So I got in a so-called “bonus” RUSA ride for June.  “Bonus” from the perspective of purely wanting to pursue the P-12 award – and therefore getting in one ride per month minimum.  But, I’ve decided that I really wanted to start building up my RUSA “portfolio” and going after some of their annual and lifetime mileage awards; and a single 100-km ride per month isn’t going to get me there anytime quick, so I’m making it my intention to ride a lot more frequently as time goes on.  Plus, RUSA is very good for me in other ways.  I’ve discovered that for me, as my mentor Ron A has also said is true for him, the discipline needed to continue staying at a fitness level to do frequent RUSA rides is a good countermeasure against complacency and poor nutritional decisions.  For me this is very true.  RUSA is a beautiful thing, and I love it.

So, on Saturday June 29th I rode the local 110-km “Cardinal Cruise” route.  This is a different route from the Old KC Road route that I’d done for my first two rides.  Ron A has temporarily closed the OKC Road route due to construction along its course; but, even if he hadn’t, I’d already decided to try this other route anyway.

While the OKC Road route starts at 151st & Black Bob (Olathe) and goes south and west, south and west via Spring Hill, Hillsdale, and Paola to Osawatomie and back, the Cardinal Cruise route starts at 199th and 69 Highway (Stilwell) and goes north and west, north and west, to Eudora via Spring Hill and Gardner, and returns.  At 110 km (about 67 miles) it’s a few miles longer than the OKC Road ride.

The route is similarly easy to remember – which, as we’ll see, would turn out to be a good thing! – as there are only 5 turns on the entire path.  All turns are north and west on the way out, and south and east on the way back.  The meat of the ride distance – about 40% – is on 199th street.

Weather for the day was pretty hospitable to a bike ride.  Temps were pretty mild, especially given our recent hot weather – the start of the ride was around 66ish degrees, and didn’t rise much over maybe 85.  The wind was a factor.  It was a fairly strong and building wind out of the north/northwest.  It was something like 11 mph even at the ride start (7 AM) and gradually built to 20+ mph.  This meant that the first half I’d be fighting into this building wind, but should benefit well from it on the return.  Again, as with most cyclists, I’d prefer it this way versus having a good tailwind to start and then fighting wind later.

This was my first indisputably “big boy” route that I’ve ever done.  Relative to my current fitness, the hills on 199th are no joke.  There’s none of them that is an absolute killer, it’s just the number and depth of them.  I got a little nervous but also a little excited driving through this rolling terrain on my way to the ride start.

My day started at 4:15 AM with the alarm.  Woke up, fixed my normal green drink and enjoyed a small cup of cereal for “breakfast 1a”.  Finished my bike prep, packing up my stuff etc, showered and dressed.  Left the house around 5:50, and drove to McDonald’s for “breakfast 1b” – one Egg White Delight McMuffin. This is a menu item I’ve recently discovered; it’s surprisingly healthy for “McDeath”, about 250 calories, and tastes quite good.  I went this route versus my typical pre-RUSA-ride IHOP breakfast.

I reached the starting point – the Shell station at 199th and 69 Highway – at about 6:50 AM.  Good timing for the 7 AM start.  Went in, picked up a bag of Combo’s for a future ride (I had mine for today in my belt bag), got the receipt and control card signed, and it was time to roll.  Finished up the bike prep, locked up the car and pushed off a few minutes after 7 AM.

Funny note here – this would be my third successful ride, and it would be done on a third bike!  First ride was with “Baby”, my Specialized Crosstrail; second was with “Blue Nexus”, my Trek hybrid; and this ride would be with Storm, my 2011 Roubaix.  I’d FINALLY, very recently, gotten Storm all set up again for riding.  She now had 28cm tires instead of the stock 23’s (I feel MUCH more comfortable with this size), and I’d overcome some challenges with her handlebar bag, which is where I carry my water bottles.  All of that had gotten worked out over the past few days; and, with 2 spare tubes and 2 air cartridges in the underseat bag, Storm was ready to be introduced to randoing.

I eschewed my normal style of listening to Pandora on the ride.  I brought headphones in case I decided to do so later; but initially I wanted to just focus on the ride, especially with these hills.  Also, 199th doesn’t have the greatest shoulder on earth so I wanted to stay alert to the traffic in order to react.

