Tuesday, June 29, 2010
I dropped Jocko at his volleyball practice and headed to Grant's Trail. Holy cow, that place was hopping tonight. Tons of cars in the parking lot, tons of cyclists and runners and walkers on the trail. And I have to say, not ONE person signalled before passing.
I truly couldn't have felt much less motivated to run tonight. Beautiful weather (low 80's) lovely evening, 90 minutes with nothing to do but wait...and nothing. But the combination of the schedule, the fact that this was my best opportunity to get in 5 miles, and the fact that I'd already said I was going to run got me going.
While my technology failed me on Sunday, today both programs worked just fine. Go figure. I assume a conversational pace means that you could hold a conversation while running at that pace, so I did my best to take it fairly easy. I did pretty well, though I did have one all-out sprint to cross a street before the light changed. After the first mile or so, I was feeling it a little more (in a good way) and knew I'd get in the 5 miles ok.
It stunk getting passed by faster runners, but I stuck to my program.
5.05 miles, 49:21
11:08 a.m.--Heat index of 105 today. Perfect time to bid air conditioning goodbye for a week.
1:14 p.m.--Has everything packed...with almost two hours left before I have to leave! :)
9:35 p.m.--Headed to bed. Early morning and a 38-mile ride await me!
June 21 (Monday)
6:01 a.m.--Having breakfast at the Ameristar Casino before heading west towards Marthasville.
6:47 a.m.--"Tut, tut, looks like rain. And me, without my umbrella." ~Winnie the Pooh (and Kate)
10:34 a.m.--39.9 miles, 3 hours riding, gorgeous morning, home sweet home in Marthasville, MO.
9:35 p.m.--(from my cousin) R U ok???? No post in over 10 hours!!!! We are worried.
9:42 p.m.--Laying in bed, listening to guitar, reading my book, loving the fan my new BFF Bill loaned me, and kind of hoping for storms. Forecast high of 99 tomorrow with a heat index of 105...we'll be up early to get in our 54 miles before the worst of the heat.
June 22 (Tuesday)
4:10 a.m.--Whoo hoo...at least 5 hours of sleep...may be a new Katy Trail ride record for me! I need to get one of these little fans.
11:37 a.m.--50.2 miles today (54 is tomorrow, my mistake) GREAT day for a ride. We left at 5:30 this morning to beat the heat, and we pretty much did. Relaxing at our shady campsite now. :)
7:08 p.m.--In 22 years of Missouri State Parks sponsored cross-state bike rides, this was the hottest day ever. Heat index of 107, and they shut down the ride at 11:30 due to high temps (so anyone not finished had to be driven to camp).
June 23 (Wednesday)
5:14 a.m.--Up at 4:15, all packed and 5th in line for the Pancake Man! :)
8:52 a.m.--30 miles down, now waiting on a bus to take us around the flooded portion of the trail.
11:03 a.m.--38 fast miles today. Even took a turn pulling the paceline. Now we're camped at Les Bourgeois Winery in Rocheport. How perfect is that? :-)
7:43 p.m.--Watching a big storm from the winery and hoping my rain fly works.
June 24 (Thursday)
5:45 a.m.--Sent my sleeping bag home with my uncle yesterday, so naturally I woke up freezing with only a towel to keep me warm.
12:16 p.m.--Beautiful, beautiful weather. Rode 52 miles today. The only parts below my waist still on speaking terms with me are my hamstrings, but it was still an awesome ride! =)
2:43 p.m.--Going to go to the pool, soak my legs in the nice, cool water, lie in the sun, and read. Ahhhhhhh! :)
7:10 p.m.--Going to watch the Sedalia baseball team play.
10:15 p.m.--Just got to watch the space station fly over. Cool!
June 25 (Friday)
5:05 a.m.--Slept in til 5...nice! :)
10:25 a.m.--38 miles today, and now we're done. :( Looking forward to seeing my family again, but sad the ride is over. Can't wait til next year!
4:18 p.m.--We dropped off all the Columbia people, and now there are only about 11 of us on this big ol' charter bus. Kind of funny that the people going straight to St. Charles line up for 15 minutes in the sun so they could get on a bus and be crammed together for 4 hours.
Monday, June 28, 2010
"That's a lot of water."
"Wow, the river's really up!"
