January 6, 2008

A good day for a 200K

...at least for a few fine folks, that is --- for me, a crisscrossed schedule with the wife's job, and kid duty called early, so I was only able to enjoy part of it. But WHAT a day. String south winds usher in warm air, and the temps are in the upper 50's before I even get a few miles from home. Rare, nice, and refreshing. The amount of cold weather acclimation to date makes the lower 60's feel darn like 70's. It's a GREAT day, clear skies, and migrations of geese honking overhead, fighting the headwind right along with me. I'm smiling, for the first time in a long time - in the saddle, nearly giddy after weeks off-again, on-again with the bike. Holidays are tougher this year, and there was a lot to get done -- and the time that I DID have to ride was riddled with challenging weather, and nerves about it. I tell ya, once out there it's not that bad -- but it's the GETTING out there that's the hard part, and after time off the bike with passable weather, and then finally wanting to get back on - well, it was too easy to say, "next weekend will be better." Six weekends in a row, it wasn't even CLOSE! Nasty wrap up to 2007.

2008 is in full swing, talk of the holidays is nearly faded, decorations are coming down, and evern in the halls of work things are back to business. I've taken on some new responsibilities at work, and I'm engaged and ready to get the rest of my life charged back up along with it. Waking early again, 5AM, and getting on the roads when I REALLY love them: empty. The cold temps will make it hard, yeah, but hey -- I'm ready for some training. This coming weekend only shows a high of 40 on the forecast, but it might as well be the same heatwave as last weekend -- I'm ready for a few miles. Looking forward, the brevets - seriously - are nearly around the corner, and spring not far behind. If I blink this late winter, I'll miss it -- things are happening SO fast! I made this placed holder for this post MONDAY. It's Friday tomorrow. Yeesh.

Back to the ride.... a 200K for the six people that showed up at the Grandview start location were in for a warm January treat, and a great way to start off an R-12 run in a normally difficult climate. This was the first RUSA event of 2008 for Kansas/Missouri (well, as far as I can tell, save for maybe Columbia or St. Louis.) -- But more significantly, and why it was kind of a bummer that I couldn't ride the whole thing (trained or not, I would've), this marked the FIRST Permanent for the KC Ultra Cycling group. The Super Big Gulp route, to be exact - a run from Grandview, MO to La Cygne, KS. 200K of awesomeness.
It's, again, a bummer I couldn't do the whole thing --- to be there, as history changes.... ahhhh....At least I was partly there. I got to revel a little bit -- but the real treat would have been with Single-Speed Spencer and Dale, aka "Fine Jewelry" - they penned the route, and got it approved. My day will come, as I have two perms ready for submission, after several revisions they are finally mailed off to RUSA. AHHH!! I can't wait to post the numbers and start getting some award-worthy miles close to home! The goal.........

....remember that "New Years Resolutions" post a few weeks ago? I do.

NO goal for you! Next!! NO SOUP!

I'm keeping that one to myself, of course --- but it's nice to be getting ready for something again without the extra pressure. I have been spending my winter well so far -- not just waiting for the weather to break so I can ride. I've been back in the gym, hard-core. Weights Class, three times a week, which is a good rhythm - and not "too much" by any standards. Results are already showing -- pants are looser, arms tighter, etc. Let's see.... Late October is when I started, so this is 10 or 12 weeks deep. The weight has not dropped off, but I have only been watching the diet since the 1st of December -- arguably a bad time to try and start anything of the sort. The holidays were a little tempting, and I gave in a few times -- the scale reflected it. Those four-day weekends are tough. Sit, rest, munch munch. Not fully steeped in the good habits yet, I back-slid a touch -- but, not farther behind that when I started, which is good -- Actually, to my happiness I only gained back 2 lbs - now, I shoulda gained nothing back, but the national average is now up to 11 lbs over the holidays, I've heard -- so I did okay. I weight in again Saturday, and hopefully this week helped get rid of it, and then some. Overall, tho, me energy level, mood, are back UP. By the time spring gets here, I should hopefully have the Trek 450 running (only one part away from completion) and will be fit enough to look good on it. The riding performance, hopefully, will follow.

One thing, to that point, I can defintely tell you - and I remember from 2003 when I spent the whole winter in the gym: the gym prepares you for the work of bicycle training -- but it is sure NO replacement for it. I got on the bike Sunday morning to intersect the 200K Perm, and while I was smiling and felt good, MAN I felt WHIPPED after a while, especially when I met the group while riding eastbound as they came west -- I turned around to join them, and with that turn I was facing into the wind, AND was in company --- which, if you ride at all you know, means the 5% rule comes into play. I subconsciously began pushing the pedals about 5% harder than I would have had I remained alone, and THAT is where the good training and having someone to chase comes into play. Today, day one back on the bike, and no one really providing a chase (thankfully), it was hard to hold a conversation. I hadn't breathed that deep in a while, apparently - because afterwards I had that deep chest fullness, and coughs felt "low", if that makes sense. Dang! I'm WAY outta shape!!! Keep at it.... it's only January, but wow. Have I slipped in the last year! Heck, the last seven months, really, is all.

Other than those personal observations, the ride progresses nicely, traffic was Sunday-perfect, light, friendly, and the wind really wasn't THAT bad (yet). We made it along to Spring Hillto the Casey's there, a control for this route, and we all dismounted and proceeded to chat it up - to the familiar stares and casual glances of the locals - a few nods, as they knew A) this is normally a place that attracts cyclists, and B) it was 64 degrees in January in eastern Kansas -- soak it up, baby! Riders, mount up! We had coffee, compared average speeds, miles to that point, and made notes on the fresh cue sheets. Russell and Spencer compared single speeds (fixxie today for Russell), and marvelled at Russell's old-school Scott Drop-In handlebars. Bob was there, and we talked about my perm submissions and compared notes and suggestions for the final versions. Jeff was there (Bike Shack Ultra-Distance speed man), a rare chance to talk with him and shake hands, because normally HE is the one to try and chase -- and I do emphasize TRY.
A great bunch, a great day -- what else can I say?

After the Casey's the 200K bunch headed towards 223rd street for the next section to Paola, and I followed along for a bit, eventually breaking off with good wishes at 223rd east, as they all turned west. MAN, I really wanted to turn west..... I love the Paola to La Cygne section of that ride -- Hedge Ln is one of my favorite roads. Something about it... sadly, I did my eastern lean and headed back towards home. The sun popped out for a second or two, and layers - now with the wind helping me - came off. I don't think I ever arrived back at the driveway in January with so little on as June or May. 24 hours later, cold settled back in... rare treat indeed.... but, man, what a day....

It's good to be back in the saddle, and regardless of the return of colder temps, I still woke up and rode to work on Monday, for a good two-day riding stretch. Ahhh.... more to come!

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