I rolled over the first couple hills, nothing grand but certainly enough to get the blood flowing.  Storm was also flowing; what a beautiful machine.  I thought to myself with a smile that this was her very first rando ride, on a path that I’d like to hope will one day take us both to Paris (her full name is Storm Paris for this reason).  But that’s a long, long way off and these are early days.  Next PBP (Paris-Brest-Paris) is 2015 and I would have to make MASSIVE, massive progress between now & then in order to seriously even hope to do that ride.

It was about this point, though, that I realized with horror that while all my other prep was fine – I had my control card, my credit card, all my fuel and spare tire supplies etc – I’d somehow left the cue sheet in the car!!  Keep in mind that I’m, as previously admitted, pretty directionally/navigationally challenged (more navigationally than directionally); and I’d really only somewhat casually looked over the route sheet a few times prior to heading out.  Now, I had the choice between doubling back, losing that time and mileage (and those hills) and getting the cue sheet; or just trusting that I remembered it well and pressing on.  I had faith in the latter, after calling to mind all the turns and distances, and pressed on.  I wasn’t as much concerned about the first half of the ride; but the second half, when I’d be more tired and the route was obviously opposite of what I’d committed to memory, was when I thought I might hit some trouble.  But I felt good to go.

This blog exists to preserve my own memories and impressions as much as anything else, so I won’t lie and say I was flying through with ease.  This hilly start on 199th was testing me; and I thought of quitting after a few miles.  The old demons of negativity were whispering to me “you’re not ready to tackle stuff like this.  Go back home, practice a while and maybe one day you can do it.”  However, two main things kept me in the game.  One was the knowledge that friends and family were watching my ride and were aware of it.  More will probably be said by me on this topic in a different post.  I didn’t want to cut the ride short to something like 12, 16, or 20 miles and have to explain that I didn’t want to go on.  The second thing is that randoing has definitely developed my character.  The first 2 RUSA rides I tried, as I’ve previously chronicled, I basically gave up fairly early in the rides.  In both of those, what beat me wasn’t so much the ride itself or the conditions, but fear.  The fear that “there’s no way I can do this, look at the clock, I’m behind pace already, and I have all this wind to contend with, it’s just not gonna happen”.  I talked myself out of both those first rides.  I’ve grown in resolve since then, and I’ve adopted the stance that a ride or route may in fact beat me; and it may well happen one of these rides; but, I REFUSE to let fear beat me. Also running through my mind was a quote I recently read from Audax Club Parisien – the organizers of Paris-Brest-Paris – whose mission statement says: “A PBP participant must permanently believe that to quit is the worst thing that may occur.”  This is the randonneur’s credo in a nutshell.  I pondered the gravity of these words as I weighed the decision to bail out.  The worst thing that may occur.  That means, absolute last resort.  The ride tearing you to shreds is preferable.  I have become a randonneur now at heart, because I buy into this.  I rode on.

199th actually exists in two “parts” on this ride. You go for about 8 miles, at which point you actually turn at a crook in the road to continue for about another 5 miles.  In my opinion, the first 8 miles are a little bit less hilly but obviously longer; the 5 miles are shorter but a little more hilly.  At least, longer and deeper hills.  I worked through these two sections in pretty good time and relatively good shape, overcoming my initial doubts, and made my turn onto Gardner Road, which also isn’t pan-flat!

3 miles later, another turn onto Main Street / 175th street.  This road takes a fork after a couple miles, wherein sticking to the left keeps you on Main (which you don’t want) and to the right stays 175th.  I took my first break shortly past this point, in keeping with my normal rando procedure of stopping every roughly 16-19 miles.  No dilly-dallying, just a short break to get off the bike, stretch, and go through hydration and fueling procedures.  I ate a few bites of the banana I had with me, rejiggered water and fuel, and in a few minutes was back on the road.  I was still feeling pretty tired.  I actually hadn’t ridden the bike since Sunday – which can be both an advantage and disadvantage – but worse, my week nutritionally speaking was horrendous, and I was feeling it.  Again another reason RUSA is great for me.  If I keep myself to riding frequently, it’ll serve as a MAJOR disincentive to eat poorly and sabotage myself.

Past this point in the ride the landscape becomes very rural very quickly.  The road stretches out ahead for miles and miles, with some rolling hills, wide open vistas, and houses – often farms by this point – stretch further and further apart.  Fortunately, traffic does likewise, leading the cyclist to just enjoy the ride such as he can.  It’s a beautiful route, this one.

