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Solo 207k Ride

by on January 18, 2011

This Ride: 129.4 miles
Month: 346.8 miles
2011: 346.8 miles
Cumulative Total: 6,466.5 miles

Wow! That tore me up.  This was one hard ride.  Having said that, I accomplished most of my goals.  I finished.  I had a little bit left in the legs at the end.  I had very respectable numbers, and I learned a lot.

The lengthy details are after the break.

In the days (week) leading up to this ride, I was very preoccupied with the ride.  A solo 207k  was a lot to plan for in terms of equipment, pacing, pre-ride nutrition, and the bike’s readiness.  That is especially true since I’ve ridden only one 200 k before and relied heavily on the experience of the other riders.  Friday I installed fresh batteries in lights, cleaned and lubed the chain, installed a new front tire and tube, replaced my rear break pads and mounted a trunk bag.  I laid out clothing, and alternatives.  I planned food and water.  I marked target times on the cue sheet.   All that preparation paid off.

I also watched the weather.  The forecast was constantly changing.  Early in the week, the forecast was for a low of 29° F and a high of near 40°.  Later, precipitation was forecast.  Sunday, the forecast for ride day was low of 19° and high of 34°.  Actual ride temps were 31° – 32°.  My Garmin link shows how flat a temperature profile it was.  The spikes correlate to stops, with the big spike when I put the Garmin in my top tube bag while stopped.  A worrisome addition to the forecast was precipitation (in the form of snow or sleet or freezing rain) as early as 10 am in Solomons, and 6 pm in Crofton.

Waiting around ready to go.

Ride Day came and I got up way too early.  I waited around the house for what seemed like an hour before I left.  I had done so much careful planning and preparation that it took me only moments to dress and be ready.  I arrived at the first control way too early.  I had to wait for 25 minutes for 7:00 to arrive.  Again, great preparation meant that once I arrived, I was ready to go in 5 minutes.  Soon it was go time.  I remembered to press start on Garmin, and away I went.

This first part of the ride was the best.  It was about 1/2 hour before sunrise, so there was light behind the heavy cloud cover.  I was pedaling smoothly.  It was taking no time to get accustomed to the extra bulk of the trunk bag, although I did notice that side winds were more noticeable.  At about 10 miles in, I noted a squeak that was hard to pin down, and seemed to change all through the ride.  I was anxious about it, because it seemed to be coming from one of my wheel hubs.  I remembered Mike telling me to give him a call if I got into trouble and I commented back, “Like if my wheels break?”.  I checked my brakes, but beyond that, there was little I could do, and simply pressed on, hoping my hub didn’t seize up.

I was eating regularly.  I was hydrating regularly.  I did both even though it didn’t feel like I needed it.  I stopped for a bathroom break at mile 13 and again at mile 36.  At each, I thawed out my water using the hot water tap from the coffee spigot.  I changed gloves at the first bathroom stop because my hands were overheating.  Soon I was making my way into Solomons and the information control located there.  I was pleasantly ahead of the planned pace and feeling pretty good considering that I had covered about 60 miles.

Solomons Control: Me, the bike, and the Bay

Solomons Control: Me, the bike, and the Bay

I stopped at the Woodburn’s Market in Solomons.  There was a bathroom break, replacement of the chemical heat pads in my shoes, hot chocolate and a chicken salad wrap.  I refilled water bottles and went to the bathroom again before pushing on.  It was 11:35 am, and life was good.

When did they put all the elevation climbs out of Solomons?  I wasn’t on the bike very long before I was already tired of climbing, and my legs didn’t really want to pedal any more.  As enjoyable as the first part of the ride had been, the second part was no fun.  Maybe I didn’t rest enough.  Maybe it was because I was trying to digest the early lunch.  Maybe it was because it was uphill, but I began to struggle.  Somewhere in the next 15 miles I experienced something I had not ever felt on the bike before.  I had some cramping in my thighs and toes.  I had forgotten to be consuming e-caps!  I quickly downed two of them, along with a Motrin, and vowed to grab two more in the next 30 to 60 minutes.  I blew through St. Leonard without stopping.  By the time I hit mile 81 I had to stop again to consume more calories and get a few minutes rest.  It was here the woman behind the counter in her big dyed platinum blonde hair kept telling me I was crazy because it was too cold to be out riding a bike.  If she said it once, she said it 8 times.  I downed a Snickers bar and most of a Coke, along with two more e-caps.  Then I hit the road again.

