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Awesome & Brutal in the Same Day

by on June 16, 2014

Friday the 13th for the start of a 250 mile ride?  Are you crazy?  You are asking for trouble.

I’m not superstitious.

The plan: Prep the bike, take a two hour nap, 7 pm start with 7 riders.  Finish in about 22 hours.

The reality: Prep the bike, take a 1 hour nap, 7 pm start with 5 riders.  Finish in 21.5 hours.  255 miles.

More after the break.

The prep for the longest ride I’ve ever attempted in 24 hours went well.  In retrospect, I clearly carried too much stuff, but it was a good test for the upcoming 1,000k ride in July.  I tried to nap for 2 hours, but 1 hour is all I was able to accomplish.  After the nap, I checked the traffic and noted that the Bay Bridge was backed up.  That’s about when the flurry of emails happened and all the riders were alerted.  I decided to leave home at about 4:30 pm because Lori would arrive home at 4:20 and I could see her, say goodbye, and then make it to the ride start.  I left at 4:30.  I arrived at 6.  It usually takes me about 30-35 minutes to travel between home and the ride start.  I could have ridden that distance faster, but they don’t allow bikes on the Bay Bridge.

Two rider were already there when I arrived.  Two others arrived shortly after I got there.  Two riders who had planned to ride canceled due to illness/injury.  We got the final prep work done and pushed off at exactly 7 pm.

There were thunderstorms threatening all around.  A severe line had passed through earlier in the afternoon and there was a report of a line of storms coming from behind us.  We kept watch all night, both on radar and visually noting dark skies and lightning off in the distance.  Even though we encountered wet roads, we never had rain fall on us.  It was as if there was a bubble over us.

It was a humid bubble though.  It was important for us to keep moving.  Sweat poured off of us as soon as we stopped.  But a more enjoyable night on a bike I don’t recall.  Five friends, riding easy over familiar roads, very little traffic, and gradually clearing skies.  We even had a full moon.

We debated going to Dave’s Place in Ridgely but decided that a biker bar on a Friday night wasn’t the best place to stop while wearing spandex.  We stopped for food and water in Denton.  We went out of our way in Bridgeville for more food and water.  I had arranged a water drop in Milford, where we topped off water again.  We skipped a water drop 15 miles from the finish.  We pulled in to the halfway control at 4:00 am.  It was a 9 hour 200k.  For large parts of the 200k we rode 2 x 2, chatting and covering the miles with relative ease.  Sometimes we stopped to stretch.  The monotony of fairly flat riding at a constant speed makes that necessary.  There were times we were wishing for some hills, if not for the ability to coast for a while, at least for a change in cadence, pace or effort.

I noted something quite unusual for me on this first leg.  My heart rate for a 200k usually averages in the low 130’s.  By the time we arrived in Ocean City, my average heart rate was 104.  There were times on the bike that it was reading 88.  The monitor wasn’t malfunctioning.  I know that after long rides, my heart rate tends to be lower, but this was unprecedented.  I’m not complaining, mind you.  Have I become that fit?  I realized at one point as I puzzled this mystery that a fall in average heart rate corresponded with a servicing of the bike’s wheel hubs.  Could I have been pushing through years of accumulated grime and gunk and it make that much difference?  Maybe it is a combination.  In any event, the lower heart rate made this ride much more enjoyable and reflected how much less effort there was in this ride.

Arriving in Ocean City, we planned a 1 hour stop at Denny’s for breakfast.  That turned into about 1.5 hours pretty quickly.  We were not very efficient, and I certainly noticed the overall fatigue (mostly from lack of sleep).  We gobbled down mediocre food and cold coffee.  A couple of the guys tried to get a 20 minute power nap.  Jack, in a fatigued brain state used his chamois cream as sunscreen.  (New nickname: Buttface)

We pushed off at 6 am for our trek back home, covering the exact same route in reverse.  Meanwhile big changes were happening in the weather.  It had gotten cooler.   The humidity was gone.   All of that change was due to a building NW wind.  Flags at the start were flapping in the wind (not breeze … wind).  Over the next hour it continued to build in intensity and 90% of our return ride was into this wind.  Within 10 miles, Mike W encouraged us to leave him behind as the pace we were setting was just too much for him.  We pushed the decision about that off until about 30 miles into the ride, at a coffee shop in Milton, and slowed considerably to stay connected to Mike.  It was there that Mike W and Jack decided to ride together while Mike B, Dan, and I pushed on ahead.  By then, the wind had built to full force where it stayed all day.  It was a challenge pushing 14 mph into that wind, and sometimes 13 was the best we could do.  There was a little relief when we turned south in Millford, but those 12 miles were way too short, and soon enough the wind was in our face again.

We arrived in Bridgeville at about 11:30 and we were beat up.  We stopped for some food and to top off our fluids.  I know we delayed getting back on the bike because we just didn’t really want to fight the wind any time soon.  I knew that we could break up the remaining ride in the upcoming towns.  Somehow we made it to Denton, then to Ridgely, then to Centreville, then to Queenstown.  In there somewhere, Dan bonked hard.  Mike and I both said words I thought I would never utter.  Dan is a strong, fast rider, and saying “Dan is off the back” is not something one expects to say.  Our speed was mostly 13-14 mph.  The wind was so strong we couldn’t speak to one another unless we shouted.  We took frequent breaks.  When the last 8 miles arrived, Dan wasn’t sure he would finish.  Mike and I set a 13 mph pace and “drug” Dan home.  That was a very long 8 miles!  In the end, my average heart rate moved up to 107 (before the heart rate monitor quit for the day).

And then, it was done.  At the end, 255.44 miles showed on my Garmin.  We finished in 21:30 ish, or 10:30 for the second 200k.  It was then that we got word that Mike W was ill (he later said that it might have been the fresh peach he ate).  For a while it looked like we would have to go pick him up but it all got worked out and Mike and Jack finished the ride also.

I hurried home, showered, ate, and then stayed up until 9 pm.  I slept hard … like I needed it.

Brutal is the only way to describe that second half of the ride.  And yet, it was a confidence builder.  Based on this ride, it looks like Mike B and I will attempt 295 miles on day 1 of LOL.  I’m looking forward to it.

A few things learned on this ride:

  1. Almond M&M’s didn’t work for me as fuel.
  2. Hydration and Nutrition plan works
  3. I might need a bike fit before I go on LOL
  4. The Sella Anatomica saddle feels hard after 200 miles.
  5. My anti-cramping solutions work
  6. I’m going to need to get a system worked out for my LOL cue sheets
  7. My feet do swell and it hurts when they do.  My toes seem to grow longer in the shoe.  I need to figure something out for that one.
  8. I can ride 250 miles in one day, and probably more!

For what it’s worth, in the past 30 days I’ve ridden 1,111 miles, and that’s not my longest distance in a 30 day period … but close.

 

 

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