Saturday, April 20, 2013

Great day for a 200K

Today was a 200K in Edwardsville. This was my first ride in the St. Louis region this year. The weather forecast called for sunny skies, high of 56°, and light winds. I decided that this was going to a fun ride. If people wanted to go fast, I would go fast. If people wanted to go slow, I would go slow.

My wife dropped me off at the Edwardsville start about 6:30 for the 7:00 start. John Jost (the RBA) was there on his recumbent. The other riders were Bob Booth, Scott (who I had ridden with in 2007), and Jim, a recumbent rider that I hadn't ridden with before.

It was still chilly at the start so I had my big gloves, jacket, and shoe covers. We rolled out right at 7:00. We stay together for a little while but then Bob and Jim started to pull away. I decided to stick with them.

We were all feeling good so we did not stop in Pocahontas (mile 24.4). We figured we would be able to make it all the way to Breese before we need to stop. Jim was going a little faster than I would have gone but nothing that Bob and I couldn't handle. The flat route was ideal for a recumbent (imagine that, a route designed by an RBA who rides a recumbent, that is really good for recumbents). :)

There was a mild wind from the NNW that was helping us along. Occasionally we would turn to the west and get a sneak preview of the slight headwind that we would face later. We got to the first control in Breese (mile 51.4) at 10:12. I had some hash browns and chocolate milk. The hash browns turned out to be cheesy hash browns which tasted really good but were a little heavier than what I was looking for. We were back on the road at 10:31.

We head west and south for a little while before turning west towards Okawville. This is a deceptively long 9 mile stretch. The Gas Mart in Okawville used to be my favorite convenience store in the world when the long rides out of Edwardsville would stop there twice. Last year the Shell Station in New Baden made a strong effort to take the top spot. We got to Okawville at 12:11 and noticed two things: the Gas Mart had become a Circle K, and they had taken out the two booths that used to be there. We bought our food and sat outside to eat it.

We left Okawville (mile 78.3) at 12:44. There was a headwind now but nothing too severe. We took turn pulling but Jim's recumbent did not provide too much help for us upright folks. I pulled ahead a bit as we neared New Baden. There is one mile stretch on a busy road there so I did not want to slow down. Once I turned onto Ruth Schoolhouse road, I soft pedaled and waited for Jim and Bob to catch up. I eventually saw them behind me but it seemed to be taking them a long time to catch up.

When they did, Bob told me that his legs were tired and that he would need to ride slower for a while. He told me and Jim that we could go on without him. I told him that it was a nice day and that I didn't mind slowing down a bit and enjoying the day. Even though the tables in the New Baden Shell Station (mile 92) were calling to me, we decided that we could make it to St. Jacob before we need to stop.

It was finally reached the predicted high temperature and I was feeling great. I wasn't on a mission to set a personal best so slowing down just made the ride more enjoyable. We got to St. Jacobs (mile 107.6) at 2:55. We took off our jackets and enjoyed the sunshine. I texted Helen and told her that she should pick me up at 5:00. While we we snacking, we saw Scott ride by. He waved, but didn't stop.

We rolled out at 3:18. About 5 miles later we caught up to Scott as he pulled over to the side of the road. His left crank had come off the spindle and was hanging from his shoe. With the help of an Allen wrench and a rock, we were able to make a roadside repair (I supervised the operation).

I got a chance to talk with Scott and before I knew it we were back on Fruit Rd. I was still feeling great and was almost sad that we nearing the end. The four of us finished together at 4:44. I had a great time and still felt strong. Helen was already at the parking so I didn't have to wait.

After I got home, I played soccer with the kids for a while. I was tired but not exhausted. It was nice to have a local ride that did take up the whole day (or more).

Bike computer stats:
Time: 8:20 (9:44 clock time)
126.82 miles
Avg: 15.2 mph
Max: 26.0 mph 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Kansas City 300K

It's been a week and a half since I did my 300K in Kansas City. I guess I'd better blog about it before I do my next brevet.

This was my first brevet in the KC region, and oddly enough it was also my first brevet in Missouri. All of the St. Louis brevets take place in Illinois. I was look forward to meeting Keith Gates (aka CommuterDude), who told me he'd be there.

