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Sailing Down to Solomons: Sixth 200 k in 6 months

by on May 28, 2011

This Ride: 129 miles
Month: 641.6 miles
2011: 2,849.1 miles
Total since 1/1/2010: 8,968.8 miles

Half the rides to my R-12 are in the bag!

Four riders (Ben, Jeff S. Dave & I) planned to ride the “Sailing Down to Solomons” permanent route on what is both my wedding anniversary (33 years) and anniversary of my ordination (21 years).  The 6 am start was early, to beat the heat.  Frankly, I didn’t sleep well the night before the ride.  I chalk it up to a late in the day prep of the bike and gear needed (finished at 9 pm) and the frustrations of a car that had to go to the shop.  I was awake at 3:45, got up at 4:15, and left the house close to 5:00.  The temperature at the start was 70° F for what would prove to be a warm day.

We pushed off promptly at 6:00 am, and made comfortable speedy work of the first 25 miles.  I was feeling good in my new saddle position and we were getting the group dynamics worked out.  As we moved along, Dave hung with me (as he describes it, he settled into my pace knowing I was the slowest rider of the group) while Ben and Jeff were often seen a quarter of a mile ahead.  They both surged ahead most of the ride, then found themselves waiting at key intersections for us to catch up.  That had to be frustrating for them, but they just couldn’t hold back either.  It took Dave a while to settle into my pace.  He would draft me, and then as I fatigued we would ride side by side.  If I drafted off him the first half of the course, he would gradually slow down to under 16 mph and I would move along side him to reestablish the pace.  This wasn’t much of a problem except that some 20 miles outside of Solomons, we were moving into an increasingly stronger headwind, and I just couldn’t seem to get a break from the wind.  I was struggling by the time we got to Solomons, feeling very fatigued.  I had payed attention to nutrition and hydration, but still was struggling.  From the beginning I was eating every 30-45 minutes.  I was taking an e-cap every 30 minutes like clockwork.  I wondered how the rest of the ride would go, especially as we started the climbs and rollers of the last half of the course.

We lingered longer than I expected to at the Control in Solomons, then stopped at the 7-11 for some fluid replenishment, food, and potty stop.  Again, this took longer than it needed to, but maybe the rest was good for me.  From that point on, I was quicker for each 5 mile segment than my last Sailing Down to Solomons 200k, although, truth be told the tailwind this trip vs the headwind last trip may have also contributed to the speedier trip back.

The pattern of Jeff and Ben riding ahead continued most of the way back.  Sometimes they would be seen waiting at an intersection.  Several times they rejoined us when I hadn’t seen them.  This pattern eventually led to a miscommunication that could have had serious consequences.  As we approached Chesapeake Beach, Jeff and Ben were waiting before the businesses with a plan to recommend a stop at a convenience store to reload the Gatorade.   Dave and I rode by, headed to Sweet Sue’s.  My internal goal was to reach Sweet Sue’s by noon.  We made it.  But Ben and Jeff were low on fluids and knew that Sweet Sue’s didn’t have Gatorade.  They had expected us to stop and consult with them before entering this open control area, even though that would have been a complete change in the pattern that was already established.  Their backup plan was to stop down the road at the store across the street from the resort, but I told them that the previous month that store was closed for remodeling.  Finally, they decided water would be sufficient over the next 20 miles, the only other convenience store along that stretch.  The store across from the resort was indeed closed for remodeling.  They were glad they had filled up with water at Sweet Sue’s.

The Sweet Sue stop was again longer than I anticipated.  Several strawberry smoothies were consumed.  I had a gluten free chocolate chip cookie that was the best gluten free cookie I’d ever eaten.  (My daughter has celiac disease, so I’ve had my fair share of gluten free products.)  We learned that the staff of Sweet Sue’s is anticipating the SPP ride there on Monday.  Soon we were on our way into the part of the course with the longest climbs and most frequent rollers, and not only the most familiar but also the favorite of a lot of SPP riders.  Jeff was frustrated with my lack of speed on the climbs.  I struggled some and tried to keep my heart rate below 155 on these climbs.  I still was riding these stronger than I had ever ridden them before.  I could see and feel the improvement. By this stretch, Dave was very good company.  It was along here somewhere that we realized we were really riding well.  Our average rolling was above 17 mph, which was higher than Dave thought it would have been.  Being out of sight of the leaders made it feel slower than it was.

Having not partaken of one of those ice cold smoothies at Sweet Sue’s, I was hankering for something cool and sweet.  When we got to the gas station 15 miles from the finish, I wanted and got ice cream.  Again, this stop was longer than expected.  I don’t think I was the hold up.

The rollers continued.  Then, on one of the climbs, I got a pretty severe leg cramp in my upper right leg.  It was 90°F, the consistent e-cap and water regiment had slipped some.  It happened on my least favorite hill.  There was only one option available to me.  I popped two e-caps into my mouth and bit down hard, chewing them and chasing the nasty taste with some Gatorade and water.  E-caps are not very palatable that way.  But in about 10 minutes, the cramps were a fading memory.  We didn’t see Jeff after that stretch.  He motored on, finishing about 15-20 minutes ahead of us (we think).

The three of us were a little grumbly about the course during this last stretch.  Rollers at the end.  An added loop just to keep us off a busy highway.  We were tired and hot. Unfortunately Crista (the route owner) felt more like a dominatrix than the gentle soul she really is.  I wonder if she knows that people love her course and also curse it at the end?

Soon, the home stretch.  We hit nearly every traffic light red in those last couple of miles. Soon we found ourselves in line at the 7-11 to get the control cards signed.  We wasted no time in getting bikes loaded and all going our separate ways.  There wasn’t a desire to linger and re-hash the ride.  Besides, I had an anniversary dinner date to get cleaned up for.

Accomplishments?  This was my fastest 200k to date.  Not only was my average rolling speed 1.2 mph faster (27 minutes), but there was less time stopped also (total 1 hr, 12 minutes).  I know this isn’t a race, but it is nice to have a faster rolling time, especially when our goal going in was to keep moving.  Elapsed time was 43 minutes faster than before.  Fastest speed on a bike now is 42 mph on a short downhill.

I do have some residual numbness in my left hand.  Right hand is fine.  Seat position worked well.

The next 200 k is going to be a challenge to include.  There are only 5 days in June where I have the option of riding a 200k because of other commitments, but in reality most have that kind of narrow window because they are timing their 200ks for weekends and around family schedules.  If I were restricted to weekends, there is only 1 date possible, and that is the day before I fly cross country, a scenario which could lead to deep vein thrombosis or severe dehydration if not managed properly.   I’ll probably try to squeeze another Sailing Down to Solomons in a couple of days before going to California for the start of RAAM.

Up in the next 6 days, two long rides:

  1. SPP Memorial Day Ride (65 & 100 mile options).  I haven’t yet decided which I will ride.  The forecast is hot!  I don’t know how much recovery I need.
  2. My fundraiser ride to Ocean City (115-120 miles) on Thursday.  Too bad this won’t count for a 200k.



From → Cycling

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