A turn north onto Edgerton Road.  This road reminded me very much of Shawnee Road, just north of Ottawa, on a route I ride often.  The grade, scenery and overall feel was very much the same.  The last three roads on this route are pretty easy to remember because you’re on them for 4, 4, and 4.5 miles until the midpoint control.  Edgerton onto 143rd, then to 2200 road.  Again I don’t mind admitting that somewhere in here – I think on 143rd – I considered again quitting.  A buddy Mr. C lives not far from here, and if I called him and asked him to get me & drive me back, I think he would.  But the same reasons enumerated earlier kept me on the bike.  I knew I was going to be pretty darn tired by ride’s end, but I was going to make the ride beat me if it could – I wasn’t going to beat myself.

The wind was starting to get seriously old.  Again, it’d been building all morning; and coming from the NNW, which is the exact direction I’d been heading all morning, meant it was in my face the whole time.  The wind can be very demoralizing on a longer ride, and play all kinds of mind games with you, making you think you’re more tired than you really are, when the truth is, if you can stop and take a short break, or better yet your planned route takes you away from the direct headwind, it’s immediately better.  In my mind more than once this morning played the thought that I was involved in a negotiation with the wind, an agreement; YOU get to have your way now and tire me out, but you’d better hold up your end of the bargain and help push me along on the second half.

I actually DID stop and take a short break a mere few miles from the control, on 2200 road.  I was making good time and was getting a little tired (and sore – Storm’s saddle was a little less forgiving than the Trek), so I gave myself the luxury to stop. A couple cyclists headed the opposite direction – the wind at their backs! – asked if I was ok as they rode by.  Soon enough I got going and pushed the final few miles into the control at Eudora, KS.

I bought a pack of gum, saved the receipt, and got the card signed 33 minutes before the control closed.  Not terrible – I was pretty content with it.  I realized that I had plenty of time in the bank and an anticipated MUCH easier ride back with the wind not only not against me but with me, so I allowed myself to take longer here to rest than was necessary for control-related activities.  I ate half of what was left of the banana, rejiggered my Hammer fuel and water (refilled the bottles here) and hit the restroom.  A couple folks here remarked what a beautiful day it was for a ride.  In general, I get a lot of curious looks at breaks and controls, which is consistent with what I’ve read on other rando blogs.

After a few minutes I was feeling a lot better and jumped back on the bike for the return.

As hoped for, the wind did uphold its end of the bargain, as I made (for me) MONSTER speed back for the next several miles.  I was still, however, pretty tired out from the ride and decided to take a small unplanned break just after turning back onto 175th, about 13 miles or so after the control.  There was a very appealing little hill off the side of the road; I leaned the bike against it and laid down for a couple minutes.  Drank lots of water here and just relaxed.  Definitely the most tranquil time of the day for me  🙂  The sun was shining, the birds were singing, sounds of mowers and tractors in the distance, a radio was playing from a nearby work shed…very peaceful.  I could easily have fallen asleep; but knowing I had a mission to complete, I got back on the bike and pressed on.  I made good time on the roughly 6 miles back to a Shell station on Gardner road (not the starting control – different Shell station).  I pulled into here to take my final break of the day before tackling that “hilly section”.  Still making good time, I again allowed myself to linger for a few minutes, drinking plenty of water (I refilled my water bottles here again) and fueling up before heading out.  A lady here asked me how far I was going and was incredulous to hear I’d gone 55 already with another 15 to go.  A young girl commented as she walked into the store that it was a nice day for a bike ride.

By and by it was time to tackle the remaining hilly section – a couple miles on Gardner road and then 199th.  I saddled up and pushed on.

Now at this point I’ll also note that while I think I did fine this ride from a fueling/calorie perspective, I’m quite sure I underhydrated.  I’d developed a dull headache earlier on (before the midpoint control, as I recall) that never became a real beast but was always sort of there; and later in the ride I would start getting some cramps.  This is a note mostly to myself that I STILL need to improve in this area.  I drink a LOT of water on bike rides, and I often find that anything short of a LOT is not enough for me for longer-distance (50+ mile) rides.  Note to self to consider adding – nay, DO add – yet another water bottle cage to the bike and bring another full bottle for 50+ milers.  The extra weight is pretty negligible – less than 2 lbs – and is very well worth it.

