Monday, April 16, 2007

The Last Training Ride

Yesterday in my mind was the last opportunity to do a good long ride before TransIowa. Part of me thinks that I am putting too much thought into this whole thing and that I should just relax a bit. I like having a goal as crazy as this one sounds. I don't know exactly why... I like to think that I don't like to brag. I do like to have something up my sleeve for conversations with a One-Upper. Something to pull out of the pocket when the arrogant type likes to make a point of amazing accomplishment for having completed some comparatively less significant ride. Does this make me a "One-Upper?" Gosh, I hope not.

I couldn't sleep worth a darn. Call it nerves or excitement, I hope it's not indicative of what the nights rest will be before the actual TransIowa morning. Couldn't fall asleep until 12:48am was the last time I looked at the clock. Unprompted, I woke again at 2:30am. Since I had the alarm set for 3:15am, I immediately calculated that I only had 45 minutes left to sleep. That thought was enough to preclude me from sleeping again.

I got out of bed at 3am. Made my peanut butter and honey sandwiches, stuffed my bags. Made a pot of too weak of coffee, mental check-list. I did something noticeably different in my preparations. There was a whole list of thoughts that went through my head when packing. For instance, I went down to the bike shop looking for something, got there and couldn't remember what. Something told me to open the drawer where I keep maps, grabbed a map that I bought somewhere years ago. I looked at it, opened it up (having never previously used it) and realized that it had the entire region I planned on riding.

"Thank you God" I said out loud.

Last minute packing, I only had light clothing packed for back up. Something at the last minute told me to go ahead and throw my warm gloves and extra miracle fabric top in the bag. Out the door. Rode by the bank, just to check the time; 4:00 and 36 degrees. Down Lexington, Roselawn, Victoria, Arlington, Wheelock...etc. Too many turns to describe the whole route.

In the dark silence, I consciously made a prayer. I have this belief since I was a child that when street lights turn on or off while you pass by, it's a sign of your guardian angel. While on my roll out of town, there must have been at least a half dozen street lamps that either turned on as I rode by, or flipped off. In hindsight, during the middle of the night; the street lamp in the back yard went off for about 5 minutes, then came back on. In 7 years of living in our house, it's never once done that.

So, while riding out of town with a heightened awareness of my surroundings and long ride to come, I made a prayer to keep me safe and to give me the strength to finish the ride.

Here's where I just dump random thoughts about my ride.

I need to remember to bring an extra light bulb for my headlight. For only a short while, the light seemed to flicker between bright and a little less bright. I read somewhere on Peter White's sight that a dim bulb is a sign of an aging bulb. I had fears of the light failing in the middle of a descent.

Temperatures ranged from comfortable to painful. I'm glad that I had sense to listen, and packed my warmer clothes because I stopped in Afton to change. It was cold enough along the river that the water in my bottles froze and I couldn't drink anything.

As I was cresting some of the hills in Afton, I could see the sun rising and just the sliver of the moon showing. It was truly striking. The bakery in Prescott seems to have closed. It's hilly between Afton and Red Wing. It's hilly around Red Wing.

I wimped out and decided to take the Cannon Valley Bicycle Trail after having ridden a bit of the hills and roadways. I paid my $3 for the constant elevation gain. Although ascending the whole time, my pace was consistent and I needed some steady pedaling to iron out some comfort issues I was having. The miles went by quickly.

Once I got to Cannon Falls, all hell broke loose on my route notes I had taken in advance. I wound up doing some back-tracking and went the wrong direction a couple of times trying to link back up with my directions. I didn't stop in Northfield, I simply reached the outskirts of town, then headed North. My map came in handy for figuring out which way to go.

I made it home. 157.1 miles with a mix gravel and asphalt. 42x19 fixed gear. Maximum sustained speed = 27.5MPH, a cadence that works out to be 150. Almost (with the exception of taking the Cannon Valley trail) the hilliest ride I could think up and still make a loop. Despite the feeling of accomplishment, I wonder seriously about the TransIowa. I know that I can complete it, but it won't be easy.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Ken, that is amazing! I won't be keeping up with you that is for sure! Amazing.

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