"Look how high the river is!"
Some version of those words must've been said about 30,000 times over the course of the week. Much of the Katy Trail runs near the Missouri River, and flooding along the river affected the ride. Twice we had to take detours. The first, on day 3, required us to be bused around the area affected by flooding. The other time we had the option to take a road route around the flooded section.
For the riders, the flooding was just an annoyance or inconvenience. For the organizers, it was a huge headache. Because of the rapidly changing nature of things, they had to wait until the day before that day's ride to make a decision. They had to have alternate transportation and routes prepared. They had to pay for additional buses and trucks to move riders and bicycles. And they did it with a grace that was impressive. All of the ride staff was unfailingly pleasant, helpful, and organized. I really can't say enough good things about them. :)
To recap, last year I overpacked a bit. Here is a picture of all the clothes I took that I didn't use.
That's an awful lot of extra weight to carry around. We're limited to two 50-lb bags for clothes, tent, etc., and we have to carry them from the baggage truck to our campsite. After last year, I was determined to do better. And I did.
Here's what I didn't use this year:
- Extra socks & underwear
- One sundress
- One sleeveless shirt
- One short-sleeved shirt
- One pair of shorts
And I wore an outfit or two twice, so I could have used some of this other stuff.
Oh, and I never used my sleeping bag, either, but we'll file that one under...
Poor decision making exhibits:
A) If you go camping when the forecast is for temps in the mid-90's and have limited space in your luggage...Perhaps a big, bulky sleeping bag rated for temps in the 30's isn't the smartest thing to bring.
- Lesson learned: buy a thinner, lighter sleeping bag for next year
B) If you've been lugging said sleeping bag around for 3 days, the weather forecast shows rain and cooler temperatures, and you have no additional blankets...Perhaps you should think twice before sending the sleeping bag home with your uncle.
- Lesson learned: right as a cool front hits is the wrong time to drop weight from your bags. Make sure if you do that you have some alternate covers so that your chattering teeth don't wake your neighbors.
C) I gained 5 pounds on this trip. Yes, I rode about 225 miles last week and gained 5 pounds. I did the same thing last year and went into this trip fully intending to do better...but, you know, salad just doesn't cut it when you're riding 30+ miles.
- Lesson learned: Put back that extra pancake; 3 is more than enough. At the same time, I'd rather add a little weight and ride strong.
It was an awfully hot first four days (counting Sunday in St. Charles). Temperatures in the high 90's, heat index topping out at 107. And yet, I felt pretty good riding. Some helpful hints:
- Leave as early as possible. We were up by 4:15 most mornings. The ride organizers had breakfast ready at 5:30 on the mornings of our long rides so we could move as early as possible. As hot as it got those afternoons, our rides were comfortable and beautiful. I'm a late sleeper, but the idea of dragging my a** across Missouri under a heat warning is enough to get me moving.
- Drink lots of water. When you think you have drunk enough water, drink more. Then have some Gatorade.
- Take breaks. Get in the shade. Don't push yourself too much. By the same token...
- Keep moving. Don't stay in one place TOO long.
- Don't forget the sunscreen! Reapply. You'll be sweating like crazy.
- If you start feeling symptoms of heat exhaustion, SAG in. Don't be so pigheaded that you end up in the hospital.
I was a little worried about how this trip would go since I had so few miles on the bike this year. I was definitely saddle sore, but overall I was pleasantly surprised by how I felt. I really thought my riding partner would be leaving me in the dust (and gave him permission to do so :D), but I kept up just fine. I felt really good.
The heat didn't bother me as much this year as it did last year, either. Last year, I was dumping bottles of cold water on my head at each stop. I handled the heat much better this year, and I don't think we left much later last year than this year. This year's mileages were a bit lower, though, which may have been the difference.
I'm a lot fitter than I was last year. I don't know the weight difference, can't see it a whole lot in the pictures, but I felt much better and stronger. Last year I can remember Sam having to tell me to slow down because I couldn't carry on a conversation as we rode; this year, that was only a problem the couple of times I got behind because of getting a drink and had to try and catch up with a group that was cruising. That's not progress that you can give a number to, but it sure feels good. :)
I ran last night for the first time in a week and a half. 95 degree temperature on the way there...nice. I headed to Grant's Trail after dropping Nathan at his practice. My plan was to run 3 1-mile runs. I've been working on getting my mile faster than 8:50. Slow going, let me tell you.
