Saturday Michael and I headed up to Lake County to do a ride he used to use as his TOSRV training ride back in the days when he lived in Painesville. We did this ride last year to train for TOSRV and suffered rain and chilly temperatures for the first half of the day. Fortunately, the weather had calmed down by afternoon and we had a sunny and humid, albeit windy, second half of the ride. My memories of that ride are pretty clipped due to the fact that I had spent the first half of it grumpy (remember, Mars Girl is grumpy when starting in rain). However, this year was almost a complete turn around–minus the nasty 20mph gusts of wind we had to battle throughout out the second half of the ride–with a temperature of 80 degrees under sunny blue skies.
Because the weather was so unseasonably warm, I did get to try my new Keen sandals, which I just bought at Century Cycles’ spring sale a few weeks ago. The picture to the left shows me modeling them. They were really great. I loved the comfort of not having to wear socks–even the little anklets that I usually wear–at all. My feet were constantly exposed to the warm summerish air and I had no problem at all with them coming off or anything during the three difficult climbs we did. I’m so glad I bought these sandals! It’s going to be a great summer of riding now that I don’t have to be restricted by socks and hot shoes. My motto for summer weather is always to wear the least amount of clothes as necessary to still be considered publicly decent. The absence of socks on this hot day made my feet feel comfortable and free!
I was also impressed with how the cleat is almost completely protected within the soles of the shoe so that I can walk around without that distinctive clicking noise of cleat-to-pavement and I don’t feel like I’m going to slip on the cleat. My normal shoes, especially with the huge Frog cleat, cause me to slide on pavement and I have to walk gingerly to ensure I don’t slip. It’s definitely got me thinking about eventually replacing my normal cycling shoes with a pair of cycling shoes more akin to sneakers (Michael has a pair like this). I can definitely see the benefit!
So the shoes immediately won my approval. Especially on a hot day such as the one we had on Saturday. I’d forgotten that 80 degrees is pretty brutal when you were sheltered from the wind. This was definitely the warmest day we’ve had all spring. It was more like summer. What a nice relief from the frigid weather we’ve been experiencing.
I should preface this with some details about last year’s ride. First of all, right out of the gate, Michael had missed a road that we’d intended to take and we spent about a half hour trying to find it until he asked someone for directions and learned we were on the wrong road. Once Michael figured out the correct road, our progress was further impeded by construction on a bridge on Fay Road. We had to get off our bikes and carry them over a half-complete bridge. I remember being frustrated, wondering why Michael had never checked his route out before embarking on it. But aside from riding the entire route during the week before our ride, how could he have known the road would be closed? Not living in Lake County, we’re not aware of these things.
Well, this year our route was not without the “interesting’ mishap. We were pedaling along what used to be State Route 86 when we came to a cul-de-sac. We’d just ridden down this route last year and now it looked as though the road had never gone through. Turns out, I learned later, Route 86 was re-routed last fall (after we’d been on it) to straddle Route 84 because the old road was a high accident area. Pretty funky that they could change a road so quickly. Doesn’t road construction normally take several years? I wish I’d taken a picture, for it barely looked like a road had even existed.
Needless to say, I was wondering how much more of our would-be route was going to be disrupted by some other unforeseen change, if we were going to have a repeat of last year. But it turns out the rest of the route was exactly where we left it last year. We took three major climbs: the first one, “Baby Bear,” on Fay Road, a nice steep but quick bump along a very pretty, quiet neighborhood along a small creek; the second one, “Momma Bear,” on Trask Road, a harder climb from river level out of a valley; and the third, “Daddy Bear,” on Blair Road, the biggest climb out of a valley crossing the Grand River, which was the same valley we climbed out of on the second day of the PVG tour, except we went in the reverse direction. I felt very good on these climbs. They were fairly short, though, steep, and I was impressed with how quickly I recovered after them, which is a good sign that my fitness level is really improving. I love climbing! Hopefully I’m done walking my bike up anything for the year.