Anyway, I’m happy to say that there’s not THAT much to say about those remaining 15 miles of relative hilliness.  I think I’d built them up in my mind to such an extent that the actual experience wasn’t as much as I dreaded.  I carefully chugged up the hills, not wanting to throw away my legs, and often coasted down the other sides.  Even in this fashion I was still making good time.  The only alarm bells started ringing just a few miles from the finish, when I did, in fact, start feeling outright cramps in my legs.  First my left quad, and then, as I drank aggressively to quell it, my RIGHT quad starting acting up. I kept the option open to take a small break by the road and stretch them out/rest them, but it never came to that, although these cramps certainly made the finish interesting.  Definitely need to hydrate still better in the future.

Finally the Shell station control came into sight, possibly the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.  I rolled into there and locked up the bike, threw the helmet and stuff in the car, and went in for the purchase & control card.  I didn’t see any chocolate milk (probably overlooked it) but that morning I’d spied a Starbucks iced coffee (coffee/milk mix) that looked miiighty good, and so I grabbed this as my recovery/reward drink.  The same guy was there who signed my card that morning, and he asked me how the ride went.  Nice guy.  Card signed with 57 minutes to spare in the control, and a third RUSA ride in the books!

Definitely some takeaways from this ride, mostly positive, some “learning opportunities”.  I’m very glad that I stuck it out and resiliently fought off quitting.  This was my first time tackling a route this difficult, and it was a kind of eye opening experience, of what is “out there” waiting for me.  The ride engendered in me the same sensation I’ve described before on these pages – a resolution to eat and drink as cleanly as I can (I mean throughout the week, not just in-ride) in order to achieve the best fitness I can in service of becoming a stronger rider.  The importance of regularly going to the gym came to mind, in order to continue to add muscle to both burn fat and improve the strength-to-weight ratio and recovery, which will help.  I did well from a calorie perspective, but not from a hydration perspective.  Carry more water, and/or refill more often, and DRINK the water.  It’s amazing how often these lessons have to be relearned, but from my reading I’m not unique in this regard.  But I am in fact learning, and I’m becoming a stronger rider.

I’m certainly planning to ride in July to keep the P-12 streak going.  Exact date and route unknown; but it’s fairly likely that I will (gulp) return to tackle this route again for the July ride.  Till then…

Thanks for reading…

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June is in the books, and with it a new personal best for monthly mileage.  I biked 650 miles in June, exactly 10% better than my previous best month of March 2013 (which was 591).

I also therefore met the bar I set for myself for June in this post, in which I laid out the plan to ride 620 miles (1000 kilometers) per month for June through October.  So far, so good.

On a “pro/con” note, however, with chagrin I’m already calling quits on my stated goal to ride 2 miles every single day.  I shouldn’t have committed to this, as my schedule is a little unpredictable at times and there are some days it’s just not really feasible.  So – noble thought, but this one goes to the wayside.  However, all other mileage goals for the year remain intact  🙂

For the year to date, I have ROUGHLY 2400 miles under my belt (I don’t have access to my records right now), against my 5000 mile goal.  Seemingly behind pace, but in actuality I’m very content with it, because I didn’t even SET that goal until late February, after a super-low January and February.  So in other words I’m well on the way.

Impressions from the saddle, from a May 28th ride…

Swooping and climbing, diving and gliding like a bird on the air…a man and his bike in the setting evening sun, tracing a route home.

Tonight’s ride was, as the man once said, like a delicious dessert I couldn’t quite bear to finish; and, pushing aside the flicker of disappointment at realizing I was suddenly – unexpectedly, all too soon on an evening like this! –  at the  top of the final climb and ready for the final descent home, I tacked back south and east to win one more small  hill, turning around in a local parking lot like a bird riding the thermals, and, resigning myself to “till next time”, took the blast of a downhill back home.

A MUCH belated writeup of my second RUSA ride, which I completed on Saturday, June 1st. Another 100-km (62 mile) ride along RUSA’s Old KC Road route, same route I took for my first successful ride.

Happy to report that this ride went extraordinarily smoother than that first adventure, which I fittingly titled “Survivalfest”.

If there was a theme for today’s ride, it was surely that there was much new in my style of riding.

