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A Five Banana Peel Day

by on April 7, 2011

This Ride: 128.4 miles
Month: 202.5 miles
2011: 1,686.2 miles
Total since 1/1/2010: 7,805.9 miles

Let’s get the title out of the way first. On my first 200k in December, Clint, Mike, and I rode the Sailing Down to Solomons Permanent Route after a significant snowfall. We had to watch for patches of ice and snow along the course. On that ride, I noticed quite a few discarded banana peels, and wondered how I would ever live it down if I slipped on a discarded banana peel rather than the ice and snow. Since then, I’ve taken to counting discarded banana peels along the roadway as a way to occupy my mind during these long rides, especially the solo rides. Today … there were 5 banana peels along the road.

I had four goals for today’s 200k.

  1. Finish
  2. Finish in under 10 hours.
  3. Determine if I am ready to try a 300k.
  4. Have some fun … including looking around a bit (I tend to focus on the road so I can count banana peels).

I am pleased to say I accomplished all four.

At the 7:00 am start, it was about 44° F, a little cooler than what was forecast.  That meant some last minute changes in what I planned to wear, and I’m glad I made those changes.  I was comfortable at the start, and didn’t really begin to overheat until my first stop at mile 37.  My plan to increase the odds of finishing in under 10 hours was to make sure that I ate and hydrated well on the bike.  That would hopefully allow me to keep the stops to a minimum.  My plan was to eat something and drink something every 5 miles.  My Garmin is programmed to do a “lap” every 5 miles, so it gives a little beep, and if I miss the beep (and the display of the 5 mile split time) multiples of 5 are easy for my addled brain to figure out.  I don’t really know what impact my plan had on my overall ride, except that I got really tired of eating and drinking every 5 miles.  I also didn’t want to have to pee every few miles, so I tried to balance fluid intake amounts to keep me on the bike.  I also tried to manage my heart rate.  I didn’t want early spikes in heart rate to cost me later in the ride.  That was hard to manage the first 10-15 miles.

I can say that the first half of the ride was absolutely gorgeous.  I was conscious of looking around a good deal.  The flowering trees were in full bloom, and some of the horse farms I passed had more flowering trees than they really needed.  The sky had high thin clouds, so color remained from the sunrise for a while.  I also had a pretty good pace going.  The elevation from Crofton to Solomons Island gradually drops and I had a gentle tail wind part of the way.  The route mostly follows Highway 2, so the Maryland Highway Department has smoothed out many of the rollers.  I made great time, averaging about 17.7 mph to the turn around point.  My only stop to that point was for a few minutes at mile 37 at the WaWa.

In Solomons, I planned a brief pit stop at Woodburn’s Market.  When I arrived, there were “50% off everything” signs in all the windows.  The remaining merchandise was all at the cash registers.  I think today was their last day being open.  I spoke briefly with a cashier, who said they were closing because of the “economy”.  I stopped at a gas station for the pit stop, and service was not nearly as good as Woodburn’s had been on previous trips.  The cashier at Woodburn’s Market said they hoped to open again later, but there were no immediate plans.  And so began the slog back up in elevation.

The second half of Sailing Down to Solomons is a gradual increase in elevation, and Highway 2 is mostly avoided for the side roads full of “rollers”.  Some people enjoy these.  I don’t.  Let me say that again.  I don’t.  My plan was to make it to Sweet Sue’s in North Beach before stopping for a bite to eat.  By the time I got there, I was pretty fatigued.  My eating plan had not been as consistent.  I reasoned that from Solomons to North Beach was only about 35 miles.  I still ate and drank, but just not as often.  Sweet Sue’s was a welcome stop.  I ordered an orange juice & a tuna salad sandwich, put my feet up, and spent about a half an hour in the shop.  I also knew that the “rollers” were only going to get more frequent as I pushed off.

I really struggled from Sweet Sue’s until just about 5 miles from the finish.  My average speed was down.  I was pushing an 8-12 mph headwind.  I had “rollers”.  I was tired.  And to top it off, the temperature was bouncing all over the place, ranging from 73° to 53° F (really, from Solomons this had been true).  The closer I was to the water, the cooler it was.  On the trip north I had three different combinations of vest, arm warmers, and jersey trying to manage the temperature.  Part of my plan for the ride included music for the section of ride from Sweet Sue’s to the finish as a way to distract myself from the effort of those hills.  I’m not sure the plan helped.

Soon I was counting down the miles in single digits, and there was no doubt that I was going to finish well under 10 hours.  At Sweet Sue’s, I predicted my arrival to be between 4:30 and 4:45, but pulled into the finish a few minutes before 4:20, but had to stand in line to buy a banana and get my control card signed.  Those interested in the details of the pace and time, can click on the map below to see the Garmin data.

So, I finished.  I finished in 9:20 (officially).  I determined that I’m NOT ready for a 300k (I can’t imagine going another 62 miles).  I had fun during part of the ride, and the ride kicked my butt … again (but not as bad as before) on the return.

And … I have 5 consecutive monthly 200k rides in the book.  Only 7 more to go for the R-12.

Random experiences during the ride.

  • I had to scare off a flock of Turkey Vultures in order to pass by at one point.  They don’t like to move away from road kill.
  • I heard Bald Eagles, but never spotted any.
  • There were whitecaps on the Chesapeake Bay because of the strong northerly wind.
  • I’m convinced that panel trucks, especially rental panel trucks don’t know that you are not supposed to cross the solid white line on the right side of the road.
  • Other than panel trucks, and one pickup truck driver, most were courteous and gave me wide berth.
  • My forearms are now darker than my hands … resuming the cycling tan.
  • School bus drivers in Calvert County are no better than the ones in Severna Park in giving cyclists at least 3 feet clearance.
  • Even though I’ve ridden this route 3 times now, there are a couple of places where I had to do a U-turn to get back on the route.
  • I’m tired, but it was a good day.
  • It would have been nice to have at least one other rider with me.
  • The Garmin track says I was 42 feet below sea level at one point, and that the finish was 10 feet lower than the start, even though they were the same point (take it with a grain of salt).
  • I’m tired of Gatorade.

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From → Cycling

3 Comments
  1. Nicely done! These 200 km rides are becoming old hat for you now, aren’t they? Very impressive.

    I’ve noticed the same inconsistencies in my Garmin elevation data. It can be off by as much as 40 feet. Strange. Still, I love my Garmin.

  2. Glad you the ride went well.

    I hope you don’t rule the 300K just yet. A few hours after a quick brevet (your best time for 200K?) may not be the best time to make that decision.

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