April 13, 2010

Doin' the Double

My latest facebook posts have indicated that the RIDE should be epic, not the post about it.
That's sometimes easier said than done, because of the constant stream of information and inputs that a rider can get from the environment they're in while sitting on a bicycle for such a long period of time. In this case, that was just under 13 hours worth of saddle time, and in total about 15 hours and 48 minutes of total time "out" on the ride itself, including the stops, etc. So, paring that down into meaningful bullets that aren't completely exhausting is difficult for me.
I'll give it a shot.

Eighteen people started this one, and it was a good turnout from a lot of the local scene - Dale B., Danny C., a girl that came in from Colorado whose name I can't remember because I'm terrible at that stuff. Andy, Greg and Karen on the tandem, and Dave, an others whose names escape me also.
A good crowd.

Twice on this ride, from two different people, it's commented on how minimalist my set-up is. I don't have a trunk bag, I don't have a ton of stuff with me. My order of Carboplex didn't come in, so I just decided to do the ride on c-store fare. Risk, perhaps, yes... but, having other experienced riders comment about how LITTLE I was carrying along with me for a near-200-mile ride? Complement? Hard to tell, but I think it's an indication that I'm familiar with myself as a rider, and have allowed myself a little room to suffer, as opposed to trying to carry everything under the sun. Took a long time to get "here" - back in '02 starting rides with a flat kit and learning the hard way... to the extreme of full saddlebags and carrying so much food I could do a 600K without spending a dime at a c-store. There is a balance: on longer rides, you won't find me with so little, but maybe not with too much, either.

This was the first ride of the season for me where I was actually able to start with half-finger gloves. The temperatures, after a long, tough winter of Kansas cycling, were really nice, almost 50 at the start, and a slight tailwind.

The first section was moderately hilly, which would prove interesting 12 hours later.

Riding out on highway FF from Oak Grove to Higginsville, what a magical road, seriously. Long, straight, hilly, perfectly indicative of rural Missouri - very cool sunrise, very big long hills here and there. Riding it at night, later, was equally magical.

Higginsville, MO., hit the Casey's - in and out, really quickly - and back on the road. The section from Higginsville to Marshall was "interesting". I liked highway AA, and riding through Corder. I enjoyed crossing all the railroad crossings (KCS, I think) that seemed to zig-zag across the route. I think I crossed the same set of tracks maybe three times? Kind neat, but alas no train encounters. Coming out of Corder, MO. and onto MO-20, began one of the longest sections of road I think I've ever been on in a while. I mean, the last time I can remember feeling like "I'm never getting off this road" was the last 48-miles of Ride the Rockies in 2002. I mean, it's hard to describe, but it's not really LONG.... 23 miles or so on one road, not horrible, but man.... seemed like it took forever. I was enjoying 3rd on the road at this point, and finally got caught up by Steve G., the mileage king. I was partly testing myself on this ride, and it's not about road position or anything like that with randonneuring, but I was happy so far. Out front? Jeff W. and Alex S. - the speed kings.

Finally arriving at Marshall, MO., and a quick stop at the Casey's there. Whew. Getting warmer, so layers come off for the next leg.

A new fave little town discovered along the way, Slater, MO. Good Casey's, good folks. Even one of the teenager-type working there, instead of being completely shut off to the idea, asked me (on the return trip) "is there, like, a marathon or race going on?" "Sorta, yeah... long-distance marathon bike ride". "Cool..." Went into a few of the details, and he actually had some intelligent questions. For that to happen out in "the sticks" is pretty rare. Neat moment.
Another long section of road ahead, and now I've been caught up by the tandem and "Dave" (?). The interesting thing, I've also been caught from behind by Jeff and Alex. Hmmm.... cue sheet woes, perhaps? Hard to tell. Again, doesn't matter - a finish is a finish!

The next section was pretty neat. Another long spat along MO-240, mostly flat across the Missouri river floodplain, along some railroad tracks again - but, no trains. Finally we reached the pinnacle of the ride, well, at least for me -- I've never crossed the Missouri River on a bicycle, and today was the day. Hopping across the long grade of the bridge and landing in Glasgow, MO., and then south to highway AA for the run into Fayette, MO., the halfway. Hilly road. Very neat, dancing around the bluffs. Hilly.

A 6" veggie sub at Fayette, MO., chips, drink. Along the way, so far, I've been riding on the "feed bag" - a top-tube bag (triathlon style) turned into a tiny handlebar bag, and inside: peanut butter crackers, fig netwons, cashews. Tried Gardetto's original snack mix, but it didn't work for me. Odd taste. Worked in the past, but not this time. Next time, I oughta try Powerbar Harvest broken into pieces, maybe for some variety. The veggie sub was real food, and tasted GOOD. It made the hills and the return trip back across the river to Slater a little easier. I never really found myself wanting for calories, until later in the ride. I also had two Hammer Gel flasks full at the beginning of the ride, and used them for predictable hits here and there, and mixed them in with straight water to keep the delivery coming. Later in the ride, though, the amount of calories required to maintain the same speed, power, gets higher. At the end of the run back to Slater, for example, I ate another veggie sub... well, a cheese sub. Drank a real Coke. Some Powerade Zero (thank the maker). I perhaps had a quarter of that amount of food on the outbound, so the day was clearly catching up, food-wise. My problem - I was missing the carboplex. I won't carry enough to fuel every mile, but having some to drink at each control is a good thing for me, because it gets difficult for me to force food down. I just can't eat what I should in solid food. But, I can drink liquids without issue - so Carboplex works. Simple, inexpensive, predictable.

