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August 200K

by on August 6, 2013

With Monday’s forecast of temperatures of 65° – 80° F, low humidity, and a relatively gentle breeze it was easy to decide to take the day off work and ride a 200k.  I opted for a 6 am start and chose to do one of my routes on the Eastern Shore, since the decision was made late.  I prepped Sunday night and was ready Monday morning for the solo ride.

Sunrise was spectacular.  There were clouds in the east, and well before the sun rose, I was treated to brilliant red sky, gradually turning to pink.  Those clouds blocked the actual sunrise, which helped since the first part of my route travels in a mostly easterly direction.  I made the dangerous crossing of Highway 50 and 301 at the Queenstown Outlets without incident or trouble.  Then from the town of Queenstown to Centreville my mind was occupied by three things.

First, was my goal for the ride.  I was catching just a little bit of a headwind at times as I moved north.  That would mean that I might be able to put in a very good time on this ride.  I established a goal of setting a personal record on this route and also committed to changing the most despised part of the route into a fun ride.

Second,  since the sun was in my face and low in the sky I spent a lot of time looking in my rear view mirror.  I was having trouble seeing what was ahead of me and I knew that would also be true of any cars coming from behind me.  I didn’t want to get hit from behind because I couldn’t be seen.  My plan was to ride as far right as possible when a car approached from behind, ready to take to the ditch if it looked like I wasn’t visible.  The only cars that approached from behind during this dangerous stretch of road did so while I was in shade and my dual rear flashing lights could easily be seen.

Finally, I spent quite a bit of time thinking about what I might do if I got hit.  I created elaborate scenarios where I lay in the ditch with a broken leg and collar bone, mangled bike and tried to figure out how to tell emergency responders where I was.  Meanwhile, I’m keeping my speed up and watching my rear view mirrors.  I grew tired of this negative mental game and proceeded to focus on the speed.

Once I “cleared” Centreville, I focused on keeping the pedals turning, pressing into the light headwind and making time.  Originally I thought that I might keep my heart rate in the 130’s but pretty consistently I was in the upper 140’s and feeling fine.  I decided to let my body rather than the heart rate monitor determine my pace.  Gradually my average speed came up.

When I arrived at Chestertown, I stopped briefly at the control and texted a few people about my progress.  I then set off immediately with any wind at my back for the next 2 segments.  I made short work of the stretch to Millington.  I stopped to top off fluids and food, knowing that the next 35 miles or so had no opportunities for refills.  While in the convenience store, another customer inquired about my cycling plans and was astonished that I had already covered 45 miles.  The shop owner got in on the conversation and I had to linger about 5 minutes longer than I wanted just to listen to his life story.  It was interesting, but I wanted to keep moving.  A vendor arrived, and let me off the hook.  I prepared a new bottle of Roctane, topped off my Camelback and ate a Snicker’s bar.

The stretch from Millington to Herrington was the segment I was looking forward to the most.  Winds were from the NW, so this would be a mostly downwind leg, and I was ready.  When I finally settled in on the SE direction, I could tell that the wind was about 8-10 mph and soon I was consistently over 20 mph.  In one 10 mile stretch, I averaged about 22 mph.  I knew I would pay later as the last part of the course travels NW, but for now, this was simply great.  I stopped a couple of times before reaching Herrington to catch my breath and stretch my legs.  My legs were feeling fatigued from the high gear I was pushing.  I also maintained an awareness of my hydration.

I rolled into the control at Herrington (81 miles) just under 5 hours from the start.  My Garmin showed a rolling average speed of 18.4 mph.  I was feeling great and I was confident that the headwinds for the next 50 miles would not be insurmountable.  I decided to keep this stop short.  I topped off water.  I mixed a bottle of Roktane.  I ate an ice cream sandwich.  Next stop was not that far away in Denton where I could already taste the bowl of ice cream at Bullock’s.

The further I moved away from Herrington, the more I was pushing into a headwind.  I felt my speed drop and my legs were working harder to keep up the attempt at a personal record.  There was a possibility that I could blow the old one out by close to an hour, so I pushed on.  By this time, I also worked out in my head that this faster speed was a good test and training run for my upcoming 600 k.  By making the mere 200 k more of an effort, I was simulating the effort needed for a longer ride.  It is amazing what my brain does when I am left to my thoughts for hours on end.

Just before reaching Denton, I noted some twinges and pre-cramping in my legs.  I had started taking e-caps (electrolyte capsules) in the first hour of the ride, taking about 1 an hour.  I started doubling up on them.  The pre-cramps turned into a mild cramp with about a mile to go to Bullock’s, so I simply pushed on, knowing I would be able to stop soon.

At Bullock’s, I had a bowl of hand dipped ice cream and debated whether or not I should get a bag of potato chips for the sodium in them.  I had chosen not to eat lunch because with my heart rate averaging 147 to that point, I figured that I would have trouble with my stomach if I ate much more than ice cream.  I opted against the potato chips.  I did a shot of tequila without the tequila or lime (licked salt off my hand).  That was completely unsatisfying.  I topped off the Camelback and my Roctane  bottle and popped 2 e-caps and was ready to ride.  At mile 99.7 (less than 3 miles down the road) I had a cramp in my left quad that stopped my leg moving and I painfully climbed off the bike.  I had 32 miles to go, mostly into a headwind, and I needed to get the cramps under control.  Two more e-caps went down.  (I continued 2 e-caps every 30 minutes the rest of the ride.)  I stretched.

I then climbed back on the bike and discovered through trial and error (lots of error) the sweet spot for cadence and speed that kept the cramps mostly at bay.  Unfortunately, that was at about 14-15 mph.  I spent a lot of time in that range, cramping whenever I moved much faster than that or failed to keep the cadence up.  I watched my ETA slide considerably, but I had no doubts that a personal record would be set, if I didn’t have to stop to nurse the cramps every few miles.  My leg did seize up a couple more times.  The cramps also extended into my right arch.  But I was moving.

Just a few miles outside of Queenstown, I was able to catch something other than the wind in my face and it felt good knowing that I was just a dozen miles away from the finish.  My speed improved.  My mood brightened.  I began to increase my speed and although I wasn’t completely out of the woods yet, the e-caps were finally in my system helping my muscles to fire properly.  The crossings of Highways 301 and 50 were uneventful and I was headed to the barn.

I kept the speed up to just under the cramp threshold, and rolled into the finish 8 hours 44 minutes after pushing off.  That’s 29 minutes faster than my previous best solo ride on this route and just 13 minutes off the fastest solo ride on this route.  I know … RUSA events are not races, but despite the cramps, this was a really good and fast ride!

Randonneuring is all about managing the unexpected events that will occur on rides, and enjoying the long distance riding.  It has been a long time since I had cramps like this and had thought I had it solved with the Roctane.  I guess it is not that easy.  As much for my own curiosity and the ability to look back at this post later, my nutritional intake for this ride consisted of a bowl of Honey Nut Cherrios for breakfast, a small cinnamon roll, coffee, orange juice at the start, two Roctane gel packs, a Snicker’s bar, an ice cream sandwich, a small bowl of ice cream, & 3 or 4 bottles of Roctane.  That really wasn’t enough as I look back on it.  I consumed about 1 1/2 Camelbacks of water.  Clearly, dehydration was a factor.  Outflow is consistent with dehydration.

But it was a good ride!  It came 2 weeks after riding with Gardner and Janet on the same route.

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This Ride: 131.9 miles
Malaria Campaign: 1,432.3 miles
Funds Pledged: $716.15
Contributed in support: $1,903.60

Total = $2,619.75

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From → Cycling

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