Today did not have an auspicious start. All week, I'd been planning to ride the Peach Pedal, a recreational ride sponsored by Trailnet ("Promoting Active Living"). I haven't been riding during the week for a variety of reasons--too lazy to get up, training for the HM, not wanting to leave Jr for the couple of hours it would take to get in a good ride, not wanting to abandon J. as soon as he gets home from work, etc.--and need to be logging some serious seat time before the century in September. Normally, if I have a ride or race planned, I jump right out of bed. Today, when the alarm clock went off at 6:30, all I wanted to do was hit the snooze button for the next hour. I had roped my brother into going as well, though, so I had to get up.
I had a couple of pieces of banana bread and a chocolate milk for breakfast, and we were off. The ride was about 20 minutes from us, but between him running late, filling water bottles, stopping for caffeine, getting cash, etc., we didn't actually get riding until 8:21. I had initially planned to ride the 52-mile route, but Cappy wanted to ride 38 and is waaay faster than I am, so I settled for 38, and he planned to bring a book for his wait (which, of course, he forgot). I had also hoped to keep up a pretty good pace. My Tour de Donut average over 31 miles was about 15 mph, so I was hoping for a repeat.
As we turned onto the route, however, an ugly, steady headwind hit our faces. Ugh! And to make matters worse, my legs weren't having any of this bike stuff. On the very first mile, I was hurting and out of breath. I'm not sure what was going on...lack of sleep was likely a factor (but I never get enough sleep). Maybe breakfast as well? And maybe yesterday's 5K catching up with me. Or it may have just been a day where I was just sucky in general. Whatever the reason, I was dragging early. And that headwind? The route was more or less an out and back, and the wind was coming from the direction we spent most of our time going. Nice.
See the bikes waaay ahead of me? Yeah, that's pretty much how the day went.
After the past week's oppressive heat (high 90's and high humidity), we had nasty storms roll through last night and cool things off. Today's high only hit around 91, and during the ride it was in the 80's.
Pretty good self portrait taken while riding.
It was very pretty and sunny, but there were some unfriendly dark clouds lingering. I did my part to stave them off by bringing a ziploc bag for my phone and camera, just in case. My preparation did the trick, and they held onto whatever rain they were carrying.
I think I could basically use the pictures from any ride I take on these posts and they'd look pretty accurate from what I see. I like in Illinois, folks. Corn and soybeans. Maybe a few cows. That's what you get.
At one point, I came up behind a group of riders. A dog from a nearby farmhouse was hassling them. It never bit anyone, but it was barking and running right near the cyclists. That whole group rode off together, and then there was just me and the dog. I felt a little like the sickly caribou separated from the herd by wolves, but fido just barked at me and ran home.
(Pretty rural scene inserted to break up the monotony of my report. Bikes far in the distance...check!)
We'd have a long stretch riding into the wind, then a turn and short stretch with it at our side before we were back in the headwind again. I was very happy to see the sign for New Douglas, site of the first rest stop.
As I rode into town, two riders on road bikes passed me (yes, I have road bike envy). I exchanged "hi"s with the guy and "how are you"s with the woman. I said something to her about not liking the wind and looking forward to it being at my back, to which she said, "This is Illinois, it's windy," in a tone that basically said suck it up, you whiny b****. So I flipped her off after she passed me.
I was not happy to see only water jugs at the rest stop. I was starting to get a little hungry and expecting to see bananas or something. I brought nothing with me except for my water bottles. No Gatorade, no Clif bars, nothing. Big mistake. I am a big fan of food. I get hungry easily. Last year I was much more responsible about that. Never count on someone else providing food (unless you're on the fabulous MoDNR Katy Trail bike ride).
It was 16.8 miles from the start to that rest stop. It took me an hour and 18 minutes. 12.9 mph. Not great.
The turnoff for the short route (31.5 miles) was just after the rest stop. I had been pondering skipping that extra 7 miles of the middle route, but I talked myself into soldiering on, figuring that, at worst, only 3 of those miles would be into the wind and then I'd have the wind at my back. Due to last night's rain, one of the roads we had to cross was under some water, so we detoured to avoid that, cutting about 2 miles from the ride.
This section of the ride was much easier riding, made even better with some company. Kathleen and her training team pulled up near me. She complimented my jersey and asked where I got it, and then we got into a conversation about trails around the area, training, kids, etc. Definitely helps pass the time. (Incidentally, she wasn't the only person who mentioned the jersey. Later in the ride another woman asked me about it.)
Primalwear.com, if Kathleen or the orange jersey lady order from your website, I expect a commission. You have my billing address. It'll be nice for the money to flow the other direction for once.
I was dragging once again, this time because I was near-bonk status. I dropped back so Kathleen and her friends could pass. Another woman in the group mentioned that she was impressed how I kept my feel on the pedals (I have plain ol' platform pedals). She was wearing the shoes that lock into the pedals. If I ever get my road bike, I'll upgrade to that at some point. And then I'll probably kill myself the first time I stop. Coordination is not my forte. Still, it was nice to be referred to as a strong rider when I felt like anything but. The ladies continued on where the middle and long routes split. Hopefully they had a good ride, because they made mine nicer.
The day was heating up, so it was nice to have some shade. Plus, there are trees in the picture instead of just corn.
By this time I was just hoping I could hang on until I got to rest stop 2, which was thankfully held at a gas station/convenience store/laundromat (gotta love small towns). I was soooo glad that I had brought some cash with me. I don't always remember to...which would've been big mistake #2. I bought two Fiber One granola bars and a Gatorade. Nothing like eating all the calories I just burned, but whatever. I needed food. The cashier was having all kinds of problems with the register tape, so I ate/drank about half of my purchase before they rang me up. Ahhhhh.
From stop 1 to 2, it was approximately 14 miles. Not entirely sure due to the detour and my refusal to use a bike computer these days. It took me an hour and 5 minutes to get there. 12.9 mph again. Nothing like consistency.
As I finished eating, I started talking to a couple of guys at the stop. Both of them had kids around my age, and they were good for my ego. They couldn't believe I had a 17 year old. "You look like you're in your 20's!" Clearly the heat or exertion was getting to them, because no one would mistake me for someone in my 20's. But go on.... They told me how I need a road bike. Yeah, no kidding. Some day. We ended up finishing the ride together.
We had a pretty good pace going, and I was feeling much better. I was able to keep up with them without getting out of breath, and I never felt like I needed to drop back. We covered the last 5.8 miles in about 20 minutes. 17.4 mph. More like it! Thanks for the company, Wayne and Tony!
After getting home, J, Jr, and I went to lunch at a Chinese buffet. Towards the end of lunch, I was so tired. I almost could have fallen asleep at the table and did fall asleep in the car. I was just exhausted. I think it all goes back to the food thing. I came home and napped for 2 hours.