First, I’ve taken to wearing a sort of “fanny pack” on long bike rides (i.e. anything over maybe 40 miles or so, and not just the RUSA ones).  I’ve borrowed one from a friend, Linda B (yes it is blue!) in order to try it out and see how I liked it; the idea being that if it met my needs as anticipated, I’d return it to her and buy something similar.

Here it is:

Bike-Bag
To call it a “fanny pack” is really a disservice; it has a TON of storage space for stuff.  It really is a handlebar bag or even rack bag on a belt. I consider it almost more like a construction worker’s or machinist’s belt than a “fanny pack”, considering the wide range of things I’m able to store in there. I wear it around my waist, with the buckles facing front and the compartments facing back.    I utilize it similarly to a cyclist’s back jersey pockets; I keep stuff stored back there and can reach around for it in-ride.  I can store a bag of Combo’s (a new favorite in-ride snack to augment calories for the longer rides), several packs of gel, several tubes of Perpetuem powder, and a banana very easily in the main compartment; those side compartments can store “spent” Perpetuem tubes, things like ibuprofen or electrolyte pills, and also my air pump.  The front zippered compartment there can handily store the control card and pen (on RUSA rides), a cue sheet, and a couple other things.  All of it fits very comfortably around my waist and I do not notice the weight or dimensions at all while riding.

I first tried the pack on a 36-mile ride on May 30th, with excellent results.  On that ride, instead of fueling with my usual Hammer products, I fueled pretty much exclusively on Combo’s snatched from this bag during the ride.  The size and dimensions of the bag allow for a very natural reaching motion to retrieve something from the main compartment.

So, I also wore this bag on today’s RUSA ride, and again it worked perfectly.  I’m going to buy myself a basically identical bag and return this one to Linda B.

Second new stylistic aspect of this ride was in fact that nutritional approach.  I did carry Combo’s in the bag; and although I didn’t retain them as the MAIN fuel source (Hammer was still the main source), I did augment the Hammer products periodically with a pretzel-and-pizza-cheese-flavored barrel snack from the bag.  This was something I put in place as a direct result of lessons learned on the May “Survivalfest” ride.  Looking back and assessing that ride with objectivity some days later, I realized the cause of my suffering was vastly under-hydrating and under-fueling from a caloric perspective.  I created this new plan for 50ish+ mile rides; today was its first trial run, and it worked wonderfully.

Yet ANOTHER new aspect is that I undertook this ride on a different bike from that of the May ride.  I’ve not even posted about this bike on the blog yet, and I won’t go off-topic here, but basically it’s a Trek DS 8.2, a hybrid bike (and, also blue! In fact I’ve named it Blue Nexus Z).  It’s comparable to the Specialized Crosstrail that I’ve ridden most of the time, but I greatly prefer this bike.  Again I’ll spare the full details for another time.

So, roughly 10 days prior or so I’d scheduled this ride for June 1 with the route owner, my friend & rando mentor Ron A.  The extended-forecast predictions for the day ran the gamut as it neared; rainy, not rainy, windy, not windy, wind from the north, from the south, from the west, cloudy, you name it.  I continued to watch with interest as the day approached and the forecast grew in reliability.  As it turns out, I was fortunate; the last few days here have been VERY windy and in many cases quite rainy; today was not rainy and, while some wind, it wasn’t excessive.

I decided upon a 30-minute earlier ride start than last month, so 7:30 AM this time.  Alarm rang at 4:20; got out of bed and fixed my normal morning green drink.  First of month, so I weighed in & updated blog with it, then proceeded to get everything packed up.  Learning from my first ride, I brought along a lot more stuff in the car than I was likely to use – for example, a few zip-loc bags even though I would almost certainly not need them from rain, etc.  The idea is that I can make a last-second call to take/not take something on the bike, and whatever I don’t take can just stay in the car.

As with last month’s ride, I stopped in to IHOP for a pre-ride base-building breakfast.  Same as before, Simple & Fit 2x2x2 plus Swiss Mocha Coffee.  Loooove this breakfast before a good long bike ride.  Servers there are getting to know & recognize me.  Roughly 6:40 I got moving, stopped briefly by a friend’s house to pick up my air pump which I’d left with him, and drove over to Walgreens for the ride start.

