July 4, 2018

The Cole Camp 410km brevet - 5/5/2018 recap and notes

Better late than never? 
Over the next couple weeks I'm cleaning out the hopper and getting some notable rides posted, finally.  Enjoy! 

It's become more and more difficult to find the time and energy to write with my current workload and priorities, so I've not posted much of anything in recent months.  Still, I've been trying to keep the riding going and have made some good strides toward consistency and personal health.  A bit of this post will relate some of those discoveries, and pass on some photos from the 5/5/18 Cole Camp 410km ride that I just decided to "do."  

I say it that way because, regardless of consistency I hadn't been able to ride a 200km for months.  So, I was embarking on a 410km (250+ mile) journey without much base.  I'd done the 70 miles gravel brevet back in March, and a 90-miler in April, but little else aside from commutes - which, because of my mental hang-up about cold weather which seems to rear its ugly head every February, had been spotty at best.  Still … if you don't start, you never will.  What could go wrong?

Let's jump backwards a few months, first. 

2017 was a really good year for cycling.  
A lot of great rides happened which deserve write-ups, each in their own right, but the same constraints of time-passed, commitments, and mental energy . . . some of it is just "gone," at least for the purposes of these pages.

The Fall Dart from last October was amazing.  I don't think a single ride I've done has inspired so much change, discussion, and wonderment.  People who had participated in that ride came home and built all new bicycles just to be more prepared for the next edition.  Really.  There's gravel.  There's hills.  ...and then there is gravel and hills in the Ozark region of Missouri.  I was prepared to be amazed, but I had no idea how challenging and satisfying a single 200km event could be.  And it was a DNF for our team.  I don't think anyone really cared about that.  Honestly, it would have been my 12th and final ride needed for my 5th R-12, and even when it was inevitable that the ride wouldn't "count," I never felt an ounce of regret or disappointment.  It was simply epic, and it's doubtful I'll ever forget it.  People broke saddle rails, racks, there were more flat tires than I care to mention, spirits were broken and repaired, the views were amazing, and the smiles were huge.

Less than a week later I jumped back on to the bike, back home on familiar, paved roads, and grabbed the last R-12 installment that I needed to get my 5th complete R-12 run.  It wasn't a hassle.  That Fall Dart was tremendously rewarding.

The planning stages for another Fall Dart in 2018 have begun.  You should think about joining RUSA.  

...But, after that ride I was pretty much "done" with riding longer distances.  I was tired.
Adding to this, I hadn't really been treating myself very well, food-wise, which I realize is a long-recurring theme over the last decade or so.  This time, while I was managing to remain consistent on the bike, I was developing a bit of the mid-40's male mid-section, and my health markers were not where they should have been, or at least not representative of the level of activity I'd been performing.  After some personal inventory, it was time to clean up my diet.  I won't talk about the past.  I won't talk about numbers.  If we end up riding together, and you ask, I'll talk about it -- but not here.  Short story, I've managed to get back on track, and I'm eating like a grown-up cyclist again.  The riding, to say the least, has been pretty good since then, and I've been re-energized for long-distance endeavors again.

Still, jumping into a 400km ride without so much as a 200k to stand on for six months seemed a little risky.

It's a lot of distance . . . so, most of this will be condensed into photo captions.
Honestly, if nothing else.... yes, I will keep this blog going … but, lately, Instagram and Twitter have been really helpful in relating activity in a timely manner.  It's hard to be a blogger in this day and age.  The times are always a-changin'...as is people's spans of attention.  

Seriously, look for @rusadude on Instagram.  Thanks!

Adam, at left, on the maiden voyage of his new steed, and a smattering of other very talented riders are cutting up the early miles of the ride, back in the fields southeast of Grain Valley, MO.  I hadn't been on these roads since riding the Knob Noster 200km permanent, and it was kinda nice how some of the bigger hills felt "smaller."  It was also February and quite cold last time I'd been out here, and the finally-warm temps felt good.  A lot of these riders had endured a winter that simply wouldn't let go.  Only weeks prior, at the 300km event, the expected seasonal temps never arrived and it snowed.  The spring had been cold, windy, cloudy, and wet.  Finally, the sun had come out on the rando crew.

The father-son DelNero duo and Adam heading east on Missouri Route VV, freshly paved and largely traffic-free.  Feeling fresh and alive under the early morning sunshine, it was a great day with calm winds.

