Saturday, April 25, 2009

Lots of Wind

Only one word for this week's riding. Wind. Strong, flag-flapping wind from the south-west.

Wednesday Tom, Terry, Bill, Dan and I collected in the West Jeff HS parking lot under heavy clouds to brave the elements. We put 32 solid miles together, standing on the pedals for a while to get to double digits on a flat road against what seemed like gale force winds. But after we pedaled "up hill" to start the ride we cranked it into the mid 30's on the flat when the wind was at our backs.

Friday was forecast sunny and 80 so I decided I would ride a solo loop and see where my whim and the wind would take me. Left home about 8:30 and headed north with the sourwesterly wind already strong. Once at Bellepoint, I headed west to Marysville to head into the wind and then south to Plain City to get the into the wind riding behind me. Headed northeast from there to Powell enjoying the push. Lunch at Deb and Les' befre Les decided to test his healing foot by joining me for the ride to Worthington Hills. Finished with 74 miles.

And then back out this morning to test the wind once again with Dave, Cathy, Ted, Ned and Greg. Lafayette to Yellow SPrings and back for a "Levy 75" that turned out to be 81 miles in the end. The first 44 miles had us staggered across the south and west bound roads trying to find a little shelter from the ever strengthening wind behind the front runner who hunched over the bars to maintain 14 mph, rotating back every mile or so. But after lunch in Yellow Springs the trip back was reward for the hard miles out.

So the week ended with somewhat under 200 miles.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

April's weather nothing to snore at

The guy in the aqua Statue of Liberty suit was madly waving procrastinators into the store front tax office since early March. But with April 15 fast receding into the distance, he's been gone for a while now. That means D(eparture)-day is less than 40 days away. It's been a bit of a struggle the past several weeks getting in the training I would like because of April's March-like weather. I did manage my second century, the annual SPOT ride, which felt a little better than the first. Of course the warmer less windy day and the good sized group that pulled us all along definitely helped.

Most of the bike parts and accessories I will need are now purchased and safely in my collection box in the corner. The next round of instructions has arrived from America by Bicycle and I've filled out their bike prep checklist, the travel insurance waiver form, and the general information form. The latter included a potpourri of questions including this one: "Do you snore?". It had a note next to it explaining that if you do snore, America by Bicycle will not allow you to register for triple room occupancy. We'll see how truthful my two roomies and I turn out to be.

Most everyone has snoring stories to share. My sweetie tells about childhood road trips to grandma from the family farm in Connecticut out to St. Louis. These always required an overnight stop which meant squeezing five kids plus mom and dad into one motel room. Sometime during the night, Marcia would awaken to her mom's comforting but insomniating snoring . After what felt like half the night to a kid, she would tip-tap her way over sleeping siblings to go nestle into the bathtub and spend the rest of the night behind a closed door. Whenever she tells that story, I always tell her that she has so many of her mom's good qualities. And I was indeed blessed to have one of the world's kindest and most gracious mothers-in-law!

Well, must go. Our Wednesday night ride is on and I'm off to load the bike, fill the bottles, dress in 3 layers and pick up my buddy, Terry. We'll soon be off to ToM's West Jeff ride to face the 20 mph SW wind and the sporadic showers WBNS forecasts.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Pain to Train

It's been a busy week preparing for this X-country trip. Bike Source's 20% off Spring Sale provided the impetus to purchase a new ultegra 27 sprocket rear cassette; a new chain and an armadillo tire for the rear wheel. The biking wardrobe was embelished with a pair of riding shorts, a couple pairs of socks and arm warmers. Still needed is bar tape, spokes and spare cleats.

But conditioning is as important as parts and apparel. Quality miles to build up endurance for back to back to back 80 or 100 mile days. Hill training to prepare for the climbs up from the Pacific to the Rocky Mountain passes. Grinding miles into the wind to mentally prepare for those endless horizon to horizon Kansas miles. Tough weather miles to get used to riding in the rain, the heat and possible high altitude sleet.

This week I got in two spinning sessions plus two good rides. Our weekly wednesday evening ride covered 34 miles including a bit of interval training thrown in. But it was today's century that revealed most clearly where I was: both a wake-up call and note of encouragement. First I was encouraged that I finished with a respectable time for me on a very blustery, windy tough day on my first century in almost a year. The results were to a considerable degree due my buddies, Dave Levy and Tom Wise, leading far more than their share and at the last 10 miles, slowing things down some to lend me their wheel when I started fading. The motivation to ride faster than I normally would coupled with the encouragement and the long pulls made for a very high quality ride for me. Thanks guys!

But I also realized that putting lots of days like this together will take more preparation. I am hoping to do 5 more centuries in the next couple of months. I plan to force myself to ride a slower pace than the one I'll be tempted to keep early on the ride when I am fresh. By averaging 13 or 14 instead of 16 or 17 will hopefully let me sustain the distances day after day. I will also need to stop to stretch regularly, eat at regular intervals and perhaps most importantly, force myself to drink all the time.

We've also sorted out some how to leverage this ride to further the PwP mission. We will be publicizing the ride to PwP riders and supporters to attract per mile sponsorships. Ten cents per mile nets out to a $385 pledge -- if I finish this thing that is! The PwP website and rider letters will descrbe the particulars. We also hope to be able to invite riders to join the x-country ride for a day or part of a day as the tour comes through Ohio. Overnight stops in this area include Richmond Indiana (Wed July 15) just across the western Ohio border, then Marysville (Thur July 16), Wooster (Fri July 17) and Niles (Sat July 18). So let me know ( if you are interested.