October 20, 2008

R-12, Pt.9 -- Never let 'em tell ya Kansas is flat

REPOSTED to correct font -- wow, don't know how that happened!

Success! 133 miles, a paltry 14.8 MPH average - but I'm flippin' TIRED, fighting off the last of a chest cold, and completely out of practice on the hills. This was my first run at the WMGM route that I'd designed earlier in the year - and part of the challenge of designing a route from the car is that you have to remember that you're eventually going to have to RIDE it. Yowza. Some of these hills, some of these roads - I don't know what I was thinking. But, at the same time, it's tasty - not too easy, not impossible - but one to allow extra time for. Still, I finished with hours to spare - but MAN, I'm gonna feel this one tomorrow.

(the next day)

I tell ya, I'm beat. While my legs are working just fine -- maybe a little tenderness on the stairs today -- and I was probably in good shape to ride to work today, I skipped it. The stuff I hocked up this AM was indication enough that I probably shouldn't be riding in the coming rain. The cold, fall rain that would likely just make things worse. Of course, I'll probably be going nuts and will still ride anyways tomorrow. HAHA!
((update - I'm bummed, because it didn't start raining until I was at home, indoors, and wondering why I didn't ride today.))

The WMG Memorial permanent is a great route, a great ride -- but it's not easy. I wish I had some sort of altimeter to find out exactly how much climbing is involved here. It sure felt like a lot, and steep. I'll work on plugging the route into an on-line program I know that will spit out some numbers. That'd be interesting.

I'm WAY out of practice on the hills. The Border Partol route has its moments, but it's nothing like this - and there are more gentle rollers and flats to keep the legs fresh, but not bored on the Border Patrol. The WMGM route in some places requires nearly constant attention because of the grade. There is little time to get bored, and when there isn't breath-taking scenery to take in, there are hills. Never a dull moment. I hadn't ridden the northern section of this ride since 2006, and I had forgotten the majesty of eastern Leavenworth county - it's like a whole other country, ANYwhere but Kansas. Contrast that to, on the same route, the industrial byway of K-32, the hectic river crossing on K-7, and the sprawling suburban traffic on KC Road and Renner Blvd in the afternoons - you get a taste of everything. It's something of a tour of Kansas highways that the interstates made us all forget; travelling near K-10, on K-7, K-5, K-32, K-92, and Missouri 45, and SR JJ into Weston. You cross the Kansas River twice, the Missouri twice, and dance with the railroads on more than a few occasions. There are magnificent vistas, a TON of history, historic Leavenworth, Edwardsville, Bonner Springs, old KCK, ghost towns like Holliday, KS., the old Monticello district just west of Lenexa, Wolcott, an old racetrack, The Leavenworth National Cemetery, Lansing and the Federal Pen., the Eisenhower VA Hospital, and more.

Read about it --there is a lot of history in Kansas' first city, one of the first western territory forts. Riding down these streets, many still brick-lined - it's hard not to think backwards in time. I owe a lot of credit to "Andy", who created the northern part, dubbed Andy's Weston Ride back in the day -- now George's Weston ride since Andy moved away. Still, there are enough differences to make it unique, and of course the extra mileage back to Olathe.

I couldn't have planned this ride better if I'd tried.
The morning was cool, and there was nearly no wind ... the small breeze that was there was from the south! An unexpected treat, I had just a touch of a tailwind for the entire first part of the ride! There was little enjoying it, unfortunately, due to a nagging chest cold that seemed to hold me back a couple percent, and some lingering digestive issues. Later, in Weston, I'd exit the Weston Cafe to a brisk north wind blowing leaves, and me, far to the south. Awesome, rare - the double tailwind ride!

The digestive thing seems to be a theme of late, unfortunately - and the Perpetuem isn't helping. I'm not sure what it is about this stuff. While I haven't blown it all over the inside of a porta-john like I did back in 2003 on the MS-150, I still have a touch of distress whenever I drink it. I tried tapering back the serving size, to a little less than they recommend on the side panel - but still, it feels like its sitting like a rock in my lower intestines. Sustained Energy doesn't seem to do that, by contrast. Perpetuem seemed to solve the issue of having to take along extra electrolytes, which I was getting from HEED mixed with SE previously -- but I don't think the benefits are outweighing the issues in this case. I was gonna give it one small container, to see if I would have better results, but now that the container is empty it's back to the ole' tried and true. While it did supply me with needed energy, it just wasn't giving me the same kind of comfort as Sustained Energy has in the past. Heck, I may just hit Carboplex again, and eat more real food at the controls for protein like I ended up doing today anyways. At Weston I had a terrific plate of hashbrowns with veggies, two slices of toast with jelly, and some good coffee - and after that I felt really good. Unlike in 2006 when I did this ride and ate WAY too much, this time I tempered my intake and enjoyed a good, cozy full feeling instead of the food coma. This resulted in me leaving the restaurant with a spring in my step, instead of wanting to take a nap - and the hilly trek back out to MO-45 from Weston was pretty good this time! I had plenty of push, a good feeling in my legs and gut, and a smile on my face. Instead of Perpetuem in the bottles for the leg back from Weston to KCK, I just went with straight water --- the hearty breakfast would get me there.