The start of the ride was in Oak Grove, MO. This is about 3.5 hours from my house so I planned on spending the night there before and after the ride. Traffic was a bit of a problem leaving St. Louis so I didn't get to the motel until about 10. At least I got a fair amount of  sleep before the 6 am start.

I was a little confused about where the start was. The cue sheet said it was the Econolodge (where I was staying) but the start was actually in the Walmart parking lot across the street. Fortunately I saw another rider and asked him.

There were about 18 riders at the start. This is bigger than the rides that I've done lately. There was a lot of wind that morning. It was blowing out of the southwest so it would be helping us for the first half of the ride. After the turnaround things would be tougher.

The ride started at  a pretty good pace. After a while there were about 9 of us in the front group. The pace might have been a little faster that I would have gone otherwise but I didn't want  to drop off yet. I chatted with Keith a little. He was riding his green Kogswell. That is a nice looking bike.

The first control was in Higginsville (mile 26.7) at 7:45. I bought an empty package of hash browns and an empty container of chocolate milk. At least they were empty after I waited in line to pay. We were back on the road about 8:00 which is a pretty good time for that size of group.

The next stop was in Marshall (mile 58.2) from 11:05-11:15. This was not a control but it was a good place to resupply. the group has spread out a bit but I was still with some other riders. I still thought that the pace was too fast. At one point while I was thinking this, I realized that I was in the very front, so I slowed down.

When we got to the flat section near Glasgow, I realized that I was pushing myself too hard. I didn't want to fall off the front group. I knew that I was burning myself out but I just couldn't let up. Eventually I did slow down but the damage had already been done. The hilly section between Glasgow and Fayette was just a grind. By the time I got to the turnaround (mile 97.3) at 12:45 I was feeling pretty tired.

I spent almost an hour at the control. I finally got back on the road at 1:40. The hilly section that hurt be coming in was almost as bad heading back. The flat section by Glasgow was worse. Now we we headed into a monster headwind. It was a struggle to stay above 10 mph. I got to Slater (mile 122.3) at 3:55. This means I averaged just over 11 mph for this section. But when you factor in the 30 minutes I spent in Slater I was only averaging 9 mph.

The next stop was in Marshall (mile 135) at 5:40. At one point during the section, I calculated that I needed to do 7.3 mph to finish by the cutoff. This seems easy but when I left Marshall at 6:00 I would need to maintain 7.5 mph. This means that I was losing ground. Fortunately the wind was supposed to die down soon.

When I left Marshall at 6:09 I was riding solo. The other two riders were not ready yet and I didn't want to lose any more time. There weren't any turns for the next 24 miles so I wasn't worried about getting lost. The wind did indeed slow down when the sun went down. In Corder, I made a left on V. I decided to take a short break on the side of the road. I thought that some other riders might catch up but none did.

This is where I got lost. Somehow I thought that I was already on AA. On AA I was supposed to go 4 miles before the next turn. This meant that that I missed the right turn onto AA after 2 miles. Unfortunately, by going straight, the road I was on turned into AA. This meant that when I saw some signs that said I was on AA I though I was on the right track.

After going 4 miles (2 miles past where I was supposed to turn) I could tell that I had done something wrong but I didn't know what. I turned around and head back. My tired brain brain figured out that since I was on AA, and that I had made a left to get on the road I was on, and I was supposed to make a right on AA, that I had made a wrong turn at the last turn.

I went back the whole 4 miles (2 miles past the turn in the other direction). If I had made a right her I would have been on BB so I knew that wasn't right. I rode on MO-20 for a while to see if there was another right later on to AA (there wasn't). I finally came back to the the turn onto V and figured out what I did wrong. I had ridden about 9 bonus miles and several riders must have passed me.

Now that I was back on track I was extra paranoid about making wrong turns. I finally caught up to another group of three riders in Higginsville (mile 166 + 9) at 10:10. I got something to eat and joined up with them when they got back on the road at 10:32. They told me that there were only 2 more turns in the route at that they were both T intersections. I told them that I would have a 50-50 chance of making the correct decision at each one.

Some of the hills were very annoying. The roads were a little rough so you could not blast down the downhills in the dark. But you still had to work hard on the uphills. I fell back a couple of time but the other riders waited so that we could finish together. We finished at 12:47. Only a little more than an hour before the deadline but we weren't worried.

It was a tough ride but there were some great people there so I had a good time. I plan on returning for the 400K in a few weeks.