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Peninsula Fall Spectacularity!

The Peninsula Century Fall Challenge vaulted in to my top 3 before I ever even took a pedal stroke EARLY Saturday

Bike Door County

Definitely! EVERYONE, come bike Door County. Yes, this is a post ride pic, FREE local craft beer in hand.

morning.  Door County, Wisconsin is just supremely beautiful.  Of course, perfect weather I’m sure is helping that personal assessment and ride day was no exception.

First off, I took the short drive from Egg Harbor to Sister Bay on Friday evening to pick up my ride packet.  Many thanks to Marketing Director Myles, who enthusiastically allowed me to leave a stack of my “business” cards about this website on the gear sales table.

0700 (I don’t care if I’m retired, I’m sticking with military time; it’s easier.  If I could I would switch to the metric system too.) came pretty early.  It was astonishingly warm, near 60 degrees.  Not even arm warmers required to start.  No hint of a breeze either, though that would change.

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Getting ready to start.  I LOVE my new Roka sunglasses.

It’s only been 3 weeks since my Delaware century and if you read that story you know I had something of a rough finish.  I’ve done some riding in the interim, but not enough to garner any additional conditioning so my plan to avoid a repeat was to NOT go balls-to-the-wall.  Spoiler alert,  it worked phenomenally. IMG_1846

Myles fired off that airhorn exactly at 0700 (that’s 7 am for you time challenged types) and off we went into the rising Wisconsin sun.  I LOVE IT when a ride starts on time.

fullsizeoutput_1769Many of these rides, while not a competition overall, will have a few timed sections with prizes for the winners.  These are almost always timed climbs or King of the Mountain (KOM) challenges.  I don’t usually participate because while I climb well, I don’t do it quickly.  I set my steady pace and I crank away and I get to the top.  Two things enticed me here though.  First, while this is not a flat ride by any means, the hills are short.  Second, and IMG_1848this is another great thing about this ride….. they broke it up in to age groups.  I also figured this would help me keep my overall ride pace in check.  It’s easier to remind myself to back off the throttle when I’m doing it because I know I’m saving my legs for a timed climb section.  There were three KOM climbs, at miles 7, 31 and….ugh…93.  Two were about 1.3 miles in length and the middle climb, “Door County’s most brutal climb” was .7 mile in length, though it did reach double digits grade for a bit.  Another spoiler alert…. I didn’t win my age group.  In fact, as with nearly any “timed” challenge or race I do, regardless of sport, activity, etc., I was middle of the pack.  They were fun though.  Well, except that last one.  After 93

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Overlooking Egg Harbor

miles, it’s tough enough, but then the road was freshly chip sealed, and let me tell you, they are serious about there chip seal here in Wisconsin. Oh yeah, and remember that wind that was non-existent at the start?  It showed up late morning, out of the south, and by afternoon it was probably 10-12 mph, straight in to your face to climb up that last one.  Rough, vibrating road surface, uphill, into a solid wind, after 93 miles!  😳

Tough KOM Challenge notwithstanding, there is not a foot of this 100 miles that isn’t beautiful.  I could have filled this entire page with pics of bucolic rolling farmland, stunning lake views, quaint harbor towns and even a camel.  Ok, I’ll show you the one with the camel. fullsizeoutput_1768Of course, just as I took the picture he tucked his head, so it doesn’t even really look like a camel (the camel colored thing, not the green thing), but it is.  Promise.  Camels in NY, camels in WI……WTF???

Another fab feature of this ride is not only the number of rest stops (6 on the 100 mile IMG_1855course) but also the fact that they each featured some specialty food from local establishments.  Locally grown fruit, potatoes, fresh sandwiches, BRATS.  Yeah, the brats were my favorite. That stop was only a mile before the 2nd KOM climb and not wanting to puke it all up, I packed up some brat and pretzels, jammed then in my pocket and thoroughly enjoyed them after my heart rate returned to something resembling normal, AFTER the climb.

