Sunday, September 14, 2014

An eventful few months

It's been a while so I have a lot of ground to cover.


On May 24 I did a 600K in Edwardsville. This completed my SR series for the year and qualified my to do a 1200K. I had previously registered for the the Cascades 1200 and was on the wait list. I decided to drop out of that ride and do the Taste of Carolina 1200K in October instead.


After the 600K I took too much time off. I did very little extra riding so I only had about 300 miles in June and 200 miles in July. I decide that I needed to pick up the pace if I wanted to be ready for the 1200K. I decide to try to ride 1000 miles in August. This would be a personal record for miles in a calendar month.


To reach my goal I would have to average 33 miles per day. My commute is 14 miles so I need a lot of extra miles. I tried to extend my commutes as much as possible and also do extra riding on the weekends to catch up to the pace.
As of August 18 I had 635 miles (35 miles ahead of the pace). Unfortunately I got hit my a car on my way to work on the 19th. No serious injuries but enough to keep me off the bike for a while.

The Accident

I was heading south on Big Bend in Webster Groves. A car came up from behind me and wanted to make a right onto Baker. He saw me but I guess he thought I was turning right so he sideswiped me. The impact of the car did not do much damage but the impact of the ground did. The driver stopped and I called the police.
I ended up with road rash on my elbow, calf, and ankle. My elbow needed a couple of stitches. I am still dealing with his insurance but I hope to have this resolved soon.
This dashed my hopes for a thousand mile month. I only rode 40 miles the rest of the month.


Since I did not meet my goal for August, I felt like I needed another big goal to get ready for the 1200K. I had already registered for the MS-150 so I decided to ride to the ride. I did this once before and it ended up being 520 miles in 4 days.
This time I decided to rent a tent from Padre's Cycle Inn. This meant that I would not have to carry a tent or deal with setting it up once I got there.
Day 1 (148 miles)
Friday was very hot (high of 95°F) and thunderstorms were predicted for the evening. There was also an issue with part of the Katy trail being closed with no detour. Since I was behind schedule, and because of the  uncertainty of the trail, I followed the Google Maps directions and left the Kay trail near Steedman.
This route was shorter than following the Katy, but it took me along a lot of gravel roads. A little while while after I went through Fulton, the storm hit. There was no shelter nearby and it was too windy to ride on the gravel roads so I had to walk my bike for about 15 minutes. The rain gradually lessened in intensity so I was able to get back on the bike. Riding wet gravel roads was not fun. I managed to stay upright but it was a struggle at times.
With about 15 miles to go, I was back on paved roads. This was a great relief. The rain had stopped as well. When I neared the campsite, I stopped at a Casey's and got a sandwich and a Coke to eat in the tent.
I got to the campsite a little before 8:00. My original plan was to check in to my tent and then pick up my registration packet. While I was putting my stuff away, it started raining hard. I decided to stay in my tent and eat while I waited for it to blow over. Eventually the rain slowed down and I was able to get my packet.
Day 2 (103 miles)
Saturday was the easy day: great weather (high in the 70's), and only 100 miles. The only issue I had was some saddle soreness. I think that this was caused by sitting and coasting on the downhills. I resolved to stand while coasting the next day.
Day 3 (136 miles)
I rode the 75 mile route on Sunday and then started back home. I did not want to ride on the gravel roads so I took the Katy trail. When I reached to closed bridge I was able to go down into the creek bed and climb up the other side. I had to make two trips: one for my bike and one for my gear.
Shortly after I got back on the open trail I came across a down tree. Again I had to make two trips to get through it. It was not nearly as bad as the tree on the 600K in 2007. I met some cyclists heading the other way while I was doing this and I gave them a scouting report on the bridge.
I did not have a plan on where to sleep that night. If I didn't find a hotel or B&B I figured that I could put my sleeping bag on a bench. When I was in Hartsburg I saw a flyer for a restaurant in Tebbetts that was open until 10:00. I figured that I would get there about 9:00, get something to eat, and then figure out a place to sleep.
The bad news is that the restaurant had closed at 8:00. The goods news is that there is a bicycle hostel in Tebbetts. It has bunk beds, showers, a fridge, and a microwave. This was like finding a oasis in the middle of the desert. There was a family (grandfather, mother, and son), and a woman already there. Everyone was friendly and there was plenty of room.
Day 4 (113 miles)
Because the hostel was so comfortable I did not get started until 8:00. By this time the distance was starting to wear on me. The Katy trail is flat, but the crush limestone surface slows you down a little. I estimate that 12 mph on the trail is the same effort as 15 mph on pavement.
This was the toughest day psychologically. The monotony of the trail, the discomfort, and the uncertainty of what would be open can take their toll. Someday I need to ride the Katy when I'm not putting in crazy distance. That way I could stop at every bench and every historical marker if I wanted to. As it was I had to keep grinding.
Leaving the the trail was a big boost. The long climb out of Creve Coeur Park was tough and I think I was starting to bonk. I stopped at the McDonald's at Westport for some fries and a Coke. This refreshed me enough for the rest of the ride. I got home about 8:30. Tired but feeling happy. 500 miles in 4 days is something to be proud of.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Stick with me, I'm lucky

On Saturday I did the St. Louis 400K. It was a great ride and I set a personal record.