I made my pre-ride purchase (a bag of Combo’s, to be used on a future ride!) with a receipt time of 7:33 AM.  The cashier was interested in how far I’d be going and wished me luck.  Nice guy.  Went back to the car, stashed that receipt for later retrieval (and threw the combo’s in the car as I already had some in the bag), took the bike off the rack and finished packing stuff up.  Put on “the belt”, loaded water bottles, etc.  7:40 AM I started pedaling.  As kG would say, GET IT ON!!

Another change from my normal ride routine occurred in the first few miles:  Pandora decided to turn itself off after roughly 2 songs.  This, despite the fact that I’d recently upgraded to their “pay version” in order to avoid commercials and minimize interruptions (see my summary of lessons learned on the first RUSA ride here).  But, for whatever reason, the app turned off a few miles into the ride.  Then, I inadvertently tore my earphone from my ear reaching for my water bottle, losing one of the foam earbud caps.  Nice.  Nothing to do but remove the other earbud and just wind the cable around the handlebar, and complete the ride without music.  I’ve VERY rarely ridden a bike more than a few miles without music (when riding solo, that is – not with others), but I found I really liked it a lot. I was able to tune in more to the ride itself – which, to be fair, sometimes I deliberately have the music there in order to help avoid, but on today’s ride it was very cool.  The early-morning sounds of birds, babbling streams I’d ride past, wind rustling the trees and grasses, cars approaching from a distance and finally passing – it was, for me, an un-typical way to experience a bike ride, and I liked it.

First couple of miles were hard work for me.  I find that whenever I ride a bike, and whether hilly or flat, windy or not, it seems to take a few miles to really wake my legs up & open my lungs up – the first few miles are always pretty tough for me.  Fortunately I know this about myself and never overpush it in that time.  I just gradually work into it and patiently wait for my body to get in sync and enter “cycling mode”, knowing full well that at some point not long later I’ll be flying down the road, all senses sharp and clear, legs and lungs working together, exalting in the synesthetic swirl.

Once again as mentioned in May, the Old KC route is very easy to remember, and I didn’t need to refer to the cue sheet (though of course I brought it). Black Bob to 175th; to Ridgeview; to 199th; and on.  The miles and turns ticked off on my way to Old KC Road for the meat of the ride distance.

Wind today was out of the WNW; at ride start it was roughly 9-10 mph and would build to around 15-16 by the end. I was interested to see how this would be experienced during the ride.  Since the route moves basically SSW for its first half and then returns NNE, the wind would rarely be a direct head- or tail-wind; instead, it would always be sort of with you and sort of against you.  I was curious to see which half of the ride it would hinder more and help more.  I speculated the first half would be easier, since you’re primarily going NNE on the return and the – now stronger – wind would be coming out of the WNW.  However, within perhaps 8-12 miles of today’s ride and picking up the wind at various points, I started to suspect that it might actually be slightly more helpful on the return – which was just fine with me. This did turn out to be the case; while the wind seemed to paradoxically help me in BOTH directions (even though it didn’t actually shift), it did seem to help slightly more on the return. Like most cyclists, I suspect, I’d rather battle wind early in the ride and then have it with me later, especially since “later” tends in most cases to be stronger wind.

Early in today’s ride I marveled at the fact that cycling really is a skill.  This will sound self-evident to many readers, and perhaps over-obvious to some; but in the context in which I mean it, it has recently come as a revelation to me.  What I refer to most specifically is longer-distance cycling; anything over a consistent maybe 25 miles.  Over those distances, and certainly moreso the further you do ride, it’s not simply about sitting on the seat and pedaling; there is a WIDE range of different skills that come into play, skills you get exposed to on the road, or from books or online, or talking with other cyclists, and which get honed and sharpened with experience.  Some of the skills are purely physical or athletic; some are entirely mental; and many fall in between.  To steal an analogy from a show I once saw, asking what makes cyclist A a better rider than cyclist B is much like invoking the batting average in baseball and asking why a .350 batter is better than a .300 batter – you can list 10 different things and all of them, the .350 batter is a little bit better than the .300 batter. This is an excellent analogy to cycling.  Anyway, the relevance of all of this to me and this ride is that, while I’m most definitely not vying for any batting titles yet, I’m certainly becoming a stronger rider this year than last, and I can feel and perceive the growth in my skills in various aspects of the pursuit.  It’s a really cool feeling.  Many of those came into play in this ride in order to deliver a smooth and enjoyable performance.