It was one of the first times I had ridden on JUST food, as opposed to some sort of energy cocktail - and I felt pretty darn good. Sometimes, I think my own nervousness gets the best of me. (doy, ya think?!) Being a vegetarian for over a decade, my system won't tolerate as wide a range as the open road sometimes offers. It's hard to stumble into a 24-hour diner and expect to find something on the menu that will sit well, much less get me 10, 20, 30 miles farther down the road. I have to be careful. That lifestyle started before I became a cyclist, and so when I started riding it was pretty much Gatorade, Clif Bars, Cytomax, then Hammer Nutrition - and that's been about it. While others have pedalled away without plastic baggies and gels filling their pockets, just aiming for the next McDonalds, I've had to measure, scoop, and bag my way thru brevet after brevet. It's been interesting. Sure, there are fig netwons, crackers, pretzels, chips, nuts, fruit, Casey's cheese potato breakfast bites -- but sometimes you just want to sit down and have a MEAL. This trip to Weston was AWESOME from that standpoint -- for the first time EVER since throwing a leg over a bike (for something longer than a century), I was sitting down - mid-ride - and eating a solid meal. A chair, a hot plate of food, and a waitress bringing me coffee. This is nice! It makes the hills more tolerable, and makes this route a real winner.

I ran on straight water and the stored food from my meal in Weston, and it got me MOST of the way back. About 31 miles to be exact, before I started feeling empty, weird, semi-bonkish... I can feel it coming, usually in time to react. Unfortunately, between nowhere KCK and the QuikTrip on Parallel Pkwy... well, maybe having a few gels in the pocket aren't a bad idea. I played it well, however, as I was still carrying enough Perpetuem to make the rest of the journey, so I stopped and emptied about a scoops-worth into the rest of one of the water bottles and downed it. That oughta hold me over, and it did - before long, the QuikTrip was in sight, and JUST in time, as the bonky feeling was sneaking back in. Time for more food!!!

Let's be real here - we're only talking about a few miles between where I had the first bonk feeling and the QT itself, but I don't want to actually bonk on the road -- takes too long to work back from it, with the clock ticking. Let's also mention this: While I want deseprately to GROW the sport of randonneuring and the riding of Permanents in the KC area, I have to be honest about this route. I like a challenge, and I didn't hold much back on this route. WHERE I started getting bonky was inside Wyandotte County Park, and it's not exactly flat in there. Nor is 91st street coming back south out of the park, nor is Georgia Avenue, nor is 83rd Street. I tell ya what... if you feel the bonk here... EAT NOW. Steep? Hilly? Whatever do you mean? he,he. At that moment I was cursing myself for designing such a challenging section -- but hey, it's character building. I won't talk up the hills too much - it's all relative. I didn't have to walk up any of them.... but I REALLY wanted to. If Johnson Drive is the grandchild, then the Georgia Avenue hills are the grandparents. The "I lived thru the dust bowl and the Great Depression and two world wars... whatcha got?" grandparents. These grandparents don't like whiners. Mount up. I'm constantly on a quest to find the DUMBest hills in the metro and turn them into a route, somehow... I've got to design a perm that goes thru Shawnee Mission Park someday, using the Ogg Road entrance. MUAAHAHAHAA. Maybe this is why I'm always riding these things solo?

Back at the QuikTrip, card signed, melage of sugar, cheese, bread and hydration purchased, I proceeded to stuff my face for the last 33 miles of the day. Now, even with the tailwind, I'd have to march my way back south in stages. Stage one was just getting back to K-32... 86th Street, yeah, the theme continues. Not exactly flat. K-32 more than makes up for that: dead flat. But, plenty of distratcions along the way. Riding up the entrance ramp to K-7 to get across teh Kansas River just feels WEIRD, even though it's perfectly legal on a bicycle - there is this nagging feeling like "I really should be merging a LOT faster than this!!!" - but there is a great shoulder, and a great view of the river. After that mini-stage, there is 43rd Street which turns into Theden Road. Like another planet again, there isn't much back here. Cool. Then there is Holiday Drive, and finally Renner. If you've ridden the Tour De Shanwee before, you know this hill on Renner. It's a really fast and fun downhill that tees at Holiday Drive... well, now, you have to go back up. They don't make you do THAT on the TdS, do they? There's a reason. Wow. Legs feeling like Jello, the rest of the ride seems really easy after this one, and then before you know it you are back in Olathe.

Making it home finally, I am relieved to just hang up the bike, shower and collapse. Ugh..... a great day for a ride, and great conditions -- but if there had been a headwind to contend with....holy.... I'm tired.

There's number nine! Three more to go.... and in the toughest months Kansas can dish up. They are already talking about snow flurries this WEEK here, so November, no doubt, will be a challenge - regardless of route.

That's the midwest life.... never a dull moment!


Jason said...

Awesome!! Sounds like a good route to do when you want to test how in shape you are! :) I'm excite to read how these last 3 go. :)

Anonymous said...

You didn't eat a huge plate of hash browns did you?

O. T. said...

Tejas 500 Crew = the Traffanstedt Family. When you feel the urge, you got it. Just say the word. Next time I am in KC, how about a 5k run just for a change of pace?