There were a total of 17 people riding. 6 doing the 200K, 3 doing the 300K, and 8 doing the 400K. I chatted with John during  the first part of the ride and found out that he is planning to retire as RBA after next year. I am considering taking over for him. Someone needs to do it and I figure that I owe it to the sport.
After that, I bridged up to the group that Bob Booth was in. I always enjoy riding with him. I never even saw the fast group. That's probably good because I wasn't tempted to hang on.
Bob Booth was there and I always enjoy riding with him. We rode together for the rest of the ride.We spent a lot of time riding with Jason until he split off on the 300K route. Bob and Jason were doing most of the pulling and I was hanging on.
In Sparta, Bob and I were joined by Jeff, who had dropped back from a slightly faster group.


The weather was very good. There was almost no wind for most of the ride and even a little bit of a tailwind in the evening. It was hot in the middle of the day during the climbs near Ava. And there was a severe thunderstorm just after midnight.
We were actually very lucky there. There was a chance of thunderstorms for most of the afternoon and evening. We were hoping to avoid any bad weather but we could see the lightning in front of us as we headed north from New Baden. Several times lightning would light the landscape as bright as day for several seconds, but still no rain.
When we got to Marine the front moved in and the wind really started to pick up out of the northwest. I saw a bank with an overhang and we took shelter there before the rain started. We ending up waiting about 45 minutes (and taking a short nap) while the storm passed. After that the rain was gone and we finished the remaining 15 miles with no problem.


Nothing much to say here which is a good thing. I used the rain cover on my trunk back but probably didn't actually need it.


I was pretty tired when we reached Ava. I bought a soda but couldn't drink it. I just drank water and tried to recover from the heat. I got a little sunburn on my arms. I think I must have sweated the sunblock off.
I did not worry about not eating enough. If I wasn't hungry, I didn't eat. I did drink a lot of soda at the controls. I think that I might be part hummingbird. I don't think I had any issues with bonking.


I set my pacing as if I were planning to finished in 20 hours. I did not actually think that I would; I just used this a a trick to help me get me out of the controls faster. It turned out that if not for the storm we would have finished in under 20. Even with the delay I set a new personal best of 20:20. Of course I had a lot of help from Bob and other riders.


Time: 20:20
Rolling time: 16:15:26
Distance: 254.34
Average 15.6

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A little help from my friends

I did not blog about last month's 200K but I'm going to skip that and just blog about yesterday's 300K. I'm going to try something new for this ride report. Instead of a chronological listing of everything that happened, I going to describe different aspects aspects of the ride.


I wasn't sure how many people to expect. I knew that Bob would not be there because he rode the 300K two weeks ago. There ended up being 11 riders. There were two tandems. I rode for a while with Louis, Paul, George, Bard, and John (Barb and John were on a tandem). 
The pace was pretty fast and dropped off before we reached Pocahontas. Barb and John joined me. We stayed together until Lively Grove (mile 128) when I told them they could go on without me. They pulled most of the way. They did thank me for the miniscule amount of pulling that I did. They were great to ride with and I hope to see them again.


The weather was very nice. I brought tights and a jacket but never used them. The wind was out of the southwest so we had a tailwind for the first 25 miles. When we turned south we had a headwind for a good portion of the ride to Oakdale. I was hiding behind Barb and John on the tandem for most of this time. After we turned north we had a tailwind. Unfortunately the wind died down not too long after this. Even so, after the wind died I was averaging 16 mph which is not too bad.


I used my new trunk bag on this ride and it worked just fine. I had plenty of room for the jacket and tights (which I didn't need but I was glad I had). It was much more convenient at stops than a backpack.
This was also the first long ride with my new shoes. I have the cleats set a little farther back than my old shoes and that seemed to work well. I did have a slight problem where I had not tighten the cleats enough and I had to adjust them at one of the stops. No problems after that.


I felt good for most of the ride. I wonder if I ate too much at one point because my stomach bothered me a little. There is a fine line between eating before you're hungry and eating after you're full. I'll keep an eye on that during the next ride.
I pushed myself a little harder to keep up with Barb and John. This was a strategic decision because I wanted to be able to draft them (and because I like riding with other people). This meant that I was slightly burnt out when I reached Lively Grove. I gave myself a nice long rest there (almost an hour) and was fully recovered by the time I hit the road again.


I had good company for most of the ride and still felt good when I was riding be myself. I don't think I could hope for much better. I finished much sooner that I expected.


Time: 14:24
Rolling time: 11:56:58
Distance: 188.21
Average 15.7