Bike. Repeat. Repeat. Whimper.

With Dirty Kanza looming over me like the sword of Damocles, I've been pretty focused on getting in some time on the bike.  May has shown a bit of a jump in my cycling miles, for sure.

Can you tell I registered for the race April 30?
More miles, but by no means enough, which is why Friday, I planned to go for a ride.  Since we really needed the day to get things ready for Nathan's graduation party, I checked with Jeff the night before to make sure he was ok with meriding for an hour or two.  He didn't answer, which I interpreted as "yes, I mind", which in turn made me even crabbier.  Rather than act all pissy, though, I asked, "Does that mean you mind?"

"No," he answered, "In fact, I want you to go ride.  I don't want you dying in Kansas." 

Perfect answer.  It did not, however, make it any easier for me to get going Friday morning after reading until 3:30 a.m. (damn you, Fifty Shades of Grey).  I dropped Nathan off at graduation practice and then spent an hour contemplating a return to bed.  I finally left with just enough time to get in a pretty desultory 22 miles.  Better than nothing.

Saturday was taken up by Nathan's graduation.  He made it interesting, for sure, but he graduated.


He had to put the robe back on for pictures.  Note the sock feet. :)
Hard to believe that I now have two children who've graduated from high school.  Me just being in my late 20's and all...

Sunday I was back on the bike...but on singletrack rather than roads.  My blog friend Anne came to town and needed a guide for our trails.  Even with the awesome maps GORC has online, the trails are still confusing.  It's taken me more than a year of running and riding out there to sort of know where I am out there...most of the time.

I was a little nervous since Anne and I had never ridden together and I was riding the Monster bike rather than my regular mountain bike.  It's actually a mountain frame, but it's set up with a rigid front shock.  I wasn't sure how I'd do without front suspension (seeing as the first time I tried it didn't go so well), but the trails aren't technical and I've gotten a lot more experience since my ill-fated beginner outing.

It turned out that Anne and I are fairly similar speeds (at least on new-to-her terrain), and the bike did great.  There were two spots I walked (and once where I almost ran into a tree).  I'm pretty sure the bike would have been fine, but I really don't want to chance hurting someone else's bike or myself right before Dirty Kanza.  I rode everything else, and it all just felt so much better on the Monster bike.  I'm not sure if the difference is the weight or the better components or what, but I felt like I was floating up the climbs.  I've really enjoyed the opportunity to be spoiled for a while. :)

Anne and I rode about 8 miles, getting to talk racing and blogging and friends in common. I'm pretty sure she'll be back, and I'm looking forward to riding together again!

This must be "post unflattering pictures of yourself" day.  But Anne looks cute.

We spent Sunday playing sand volleyball at my father-in-law's.  It's kind of a Memorial Day weekend tradition, though it's gotten harder and harder to get enough players.  This year, however, was fantastic.  We actually had three teams rotating for a while, and even though I'm pretty sure my team lost every single game we played, I had a blast.

By 4:00 or so, though, I was ready to head home because I was meeting friends at Klondike Park in Augusta.  My friend Patrick was on the last leg of his latest installment of the 100+ Project fundraising for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America's St. Louis chapter.  Basically, he's completing various 100+ mile journeys using different modes of transportation.  This was Bike 100+, a through-ride of the Katy Trail.  I'd have loved to take part in the whole thing, but things like graduation and traditions come first.  Still, my family was kind enough to do without me for the last day of the weekend so I could share in the victory lap.

Hanging out away from the campfire (because with temps in the 90's, who wants to be around it?) with some of my adventure friends (and their kids) was a lot of fun, and since I woke up at 5:30 a.m., I didn't have any problem being ready for our planned 7:30 departure time.  In fact, we left almost 15 minutes early.

Brian, Cheri, me, Pat, Robin, Chuck, Lori, Gary
Pat's wife was running support for him and Gary, both Robin and Chuck & Lori had kids who were picking them up, and Cheri and Brian had staged a car at each end of the ride.  I, on the other hand, had a different plan: since I needed to get in miles anyway, I'd ride an out-and-back.  This way, at least half of my miles would be with company.

Riding down the Katy towards St. Charles
The first part of the ride was great.  We had such a fun group of people.