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Fish Creek harbor, rest stop #1

As I mentioned earlier, my real goal on this ride was to NOT be in excruciating pain at the finish, and I was really happy with the way I rode.  I felt great at the end; maybe as good as I’ve ever felt at the end of any century.  My average speed, 16.8 mph, was quite a bit higher than I was expecting, though that lovely south wind had much to do with it.  It really started to pick up just as we turned northbound for that 40-ish miles.Route

I can’t say enough good things about this ride.  I loved it!  I highly recommend it, or their sister ride, the Peninsula Century Spring Classic.  

Road It

Plus you get this cool sticker!

Click on the text below to see the super cool video.

Relive ‘Morning Ride’

 

101 DELmations…

Wherein 1 DELmation = 1 road mile in Delaware.  The Shorefire Century put on by White Clay Bicycle Club of Middletown.

There will never be a better day to do

Shorefire Logo

Shorefire Century

this Century than we had yesterday.  Wisps of cirrus and a sky full of puffy clouds kept brutal sunshine dimmed much of the day.  Temps in the 70’s???  In August???  Unheard of.  Nearly no breeze at all, and when there was, at a max of maybe 5 mph.  This just doesn’t happen in Delaware in the summer.

Combine all that with pancake flat and smooth roads and it’s not too surprising that I posted my fastest 100+ miles ever. 05:33:34 with and average of 18.2 mph.

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This is indicative of most of the other 100.75 miles

There was, however, a price to be paid.  I did not start out to set any personal records.  I was just riding, but my average kept creeping up, without my seeming to be riding very hard.  When it reached 17 mph I thought it’d be nice to finish with that.  When it reached 18 mph and I still didn’t think I was working exceptionally hard I thought I might just end up with my fastest century ever.  When it reach 18.5 mph, around mile 40, I figured I might as well give it a try.

Shorefire RouteThe problem with flat rides is that you are peddling the entire time.  Sure, no hills to climb and tire your legs, but also no hills to descend and let your legs rest and recover either.  I haven’t ridden over 50 miles in quite some time and around mile 60 my legs began to let me know.  My quads, hamstrings and IT bands began to ache some.  I’ve been through this before.  It’s uncomfortable but not too bad.  By 70 miles it was hurting pretty bad and by 75 miles it hurt to pedal; it was excruciating NOT to pedal and try to stretch out my legs.  So what’s going on here?  I’m no doctor, and my RV is not a Holiday Inn Express, but I’ve talked to some folks more educated on such matters.  Folks such as massage therapists and Physical Therapists who know muscles.  Best I can figure, my leg muscles (and probably lower back) when overused, contract to protect themselves, pulling everything really tightly.  Pedaling action expands and contracts, keeping them active.  When I’d stop pedaling, they would super contract, to the verge of cramping.

So, I kept peddling.  I’d given up, after a very stubborn, and actually vocal several miles of argument with myself, of trying to hold on to the 18.5 mph average.  The last rest stop was at 83 miles where I did a bit of stretching and felt a bit better back on the bike, at least for a few miles.  Despite my painful pistons the last 17 went by much quicker than expected.

Lesson re-learned:  it doesn’t matter how benign the course or conditions seem to be.  Riding 100 miles is not easy.  Not ever!  But it’s still fun.

 

Relive ‘Morning Ride’

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Mourn The Chipmunk

It wasn’t my fault.  The stupid little critters seem to make a habit of darting out across the road as fast as their tiny little legs will take them…..which is surprisingly fast.  Much faster than squirrels.  Though I had not seen one do this before, I believe this one attempted to “squirrel,” that ridiculous back and forth stutter when freaked by approaching traffic, which led to his demise.  Just the smallest little thump under my front wheel.  Descending at 35 mph I was not about to stop and confirm but I’m fairly certain there’s one less critter collecting nuts along Academy Hill Rd.  😦DHV2018

My first state ride in nearly two years has checked off the Big Apple state.  Yes, yes, I know it’s really the Empire State.  This was a very late addition to my schedule and in fact I only registered on Saturday, the day before the ride.  It was pricey at $105… and REALLY  Bike New York (BNY)????  Cash only???

