Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Full Day on the Bike and Some Quite Cool Technology

The weather this weekend was too nice to be toiling in the yard so I had no choice but to simply get out and enjoy it. I spent a bit of time on Thursday plotting out a course for an all day ride on Friday. The course I mapped out was around 150 miles and would take me to the small town of Dassel, about 75 miles to the northwest. My mind was up to it but I wasn't sure if my knees would be willing participants so the course I mapped out allowed for a convenient bailout point should I find it necessary.

I set my alarm for 6:00 Friday morning wanting to make sure that I didn't sleep in too late having been up until after midnight the night before. I finally managed to roll out of bed at 6:30 and went about getting my body fueled. Three eggs, toast, cinnamon roll and juice would be enough to get me through the first few hours. I prepared my water bottles, topped off my tires and made sure I had enough money in my seat bag for food and drink along the way. I finally got on the road a little past 8:00 pedaling under a beautiful blue sky.

I'm fortunate to be able to ride as much as I desire. Tammy understands my addiction and I couldn't ask for a better enabler.

I made my way across the Minnesota River just north of Shakopee and tackled what would be the steepest climb of the ride. It's a steady 9% grade which tops out at 12% just before the top but it's not much more than a third of a mile. Still, it definitely elevates my heart rate.

The wind was out of the northwest at around 10 mph. Given what we've had to deal with here in the Midwest lately I wasn't complaining. I made my way through Excelsior and Tonka Bay then deviated slightly from my intended route to get a photo of the backyard of a home I'd passed the last time I was in the area one month earlier. The backyard was the most ideal setting I think I'd ever seen for a dog where a fence was involved. There was plenty of shade with room to run and a ground covered with wood chips. If I was a dog I could easily call this place home. I'd been telling Tammy about it and I wanted to send her a photo.

I pulled alongside the house and un-clipped from my pedals. An older man with a screw-gun in his hand was making his way back up the driveway when his dogs saw me and barked as they came in my direction to defend their territory. He turned to look and I asked him if it was okay if I took a photo of his yard. He walked back toward me and as he did I told him how I admired his place and had been telling my wife about it. He smiled and said his neighbors weren't too happy with him as his dogs are still pups and they tend to bark a lot. He's fitting them with collars that emit an unpleasant high pitched noise when they bark hoping that it will solve his dilemma.

We chatted for a bit and then he said "Looking at your bike and uniform, you're a pretty serious biker aren't you?" I told him that "yes, I am" while thinking that I'd never heard anybody refer to my cycling jersey as a 'uniform' but I understood. He went on to tell me that although I may not be able to tell by looking at him now, he too was a serious biker back in his day before he injured his back. He used to ride with the LA Wheelmen and he told me how they'd do century rides a couple times a month and that they used to race to the top of Griffith Park in Los Angeles then race back down. We talked for ten minutes and I could tell that he had more time than he knew what to do with and would've loved to tell me stories from all those years ago but I had to keep moving if I was going to finish in daylight. I'd love to hear his stories; another time, perhaps. I asked him if he'd mind posing for a photo with his dogs so I could include it in my blog. He seemed a bit dumbfounded that I would want to do such a thing but he was happy to indulge me. He told me his name, Bill Bitter, and with that I shook his hand and continued on my ride.

I got to Delano and veered into the McDonald's on the east end of town. I don't typically stop at McDonald's for nourishment when I'm riding but this ride would require something other than Hostess Cupcakes and Gatorade. I think it was the sodium in the Quarter Pounder my body was craving. I touched base with Tammy before clipping back in and finding my rhythm once again.

Highway 12 was under construction west of Delano and the detour took me on a two lane highway with no shoulder to speak of. I did my best to get through that stretch as quickly as I could. The road was nice but I could've done without highway 12's traffic on it.

I came to the town of Montrose and grabbed a quick photo of the city sign to upload to Facebook. "jump on it! an obscure reference for '70s rockers" I'm not sure that many, if any, of my Facebook friends understood that one.

By the time I got to Howard Lake I'd been pedaling into a headwind for several hours. It was decision time. Did I have enough in me to continue on to Dassel or should I bail out and pick up highway 261 in the direction of Winsted while shaving 25-30 miles off my ride? I'd still finish with more than 100 miles total but not what I'd set out to do. I pressed on but with some annoying uncertainty; not something I needed for what lay ahead.

I was happy to finally get to Dassel and turn my bike out of the wind. I'd come 78 miles to this point. I tried to text my brother Keith to tell him that I wouldn't be able to make Keith Beulen's retirement party and to give him my best but I couldn't get a signal out. I'd try again later with better luck.

I passed the hundred mile point passing through the town of Biscay and found new life in my legs. A fuel stop in Hutchinson and a tailwind can do that for you.

East of Glencoe I noticed some darker clouds moving in from the north and began to have serious doubts about my chances for staying dry. I don't mind riding in the rain but I was on highway 212 with loads of semi traffic which would make for a bad combination depending on how hard the rain would be. It wasn't until Cologne where I felt the first drops. I opted for a road I've always wanted to take but had never been on which would take me south and possibly away from the approaching rain. I knew that it may be a futile attempt but I'd be away from the heavy traffic I'd been riding in. I had 125 miles in my legs at this point and I knew my reactionary skills weren't as sharp as they were earlier in the ride. The altered direction would add distance to my intended goal but I was fine with that.

I no sooner turned onto this new southerly route when the sun poked through the broken sky cover. It was a reassuring sign and I couldn't have asked for a better road. Plenty of rolling hills to get me out of the saddle from time to time and bring other leg muscles into play. The solitude of this highway was a far cry from the steady stream of traffic passing a few feet off my left and the need for greater focus. I could let my mind wander out here and for a change those thoughts weren't about my job.

I got to Jordan and rather than stop for fuel and break my rhythm I pressed on figuring if I needed to I could stop in Prior Lake to take on some liquids. The clouds were looking threatening once again and I was trying to minimize my down time. I got to Prior Lake and hurried inside the Holiday station to grab a bottle of Gatorade then proceeded to wait in a line six people deep with one person behind the counter. Patience. The young guy behind the register was friendly enough and when I finally got to him he wanted to talk about the weather and did I think I'd make it home before the rain? "I'm doing my best" I politely said and with that I was out the door and back on the road in a final push for home.

I was happy with just about every aspect of this ride. I especially like it when I have serious doubts along the way but am able to overcome them and this day provided a few of those moments.

Total distance was 164.63 miles and 9:28 in the saddle for an average speed of 17.39 mph and 6203 feet of climbing. I have no doubts that I'm ready for a double century; I just need to convince myself that it's necessary.

30 years ago this was as hi-tech as it got...a wheel mounted odometer. There was no fine tuning it but it gave you a general idea of how far you traveled. Figure in your downtime during the ride and you could come up with an approximate average speed. Welcome to today's world. Sometimes I wonder if maybe we live among space aliens and they're the ones responsible for all this technology. It blows my mind. Here's a video I put together of the mapping process and the technology available. It's really quite cool. Click on the video a second time once it begins to play for a larger view.


Steve Saeedi said...

I'm impressed with how quickly you've mastered the Edge 705 and are now making training videos. Awesome!

Kevin said...

Steve...thanks. Yeah, it's quite an amazing piece of technology. I should probably send the guys at RideWithGPS a link to the video because I don't think they have anything like that on their site.

I still use my Edge 305 for inline skating but it can't hold a charge for much more than 90 minutes. I may send it in to have the battery replaced.