Those who have ridden this route know that the rolling hills continue throughout the rest of the ride.  I kept focused on riding.  I allowed my heart rate to drop down into the 130s rather than the 140s and I slowed down considerably.  The dog outside Chesapeake Beach was waiting for me as she had been in December.  This time it was not a frisbee, but a plastic football she wanted me to throw.  Once again, I did not stop to play with her.  She is very friendly, and knows the limits of her yard.  By the time I got to the open control in Chesapeake Beach, I was behind my planned pace, and completely ok with that.  Goals that I set are guidelines.  They can be changed.  At Chesapeake Beach I stopped in the McDonalds and had a cheezeburger, fries, and a Coke.  I think the sodium in this meal helped most of all.  After this stop, there was no more cramping.  I was glad I stopped at the McDonalds.  Sweet Sue’s, our favorite stop in North Beach was closed.

I continued up and down the rollers, groaning each time I saw the next uphill, and shivering on the descents.  I really was able to maintain my body temperature pretty well on this ride, except when the downhills got above about 25 mph in the last half of the ride.  I was feeling bone tired, and yet, still kept going.  I was happy for the close placement of the landmarks/controls/bathroom breaks listed on the cue sheet in these last miles.  I stopped for only a moment at the control at Tacaro Farm to make sure I had the right information.  I memorized it and decided to mark it down later.  At that point I was about 25 minutes behind my planned pace, and figured I would finish at about 5:25, if I could hold the pace.

That’s how it turned out.  Alpacas and sheep were refreshing signs that I was moving along the route.  I hit the Citgo for a bathroom stop about 17 miles from the finish.  I missed one turn at mile 124 but caught it within 100-200 yards, so no bonus miles.  In December, this part of the route was done in the dark, so daylight was a little different for me.  Soon I was on Davidsonville Road and sprinting for the finish … at least riding a quicker pace.  The ride was over at 5:20, but I had to wait in line to get my cue card signed so my official time was 5:25 pm, or 10:25 for the total ride.

I think my goal times were helpful.  They helped motivate me in the controls.  Still, I have no idea how I used so much time in the controls.  My Garmin says I was riding 8:31.  That means that I spent nearly 2 hours not moving!  I can’t figure that one out.  Two very quick bathroom breaks, two information controls, two stops for food, two bathroom breaks with food purchase is all I recall.  I was never more than 20-30 minutes at any of 2 food stops.  This has to be a huge factor in finishing the ride within the time limits.  I was able to complete this ride in about 25 minutes less riding time than I did in December and an hour quicker overall.  That accomplishment felt pretty good.

Keeping my mind occupied was a big part of the solo ride.  There were not very many distractions.  I tried to enjoy scenery, but would forget to look around.  I focused hard on staying on the route.  I counted discarded banana peelings … 8.  I saw a whole pie in a box along side of the road.  Only 3 drivers violated the 3 foot rule.  I was honked at twice, both courteously.  I managed food intake and water intake.  I looked for convenient places to pee (I didn’t find any when I needed them).  In other words, it was easy to listen to my body telling me how tired it was and couldn’t we just stop for a little while.  I tried to ignore those messages.

Following the ride, I got home as quickly as I could.  I took a hot shower, ate some chili and drank a Guiness, then took a dip in the hot tub.  The snow began to fall almost as soon as I got in the hot tub, about 2.5 hours after the end of the ride.

I don’t know when I will want to get back on the bike again.  I don’t know when I will want to ride a 200k again.  I don’t know when I will want to ride solo again.  I’m sure it will come.  It won’t be today.

From → Cycling

  1. I’ve been trying to figure out that cumulative stopped / pause time too and after 12 of them, I’m no closer to really understanding it. I’ve just learned to factor it in when setting my own expectations.

    Congratulations again. I predict you will want to do it again sooner than you think.

  2. Bee permalink

    A wonderful read. Congratulations.

  3. Congratulations and thanks for the descriptive post. Plenty of good tips for me! I have a noob question on control points, namely why do randonneurs still need them? I can understand the concept – they ensure the cyclist rode the proscribed route at within the proscribed pace. But with GPS systems like your Garmin, aren’t control points obsolete, or at the very least optional?

    • ponderingpastor permalink

      Randonneuring owes great allegiance to the early French cyclists and the history of this “sport”. Technology is contributing a great deal to our enjoyment of these rides, but I seriously doubt that control cards will go the way of buggy whips any time soon. Example: to send off a randonneur on their ride, you say, “Bon Route!”.

  4. Hey, congratulations. That’s quite a feat.

    I’m not sure I would want to try it in those temps…I’m impressed.

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