Thoughts of a 130.6 mile week…

Continuing our effort to be fully trained by TOSRV, Michael and I intrepidly set forth on a 65 mile bike ride yesterday. We’d had it planned for a couple of weeks that we’d drive up to Lake County to do an old training route he used to do when he lived in the area. Our plan was to book a hotel so that would stay up there after the ride to enjoy the fruits of the region–in other words, I wanted to drink my pain away with the finest of Ohio wines. I’ll use any excuse to stay up in Lake County, actually.

Well, yesterday’s morning showers actually lasted through the afternoon. We started the ride at around 10:30-11am to gray skies, a nasty wind, a chilly temperature (I’m guessing in the 50s). I was wearing shorts and cursing myself for not bringing my long pants. Michael forgot his arm warmers so I gave him mine since I had a fleece jacket with me and I had decided that I was going to wear that and deal with lugging it if by miraculous intervention, it just happened to become sunny and 70 degrees.

I was not happy. I totally did not want to ride on this particular day. I think I’ve determined I’m a fair-weather cyclist. I can deal with the elements on a registered ride–if I have to–and I usually don’t purposely start a ride in bad weather (however, I did so on the Hancock Horizontal last year and was just as brooding and annoyed as I was yesterday). I guess it all comes down to one thing: I hate being cold. Starting the ride off cold just made me damn ornery. I made a crappy riding partner who had to grit my teeth to talk to Michael, my patient friend who seemed much more gung-ho for the ride than I did.

I pushed through, though. I had committed myself mentally to at least 62 miles and 62 I was going to do despite the anger the crappy weather was inducing in me. Besides, if I seriously wanted to enjoy the wine and the Italian food at Ferrente’s that I’d sworn myself to, I had to do the mileage. Of course, I was also concerned about my ability to complete TOSRV–the weather on this ride could very well be just like what I was going through.

The first 40 miles, to me, were literally hell. We battled on and off misty spring rain, high winds, and a bitter chill you just could not figure quite out to dress for. I started out wearing both my fleece jacket and rain coat for wind-breaking purposes. Several times, I removed the fleece or the rain coat, never quite finding that comfort zone of being just warm enough and over-warm. I even had to put on my shoe covers at one point.

We did some really nice climbs. Along the Grand River there are quite a few roads that dip down into a river valley for a nice, sharp climb back out. I only got scared on one climb–I was going 4mph in my lowest gear and I wondered if I would be able to hold steady enough to maintain enough cadence to prevent toppling over, but I did all right. I just kept repeating to myself the mantra, “This is nothing. Stucky [the horrible road on Roscoe Ramble where I had to get off and walk] was harder and you did the first part of it.” I guess Stucky has become my measuring stick for my ability to handle hills.

Our impromptu lunch stop ended up a little cafe in Madison. It was nice to get off the bike and eat at a sit-down establishment. I actually gave in to my sugar cravings and ordered a milkshake. It really seemed to pull me through the rest of the ride. As we ate, the misty drizzle stopped and the sun began to poke out a little. It was still a bit chilly–again, I donned the fleece/rain coat combo–but it was durable. Maybe food in my stomach helped too.

The last 25 miles went much better. It was still cold and very windy, but I didn’t feel like I was dying (like last week). Except for during the last three miles, which were headed directly into the wind, along a road in an industrial park where there was not many tall buildings or trees to block the wind. I found myself going a cursed 9mph and I actually had to drop into my granny gears to pedal. It was completely demoralizing. Michael suggested I draft off of him, which I tried to do, but I get paranoid about bumping his wheel and falling if he had to stop suddenly. The whole concept of a draft line is still lost on me–I’m too afraid of getting that close to another cyclist. I’d rather just suffer alone.

When we got to the park where we started the ride, I was actually about a quarter mile short of 65 miles, so, in true fashion of the obsessed, I turned back up the road for a bit. This is a marked improvement, for last week when I was coming up short of 55 miles, I was totally exhausted and flat out refused to take an extra half mile jog to obtain the mileage (which is completely out of character for me!).

