Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Double Century: My First 200 Mile Bicycle Ride

Yesterday I rode my new Trek bicycle 201 miles in 11 hours and 43 minutes. I woke up around 5:30, even earlier than I do for work, and spent some time eating breakfast and gearing up making sure that all of my bases were covered. I left my apartment just after 6. I don't know any of the exact times of day because I didn't take my watch. I started off slow and easy on my way to Galena, IL. I cruised the downtown area looking for an open coffee shop. The first promising prospect was closed but the owner was sitting outside sipping his morning espresso and since he lived upstairs offered to make me an espresso drink. I gladly accepted and asked if he would fill a bottle of mine with a mocha. While I waited I had a pastry and we talked about tourism a little. It seems this summer is not the greatest but better than last year.

From there I cruised back Illinois roads to Savanna, IL and Sabula, IA where I crossed back across the Mississippi. To be honest, Sabula is asking to be flooded. It's just above the river level and sits in the middle of the river. It would not be my first choice for the optimal place to put a town. I hit 50 miles in Sabula and my time was a flying 2:30:32, for a 19.9 mph average. I was in the big crank for the 30 miles from Galena to Sabula and was doing 22-24 mph pretty consistently. Of course it was with the wind and except for one uphill it was downhill and flat. From there I headed West and around mile 61 I got a flat tire. I changed it just fine and headed into Maquoketa. I filled up my bottles (5th and 6th bottle) and went to the local "bicycle shop" which is really just a guy that does it about one day a week on his off day. While he was finding an appropriate inner tube we talked about the divorce he is going through as well as bicycle technology. I thought that Sram and Shimano were both pretty common but everyone I talk to asks about my Sram components. It's just like when I bought my iPhone, I thought everyone else already had one, then found out that it was really only a few people and I was actually an early adopter.

I headed North and West out of town for some nice cross wind mileage on beautiful Iowa back roads. Say what you want about bad roads, Iowa is a great place to ride a bicycle. Less cars than New England, more paved roads than most of the Midwest, for the most part nicely paved roads, and because I live near the Mississippi the roads are old enough that they are fairly winding which makes for a more enjoyable ride than strait roads. I hit 100 miles in 5:22 something. That's still an 18.5 mph average. Kind of inspiring because it's pretty close to a sub 5 hour 100 mile bicycle ride, which is yet another thing that sounds like I could do. Although, it would have to be during good weather and having at least one other person to pull me along would be a huge help.

I stopped at mile 112 at Cascade to eat a little and get more water in my bottles (bottles 7 and 8). Soon after I left I headed North on 136 to Dryersville and into a 10 mph wind or so with gusts in the 15 mph region. My pace slowed considerably. For awhile I was stopping at every gas station I could to get ice water. The worst stretch of road that I ever ride in Iowa on is the four miles from Dryersville North on 136. There is no shoulder to ride on and there are always a lot of cars. However, when I am going into the wind cars whipping past me are a welcome reprieve. You see, I am going 15-20 mph and they are going say 55 or so and the wind put off by a car, or better yet an SUV give me 5-20 seconds of wind going in the direction I am going in. The closer that the cars are to me the more advantage I get. It sounds ridiculous but when the go past me with only 2-3 feet to spare it is better than 8-10 feet away in the other lane. However, due to the low density of fast moving fluids there is a suction effect which can be scary. When a car or SUV passes me I often get pulled over a foot or so after they have passed. Semis on the other hand will pull me toward the rear wheels, which is scary.

From there it kind of melted into monotonous road and sunburn and dehydration. I ended up on a stretch of gravel on Heiderscheit Road and turned around and backtracked and ran out of water. There were no facilities in Balltown so I trekked to Sherrill and hit up a bar for another two bottles of lemonade and water. I did not feel like eating a gel so I put the gel into my ice water, which I have never tried before. It did not dissolve until the water warmed up half an hour later. Then the maltodextrin tasted distinctly less sugary than lemonade. It tasted good enough that I think I will experiment with it in the future.

I still had 29 miles to go at the BP station  at the Sherrill/HWY 52 intersection so I headed up 52 and took Boy Scout road around to Asbury Road and Humke Road and then back up to Asbury then I did a little out and back on Grandview to get over 200 and I finished up nice and tired after 7 PM.

I did not eat much at all. One Honey Stinger Protein Bar, one Clif Bar (White Chocolate Macadena Nut flavor), two gels (one Clif and one Roctane), one package of Shot Bloks, two Jocalat Larabars, but I did have that mocha and pastry, and at least six bottles of Gatorade, Vitamin Water, lemonade, and blueberry pomegranate juice. Today I feel like I had a relatively hard 23-24 mile run yesterday. I am more saddle sore than any run but I can walk around just fine. Interestingly my core is sore. There is a little back and forth wobble on the bicycle and I think 11+ hours of that worked my core more than usual. Plus, I'm still working out the fit of my new bicycle. The stem might need to be shortened a little so that I am not bent over so far when I am on the hoods.

Three more things, people are always telling me I am insane or crazy for doing stuff like this. I suppose that if 99% of people are considered normal then I am certainly in the 1% that must be considered crazy. Second, this has been a life goal of mine for several years and now it's done. Third, every time I knock off a goal it is a little anticlimactic. There was no one waiting to congratulate me at my apartment at the finish. There were no voicemails and text messages congratulating me. There is certainly no money in it. I am finding there is no next level pain or other mental state that I have when doing this stuff. I am who I am and that is the same person wether I am 500 feet off the ground at a hanging belay or 184 miles into a bicycle ride going up Asbury hill or sitting at my desk at 2PM on Wednesday. This is my life, and I do not intend to sit around doing the same old stuff. What's next? 300 miles? I don't know. I can say that I do know that whatever the next challenge is I do not know if I can do it. If I knew I could do it, what would the challenge be?

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