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.

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