So, today, to prove to myself that I was not a wimp, I decided to do the 3pm ride from Revere with the ABC. I knew it would be only 15-20 miles, but hilly, and I figured it was the last nice day the weather’s predicting we’re going to have for a few days, so I got back on the saddle and rode. Fortunately, everyone seemed to be at a very casual pace and, unlike my first pre-season Wednesday night on Sunday ride last year, I didn’t get dropped at all. I actually held my own near the front.

It was a nice afternoon for a quick ride. And it brought me nicely to 300 miles. I just need another week like this one to bring me to the suggested 400 mile prerequisite for TOSRV and I should have the confidence I need to complete. I plan to do some kind of 75+ mile ride next weekend just to finish the training off well… I am worried due to the bad weather we’ve been experiencing that I’m going to be behind the whole cycling season. But then I just have to remind myself that it’s still only April…


4 thoughts on “Thoughts of a 130.6 mile week…

  1. If it’s any consolation, you are way ahead of Jeff & me this cycling season (not that we ever got anywhere close to you last season, though…). Yesterday we spent the day riding around our neighborhood, making stops at the zoo to visit our zebra and then stopping at some other area parks. At least twice we huffed & puffed up hills, and at the top, after I’d regained my breath, I looked at Jeff and said, “You know, Heidi and Michael would be laughing at us.” Makes me anxious to get the route map for the Tour De Cure; if I can’t handle a wimpy hill in Brooklyn, how am I going to manage riding around the hilly Cuyahoga Valley?

  2. Well, I didn’t say that I dont huff and puff on these hills!! I have asthma… try climbing them while your lungs decide that they cant provide you any more air so instead of getting nice air on an inhale, your lungs emit a rattling wheeze…? Fun, that is. Makes you feel like you’re suffocating…You just have to do what I do: Dont try to muscle it up the hill. Take it in whatever gear makes it easiest to turn the pedals. Just lock yourself into it and go at your own pace. Those people who try to fling themselves up them quickly would never last on a long climb up a pass (ie, what I did in Italy for 6 miles). I know you dont want to hear it, but having your feet clipped in really helps the most on hills because each pedal stroke is full supported in the entire round because your foot is locked into place on the pedal… Of course, hills are also where it is SCARIEST to be clipped in… (cuz, well, some of us have been known to hit a hill at too high of gear, not be able to change to the lower gears quick enough, and then, because we couldnt move the pedals, gravity pulled us sideways… but at least we were going slow when we tossed it…) =)

  3. One important clarification to make here. When I talk about the two “hills” that had Jeff & me huffing & puffing up them in our neighborhood, trust me, these would not even register as hills on your radar! They’d just be slight inclines. So if we’re huffing & puffing up these slight inclines, I’m wondering how we’ll do in June :)

  4. You will do fine in June… you know why? Because the spirit of a charity ride always overtakes you (and I mean “you” here in a generic way). I always say that the MS 150 is my favorite ride all year because all the volunteers are joyful in the great spirit of the cause (constantly thanking riders) and it is so well organized. I can’t speak for the Tour de Cure, as I’ve never done that one, but even if the ride isnt 100% perfect in organization, just the fact that you are doing something for a cause that inspires you will keep your legs pumping through the limits of their comfort… Trust me! Every time I feel like I’m starting to fade on the MS 150, I always say to myself, “If you had MS, you wouldn’t be able to feel this pain or ride like this.” I think of my grandpa H and it just keeps me going. I imagine Grandpa H looking down at me from whereever it is those who leave us go, and he’s saying, “Way to go, Heidi!” because he’s so proud that I’m doing this ride in his memory. Now, I guess, he and my grandma will be looking down on me, sending their love.Thinking of that always gives me strength on that ride… More so than any other ride I do each year, that is the one I am the most depressed about if I can’t complete it (and I was only unable to complete it for a few times during my early years).

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