Saturday, March 29, 2008

Training Ride or Reality Check

The alarm went off at 4:20am on Saturday morning. A quick bowl of cereal, 1/2 pot of coffee, and I was out the door on the road by 5. It was dark, 22 degrees, and quiet. I rode through most of the urban parts of Saint Paul under the cover of darkness. The first car to pass me was at 12.34 miles while I was climbing a small hill at 12.3 mph. I only remember this because I found the number combination displayed on the computer interesting, as if it were a photo advertisement for Cateye.

The forecast called for a windy day with sustained winds in the neighborhood of 20mph, gusts as high as 30 out of the south, southeast. So, I set off south and east on what is about the hilliest routes that I could think of. To make matters worse, I packed my panniers as full as I could with "stuff" choosing to carry my full load of clothing from work on Friday. I left just enough open space to turn my destination into an errand.

I tried mapping it out, but I have found that things start to fall apart when mapping long rides. So, here you go, up to the point where my return route was the same as how I got there:

The 'puter read 121.7 when I parked my bike in the garage.

The route that I planned out wasn't quite what I rode. South of Prescott, WI I stopped to check my map to make sure I was on the right road. I was, but when I stopped at the next intersection to re-check my map, I found that I had not zipped my pannier. Over-stuffed with excess clothing, the map must have blown out.

It was windy and there was no back-tracking to find my map. Instead, I simply decided that there are two state roads, Highway 65 to the East and Highway 10 to the South. I set off on quiet country roads heading into a combination of either the sun or the wind heading the general direction toward Ellsworth, WI. The route turned out to be absolutely wonderful. All quiet, paved county roads with virtually no traffic.

The wind was tough making a sustained speed of 10mph a challenge. I was lucky to see 5mph on many of the hills. I eventually rolled into Ellsworth around 10am. Found my way over to East Ellsworth to the creamery: Early spring rides in colder temperatures have the benefit of built-in refrigeration. I picked up 3 pounds of fresh cheese curds and two pounds of butter to bring home. (Because my panniers were already full, I had to STUFF my new WI bounty in.)

My wife's parents lived between River Falls and Ellsworth, WI. In fact, we were married on their farm. There's lots of extended family in the area, so I know the general area somewhat. I used the experience of knowing where the main highways were. I set off north and east following county roads, wandering in the general direction toward River Falls. I actually found a nice route up 690th (the road my in laws lived on) to County Road O, to Pleasant View, to Happy Valley. Quick lunch stop in River Falls, then the rest of the ride was on pretty familiar roads.

By the time I got home, my legs were pretty much tapped out.

I checked over on G-Ted's site for his updates on having the first spring-scouting of TransIowa route. I read bits like this:
What you will see: About 75% of the course is what I would consider hilly
or worse. You won't see a lot of open convenience stores. You will see "B"
roads. You will see places cars can not go. You will see evidence of wheeled
vehicles not powered by "typical" means. (You might even see these vehicles in
action) You will see two track and gravel roads four lanes wide. You will see
cool bridges. You will see lots of cemeteries. If you finish, you will have seen
the longest T.I. course ever.

Read his full post here

With a 120 mile ride yesterday, I question my own senses of having signed up for what will surely be torture.


nickel said...

Are those roads paved in Prescott or gravel? I had thought about getting up early and riding out to Afton and then turning around but thought of it too late to find out how early you were getting up. I am glad that I didn't as I was hurting after my Friday ride and the wind wasn't helping much at all.

Reflector Collector said...

Everything I rode on Saturday was asphalt. I have not found a lot of gravel roads to ride.

I think primarily because we live in a metropolitan area and I refuse to drive somewhere "far away" where I might find gravel.

Oh well, lots of GREAT road riding which is what I probably enjoy the most anyway.

nickel said...

If you head north to WBL, there is some gravel to be found and that would only be a 'short' 20mi jaunt. Troy L probably knows what is best and there are some very nice climbs.

Another Q if you don't mind....are you completely mind-dead after riding so long? Despite eating frequently on long rides, I feel completely incapacitated to do much of anything requiring thought when I get back home. If I have to accept it as reality, that's fine, but I didn't know if I was missing out on some nutrition.

Reflector Collector said...

I think that I am always mind-dead.

The first thing that I do when I get home is take a shower. Sometimes, I can feel a lull. Generally have a hot cup of coffee and I am good to go.

Riding in the cold can have a bit of a "coma" effect.

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