Monday, February 11, 2013

Birthday 200K

I needed a 200K in February to continue my quest for an R-12 award. Fortunately, Miles Stoneman had scheduled a 200K brevet for February 9th. That also happens to be my birthday.

The brevet started in Mt. Vernon, IL. This is a little closer to St. Louis than Marion so I got to sleep until 4:30. I've gotten used to packing so I was on the road at 5:00. I got to Mt. Vernon about 6:30. As I pulled into the Huck's parking lot Miles waved me down and showed me where everyone else was parked. He also showed me what he had in honor of my birthday. Miles had had cookies made my picture on them. He used a picture of me from the end of the 600K in October. He gave cookies to all the riders and let me take the leftovers home afterwards.

There were four others riders for the 200K: Roy, Bob, Joe, and Mike. Miles was doing the 100K. It was about 35° when we rolled out. The 5 of us on the 200K route stayed together for about 10 or so miles but eventually split into three groups. Roy and Bob were off the front and Mike dropped behind Joe and me.

Joe was using a GPS for navigation. Unfortunately the batteries gave out about an hour into the ride. I told him that I would navigate and make sure that we didn't get lost. I had replaced the bike computer that I had lost in January. Joe also wanted to finish before dark so I set a 5:00 finish as my goal.

After a while, Joe's feet started getting cold. He said that he wanted to stop to put his shoe covers on. I told him that I didn't mind stopping but that was a convenience store coming up in about 5 miles. He decide to wait until then.

We stopped in Thompsonville (mile 32) at about 9:15. I bought a coke to drink then and some pop tarts for the road. We were back on the road by 9:30.

The route was an out and back. It went south from Mt Vernon to Tunnel Hill and then returned along the same route. Thompsonville was not a control on the way down but would be on the way back. Creal Springs (about 8 miles before the turn around) was a control on the way down but not on the way back.

As we got close to Creal Springs, I discussed our strategy with Joe. I wanted to have a longer lunch stop. We could either do that on the way south, or make a quick stop to get our cards signed on the way south and then have a longer stop on the way back. Joe said that it would feel better to stop after the halfway point and I agreed.

We stopped long enough to get our cards signed in Creal Springs (mile 55) a little after 11. I also took off my balaclava and outer gloves. It had warmed up to the day's high of about 45°. We then continued on to Tunnel Hill. This was the only really hilly portion of the route. I had only used the big ring in front so far in the ride so I decided to tray to make it through the ride without shifting into the small ring, A couple of miles before the turnaround we saw Roy and Bob coming the other way.

We reached Tunnel Hill (mile 63) at just before noon. This meant that the first half had taken 5 hours. If we kept up the same pace on the way back we would be done by 5. Of course fatigue would make it more difficult, but we had a secret weapon. We had been riding into a slight headwind all the way south so we would be able to enjoy a light tailwind on the way back.

It did feel noticeably easier once we turned north. A couple of the hills challenged my resolve to use only the big ring but I stuck with it. We got back to Creal Springs at 12:30. I had a slice of pizza and a coke. We were back on the road just before 1:00. We were both feeling good.

We got to Thompsonville (mile 93) at 2:30. I had a snack and bought some more food for the road. We left about 2:45.  I told Joe that if we maintained 15 mph the rest of the way we would finish before 5. We still had a tailwind so this looked like it was doable.

On this last stretch I was trying to set a good pace. Joe fell behind at times but I never let him get out of sight. I asked him if he wanted to slow down but he said I was doing fine. I think that he was feeling a little tired. Some of the roads on this route are a little bumpy but the last 14 miles were really smooth. Our speed increased at this point.

We finished at 4:51. Miles was there to welcome us. I was happy that we made our self-imposed deadline. I think that the ride could not have gone much better. The weather was great, I had someone to ride with the whole way, and no mechanical issues.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Lots of miles in January

I was curious what my mileage total for January would be. I knew it would be a lot because I rode 2 200Ks (even if only one counted). The total was 512 miles. This is a record for me for January. In fact, since my accident in 2008, I have only had three months with more than 500 miles. These were the months when I did my 2 400Ks and my 600K.

When I looked back at my logs to confirm this, I was surprise to find that I rode 465 miles in January of 2007. 2007 was my highest mileage year. I rode at least one century every month, an SR series, and that crazy 520 mile long weekend. I also rode group rides on many weekends.

I would love to get back to that level of fitness, but that will take getting back to that level of motivation. I did not miss many commuting days back then and still did weekend rides. I was finding excuses to ride instead of excuses not to ride. Riding 200Ks on consecutive weekends shows that my body is capable, I just need to get my mind in shape.