Sunday’s weather was cool and gloomy at 7:30 am when we 100-milers started off from

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The Mid-Hudson Bridge (for vehicle traffic)

the waterfront in Poughkeepsie, NY, about 80 miles north of NYC.  Rain was in the forecast, particularly for the afternoon, though the temps climbed steadily all day to reach the low 80’s.  What could have been a miserable day to ride actually turned out to be near perfect with no real wind to speak of and the cloud cover for most of the ride kept things from overheating.  No rain until I was already back to my campground.  Yay!

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Walkway Over The Hudson.  An old railroad bridge and now converted to pedestrian/cycling Rails To Trails.

Not having ridden nearly as much as I’d planned when I started this “life on the road” adventure of mine I was a bit concerned about this ride.  Not that I wouldn’t finish, but that it would be quite painful.  My longest ride in the past 2 years has been 75 miles, and while that was only a month or so ago, I haven’t even been averaging a ride per week of late.  Turns out I’m apparently in better condition than I thought and certainly better at controlling my ride, not blowing myself up at the start and managing my strengths.  I finished far stronger than I could have hoped, almost exactly on my predicted time given the course (just under 6000 ft of climb), and felt much better than I ever thought I would.  Good Job 👍🏻 👍🏻

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One lovely view, with the sun trying to peek out

This is a nice, fun ride.  Put on by the same folks that do the Five Boro Bike Tour in NYC and the Gran Fondo NY, which I did a few years ago, it is well organized, well stocked at the rest stops and a supremely well marked course.  Starting off with a ride across the Walkway Over The Hudson Rails-to-Trails bridge is one of the highlights along with several scenic sections over the exactly 100 miles.  With the climbing it is certainly a challenging, but not soul-crushing, course.

And they have a VERY COOL finisher medal….

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I have no idea how I ended up with #2 as a walk-up registrant the day before the ride

Next up, Mt Greylock Century.  Same distance, 50% more climbing.  I’m really worried about that one.

 

An Update

You may have noticed that the two rides I was to have ridden in April have come and gone with nary a word.  In fact I did not ride either of them.

I was all set to ride Tony Serrano Century in Georgia when the weather turned out to Serranobe…. less than ideal.  Yes, yes, these rides go off rain or shine, but now that it’s all just for enjoyment I get to pick and choose just exactly what “conditions” I’m willing to put up with.  Pretty lame, I know.  While getting caught in a rain shower or two is usually fun and quite often refreshingly welcome, getting poured on all day is really just miserable.  I bagged it.

The plan was then to run up to Virginia for a wedding/barn warming celebration, run Issaqueenaback down to South Carolina for Issaqueena’s Last Ride only to head right on back up to Virginia and northward.  This called for some rather strategic thinking.  Issaqueena’s Last Ride has 10,000 ft of climbing.  For you who don’t cycle, that is A LOT of climbing in 100 miles.  I had not ridden 100 miles nor even 5000 ft of climbing in 2 years so I was neither physically nor mentally prepared for that ride.  It would have been a lot of hours driving and a lot of gas to do a ride I wasn’t ready for.  I bagged it.

However, what you will notice, if you follow my other blog, Secondary Roads, is that I got to do a bunch of other really cool stuff instead.  AND, I’ve added some other state rides to the calendar later this summer, up north.

So the march, or pedal, towards 50 is still on.

 

More News Already

See, I told you it wouldn’t be long.  2018 ride #2 is on the schedule.

Actually it’s ride #1 since it’s two weeks prior to the ride I’ve already added to the schedule.  Looks like I’m spending April 2018 in the Southeast as I’ve put the Tony Serrano Century Ride, in Monroe, Georgia, on my calendar.

Serrano

Might as well knock out two contiguous states in one month.  Especially since they fit nicely in to the calendar.  And I like this ride because it honors a rider (of the triathlete version) who was hit from behind and killed on his bike while training for a triathlon.  I’ve had a friend taken from this life in the very same manner.

Things are shaping up for a busy Spring.