Patrick and Chuck make like Lewis and Clark...or Clark and Lewis...
Even with the distraction of the awesome company, though, I was frustrated by my discomfort on my bike seat.  In the past few years, I've done some pretty long rides.  Several 60+ mile rides, two centuries, and though it took me some time to work up to tolerating prolonged saddle time, I was able to do so.  I'm not having that same experience this year.  In fact, on this ride I was getting uncomfortable by mile 25 or so, and by the time we hit the Eastern end of the Katy Trail at mile 38 I'd been watching for it pretty eagerly for a while.

Hello sun, hello 90 degree temperatures.
It didn't help that the 11-mile stretch between St. Charles and Machens had the least shade of any section we'd ridden.  Or that the temperature had reached into the 90's.  Or that Chuck kept warning me, "This is going to be a nasty headwind you'll have to ride into."  Or the fact that I felt like my bike shorts were lined with sandpaper rather than chamois.  Good times.

Chuck even offered me a ride back to St. Charles with him, Lori, and their boys.  That would allow me to skip the most exposed section of the ride and leave me with just 26 or so miles back to my car.  As little as I was looking forward to the heat and the wind, I'm going to be riding in just those conditions (or worse)for Dirty Kanza.  Might as well get in some tougher training miles instead of the cool weather biking I've been enjoying.

I've now ridden all of the Katy Trail (just not at the same time)
Once we got to the end, my friends were looking out for me.  Lori gave me her last Gatorade, and Gary made sure I had plenty of water and gave me all the ice out of his cooler.  For the first 38 miles, I only drank part of a water bottle with Nuun and about 1/4 of my 70 oz Camelback bladder...not enough water, even in mostly reasonable temperatures.  I'm much better with drinking when it's hot than when it isn't, so that's something I'll have to be more conscious of on Saturday.

The nicest surprise was that Chuck decided to ride back with me to St. Charles and then have Lori pick him up there.  Having company for that 11-mile stretch was huge.  The wind was pretty bad, but one nice surprise was that the headwind provided a nice distraction from my increasingly raw behind.  Maybe my positioning was different, too?  Chuck started off pulling so I could draft behind him, but before long he realized he hadn't eaten and stopped to have a bagel.  The couple bites he managed weren't kind to his stomach, and he looked miserable. 

After a few minutes we took off again at a slower pace so that Chuck's stomach could settle.  I'm sure it was awful for him, but worrying about how he was feeling was another helpful distraction for me, and it forced me to deal with the wind more instead of hiding behind a stronger rider. 

Just a little windy
As we got closer to St. Charles, the temperature seemed to drop, but the wind picked up.  Remembering the 3:30 storms in the forecast, I checked my watch and saw that they were about 3 hours away.  If I keep up a 12-13 mph pace, I should be there by 2:30...plenty of time. I stopped in St. Charles to take some food out of my camelback and stuff it into my more accessible jersey pockets, looked fruitlessly for the ibuprofen I must have left in the car, and then headed towards Augusta alone.

It was hot, but primarily shaded, so I had good conditions for the last 27 miles or so of the ride.  Good trail and weather conditions, anyway.  I know I keep saying it, but I just can't even tell you how sore I was.  It hurt so much to sit.  It was really an act of will to keep going.  I let myself stop to give my butt a break every five miles or so, so this is how the pace went for most of that time: 12 mph, 12 mph, 13 mph, 14 mph, 6 mph (stopped for a break); 15, 14, 15, 7 (break); 14, 13, 13, 13, 6 (break); etc.  My back was getting a little sore, but everything else on my body felt great.  It was really frustrating to feel so strong and yet so terrible.

I was thrilled to reach the turnoff to Klondike Park, but I waited to long to downshift and ended up walking my bike up the hill.  I reached my car at exactly 3:00 and was done.  76.3 miles, my longest and most demoralizing ride this year.  It's hard to imagine being able to gut out another 125+ miles feeling like that.

I woke up today feeling like someone had beaten me in my sleep, but after I got up and moved around (and took some Tylenol), I felt fine.  I hit the bike shop and picked up a new saddle, and I'm borrowing another from a friend to try out.  With 3 days til I'm in Kansas, it's mighty late to be making changes; on the other hand, I can't imagine finishing feeling the way I did yesterday.  Hopefully this helps.

Wish me luck!


