfway in really decent time. The tailwind after turning around certainly helped the average speed: but I certainly wasn't taking advantage of it by pushing the pace to get a good number. No matter how good any of us felt, we still had to ride the last 22 miles... I kept that in mind, the BIG picture... not just acting impulsively on how I was feeling on whatever particular stretch of road I happened to be on. That was an improvement over the June approach. Riding smart, based on the conditions, is the way to go. There is nothing written that says one has to try and average high simply because it's summer.


Food: Carboplex, worked marvelously again - and I carried one extra serving in the back-pocket for the last stop at Louisburg. This provided good, even fueling - all day. I also had a little bag of treats back there, PB crackers, some pretzels, some crumbled-up Pringles chips, and some chocolate chip pancakes, the frozen kind, that I'd toasted up and let cool the night before. Calorie-rich, and mighty tasty. Still, despite all the extras on top of the Carboplex, my math still had me at a slight deficit - but I am learning to eat enough for the time and distance at hand. The result, combined with correct hydration, is starting (to my point about pace) to net slightly more consistent and slightly faster 200km finishes.


Finally, while riding with an audio player would certainly provide some distraction and possibly elevate my level of enjoyment while on these longer rides, I still choose not to ride with one. What I have done in the past is turn on my phones internal audio player and use the external speaker, usually in the last ten miles of a long brevet or a night ride. The battery won't last very long that way and the sound quality isn't that great - but it gets me "home". During the majority of the riding I do, however, I find it curious and fascinating what songs pop into my head through the natural course of subconscious selection. Some are songs that I haven't heard in years - others are something maybe I heard on the radio the day before - others still, I can't quite place why they pop into my head, what along the ride cues it up.. but, again, that adds to the fascination. In addition to movie and TV quotes, old radio-morning-show-skit quotes, and various other absurdities that pass my lips after the odometer passes 100 miles, here are the songs from my head: My musical tastes are eclectic, so each is linked to a video or audio track if you're not familiar with the song.


"Summertime" - Ella Fitzgerald (or Billie Holiday) popped into my head, and was sung out-loud in the C'D-lounge-singer style, while approaching "hill #3: outbound" about 3 miles west of Pleasanton, KS. Oh, how the neighbors love me when I croon... once I forgot the words after the first two verses of the original version, my mind switched to the Sublime dub-version....thusly; "Doin' Time" - Sublime

Upon reaching the base of "hill #3", Phil and Paul took over the mental space - something that would happen occasionally all day: something that always happens for me in the month of July, especially when - after that first flat - I found the uncanny desire to ....

(fade to Paul Sherwen)...

... bridge the seemingly insurmountable gap that was opened up by the lead break upon crossing the flatlands of the Rhone (errr, Marias des La Cygne) valley. The crosswinds are maybe going to be a bit of a factor. You saw the skill when the puncture came, there was no panic at all, he took up the spare wheel... but it was certainly not part of the plan this morning, and with this gap now, with the damage done, I've got to wonder if he's still dreaming of a stage win today?


Phil Liggett: It would be a sweet victory indeed, but he's not a terrific time-trialist, this man; if he's going to secure the polka-dot jersey before Paris he needs to make a move here and dig deep. The puncture occurred, a little bit of bad luck, but if he wants a stage result or a chance to retain his lead in the King of the Mountains competition, he's got to make a move.

Paul: ...he does, Phil, but whether or not the individual time trial is his specialty, he will absolutely turn himself inside-out to catch the two leaders on the road. He's a true professional, he knows what's at stake, and he will ride to the limit... the question is, can he do it before the first col arrives, and will he have anything left in reserve to take the climb?



Phil: And there's the move now.... look at the face of this man, you can see the effort... and perhaps a little shadow of a grin now as the race officials pull the team cars out of the gap - he'll know what that means... The gap was around two minutes at the turn to the mountain road, and he's nearly pulled them back - the last check is at twenty seconds, and we're just now getting onto the slopes of this climb now...(fade out)....


Anyone that even remotely follows cycling sport has had Phil and Paul in their heads for motivation at one time of another, and I love it when it happens. One of the best amateur short films about this phenomenon is centered around one man's bicycle commute to work, and it's a perfect example of Phil and Paul commentary ( HERE ) for those that don't follow professional bike racing.


"What I have done" - Anna Ternheim - popped up somewhere along Jingo Rd., before my first flat. A kind of tapestry-woven melody that isn't quite on par with the studio version, though I prefer Anna backed by a band, rather than her preferred singer/piano set-up. Not quite as creepy or haunting as Imogen Heap, but easier to listen to.


"This is hip" - John Lee Hooker - heard along 175th street, in the dark sometime around 4:30AM. The master. I had a subway sized poster of this guy leaning up against a late 40's Buick with his big hollow-body guitar on his knee. Doesn't get much better when it comes to real, genuine, working-man's blues.


Zero7 - "Somersault" - quite a bit of my mental airspace is occupied by Zero7 - mellow, mildly techie, airy and honest, and very good "soundtrack" feel for rolling along an open road, rich in texture. While vocal skill is a very subjective thing popularly speaking, I think that Sia Furler can honestly belt a song maybe better than most, without digital assistance. She's a bit quirky, and very talented as a song-writer - and I'm a long-time fan of her solo work, and Zero7, of course. Not surprising, this song popped into my head yet again - which isn't a bad thing. There is a forthcoming "best of" collection of remasters coming out soon, and I'm excited to get it.



There ya have it, folks -- stay tuned for a ride report from the upcoming "Hard Cider" ride on August 7th.
Don't know what that is? Email me.


Thanks for reading!

1 comment:

Apertome said...

Nice writeup -- yes, I read the whole thing! I enjoy long ride reports, and you do a great job of relaying the experience.

The best solution I've found, water bottle-wise, is ... well, I love the lids from the Camelbak bottles, but the Polar 24oz insulated bottles hold more. So I use Polar bottles with Camelbak lids, giving me the best of both worlds. Sometimes I will also carry a third water bottle -- on my road bike, it'll have to go in a jersey pocket; on my LHT I have 3 bottle cages.

Congrats on finishing another long ride! I am still getting my feet wet on the longer rides, trying to decide how far (literally) to take this. Did my longest ride yet recently, the 160-mile Ride Across Indiana. Still looking out for IN rando opportunities, hopefully eventually I will get the chance to try something.