Time To Ride More States

You may have noticed I’ve been away awhile. If you may be wondering why I would point you to my other COMPLETELY FASCINATING site, Secondary Roads. Suffice to say I’ve made some major life changes of the past year and was not able to check any states off the list in 2017.

Now it’s time to get back to my Quest!  Or at least start planning to get back to my quest.

I’ve registered for my first Century of 2018.  Luckily it’s not till April, because it’s a tough one with a whole bunch of climbing.  Now that I live in Florida I’m in decent riding shape but my climbing has fallen off the table.

Issaqueena’s Last Ride!!!!  Issaqueena

She will complete South Carolina.

Hopefully you can also see this on the right side of my homepage under Upcoming Rides.  If not I’m in need of relearning the ins and outs of editing stuff here on WordPress.  It’s not so intuitive.

So continue to look for more exciting updates in the near future!

RIDE ON!!!!!

The Iron “FURNACE” Challenge

Having lived in the deep south a couple of times the idea of a hundred mile ride in Alabama, in late June seemed a bit suspect, but the Iron Mountain Challenge fit nicely into my budget and calendar so I made the commitment for it to be my ride.  I mean it’s northern Alabama, in the “mountains” and surely they wouldn’t schedule such a challenge in overbearing summer conditions, would they?

Saturday morning dawned with bright sunshine, deep blue skies and absolutely no wind,  Not even enough of a breath to shake a blade of grass, and that’s as windy as it would get all day, so the 75 degrees and 80% humidity was already stifling as I made the short drive from hotel to starting point.  Uh, I guess they just might schedule this ride in overbearing summer conditions.  In yet another boneheaded blunder, which I seem to suffer far too often, when I got to the registration table to pick up my number and timing chip (small aside here; this is one of the few rides I’ve done which has had actual timing chips.  Classy) I discovered that both of my water bottles were still chilling, in the fridge,…in my %*&^#**& hotel room!!!!!  Somehow I was extremely lucky as a ride volunteer, I believe her name was Wendy, managed to provide me with two brand new bottles, saving my day.  THANK YOU so much!

The very start through Mclellan

The very start through Mclellan

Catastrophe averted, I donned chip and number, gathered myself and came to the start  to look around at the perhaps 60 or so riders assembled.  Yes, this would be a small ride indeed, especially since there was a 25, 50, 62 and 100 mile course.  I was later to find out that there were 20 riders registered for the 100 mile.  There were some lonely road miles ahead.

If you’ve looked at the ride profile you’ve probably concluded, correctly, that this is not the most difficult of courses.  With the exception of two significant climbs, Duggert Mtn and Bains Gap Rd, it’s all gently rolling, so I was cruising along nicely, knowing the real challenge would be later in the day with the two hills and the heat.  I was very conscious to keep my effort pretty low and take a swig from my water bottles every 10 minutes.  It was hot, but manageable, especially on the back roads which were nicely shaded with our 7:30 am start, so I was feeling pretty good as I got to mile 40 and rest stop #2.

Not a big crowd

Not a big crowd

It was after this that things took a turn.  A few hours in and the sun was much higher now, making shade much less abundant, even along the 20 miles of the Chief Ladiga Trail we rode.  This, by the way is a phenomenal multi-use rail trail stretching from Anniston all the way to Smyrna, GA just northwest of Atlanta.

As the heat rose, so went my heart rate, even though I was taking it easy, and I was really beginning to feel it once I came off the trail and headed back south with 40 miles to go.  Where we turned off the trail there was a quick water stop which I made, but stayed just long enough to fill up and dump some over my head,

The next few miles were a rapid and nauseating descent in to heat stress.  I’ve had some heat issues in the past and once you have, you become particularly sensitive to them again.  I was not expecting Duggert to be nearly as steep as it was and when it reached 11% grade I wasn’t sure which would happen first, my puking or my heart exploding, so for the second time in any of these state rides, I was forced off the bike to walk up the hill (the other was the 24% Lincoln Gap in Vermont).  I was in bad shape.  Light headed, nauseous, heart racing.  Ah, my Garmin was only reading 102 degrees.  At this point I was fairly certain my day was done.  Especially with all the doom and gloom talk of the “big” climb yet to come at Bains Gap.