So, I warmed up, turned on the Nike+, and took off. I had gone .64 miles (I think, as it turns out) when I had to pause it at the bathroom. Yes, I know it's cheating to stop, take a break, finish the run, and pretend that you didn't have a breather...but I'm only competing against myself, I'd have been glad to put an asterisk by that time, and I'm just not committed enough to pee my pants to finish out the mile first.
Started the Nike+ back up after my bathroom break and took off again. After awhile, I checked it to see how much longer I had to suffer...and it still registered .64. WTF? Tried pausing and restarting it, to no avail. Tried backing out of the program and starting again. Still nothing. The sensor must be dead. That didn't last long.
OK, no big deal. I decided I'd just run for the rest of my time and not focus on speed. Started a gps-based app on my phone, and I was off again. I checked it at one point and had gone 1.3 miles. At some point my husband called, so I walked while I talked to him. I ran the rest of the time, really pushing it towards the end. I get to the end and go to stop the app--only it's already stopped. I don't know if it stopped when I checked my distance or when my husband called, but either way it did. Grr.
The trail did at least have mile and half-mile markers, so taking out my warm-up, I think I probably ran about 4 miles, but I have no idea how fast. Soooo annoying. I really don't enjoy running at all. What I do enjoy is what it does for my body and when I can see progress. No time=no visible progress. My technology has failed me. Twice. Guess it's time for me to get a watch and pay a little more attention to the distance markers.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Breakfast was pancakes and sausage again, and then we took off. To get back to the trail, we had to ride back through part of Sedalia. The drivers were unfailingly courteous. At every intersection--both streets and where the trail crossed streets--drivers waved us on despite having the right of way.
Shade, glorious shade
Wide open spaces
This section of trail had more open areas, and I was feeling more of a headwind. Add those factors to fatigue from Thursday's hills, and I was dragging a bit. Oh, and the hills weren't over yet. We had a few more long grades. This was also the day that we reached the highest point of the trail.
Last SAG of the trip
End of the line; Clinton, MO
Once we got to Clinton, we checked in and I immediately had to turn in my bike so it could be loaded onto the baggage truck. I found my bags and stuck them in the shade. After cooling off a bit, Sam and I headed into the convention center to shower and have lunch.
The lunch wasn't great, but the company was. I sat with Sam, Ralph, and the frat boys. Those guys are hilarious. My face hurt from laughing so much. Like many people on the ride, they come back every year, making the ride something of an annual reunion.
Sam didn't have to wait for the shuttle, but he hung around for a while and visited, then he ran me to town to get a sods and some magazines for the bus ride home. I've been spoiled having company this week. Usually I ride alone, and it's been nice to have a partner with whom to talk, keep pace, and share wind-blocking duties.
We were supposed to load the buses at 1:30, and when I went out at 1:30 (I'd been inside charging up my phone as much as possible), everyone was lined up to get on the buses. Both buses going straight to St. Charles were full, so I had to ride the one stopping in Columbia first. I was a little bummed, but it ended up being a pretty good deal.
My ride home
As I said, the St. Charles buses were packed full. No open seats. Our bus, on the other hand, had quite a few open seats, and once we dropped off the Columbia people there were only about 10 of us left. It was nice to stretch out.
My husband and Junior were waiting when our bus pulled in with the baggage trucks right behind it. Since there were so few of us, it was easy to find our bags in the bus's cargo hold. Then we waited for the bikes to be unloaded. The other bus people had arrived about 30 minutes before us, so they had a much longer wait in the heat.
Because I had come in fairly early, my bike was in the very last row to be unloaded, but even so we were on the road by 6:25. I'm already looking forward to next year's ride.
Friday, June 25, 2010
And with all that complaining noted, it was a glorious day. The weather was fantastic. I was actually COOL starting out! The section of trail moves away from the Missouri River and passes through farmland and wooded areas. The climbs wore me down, but I made them...and I have the triceps to prove it!
Otherwise, we woke up to a much cooler day in Rocheport after Wednesday evening's storm. We had to pack up wet tents and then head down the road to breakfast at the Rocheport trailhead--French toast, sausage links, scrambled eggs, and fresh fruit.Pancake Man making French toast
Breakfast line Thursday
FUN group of guys!