Continuing to build from the lessons learned on my first Old KC Road ride, I did stop for a short break at the midway point of the south leg (so 1/4 of the way through the ride – roughly 16-17 miles in).  There’s a gas station there on OKC Road right by Hillsdale Lake which seems perfectly placed from a rando perspective.  This is the same place I stopped – with absolutely nothing left in the tank really – on the return leg of the first ride.  Today, I arrived feeling strong; just wanted a short break to stretch my legs and refuel.  Which I did – a gel pack, 2-3 bites of a banana I’d brought, re-jigger my water bottles and drink some more, and shortly back on the road.  I had enough water for the remaining 16 miles to the Osawatomie Casey’s that I didn’t need to refill here at the gas station.

So, back on the road and feeling good.  Grabbing a combo out of the bag every now and then to augment some calories.  Making very good time (for me – speed on a bike, of course, is a relative and personal thing).  Just south of the traffic circle on OKC Road, there was construction which detoured traffic off the road for a mile or less.  The entire road ahead was torn out, a large crater left in its place with heavy machinery around.  I took the detour and soon enough got back on the road.  I knew that this was the start of what I’ve termed “the difficult part” – the rolling hills become a little longer, a little steeper and overall a little harder here for maybe 5-6 miles.  On the first ride, I handled them well on the first leg but was dead on the return.  This time I hoped for better, obviously.  I could gauge my improved situation this ride as I rode through Paola.  This town has a variety of hills and grades which, on the first ride, even on the way DOWN to Osawatomie, tired me out a little.  By contrast, this time I was feeling very strong and playing through my gears on most of the climbs.  I could tell the improved fueling/hydration plan I’d put in place was working.

Arrived at the Osawatomie Casey’s at 10:10 AM, 44 minutes before the control closed.  I’d gained ~15 minutes over the first ride in control arrival time; and that despite taking a short break on this ride while riding straight through on the first one!  Again an encouraging sign.

Another weakness I’d had on the first ride was a fairly sloppy control procedure.  Reasonable enough, being my first successful RUSA ride; but I’d mentally replayed my routine there and identified some areas for improvement.  In randoing, the clock keeps moving even when you aren’t; so it behooves you to (all things being equal) make quick work at controls and return to the saddle.

I did get through this one MUCH faster than the first time; I didn’t note a total turnaround time but it was probably 50% quicker.  Got the card signed, bought a pack of gum for future rides, refilled water bottles; ate half of the remainder of the banana, went through fuel & hydration routine, a quick nature break, and soon I was back on the road for the return leg.

This is where the real story would be told – because on that first ride I had arrived in Osawatomie strong and feeling good, but things went south shortly thereafter.  I knew that if I could make it through “the difficult section” on this ride and arrive at that gas station feeling pretty good, the ride would be well in the bag and my adjustments could be considered a success.

Not much detail to share on that return portion through the difficult stretch. I handled the rollers quite well.  MUCH better than the first time.  I was riding in slightly lower gearing here on the return than on the first half; but not much, and I still felt plenty of push and energy.  I paced myself well and just kept making good forward progress.  A short diversion around the construction zone, up a couple of gravel and dirt-pack hills which jarred every bone in my body, and back onto OKC road past the traffic circle.  I knew this meant the most challenging climbs were behind me.  Somewhere around 15 miles into this return leg, I said out loud, “You are doing GREAT, Billy!”  I was on cloud nine with how much more smoothly this ride was going versus the first.

Once again I arrived at the gas station near the lake; took a short rest, finished the banana, stretched the legs a bit, went through the fuel and water bottle routine, a final nature break, and pretty quickly saddled up for the remaining ~16 miles to the finish.

The final ~16 miles flew by without too much to comment upon.  There were various points along the way where I distinctly remembered how I felt – and how much I was suffering/struggling – on the first ride, and by contrast how much stronger I felt this ride.  By the last 10 miles or so I was definitely getting a little tired, but I was still rolling pretty strong and felt like I could do 90 miles if I wanted/needed to.  That last section is harder in some ways (some short little climbs on tiring legs) and easier in some ways (you can mentally check off the turns every couple miles).  175th/179th was one of the sections I referred to above – on the first ride I was just totally dead on this section (I stopped to take a break, in fact, with only a few miles to go), while this time I was FLYING along in the bike’s top couple of gears, turning over the pedals with high RPM’s.  Feeling free to throw all my energy out now, a few miles from the finish.  Feeling on top of the world!

