Life at 14 mph.....
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|Sun, 06-29-2003 - 11:20am|
Our ride total ended up being almost 375 miles over six days, which averages somewhere around 60+ miles per day. Our weather was pretty great! The first three days it was hot and humid, the last three days we battled 20mph headwinds, but we didn't get rained on or any severe weather. Usually the day between De Pere, WI and Oshkosh is a bad-weather day, but we ended up beating the weather in and just had to contend with big trucks, a country music festival, and WIND.
Our typical day started at or before 5:30, we either woke up with the sun or Dad's alarm on his watch. 15 minutes or so of stretching followed, then going down the hall (we were staying in college dorms, how fun!) to dress, apply ointments (lol, I'll tell you about it later), brush teeth, etc. Breakfast was either at 6 or 7, depending on where we were staying, if it was at 7 the final packing of stuff and sunscreen would happen after breakfast. If breakfast was at 6, final packing and sunscreen would happen earlier and some of our stuff would get re-packed the night before. On the way down to breakfast, we'd take our bikes or our luggage down to the baggage truck. The best breakfasts were at Ripon, they have a nice cafeteria with good food, though not a great variety like St. Norbert. After breakfast there was the obligatory bathroom trip, checking the air in our tires, and off we'd go!
We'd stop to rest somewhere between 20 and 40 miles, which was around 11:00 most days. We usually had bananas and muffins pilfered from breakfast in our jersey pockets, and we usually NEEDED them desperately by then! Your body can only store enough glycogen for a couple hours of exercise, any more exertion than that and the wall approaches quickly (also known as BONK)! I kept Gatorade in my water bottles, which helped a lot. You'd be amazed how much go you can get from a simple banana!
We were doing a poker run on this ride. The deal was, we'd be going through small towns, as the ride didn't take major highways (it's only 16 miles between Oshkosh and Ripon, but our route took us 57 or so), and all there is for food in these small towns is taverns. Now what tavern owner wants to close up his tavern at 3am and reopen it for bikers at 9am? Only a tavern owner who is assured that 100 of them are going to stop in, maybe just for water and a bathroom, but some will get food or a lemonade or juice (and Iron Mike would get his beer--he's a retired firefighter and will be _73_ in August, he's as strong as an ox), and we all picked up a playing card, with the idea being that prizes would go to the best poker hand. So the card stop was usually lunch, if it looked like a place with good food. De Greef's, I can't remember the town, had AWESOME soup and these cookies the size of a dessert plate and an inch thick for THIRTY cents each! I left with one in my pocket and a belly full of vegetable soup and Snapple.
Our earliest day in was 12:15, we must have had good tailwinds and breakfast at six, our latest day was about 1:30. We averaged somewhere between 14 and 16 miles an hour depending on the wind conditions, which is about 4 miles an hour slower than my dad usually rides, but he gave me a break. ;) We'd take our bikes to our room, shower, and go for lunch if we hadn't eaten or just a walk to loosen up our hamstrings and quads, which are what we used the most. Dinner was 5 or 5:30, with a briefing after dinner where we'd go through changes to the Q-sheets for the next day and talk about anything in particular that we needed to talk about with respect to the college, like no bikes in the rooms at The Osthoff Resort (it was REALLY fancy, I don't know how we got in there) and no alcohol at UW-Oshkosh or Maranatha Baptist Bible College. After dinner was another walk, hanging out with the other riders, and then we'd go up to our room about 9-ish to go over the next day's route and pass out.
Geez, there's so much to tell! And I don't want to leave anything out!
How did I do? I think my dad was VERY pleased, and a lot of the other riders were impressed, as we'd pass most of them in the morning and then not see them again the rest of the day ("Good morning John, and your lovely daughter too..." "Have a nice ride!"). He was joking (and it was ONLY joking) that he had to keep me on a hybrid bike because if he had me on a road bike he wouldn't be able to keep up with me, or he was glad the ride wasn't in August so that I didn't have more time to train. But it's a really really great feeling to have my dad be so proud of me. I can't even explain it.
We had, in his estimate, three really hard days on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, because all three days had decent hills in them, and the wind just wouldn't let up. It was honestly very very hard on Thursday, I didn't think I would be able to make it, so I had to learn how to draft Dad. What that means is that I would ride very close directly behind him in a headwind, or off to the lee side of his body in a cross-wind, and use him as a windbreak. It made a big difference, but it felt like cheating, in a way, because I was relying on someone else to make my pedaling easier.
