Monday, September 21, 2009

Been Awhile

So it's been awhile -- I've been biking a whole lot - just not blogging about it at all, which is kind of a shame, as I've enjoyed blogging - it's just that what started as a tool to keep me motivated turned out to be a tool for a task that didn't need to be done. Fortunately, I've been quite self-motivated, and hence, no blogging necessary.

That said, I rode the Three Creek Century ride yesterday & thought I'd share the details.

The 100 mile ride started in Carlisle, and was three loops of 50, 25, and 25 miles, meandering around the Conodoguinet, Yellow Breeches, and Big Spring creeks at 7AM -- when it was 37°F (that's less than 3°C if I have any followers across the pond). Yet, as the anticipated high of the day was 80°F (27°C for my friends across the pond), I went out in my normal riding gear (cycling shorts (well, to be honest, I wear "bib shorts" which are shorts that have two shoulder straps that make you look like a wrestler from the 80's -- Duffy thinks these look funny), short-sleeved jersey, gloves that didn't cover my fingertips). After riding the 3 miles to the start, I was thinking that I may have made a mistake.

Fortunately, there was a very, very short registration line (I literally walked up, said "I'm John Batzer" and then left to ride), so there wasn't too much time for my muscles to get cold - and that first 50 mile loop started out with a mid-grade climb, so I got the beginnings of a sweat going. Throughout the first 50 miles, I kept the pace a little faster than normal, if only to allow my body to combat the cold - yet, it was sunny and soon enough I had feeling in my fingertips and toes. The 20-22 m/h pace, however, would not last the whole day.

As the entire century was, the fifty mile loop was beautiful - it actually went right past King's Gap, without climbing it (I did consider adding the 12 mile detour, as King's Gap has only one road, so you come down the way you go up so it wouldn't require any rerouting -- but the entire ride would have been under tree-cover, and it was C-O-L-D at the time, and I still had 90 miles to pedal when I made that decision). There was a rest stop in Boiling Springs, and I stopped - got myself some grapes & a banana and went back on my way . . . played "catch me" with a group of other riders (they had me on large inclines and straightways, but I greatly outpaced them on gradual inclines).

Checked back in after the 50 mile loop before beginning the Opossum Lake loop (the "more challenging" of the two 25 mile loops) to restock my Gatorade & water, and eat some banana and a few really great butterscotch chip cookies. Hey - I was biking 100 miles, I can afford some cookies before 10AM.

The 25 mile loop was, well, challenging -- it actually goes almost directly in front of my house, which caused a bit of a problem for me. I have a TON of different rides that I take from my house - and it just so happens that the cues for this particular loop took me down a path that I've never, ever gone -- so I had a fun little 1 mile detour when I realized that the cues ended - stupid muscle memory. Any way, the tour took me to Opossum Lake, which was pretty (everything on this ride was pretty/beautiful/spectacular/you name it), and included some "biggish" climbs. Immediately after, that, though - there were two climbs - each between three-quarters and a mile in length, but each with a grade of 15% -- these, um, took a fair bit out of my legs. Still, though - managed to get through it all and checked back in for more butterscotch chip cookies.

The last of the 25 mile loops was a relatively easy one - although I was dealing with leg fatigue there -- I came close to bonking at about the 18 mile mark and had to stop and drink some water (I actually rode my bike off the path - fortunately, this was in a path that had no traffic at all -- I may have simply been paying too much attention to trying to catch up to the rider in front of me, but I wasn't taking any chances) before completing the ride, where my straightaway pace had gone down to 13-18 m/h (depending on how steep the previous incline had been).

I got back to the check in, collected my T-shirt, spoke to the ride organizers about this versus other long rides and some of the challenges that the established rides are dealing with (large bike clubs sign up all of their members & encourage everybody to post their best times, which turns rides into races), had myself a hot dog, some cookies, and a PB&J sandwich and rode the 3 miles back home. While I'll admit that I'll constantly measure my performance to other riders, and try to catch up with somebody ahead of me, just to see if I can do it - I'll never do so at the risk of safety -- I will only ever pass on the left, I'll only ever pass when there is absolutely no question that there is no other traffic, and I'll only ever pass when the rider in front of me knows that I'm passing.

A few observations from my ride:

  • Central Pennsylvania is really, really beautiful in some areas.

  • I believe I'm significantly heavier than everybody else who rode the full century - my body seems to like this weight - and the fact that I was able to ride 100 miles in less than 7 hours, without feeling like I was going to die at the end, leads me to think that I'm in better shape than I give myself credit for.

  • While I don't believe I'm stronger than most people, pound-for-pound, I have a lot more pounds (and at least a few more inches in height) than most people. When last I weighed myself, I was somewhere between 240 and 250 pounds (108-110 kg or 17-18 stone for my friends across the pond), and I believe that's why I'm able to outstrip most everybody on a gentle incline - it takes more power for me to keep up a reasonable pace without incline - and before the "graving is trying to pull me back down the hill" force becomes too, too great - my it's not all that much more difficult for me to keep the momentum going than it is for somebody who doesn't have as much momentum (mass * velocity).
  • I love, love, love seeing families out for a bike ride.
  • Bikes will never, ever move as fast as cars -- riding behind a cyclist when there is ample room to pass freaks us out. Glaring/yelling as you pass because we "shouldn't be on the road" makes you an asshat.

Now that it's the day after, I'm still feeling pretty good - I had a VERY, VERY tight left hamstring yesterday (I generally push harder with my left leg on a steep incline - no idea why I do this), and it's still not happy with me today, but I think I'll be fully back to normal tomorrow. I'm feeling VERY good about helping support a good cause & getting through everything. I'm NOT feeling guilty about eating an entire order of General Tso's shrimp and four beers last night. Oh, and I slept like a freaking log.

No comments: