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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Pedaling for pancakes, biking for BBQ

With memories of last weekend's butt kicking chafing me like a cheap chamois, I had a bike-heavy spring break calendar. Thursday's mountain bike ride with Jacob and Friday's mountain bike ride with Luke and Casey were both scratched due to wet weather, so Saturday's sunny forecast was a big relief.

I met up that morning with Joe and Pete for a 60ish mile gravel ride on the Katy Trail. Though it's lovely, the flat Katy can wear on you: with no hills to get you out of your saddle on the way up or give your legs a break while coasting down, long rides can be more punishing than you'd expect. For these reasons, it's definitely not my first choice for a training route, but Joe's plan for a midpoint pancake stop won me over.

We rolled out right on time (since I don't know most of my new teammates well enough to be late), hoping the 34* temperature was going to rise more quickly than predicted.  I was particularly chilly, having loaned out my tights the previous weekend under the assumption that I probably wasn't going to need them any time soon.  Within a mile or so, pedaling had warmed me enough that I stayed comfortable as long as we were moving.

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Pete and Joe rolling down the Katy. It's hard to tell from the picture, but spring is finally starting to make a green dent in the flat browns we've had since winter began.
Taking a quick break at the Weldon Spring trailhead, we were surprised to see Shaun race up, having chased us for the past 14 miles.  The next 16 miles passed fairly quickly with Dirty Kanza talk and general conversation, though I definitely felt draggy towards the end of our outbound leg.  There wasn't much breeze, just enough to make the open trail past Augusta feel like work, and I spent the last few miles looking hopefully ahead for signs of Dutzow.

The Dutzow Deli finally emerged in front of us, and if heavenly light didn't actually spotlight it while angels sang hymns, it was still a most welcome sight. As happy as I was to get off of my bike seat, I only realized how chilled I was once we'd stopped. Service was none too quick, but I was perfectly happy to relax in a comfortable chair, cuddling my mug of hot chocolate for warmth until the food arrived.

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Digging in

And it was delicious.  Eventually, with clean plates and no excuses, we headed back out to our bikes and turned back towards St. Charles.  Fueled by pancakes and boosted by a gentle tailwind, our return trip was a bit faster than the outbound leg, and we even got to shed a layer during a brief stop at Augusta. The pace picked up a few miles from our finish line, and we cruised along between 17 and 19 mph. I could manage the pace while on someone's wheel but eventually shook loose after one too many times slowing to negotiate the progressively busier trail.

I had 63 miles on my Garmin when I arrived back into the parking lot, my first unassisted metric century of this year...or, to look at it another way, just about to the first crewed checkpoint of Dirty Kanza...where I'm thinking they could make a killing selling me some pancakes.

Sunday was Easter, where the only real activity I had was running my nephew's C25K workout with him (a story for another post) on a full stomach and playing a few rousing rounds of finger rocket wars, where the takeaway was that you don't want me on your side in a "combat" situation.  I'd been watching the forecast pretty closely, though, because I was really excited about the bike plans I had for Monday.

Ever since having to bail early at the MLK ride because of thawing trail conditions, I'd wanted to get back down to Berryman to ride the whole loop again.  Jacob was back at school, so I took advantage of my last day of break to plan a return trip.  My wonderful oldest son (adult children rock) came over to stay with Jacob until he could be dropped off at school so I could head out bright and early to meet Dave and carpool to Berryman.

We met up with Luke and Amanda, who had also managed to be free that day, and set off down the trail in disorientingly nice weather. The vast majority of my Berryman rides have been MLK weekend, typically featuring snow and ice.  The trail was in awesome shape, and if I didn't feel great on the initial uphills, at least I could spin my inner dialogue from I'm in such bad shape! to This is great training!

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Amanda was feeling the after effects of a long dirt bike race on Saturday yet continued to get stronger the longer we rode.
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Dave, sporting his new BOR jersey, and Luke
My mental warmup took as long as the physical one, but eventually I started to feel better on uphills and really enjoy the downhills.  I still bail on things that I know I could ride if I just went for it, but at least I fell a couple times riding things instead of while trying to stop and walk them, which is often the way my falls happen.

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Slow speed topple on a rooty uphill switchback. It's not a good ride unless someone's bleeding, right?
We enjoyed a chill pace and liberal stops.

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Mandatory break at the artesian well.
The forecast had called for a chance of storms in the afternoon, but though we had several periods of heavy clouds and the kind of breeze that just seems like it's ushering in a deluge the weather stayed fantastic. It's hard to imagine a nicer day to ride unless it featured an absence of horse droppings and horsed-up sections of trail. 
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The kind of day I'd been longingly picturing while suffering through Death by Gravel
The hills definitely hurt, but the downhills were worth all of the climbing.  We took another longer break after the awesome descent to Brazil Creek, and thought I dreaded up uphill riding to come most of it wasn't that awful and was thankfully broken up with some fun descents.  By the last few miles (or what I hoped were the last few miles due to a 2-mile gap between my Garmin and Luke's), I did start to dread downhills because I knew we'd just have to climb back up.

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I consoled myself with thoughts like, if we only have 6 miles left, and 1/3 is uphill, 1/3 is downhill, and 1/3 is flat (clearly from the elevation profile "flat" was a happy delusion), then we're practically finished with the climbing.  That may have been slightly more comforting to everyone else than my repeated assertions that "I'm sure that was the last uphill...OK, I'm sure THAT one was!" I was pretty sure I was wrong, but it still made me happy to pretend that the climbing was over.

My last several miles were fueled by the knowledge that we'd be hitting up Missouri Hick for some delicous BBQ, and once we finished and changed we made a beeline for Steelville and lunch. Amanda lived in the opposite direction, but Dave, Luke, and I thoroughly enjoyed our meals.


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The exact same meal I'd eaten just over a week ago after Death by Gravel.
Two great weekend rides and two awesome meals. I'm not a fan of using food as a reward in my classroom, but it's pretty effective for me!

4 comments:

  1. "downhills were worth all of the climbing" - I remember a time when you walked the DHs, love hearing the constant progress you are making :)

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  2. Oh gosh look at those hills. I'd be cooked. One of the things I enjoy most about riding, is I can eat something more substantial without feeling nasty like I would if I ran. At leas the way I ride I can...

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  3. Now I want to ride my bike and cookout!

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  4. The best way to motivate a bike ride for me is with good food! I want to try mountain biking at some point, but I'm not sure that I am coordinated enough or good enough of a biker. I may just stick to road for now. Or maybe start venturing into gravel.

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