So, I have been complaining a bit to my friend Martin (Skiffrun) that I was kinda tired of "training" and tired of all the extremely fast rides, although I haven't really done any really fast rides of late, and that I'd like to try something different. I still like to ride fast, but the Hammer Guys seem to have kinda fallen apart since the fall of 2010 (coincidentally when I began to help with my Dad & not ride as much? Dunno), though Dallas and some of the guys do ride the usually Tu/Th & some weekends (it's just not as organized or so it seems as it used to be). But, I digress....Martin's suggestion was to join RUSA and maybe try the 200km rides.
He suggested that I could possibly earn the R-12 by doing 12 consecutive 200k rides in a year. I thought, hmmmmmm....it's definitely different and it's probably something I am capable of doing, once I get some more miles in my legs. So, what do I do? I join RUSA and talk with Martin a bit via email - I decide to do a ride, which he is the route-organizer, this past Saturday. Even though he did mention that the route was 221km, I don't think it actually sunk in to my brain. More on the distance later.
The route for Saturday was from N Raleigh to Warrenton and back, which had quite a bit of climbing, but I really didn't think anything of it...oh sure, I can climb...but I am not a natural climber and rolling terrain is not my favorite at this time because I've not done much mountain climbing since 2009. But, just because I'm not a natural, doesn't mean that I don't like to climb (except that damn Easter Egg!), I just don't have the opportunities I did several years ago.
I am up at 4:45am and eat some breakfast around 5-5:15am of a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter & honey. I also drink almost 20oz of h2o. I packed all my food (rolleyes) and a change of clothing in a plastic bag the night before, took this to the car and loaded the bike. I also took an extra bottle of frozen water to carry in the middle jersey pocket.
I left the house around 5:55am and arrive at the start point around 6:30am. I park and then decide I better try and use the restroom - across the street at the BP, where I also purchase a bottle of water. Back to my car, and I see that someone else has arrived - Bob, whom Martin has ridden with a lot - we introduce ourselves and get our stuff ready.
I have no idea what I should take, food-wise or really mechanical-wise, since I had never done such a ride without support (rest stops & SAG) and I labor over these things, up until the ride. Food, I had way too much in the plastic grocery bag (more in a bit). The mechanical stuff (tubes, co2, tire levers, etc) was put into my saddle bag, but I thought I should take a quick test ride, because when I did AoMM on the BMC, my fat thighs seemed to rub the bag (thus, wearing the $120 shorts way sooner) and I ditched it on that pre-AoMM ride. The same thing occurred on the test ride. OK. So what to do??
I took everything out of the saddle bag and put it into a spare sock, which went into the right jersey pocket (along with a little bag that had DL, debit card, cash, cue sheets, & control card). The middle pocket was for the frozen water bottle. The left pocket held too much food...a pb&j, clif shot bloks (2), 2 snack size baggies of trail mix, 2 bananas. Way too much stuff and too much weight. I'd rather have that kind of stuff ON the bike instead of ON ME.
Martin arrives around 6:55am (by bike) and we head off at 7:03am. I actually feel pretty good for the first hour or so, but the pace is just a smidge high (IMO), if I'm going to complete 125mi (more later). :) I take a few pulls, but the times that I do, it seems that the road is either flat or has a slight downslope, so I'm really not working all that hard. And, I was afraid when I took the couple of pulls, that I was going to go too fast and get yelled at by Martin (he had already told me he was going to leave me in a ditch if I cramped later because I had went too hard!).
The route...had a detour due to NCDOT working on replacing a bridge over the Tar River (I think) and the detour resulted in the actual distance being 221km or 137mi (is this right Martin?). I don't think anything of this change in route. Yet. There was a nice little 7% climb around 35mi (+/-) that was a surprise and the guys waited on me at the top, where we had a short break.
Then it was motor on. We reached the first control, got some water & Gatorade and headed on. I think the next control was around 60-61mi, and then another 10mi to Warrenton, where we would have lunch. Again, there was climbing from 40mi to 60mi and the guys waited on me at the control. We finally made it into Warrenton after 5hr total and around 4:15-4:20hr of moving time. I was not feeling all that great. I was not feeling great at 43mi (first control) nor the 60/61mi control. I didn't really say anything cause what could I say? That I bit off more than I could chew? I did, but heck, I couldn't quit. Not willingly anyways. :)
So, in Warrenton, the control is Hardee's and I buy mine & Martin's lunch and we take a nice break. I was really concerned that I might start to cramp while sitting in the restaurant, as it was quite chilly and I knew I was at or beyond my limit at this time. I ate a cheeseburger & fries, drank some ice tea. Refilled the bottles with ice tea and water before leaving. The food eaten did not affect me adversely later on except to maybe make me feel full, along with the fluids I tried to consume. Feeling full results in me to eventually stop drinking....
Once finished, we head on out and immediately hit a small grade. I had nothing. I was so slow on this little short grade, that I then was certain I was going to have a hard time finishing the 125mi. More later...:) So, in my mind, we were at 71-75mi and we had, right at 50mi to the finish. OK. I will try. I have to.