Due to flooding on the trail, we were given the choice between a shuttle around the closed section or riding a road route. We opted for the road route, which actually did have some bigger hills, but at least they were rolling. I'm still a chicken on downhills, so I didn't get as much of a lift as the rest of the crew, but it was still ok.
None of my friends had any major traumas today, but we caused some. At the first SAG, my aunt Misty was shaking out a water bottle behind her as she walked and clobbered the man behind her. Hopefully he was finished having kids, anyway. Lol. On the first big hill, another rider was talking to me and asked me which side I wanted as we split. I said, "I'll go left," meaning RIGHT, and proceeded to go right. He, expecting me to actually GO left, stayed right and we almost collided. I heard about it for the rest of the day, too. :)
I got mine, though, later. We were nearing Sedalia, and a man was pushing his bike down the middle of the trail. As I came up to him, I called, "I'm on your left!" and went left, as did he, almost crashing into me. "Left! Left! Left," I called, and then he moved the right. Whew.
We rode 52 miles in total. The small towns along the way are very good to us. At the beginning of the road portion of the Katy through Sedalia, there was a huge trash barrel full of ice and Vitamin Water compliments of the Sedalia Salvation Army. Very nice!
We stayed in Liberty Park.
Sedalia Community Center
Our dinner and breakfast venue. There was also a concert that night by the Sedalia Symphony.
We were given free admission to the swimming pool... Oh my gosh, it felt good!!We also got half price admission to the Sedalia Bombers baseball game, too. It's a collegiate league team that plays right next to where we were camping. I think the bike people probably were half of the "crowd" (less than 70 people total). The announcer was great. He made several mentions of our group. A couple quotes:
(after a pop fly went out of the stadium) *sound effect of smashing window* "was that your tent? Better call ________!" (don't remember the auto glass specialist name)
"and alllll these bicyclists along the third base line have won free camping in Liberty Park! (Bring your own tent!)"
One more cool thing...we even got to see the space station fly over. It looked like a really bright star and moved quickly across the sky. Pretty neat.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
We climbed sooo many hills today. The first 25 or so miles lulled me into a false sense of security. After last night's storm, the temperature was perfect for riding. The day was gorgeous, the trail was flat, my sore parts had given up complaining, and we were smoking our way down the trail. I told my riding buddy, "I feel like I could ride all day!"
New Franklin SAG
Flat as a pancake
And then we left Booneville and started climbing. Oh, my gosh...it was great! There was this long hill, and I was dreading it, but instead of being awful, I screamed up it. Awesome. I felt like Lance Armstrong. Until Sam told me it wasn't a straight uphill. It's kind of an optical illusion: on some parts, it looks like an incline but is actually downhill. Other times it's flat. And yes, there are actual inclines as well. So, while I may not quite be ready for the Tour de France, it was still pretty cool.
Uphill? Downhill? Who knows.
(to be continued)
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
All this talk about places in line probably sounds pretty juvenile, but you DON'T want to be at the end of a 300-person line when you're trying to get on the trail early to avoid blistering heat.
We had a great pancake breakfast and then got out of there. The line of people waiting was INSANE. It was sooo long. I didn't even want to look those people near the end in the eye, I felt so bad for them.
Since the school was at the top of a pretty good hill, we had a fast ride back down to the trail. We had a fairly fast ride once we got onto the trail too. Not as much talking as previous days, and the trail felt like more work today. The heat started a bit earlier, and there were several open places along the way where we didn't have the lovely shade.
Even so, our pace was pretty good, and it sped up even more when a family from Sam's hometown passed us in a paceline with their daughter in the lead. Sam decided that wasn't going to happen and took off with them in hot pursuit. Of course, all this happened as I was slowing to tale a drink, so I had a lot of ground to make up. I caught up, and it was all I could do to hang on til Hartsburg, the site of our portage.
The bikes were loaded onto a truck, and the cyclists got to relax in the American Legion hall as we waited for enough people to fill the bus. As they were trying to move as many people as possible, the schoolbus was full. Only myself and one other person had our seat to ourselves. Poor Sam not only had to share his seat (and let me tell you, those schoolbuses sure aren't made for grownup bodies!), but he also had to cram his tall body in with the wheel well taking up most of the floor. I napped while he passed a hot, uncomfortable 20 minutes.