How did I feel? STRONG. The only thing I could have done to improve my training would have been more hill work, which would have required a trip to another state for training rides, either Wisconsin or the Mississippi River valley on the Iowa side. I wasn't really well prepared for the hills, but there was a lot of just gutting it out, pushing, talking to my legs, gritting my teeth, and just going. There were no WWGRD moments, because there were no decisions to be made--just go. Big trucks? Just go. Big hills? Downshift, and just go. Hot? Tired? Sit bones like white-hot fire? JUST GO. A lot of it was mental, as any endurance sport is.
My sit bones were actually good by day three, but then I started to have other chamois-related issues. I now have a pair of shorts I've dubbed "40 mile shorts", because on the second time of wearing (we washed clothes after we showered, so we only took 3 pairs of shorts for six days), I started developing a hot burning rash at the edges of the chamois in the creases of my legs and cheeks, I assume from friction. I'd been greasing up with A&D ointment to try to prevent chafing, but it apparently wasn't working well! It made the last couple of days really painful (more gutting it out), next time I'll spend the money and order Chamois Butt'r, which is a lubricating cream specifically for cycling. Having different-shaped chamoises helped, too, because the edge of the chamois was in a different place on different days, and sleeping overnight was the best for getting rid of it.
I didn't lose _any_ weight, I checked last night. I wasn't eating abnormally large portions, I felt I kept my eating pretty well controlled with a little extra indulging (cyclists, me included, really like ice cream!), but nothing seems to have changed that anyone else can see except for a dark tan on my arms between mid-bicep and my wrist (gloves) and from the shorts to my knee in the front and from my knee to my sock in the back. And I've got tons of freckles! Yes, I did use SPF 30+ every day, but.... I do know that I'm very much stronger than I was a week ago today.
I actually miss being on my beloved bike. I thought that I had a great bike going into the ride, now I know I have a great starter bike. There were some expensive bikes on the ride, as these people tend to be serious cyclists. Bikes I've never heard of. Sevens, which are custom-made to your measurements, made of titanium, with Spinergy wheels ($$$) and fast, though fragile, glue on tires. A Kestrel, white, one of the first carbon fiber bikes, it's 12 years old, something like 60,000 miles on it, and the guy who rides it would ride in, sit down for half an hour, and then go back out to meet up with his wife and ride in with her. We called him "Go-Back Bob". A beautiful Klein, another custom-made and handmade carbon-fiber bike, with an iridescent orange paint job. Several LeMonde bikes, a lot of Treks and Giants, my dad's old Paramount, made by Schwinn...
The people on this ride were the best kind--warm, inviting, interested in meeting new people and hanging out with old friends from previous rides. Iron Mike, who I referred to earlier, has been on this ride 12 times, my dad's been on it for 9. Our youngest rider was a 15-year old boy from Ohio, our oldest was 73. Our most motivating rider was Dick. He's in his early 60's, and partially paralyzed. He has to walk with two crutches, and doesn't speak very fast, but he's very nice, and he rode his three-wheeled recumbent bike everywhere because he rides better than he can walk. Walking his bike up a hill is not an option, he has to pedal them all.
It has honestly taken me 45 minutes to type this post, but you guys are worth it! I've got every intention of riding this ride again next summer, like I said, if I could do it next week, headwinds and all, I'd sign up in a second. I've got a new sport to be fanatical about! There is nothing I've ever felt like cruising down a country road with a tailwind, in my highest gear, pedaling easily at 28 mph. That's the fastest I've ever gone under my own power, and it's absolutely exhilarating! I used every gear I've got on my bike, the highest to the lowest, all 24. I conquered a hill that literally looked like a wall when I rode up to it. I learned good bike-handling skills, how to put a chain back on and adjust a derailleur, and that my body can be a machine with the proper fuel, technique, and attitude.
I hope you've enjoyed reading about my vacation (yes, I consider it a vacation!) as much as I've enjoyed reliving it for you. I left out a lot of details, but I'd be more than happy to recall them if you're interested. I'll send the pictures off to PhotoWorks tomorrow, so maybe in a week I'll have a link for you to look at them! You'll see my dad's back and lots of rolling hills, and sometimes clusters of colorful people in funny clothes...lol.
I've got to get back to my laundry and cleaning, I hope you all have a great Sunday!