But, as we all know by now, reading this in early July, the sun is different this year.  I can't quite explain it.  It started to get warmer, and warmer. . . and warmer.   With a forecast high only expected in the low 80's, it rose almost 15 degrees above that and began to take its toll on some of the riders.  Here, heading east we get a rare treat and flyover from a bit of American super-powered-ness.  Yessss…. so cool.

In Sedalia, MO. at the jumpin' McDonald's there, KC randonneuring's finest around the table, from the left Gary D., Anda A. (she's a new rider, but already rides like a veteran), Joe E., Rod G., and Spencer K.  Much food was consumed.  Hydration was quickly becoming a "thing" and without even thinking about my own thirst I downed 4 refills of water in my 20 oz. McD's cup - supplemented with Hammer Endurolytes - while sitting in the cold A/C and eating what I could for the next leg.  

Under crystalline skies, our group continues east toward the next control.  I love this shot - just a perfect post-card of randonneuring bliss in the Missouri countryside.

But, it was hotter than most of us had been used to.  All I could do was look down at times, as it'd been so bright.  Here, I study the details of Adam's new bike and admire the crispness of the shadow the bright sunshine is casting on the pavement.  No trees, no shade.

The middle section of the ride started to get into some really scenic country, all new territory for us - desperately pretty, but hilly at times.  Combined with the heat of the day, nobody really felt quite perfect at the half-way control, and break times began to increase.  The A/C was so cold inside some controls, many began to get chills.

Hydrate, and try to eat.  Repeat.  After a springtime series which seldom allowed riders even the simple comfort of removing arm warmers, the sudden weather shift proved challenging.  

Finally at Cole Camp, MO. - the route's namesake - we came upon the best Missouri lettered highway marking combination I've ever seen.  Well-played, Cole Camp.  Well-played.  While the state highway department affectionally gave us "the finger", I think the feeling was mutual among some of the riders.  Here, after struggling with cramps and nausea, Adam would call it a day.  Feeling equally weird, I took an especially long break here as well before continuing.  Last on the road, I'd face the final 100 miles alone and in the dark.  At least it would cool off a little.  Yeesh.

Though I do enjoy people's company, years of solo missions and personal R-12 time-trials do pay off sometimes.  Nothing but my thoughts and dark country roads, I chipped away at the mileage, hitting Sedalia again, enduring some light rain (which actually felt really nice) in Warrensburg, having the Casey's all to myself in Holden, MO., and then here at Lone Jack, MO., getting jacked for the last - quite hilly - 12 miles back into Grain Valley and the finish.  I think it's around 4:00 AM in this shot.  Have caffeinated Espresso Hammer Gel, will travel.  Let's do this.

My camera really didn't handle this request well.  Finally, a bright spot in the darkness, I make the final turn and begin the last leg north toward Grain Valley, MO. and the finish, just a few miles distant.  Greeted by a lone Spencer K. standing in the motel parking lot giving an encouraging holler, I put my feet down for a 410km finish right at about 23 hours.  Not a wicked fast 410km, but, considering the very long stops and rests, it was not a bad day.  Thanks to recent dietary changes and a few lost pounds, I felt surprisingly good... almost ready for more.  

Random raw notes:


- breakfast: black coffee, oatmeal & honey
- hashbrown and starbucks double shot can in Grain Valley right before the ride
- Holden, MO. control:  Hashbrown, Raspberry Fig Bars - pbj crackers (6pk) for the road
- pbj crackers on route to Sedalia, 1 serving of Hammer Gel per hour enroute
- Sedalia control: McD's, egg mcmuffin w/ no CB, large fries (should have gotten medium), 4 20oz waters, Endurolyte tab
- consistently emptied bottles between controls, with Hammer Fizz tabs in each (electrolytes)
- Windsor control:  small can Pringles, 12 oz. V8 juice, water, pbj crackers for road
- Lincoln, MO.: refilled water, continue on pbj crackers, no purchases here
- Cano Country Store: water, 2 bags plain potato chips (Uncle Rays brand), endurolyte tab
- Cole Camp, MO: long rest w/ Adam; 1 slice cheese pizza, water w/ electrolytes 
- Had a 2nd V8, can't remember if at Cole Camp w/ pizza, or at Sedalia after dark
- Hammer Gel on road, as before, consistent on road between controls; added espresso HG after Sedalia control (nite mode)
- Sedalia control: PM, Casey's: water, small can Pringles, more pbj crackers for road, long leg to Holden from here
- Holden, MO.:, Starbucks dbl shot can, couple of pbj crackers, raspberry fig bars (same as AM) one for now, one for road
- Lone Jack, MO. (store closed) finished pbj crackers, espresso Hammer Gel for run to the finish!
- Immediately after ride, packed car, drove through McD's in Grain Valley, ate in parking lot: egg mcmuffin w/ no cb, 2 hashbrowns, large water, finished remaining ride water/Fizz mix.