Electrolytes would be a big factor today, too -- first warmish ride of the season, and I didn't want to cramp like I had on the March permanent. Success! Endurolytes, and the occasional Powerade Zero drink (again, thank goodness for whoever decided to start stocking a high-fructose-corn-syrup FREE electrolyte drink at rural c-stores, you get a high-five.), and I was topped off nicely.

Rounding out the calorie discussion, and this is really NOT the way to lose weight, I'll grant you, I lost 6.5 lbs on this ride. I don't think it was hydration based... not sure. I was blessed with a bout of food poisoning about 24 hours after finishing the ride, so after surviving that I don't really know where my body ended up - but, I don't imagine I took in quite enough food during the ride itself. The food poisoning was un-related to the ride, by the way - but it sure didn't help recovery.

From Slater to Marshall... yikes. Okay, not bad, but hillier than I remember. Managed to hang with the Greg and Karen on the tandem and Dave a bit more, and we stayed together more or less, kinda yo-yo'ing along the way. This is a really neat section of road, and even though there was more of a headwind on this part of the return leg, I was still really enjoying the day. It was a good day to be enjoyed, with Meadowlarks singing, cardinals, and other songbirds playing in the sunshine. A good day to be on a bike in the country.

Back in Marshall, at the Casey's, made the marginal mistake of having something with a little TOO much sugar in it, a cherry pastry.... DANG it was good, but as soon as it was down I felt, well, "off". It passed quickly, however, and I felt good again. Turned into good push for the next 15 miles. At this point, Danny C., "Colorado" and Andy had caught up to us. I was ready, so when they rolled out, so did I. Not ready to rest quite yet. My tentative goal was to at least get back to Higginsville before dark. That was do-able, but not if I dawdled. We four rolled out onto Highway 20.

Yeesh, what a long road. Hydration today wasn't a problem, like I'd mentioned, but being SO on top of it sometimes became an annoyance. Had to make the roadside stop about halfway down this highway, finally finding a suitable turn-off. The four of us managed to stay together, but I proved how horrible I am in a paceline. I took my turn at the front, and then realized after about four minutes there was silence behind me. Ugh. Sorry! So, I'd slow up and regroup. But, I'm not sure -- I find myself being able to climb better than I can maintain speed on the flats. Every time the road began to pitch up, I was able to maintain more of a consistent pace without slowing, and that's what eventually had me miles off the group again by the time we reached Corder, MO. I made my way to the Casey's at Higginsville, and then rode back north to the McDonalds there, and re-found the group, joining Danny and company for a little McD before the final leg. The only mistake I made here was maybe (again) not eating ENOUGH. Another example where a bottle of Carboplex might have made the difference. I had a large fries and a Coke. Felt good, tasted awesome... but I should have forced down more food. Others around me, one example, had a chicken sandwich, an apple pie, a large fries, a yogurt parfait, a package of cookies and a Coke. I had probably a quarter of the calories they had, and returning to the road afterwards I was struggling to keep pace at times, feeling my still-empty gut and lack of push. But, I just can't force that much food down my trap. I even had to pour the last 1/4 of my large fries into my feed bag to eat out on the road. Couldn't even finish that in one sitting.

The last section was neat - riding along with Danny and friends, hills, sunset, Venus rising, birds off to bed. Took a long time to get back to Oak Grove, but, we made it. Not a bad day out! The hills were steep, yes... but not unmanageable. Looking forward to the next step, perhaps the 600K this time. The 400K to Iowa, I've already done before... so not sure, since the focus is still on R-12, if I need to do two long rides in May. June, however, is the 1,000K... and Danny has sunk his feelers into me on the subject. "I can do it", "I'm in my prime", "It's a life-changer". Whoa.... I'll think about it. THAT is a long ride.

The next day, I rode around the block a couple times with my son to get an even 200 miles for the weekend.
I felt really good Sunday, probably the best I've felt after a ride like this.
Sunday night into Monday, however, I seem to have contracted food poisoning, so I've been sent back to square one. Even walking a considerable distance was a chore. Hopefully, I'll be back on the saddle soon.

I'll leave you with some links to some music:

Music from the Road - (or, what was stuck in my head while I rode):

Vampire Weekend - Cousins I dig these kids. Solid. Been on my playlist for a while now.
Pearl Jam - Just Breathe A band that has matured a lot over the years, and their latest stuff is actually not shabby.
Metric - Gold, Guns, Girls I haven't always been a huge fan, and some of their older stuff isn't so hot, but this CD was good.
Manchester Orchestra - I've got Friends Not sure if I'm totally in love with this group, but this track it pretty good.
Iyaz - Replay I blame my wife for this one. I despise this song. Alas, there it was, in my head. Stupidly catchy.
Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros - Home Goofy, old country feel.
Them Crooked Vultures - Mind Eraser, No Chaser The drummer might look familiar. Pretty good band - no official video, but this live track is solid and not far off the studio version.
There you have it... thanks for reading!


Andrew said...

I like your epic ride reports. It shows the mental side of long distance riding which is even more important than the physical side. Please don't twitterize your posts into "I rode 300K on Saturday. It took a long time and was moderately difficult."

kG said...

I think we finally rode together, 3 years after this post! Cheers!