Recap and notes... let's get this part over with:
I knocked out the equipment preparedness like a champ, but, physical prep wasn't so hot for me this time... Heck: this year. No sense hashing it all out in print, but I've yo-yo'd on body weight all year (this moment in time being one of the higher swings in recent memory), haven't ridden much, and even signing up for 600, well, even the wife asked (afterwards) what I'd been thinking. As far as packing, though, perfect. No issues with the bike, no issues overpacking or taking along too much stuff. I need to step back, however, and get back to work on ME.
Saddle issues that aren't the saddle's fault: The saddle turned on me somewhere around mile 100, which ended up being the result of uneven bolt tension or just me being hasty during the last adjustment. I thought I'd had it nailed after White Cloud last month, but after having zero-saddle issues on that June ride, I elected to slide the saddle back on its rails about 2mm for better knee placement over the pedal spindle. Upon re-tightening the bolts, I put the angle exactly where it had been previously, or so I'd thought. I don't know exactly what I did, but, when I put the bubble-level on the saddle after arriving home yesterday, it was NOT level. Instead, it was pointing slightly nose-down! "What the???" This wasn't apparent to the naked eye, but it was definitely apparent to my gentleman-bits after 100 miles on the first day, and the sliding-forward sensation I'd experienced earlier in the saddle's life was back, bigtime. The only thing I can think is that I'd gotten the angle close, but then gave it one more tweak...but turned the bolts the wrong direction...and never rechecked to see if it was level. None of my commutes or training rides after that had been long enough for me to notice any problems. Who knows, but it's fixed now. Another reason to maybe RIDE A LITTLE before a big event, just to make sure? Gawd, I feel dumb sometimes, and I really don't know how this slipped past me.
Riding a little? I crossed 1,600 miles with the completion of the 410km first section of the 600km event.
That's about half normal for me for this time of year. Mathed-out, I started the 600k with 1,300 miles logged for the year.
840 of those miles are permanents or brevets, which leaves only 460 miles of commutes or other rides in six months time.
That nearly equates to having ridden to work only 20 times this year. Don't be surprised if I suddenly change the name of the blog from "commuterdude" to "guy that drives to work and then rides long distances" dot com. Catchy.
Hydration. So nervous to UNDER-hydrate, I guess I swung the other direction and OVER-hydrated.
The resulting fluid retention made for some interesting pains and swelling, wherein I went from not peeing at all, to peeing every 10 miles when I switched to straight water at the halfway, to dilute away the electrolytes I'd seemingly over-consumed.
Calories. Nervous to bonk, ate too much. Cramps, bloating, discomfort. Hashbrowns on a ride. They don't work. They really never have worked. How come I always forget this when I smell them?
Handlebar issues? Hands cramping and numb after mile 200 had me wondering about many things, and it turns out I should have paid closer attention here, also. This change, however, happened very slowly over time - rough roads, impact jarring, etc., my handlebars had rotated down a few degrees, which amplified everything else in turn. I raised them back up to get the hoods and bar "flats" nearly level again. MUCH better... but, it's something that apparently didn't bother me too badly at 200km and below. It's also possible that the saddle angle causing so much sliding forward kept my arms far more involved than normal, so it might not have been the handlebar's fault at all... but, the more level position does indeed feel better now, so I'll give it a whirl for a few rides.
But, do I regret going? No.
I don't even consider it a "failure."
I had -- despite all the issues above -- a good time! I know... sounds hard to fathom, but that's mainly because I'm not normal.
I stopped having enough "fun", however, to warrant continuing the last 200km. At that pivotal juncture, the pains I'd experienced had begun to cross over into the category of "won't heal in two weeks." At this writing, things have improved... but, I know I'd made the right choice. Continuing would have pushed me farther over the edge, and simply wouldn't have been smart of me.
My only REAL regret is that I should have seen this coming, and I should have - therefore - signed up for the 400km ride, instead of the 600.
The difference being, had things gone EXACTLY the same I would be writing this with a 400km finish and July's ride would be in the bag. If I'd felt fresh enough to ride the last 200km, I totally could have... and only the 600km would have been "unofficial". Big deal! But, I would have come home with SOMEthing other than training notes. Minor setbacks, though. I found the wall, pushed on it, and I think it moved a little bit. Issues have been corrected, my forehead has been slapped, and I'm ready to move forward. Still a couple weeks left to get July checked-off. Still half-a-year to get back into a good commute routine.
But, as Glen reminded me:
Only if it's FUN. Otherwise...what am I doing ANY of it for??
That proved to be a good test. After letting Terry, Gary and Glen head out without me on Sunday morning, after I'd showered and grabbed about 15 minutes of sleep, I was still torn and conflicted. I hemmed and hawed about continuing, and finally got myself together and suited up in fresh gear for day-two. I rolled the bike outside, lifted a tired and half-numb leg over the top tube, and clicked in. As I pedaled out of the parking lot and onto 13th street, the wind in my face, a clear sky allowing the sun to punch right down into the lower layers of my skin, and pain welling up quickly, I asked myself: "ok...are you having ANY fun right now?"
It was "no."
But, I tell ya: despite the DNF, it was great to be back on the ragged edge of long, unknown distances again.
I hadn't had the stones to sign up for anything longer than 300k in years, and even though doing so this year proved a mite foolish, I don't see any reason I can't do a 600 with better preparation. I nearly pulled it off without much preparation at all, and while I cannot recommend that approach, apparently it's possible. WITH proper preparations, things like 1,000km suddenly seem tangible... but, one thing at a time here.
No, this was not a wasted trip, at all, and I have a bucket full of memories to share.
The Iowa group puts on a stellar event, the scenery is top-notch, and the route, the people, the traffic, the trails... riding in Iowa is like a dream.
Hanging out and talking shop with the guys over a cold one, the RV road-trip there and back...great times!
What an amazing weekend!
Stay tuned for a photo dump and more notes...