  1. Nice work on the long ride even though it was terrible! You're ready for Dirty Kanza. You've got the balls to finish it. I wish mine were half as big.

    Everyone always says that you should never do a race, especially a LONG race, with something new that you haven't trained with. However, you'd be stupid NOT to make that change. If it hurt you badly enough to stop that often, you can't possibly go into Kanza with that saddle. I hope the new one works out.

    See you in 3 freakin' days!

  2. I'm still sort of stuck on the fact you were up until 3:30pm....wth, Kate?!? I usually wake up then! Ha.

    Congrats to your son! Woohoo for graduating! I have a couple of those on the cusp of "they'd better get their sh!t together if they plan on exiting high school on time!"...boys! Never had to worry about my daughter but another story for my boys.

    You and your girl bits and back and everything else will do just fine on the race in Kansas. I know I worried to death when I did that hilly century ride last year and really...only the last 70 miles sucked! :) But the race will pull you along, just like running a marathon ill-trained like I have done one too many times. You're going to be having so much fun you'll forget how much you hurt.

    Great job on the bike this past are READY!!!

  3. Looking forward to reading all about it. Many prayers for safety and a happy hiney throughout the event.

  4. congrats to Nathan!!! and to you as well!!!

    50 too...I am still resisting this new addiction...

    you are ready and best of luck to you!!!

  5. Good luck Kate, I am sure it will be fine on the day. You are too super to fail! Have you got chamois cream for your bits? Not sure if that is what they call it over the pond...

  6. Let's see--that ride had it all, from elements to fussy tummys and on...You will be ready for Kansas!

    You look amazing to have two kids who have graduated! Way to go.

  7. Have you thought about swapping out your own bike seat for the one on the monster? Could help to fix the, um, bum bum.

  8. Keep getting younger Kate, and we'll be seeing you graduate HS again soon! You definitely sound like you're ready, no luck needed in KS!

  9. Your bike shots are incredible. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that wind looked positively miserable.

    Great job on your miles!

  10. The bike seat on the Monster is mine. The Monster actually had a very nice Brooks saddle which I could have used but opted to use the one I was used to. Also, I have chamois butter but chose not to use it on my training rides so as to theoretically speed up the "acclimatization" process. Both decisions, in retrospect, not the best.

  11. A great job on the bike, you are ready. The "windy pic" is scary!
    Congrats for the graduated kids. The second pic (the sock feet one) is too beautiful with all those smiles.
    I don't remember the last time I was awake at 3:30 AM.

  12. That was a tough ride back into the wind and heat, was so glad I pulled off in St Charles.

    I had ibuprofen in my pack, wish you would have said something!

    haha, Luke said it best. You ARE ready for DK.

  13. Oh, that wind!!! Aargh - and my tush is screaming in agony on your behalf.
    Congrats to your son - awesome!
    Best of luck with the Dirty Kanza - you fabulous, madwoman, you!!

  14. Sword of Damocles--nice allusion! AND 50 library has 240 holds on that book....I think I have a professional obligation to read it, don't you?

    Looking forward to that race. I think you're preparing yourself quite nicely.

  15. I'm thinking of your butt, in the least creepy way possible. Ouch.

  16. I"ve said it before and I"ll say it again. You are tough! To keep going when you were sore, tired, alone for some of it, the wind, the awful seat and on and on. You set a goal and you do it girl!
    Congrats again on Nathan's graduation! Huge deal!
    And I wish you did live close enough to do VCM. If it was an awesome bike trail race you might think you did live close enough.

  17. I am tired just reading about that ride. The picture of the wind swirling the dust around on the Katy Trail made me want to go take a nap.

    Re the chamois sandpaper effect --- Can you get your hands on a can of that spray they give in the hospital for episiotomy pain? I think it has freon in it?????

    I hate to think you were nervous about riding, we are a good match. When I got home I was telling STeve about the Dirty Kanza and he asked if I was contemplating getting out the psychocross bike...maybe next year.

  18. Congrats on your son graduating! Love the sock feet :-).

    Nice long ride but too bad about the discomfort. I find that Aquaphor lasts a lot longer than Chamois butter, like 2-3x as long. I've also found that less is more as far as padding goes, but it's too late to change that.

    You'll do great! Can't wait to read about it.


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