Soon enough I was back on Black Bob Road for the final few miles to the start/end control.  There was a small construction situation on this road within eyesight of the control, which set me back several minutes; but I was too elated to care.  Gradually it was my turn to get through the condensed-to-one-lane bottleneck, and I was through and turning back into the Walgreens parking lot.  I got my card signed at this closing control at 1 PM – an hour fourteen minutes before it closed.  This meant that I bested my first ride’s time by a full 50 minutes, as I squeaked into the closing control there with 24 minutes to spare.

My purchase was a chocolate milk, the time-honored recovery/reward drink of rando’s everywhere following a successful outing.  I was so dead on the first ride upon arrival at Walgreens, and didn’t feel much like “rewarding” myself besides, that I didn’t indulge in the tradition; but this time I did, sipping it in the car on the way to lunch, and I think it was about the best thing I’d ever tasted.

Another RUSA ride successfully complete, and I could hardly have been more content with how the ride went.  The streak extends to two months 🙂  Long way from acquiring the P-12 award, but I’m going to get it.  So I’ll ride again in July, if not earlier – exact date and route TBD.

Two new mileage goals

June 14, 2013

So again, been a while since I updated the blog with anything.

I’m adding two specific mileage goals for this year for myself. The goal to ride 5000 miles this year, set about 4 months ago, remains in place; these are two new ones.

620 Miles the Quantitative Way

One is to ride 1000 km (620 miles) per month in each of June, July, August, September, and October. “High mileage” on a bike will differ from rider to rider, and some reading this won’t find this an aggressive goal; but when one considers my highest-mileage month to date was 591 miles – and prior to that 539 miles – then the task of riding 620 miles per month for five consecutive months does seem pretty ambitious. As I write this I’m at roughly 270 for the month, so exactly on pace, as it turns out.

730 Miles the Consistent Way

Another goal I’m adding is much less about brute-force mileage and more about consistency. A friend of mine JL has established what I view to be a pretty impressive streak. He has run a mile a day (at least – some days further) every single day since 1/1/2012. Come rain or shine, birthday or Thanksgiving or Christmas, hot or cold, rainy or clear, sickness and health, he’s put in his one mile every day. I respect & admire this dedication and view it almost like a sort of “tithing” to one’s fitness in a spirit of dedication and consistency. He’s inspired me to begin a similar streak on the bike. You can obviously ride a given distance faster than running it; so I think 2 miles per day is a nice symbolic amount. This means you’re committing to riding the bike about 10 minutes per day, come what may; so a small but definite commitment of time. So, beginning yesterday (June 13th), I’m going to ride my bike 2 miles per day (minimum of course) for the foreseeable future.  A reliable, annualized 730 miles toward a yearly mileage target 🙂

I’ll periodically update these pages with my progress against these goals…

“Some people break when faced with adversity.  Others break records.”

Still alive and still kickin’.

I did indeed finish my second RUSA perm populaire ride on June 1, and still don’t have the writeup for that totally done.  Additionally there’s several other small and a couple large miscellaneous updates to give.

The last few days I’ve been in a fitness funk, having fallen a little bit off the nutritional & exercise wagon; but I am back now and rededicated without substantial damage being done 🙂

So, in the next couple days there’ll be a sudden rush of various posts and updates…

This being the first of the month, I had my traditional first-of-month weigh-in this morning.  I tipped the scales at 186.9 pounds, down 3.3 pounds from May 1st.

This signifies a few things, all good.  It means I’ve left behind another “decade” (the 190s); it means I’ve lost 97 pounds since I began losing; it means I’ve got less than THREE pounds to go to meet my biggest weight-loss goal which was 100 lbs (weighing in at 184), and it also means, for the first time, that I’ve lost more than 1/3rd of my body weight since I began this effort (189.34 pounds would have represented a 94.66-lb loss, which was 1/3rd of my body weight).

As I’ve stated a few times on the blog, when I started losing I thought that surely 184 would be my final destination, but over the past few months it’s clear that I have a lot of room to go.  I still have conservatively 15 pounds to lose at this point, and you could argue 20.  So, my next milestone goal remains 184 pounds – and I hope to meet that by July 1st – and then after that, I set the next goal at 174 pounds.

Onward and downward!!!