But, it became quite the struggle to turn the pedals over from 75 to 80 miles. I don't remember if there was a control at 80mi or not. I do know that from 80 to 90 miles, I was sure I couldn't finish 125mi. Remember this number - 125mi. I stopped several times on whatever road it was leading back to Epsom (& store/control). The last time I stopped, it was under a nice big oak tree and a little old lady had just arrived home. She stepped out of her car, looked at me (leaning over the bike) and said it was awfully hot today and was I ok & would I like some water. I replied to her that yes, it was awfully hot and I would love some water to pour over my head. It was too hot for me - I don't do heat well and was becoming overheated.
I got on the bike and rode up her drive to the carport. She couldn't walk very well and I helped her up the steps to the inside and helped her with the very large bag of cukes she had. She returned with a Red Solo cup (song) and I proceeded to fill it from the spigot and pour over my head and back. I thanked her and proceeded to get the last 1.5mi done and reach the Epsom store. Upon reaching the store (90mi), I went inside and purchased a Coke and a bottle of water. Martin & Bob were inside (and looking quite fresh & chipper) in the cool, but it was freezing to me, so I went back outside and sat on a bench.
I took my shoes off to let my feet get some air and drank the Coke. It is at this point that I really, really begin to doubt that I can do another 37mi. (Remember this number) Martin comes out and asks if I want to come inside or maybe he asked while in the store, don't remember. Anyways, he's outside and the comment is made that it's only 47 more miles to go. Huh????? WTF???? Huh???? 47mi???? NO. It's only 37 and I think I can make that. Uh oh. I remember telling Martin at this time that maybe he just needs to take my car keys, ride on/finish, and come back and get me. He says no, you can do it!! :)
I say, ok, let's go. I struggle a whole hell of a lot this next 5 to 10 miles. I had already started to cramp, somewhere between 75-90 miles, but this last distance, I was cramping more and had no energy in my legs. There was one little hill, I tried to get up it, but my legs said no. No matter that I told them to Shut Up (like Jens), they said FU. I stopped about half way up and walked the bike up.
During this walk, both quads cramped. My left ankle/top of foot cramped. My right abs cramped. WTF? My abs cramped??? I made it to the top and I think by the look on my face, Martin was just about convinced I was done. I knew I was done, but continued to try. I have no idea where I was or what road I was on...my head was down, watching my feet make circles. I wandered over the roadway, looking up occasionally to see if they were still in sight. I looked up once to see a car coming in the distance and thought,
"gee...maybe I should move over towards the right side of the road instead of riding in the middle."
Martin fell back to ride with me at some point and I was barely going 6-7mph on a flat section of roadway. He said that's enough, let's get you to a store. So, we made a detour into Kittrell.
Choose my poison...the new c'store or the older looking one across Hwy 1. I chose the newer one after seeing the Dollar General right beside it. My thoughts were, if I have to wait 3-4hr for Martin to return to get me, I surely don't want to be waiting in wet, yucky cycling clothing.
I made it 105 miles, 4000' climbing (around 4pm). I could not do any more. I could not make it the last 35-40 miles. Or maybe I could have. It would have been extremely slow and I don't know that I would have made the time limit. I went to the Dollar General and purchased a pair of shorts & shirt. Changed in the restroom of DG and then went to the c'store for something to drink.
There was a shelter with 2 picnic tables at the c'store. I camped out there. Around 5pm, I was hungry and purchased 2 slices of pizza. I tried to lay on the tables, but it was difficult due to cramping. Any slight movement caused the quads to cramp. I waited. And waited. And waited. :)
It took Martin & Bob a bit to get back, as Bob began to cramp and they had to take care of that. Once they reached my car, there was some confusion as to how to get the thing started. :) I failed to tell Martin about the hidden key. :) Anyways, they got all that sorted out, Martin loaded his bike and made the 30-some mile trip up to get me.
Drove us back to Raleigh, dropped Martin at his car, and headed to Clayton. Arrived home around 10pm. What a long day. And, I felt bad because those guys could have finished a lot sooner than they did if I hadn't bit off more than I could chew. Sorry guys!!! :)
So, the aftermath.....I slept a lot on Sunday. My legs hurt. My legs hurt worse as the day wore on. My legs hurt a hell of a lot worse today. I think I now have tendonitis in my hamstrings on both sides. :( Hopefully, it will heal quickly.
I do want to do these rides, but I think I need to get a couple or 5 under my belt that are much flatter. I would like to try this route again, but after I'm more used to the distance, etc.
Martin told me that I should have learned a few lessons and if I did, then the ride was not a waste. So, my lessons learned are:
1. Do not attempt such rides with only a few metric rides as your longest rides.
2. Do not attempt such rides if you are not accustomed to this much climbing.
3. Do not try to carry all of your food. Figure out where the c'stores are and only carry enough to get you to those...then purchase whatever you may need at that time.
4. Find a way to carry mechanical stuff ON the bike, not on your person.
5. I can't think of anything else at the moment....
Hmmmm...I think this is all for tonight. I may think of more to add later or Martin can add (once I add him) some thoughts comments....
Strava and Garmin Connect data. Strava elevation is a tad lower than Garmin, so we'll just say 4000' of climbing. Look at that dang elevation chart!!! /rolleyes/ No wonder I had a heck of a hard time!
Also, as a side note: all of the local rides I've done that have been over 75-100mi, I typically take a break after 25mi or 1.5hr or so. It just breaks the ride up into segments, which is a little better (for me). I know that doing these 200k rides, there won't be a store stop every 25mi, but I think, for me, it would be good to just stop for 5min+/-. Eat a little, stretch, get butt off saddle.