We lunched in Madison about 40 miles into our anticipated 70 mile ride. The little diner we’d enjoyed last year was no longer there, to our dismay because they had the best chocolate milk shakes, but we found another smaller diner down the street where all the locals eating breakfast eyed us wearily donned in bike gear and sweaty as we walked in (they probably thought we were crazy). The food wasn’t bad, but they ran out of ice cream so we shared a watery milkshake with our meal that didn’t quite quench the milkshake lust I was having in anticipation of the ones made from the now closed diner.
Part of our ride followed Lake Road through quiet communities along the mighty Lake Erie. It was nice to ride by the lake because a cool breeze was coming off it, almost like an outdoor air-conditioning. It was a shame when we had to head south away from it, turning again into the breath of oven heat that bore right into you.
During the last 20 miles, as I pumped hard into the wind, I started to bonk. Every time we’d stop at an intersection, I’d feel heat exploding from my cheeks, sweat dripping down my back, and my legs felt burnt from over-exertion. My lungs, asthmatic, throbbed slightly in pain. I was running low on water–it was like we couldn’t drink enough. We probably should have had our camel backs on in this heat. It was hard to drink because we knew we had to conserve on the stuff in the two bottles on our bikes.
I told Michael that I needed to stop and rest, which is only natural because our only long stop had been at lunch and normally on a ride of this size, such as a registered one, we would have had the opportunity to stop every twenty or so miles. So Michael kept me going until we got to a gas station in Painesville where I could buy some Gatorade. We rode up the street a little to find some shade to sit in and took about a twenty minute break before continuing the last 8 miles of the home stretch. Miraculously, I felt completely refreshed as though I’d just started riding. Funny what a little Gatorade–a little liquid–on a hot day can do.
Usually I wouldn’t stop so close to the finish but I knew that the last several miles was along this road in an industrial area where there was absolutely no protection from the wind. It had been pretty brutal last year and so I anticipated that in this wind it would be absolutely demoralizing. I was right, of course. Along this stretch, I found myself at one point crawling along at 8mph. However, being recently refreshed, I pushed harder and did not let myself dip that low again and I kept myself between 11-12mph–not breaking any speed records but at least I felt as though I were moving. Yuck. I hate the wind. Give me a good hill any day over the nastiness of wind.
Anyway, when we got to the end of the “wind tunnel,” we were nearly back to the park where we started our ride. Being at about 68 miles Michael, of course, suggested that we take a ride up to the lighthouse in Fairport Harbor to add an extra mile and ensure 70 miles. It was a nice little ride up to the lake–North, so with the wind. We paused, looked at the lighthouse some, and then headed back to the park where we finished with just a little over 70 miles for a fitfull day of riding. Here’s a picture of me smiling happily at the finish and, again, enamored with my new cycling sandals:
I forgot that it’s usually best to take off my watch and apply sunblock to my whole wrist. It’s really funny how the sun manages to get that small strip of skin between where my watch sat and the end of my glove began. The sun is sure an opportunist. I realized that I’d also forgotten to apply sunblock to my now sockless feet. Fortunately, I didn’t get burned there, but it is now definitely possible in these sandals (I got sunburn in the exposed part of my regular sandals one sunny day last year).
We decided to spend the night in Ashtabula so that we could partake of one of the many wineries in the Geneva area. We ended up getting dinner at one of my favorite wineries, Laurello, where we enjoyed a pesto shrimp pizza and a bottle of Muscat Blanc. I bet you are surprised that I, the lover of red wines, actually drank a white for once! Well, you know, it was a hot day and I desired something chilled… I did, however, buy a bottle of their Modavi–my favorite of their red wines–for consumption at some future date. And, if you’re lucky, I might share.
Stats for the ride:
Ride Time: 5:00’46
Avg: 14.0mph (yeah! I get pissed when I dip below 14. Between 14-16 is a good day to me!)
Max Speed: 29.8 (because I braked liberally down a few really steep, windy hills. I’m sure Michael’s max speed is much higher.)
Next Saturday: 80 miles through Wayne County. Whew-hoo!