Equipment and Gearing

New 48/38 chainrings up front, true "half-step" front gearing difference seemed to favor more consistent speed and less overall shifting around; sorta favors my overall style of being "single speed" in mindset, but with options.  The 38x27 combo was sufficient for even the steepest hills in the Ozarks area, excellent cruising otherwise - right in the middle of the cassette with good mid/high cadence.  Shifting from small ring to big ring subtle enough to not "spike" the legs with too much load, no cadence over-runs when shifting from big to small for climbs.   

Yup... total knuckle-dragger, I'm running an old lugged steel frame with downtube shifters and 9-speed gearing, 12-27 tooth cog out back, and 48/38 front.  
Honestly, 48x12 is plenty big... and I still never find myself needing that gear.
The business-end, however, 38x27, is butter on longer climbs if one keeps the cadence up.  Yeah, sometimes I feel like I'd want a true compact gearing setup with a 34 or 36 tooth front ring, but, I just prefer the look of my old Shimano Ultegra 6500 crankset.  It fits the aesthetic of the frame.  One of these days they will stop making bottom brackets and my hand will be forced, but, I like a certain look.  

Issues:  2017 Specialized Mtn Sport shoes seemed to create hotfoot issues under balls of feet, but, seemed linked to strap tightness; even with the straps quite loose, it felt like I wanted to loosen them even further.  This was with thin wool RUSA socks, nothing excessive.  My last, now retired, Specialized Sport Mtn shoes didn't exhibit this effect, so whatever they did with the last model change, my feet don't seem to like it.  I miss them, but the heel cup is completely shredded on both shoes, I don't think that's a repairable issue.  They fit great and feel great, aside from ruining socks and cutting up my Achilles area... which is a deal-killer.  I miss the sandals at times like this.  Definitely notice the issue is more apparent when hydration is behind, however... so, maybe it's not circulation?  Dunno.  Still monitoring and adjusting where possible.


B2 bomber takeoff and flyover

Trying to Yehuda Moon the roadside speed camera in Green Ridge, MO.

MS-150 memories all along MO-58, Green Ridge, Centerview, MO. -- been on a lot of these roads before in my "pre-rando" days

Ambitious Rider drafting the farm equipment at 23 mph, flies past us like we're standing still

Awesome flash of heat lightning over horizon when checking maps at MO-23 south of airbase, after dark

Rain in Warrensburg, and on last couple miles to Holden - nothing bad

"Hammering" along MO-58 between Kingsville and Strasburg -- feeling FRESH after 225 miles, amazingly, and secret dreams of actually reeling in a rider --- not realizing that they'd all finished at least 45 minutes ahead of me.  FINALLY, the last 30 miles don't feel like a death-march, and maybe some of it is the nutrition choices -- on and off bike.

Lost 20 lbs since last 200k (as of 5/5/18, referring to Oct. '17 200k), far better diet, no refined sugars, lower calories overall - still eating whatever, but making far smarter choices, more protein, choosing items with as few ingredients as possible, etc.  Absolutely NO soda on or off bike is a large component.  Stuck with Starbucks canned coffee for any caffeine after dark, water with electrolytes, V8, that's ALL.  Nothing sweet, no pastries... while those items do "work" and have in the past, it's the sugar crash that likely creates the death-slog issues I've faced in the past.  Consistent energy is far better than quick, flash-fire sugary stuff, for me.  The Starbucks canned espresso and cream does have sugar, yes... but, it feels vastly different than when I'd have a can of Coke.  

Small amounts of protein during ride, not sure if it actually helped, but it can't have hurt:  PB crackers, the egg mcmuffin w/ cheese, small amount in the Starbucks dbl shot.  No choc milk - thinking the lactose and addtl protein would be difficult, based on past experience.  Fig bars were good, the same organic type sold at the Hy-Vee health section.  Very tasty, all natural, nothing added.  I need to buy some and keep in saddle bag for longer rides, if the stores don't carry them.  Very effective and delicious.

Great ride.... feeling almost invincible afterwards, like, let's start another R-12 run already!
It's never "EASY"... but, after some changes it did feel "easi-ER".

Remember this next time a big soda and some peanut M&M's sounds tasty.
What I put in my body matters.

Thanks for reading!
On to the next!

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