Good thing the next two miles to rest stop #4 were pretty much downhill because I felt like CRAP having that well known internal self-argument between quitting and gutting it out.  I think the volunteers were a bit concerned with how I looked when I coasted in, dropped my bike and stumbled under the pop-up to a chair and some shade.  I spent a good 20-30 minutes there resting, drinking, holding ice to my head and neck and contemplating my next move.  As my heart rate came down and I rested and drank I felt better and better.  I’d driven 700 miles and ridden 69.  That’s a lot of effort to quit at that point and in truth, by the time I left that rest stop I felt pretty good.

Alabama fields of corn

Alabama fields of corn

I’d asked what was left ahead of me, knowing that Bains Gap was at mile 90 and a 3 mile climb, but after that, downhill into Anniston and a flat few miles to the finish.  They told me it was mostly flat the 21 miles to the next stop and then took their opportunity to profess their own horror about the big climb.  So I decided I would take my time and ease my way to the next rest stop and worry about the last bit once I was there.  My keep was to keep my heart rate under control as I’ve learned this is the genesis of, “feeling like CRAP.”   No matter what was ahead I was determined to keep it under 160 bpm.   It turned out not to be what I would call “flat” but I managed to stick to my plan for the next 21 miles, taking it extremely slow and easy on the climbs and thanking the universe for every cloud that drifted in front of the blazing sun.

When I go to the last rest stop at mile 90 I was fatigued, as you might expect after 90 miles on a bike, but certainly feeling MUCH better than when I arrived at the last stop.  I spent an extended time resting and drinking at this stop too and was quite glad I had not thrown it all in.  Between this stop and the last there were discussions between the volunteers, myself and the two other riders who were a bit behind me and catching up at each stop.  We learned that 20 riders had started the 100 miles, three had passed through the stops ahead of us and allegedly 12 had dropped out of the ride.  Tough conditions indeed.

I finally headed off on the final 11 miles, knowing I’d make it, even if I had to walk up this mountain in front of me.  All the doom and gloom was for naught, however.  The road climbed gently at first and steadily increased over the next couple of miles.  The big white puffies in the sky kept the sun hidden away and having just rested I was able to move along, a bit more slowly than normal, but at an acceptable effort.  The climb does suddenly ramp up to double digits and maxed out around 17%.  By this point my pedal cadence was down to 35-40 rpm, just barely enough forward motion to stay upright.  In fact on one stroke I popped a mini-wheelie and nearly fell over, so had to turn perpendicular to the hill to get started again, where I missed my clip-in and nearly fell over again.  Third times a charm and as I came around the bend I was rather shocked to find myself only a few dozen yards from the top.  In all, the really steep part was barely a half mile.  A steep half mile, but thankfully short!  Whew!

After a fab downhill it was apparent the clouds were all on the other side of the mountain and the last 7-8 miles were a weaving, blazing slog as I limped to the finish, never so happy but too drained to appear even slightly joyous to be at the end.  I’m told the weather was unusually hot and brutal and many thought they may move this back to the spring as it had been in the past.

I drove 700 miles and endured brutal temps to be damn sure I got my shirt and medal.

I drove 700 miles and endured brutal temps to be damn sure I got my shirt and medal.

I celebrated that night with an wonderful dinner at the best restaurant in Anniston, which included the most fantastic Fried Green Tomato salad and Shrimp and Grits I’ve ever had.  If you’re ever there, be sure to eat at Classic On Noble.

Fried Green Tomato Salad, uh, YUM!!!

Fried Green Tomato Salad, uh, YUM!!!

This is a good ride.  It’s well organized, the volunteers were absolutely fantastic, it’s got great support from the city, including police support at all the major road crossings and the start/finish is a great venue, complete with free showers.  A bit out of the way to get to, but if you find yourself in the Atlanta/Birmingham area, it’s a good one.