We offloaded in McBaine and headed off to Rocheport, about 9 miles down the trail. I left ahead of Sam, so he fell in behind me. We rode like that until the "Frat boys" came up behind us. These guys are great. They come every year, spend a lot of the free time drinking and socializing, and fly past most everyone on the trail only to lose ground hanging out at the SAGs. You get ahead of them for a bit, then their line passes you again and leaves you in the dust.
I heard them coming and decided they weren't passing me without a fight. I started pedalling harder, and they stayed back and let me pull. I was really pushing myself and was about to peel off when Jim told me something on the lines of, "you know, you don't have to prove anything."
It was good practice for me in riding in a paceline. It makes me really nervous, but I did ok today. That's how we came to the trailhead for our campsite.
Tonight's campground is Les Bourgeois Winery. Beautiful place on the top of the bluffs.
On top, and the TRAIL is at the bottom. The trail was gorgeous, but it was also rocky, winding, and very steep. I was dying pushing my bike up. I did get a few good pictures during a much-needed picture break.
After getting our tents set up, we had a nice lunch
at the winery bistro. My aunt Misty's friend George came to eat with us. He's done the ride in the past, but last year had to drop out bc of the heat.
After lunch and showers, my uncle Fred met us. After visiting for a while, he took us all to town for ice cream. When he left, I sent my sleeping bag with him. It's been far too hot to need it, and it takes up too much room in my bag.
Weather reports were calling for rain, so we put the rain flies on our tents before supper. Good thing we did, bc we got a pretty good storm. Luckily, my rain fly worked. Also luckily, Sam helped me put it on. I'm good with the tent, but I'm hopeless with the fly.
The storm left us with a beautiful sunset
Because the rain kept everyone in the only dry area, our guest speaker had a great crowd. He talked and showed a slide show on the history of the Katy Trail. Very interesting stuff. This popular trail was extremely controversial at its beginning.
Took a walk around the property afterwards and then to bed. Thanks to the rain and cold front (though "cold" is exceedingly relative), the high tomorrow is only supposed to be 87. Welcome relief!!
Despite our concerns about the weather, it was a beautiful morning for a long ride. Leaving so early meant cooler temperatures, and the many shady parts helped as well. We had our 50 miles ridden by 10:30. Some pictures from the trail...
Not everyone had such an altogether nice ride. Our friend Dave had an encounter with a branch, and the branch came out on top. It managed to miss his helmet and get under his glasses to scratch his eye. He finished out the ride, but ride staff ended up taking him to an urgent care facility for treatment (no scratched cornea--yea).
People who didn't get such an early start or move quickly enough had an early end to their day on the trail. The ride was called at 11:30 due to heat (heat index of 107), so riders still on the trail had to wait at their next SAG for a ride in to camp.
We camped on school grounds in Mokane. We were very spoiled, as we were allowed to hang out inside the air conditioned building. Common areas were soon filled with campers napping,
reading, chatting, or playing cards. It was a welcome relief from the oppressive heat outside.
We had a wonderful dinner. Rolls, salad, baked beans, cheesy potatoes, brisket, lemon chicken, and dessert. Afterwards, we had our rider meeting, where we had a moment of silence for a cycling advocate who was killed this week in a car accident while cycling. Then, we got the news that, due to flooding on the Missouri River, we were going to have to be bused around the stretch of trail that was underwater.Rider meeting
The evening ended with entertainment by a string band--good stuff.
A welcome development was that we were allowed to sleep inside the bottom floor of the school if we wanted. We wanted. One, in hopes that the air conditioning would allow a full night's sleep; and two, because if we slept inside, we could pack our tents that night and have little to do to pack up in the morning. It looked a little like a refugee camp, but once the lights were out, I had the best sleep of the week so far.
You know, it's crazy hot, my butt is really sore, and we're getting up ridiculously early in the mornings. This morning, as I was rolling up my sleeping bag in the dark at 4:15 a.m., I thought to myself, "THIS is my VACATION???" And yet, as I rode this morning, I was having such a good time. Great people, wonderful trail, beautiful mornings, and I'm doing better riding than I expected. Yep...THIS is my vacation...and I love it!! :)