Sunday, July 18, 2010

Back in the Saddle Again

Keith took Mom to her heart specialist on Friday as a follow-up to her heart troubles of the last couple weeks. She's not out of the woods and has what she describes as a long road ahead of her but the prognosis was better than I think many of us allowed ourselves to expect. Her doctor isn't sure she'll ever get back to the level of heart-health she had before the congestive heart failure episode but with a new drug (Coreg) added to her regimen he's confident she'll make a very good recovery.

Rachel left Tuesday afternoon for Willmar and this year's Sonshine Music Festival. She and a whole lot of her friends got there a day early to stake their claims and set up their tents. She's not thrilled with the line-up of bands but that's only half the experience from what I can tell. Still, she's enjoying the show. She says it gets so packed with people toward the front of the stage that it's nearly impossible to work your way back through the crowd on foot to get out so it's easiest to crowd-surf your way to the back. Get somebody to lift you up and away you go. It struck me as funny because she said it so matter-of-fact like it's just their way of operating.

They hung out at the mall one day and saw Despicable Me and loved it. She wants to see it again with us when she gets back.  She says it's my kind of humor.

Bryan, Melody, Scott and Liam arrived in town from Portland last Wednesday and will be with us through the early part of next week. Charlie has found a new playmate as has Liam. It's nice to finally meet the little guy and see Melody and Scott again. It's been seven years since they were last in town.

For the past few months I've neglected my bike in favor of projects around home and other commitments or distractions but all the while I'd been eyeing this past week off from work as a time for me to do some riding...and I did, to the tune of 621 miles in seven days which included one day off. I enjoyed being out riding as much as any time in the past. A new pedal stroke I've been working on for the past year and a refined position on my bike as well as a new saddle gave me as much comfort as I've had in too long. I've had to sacrifice speed for that comfort but if that's what it takes to reduce the debilitating knee pain I've been struggling with it's a small price.

After last Saturday's 124 mile ride I took Sunday off. I went out Monday for what I thought would be 35-45 miles but as I approached St Paul, rather than turn southwest for home, I crossed Wabasha Bridge instead and biked Summit Avenue working my way west toward South Minneapolis. I reminded myself that I was on vacation, Tammy was in the office and I had no pressing reasons to be home so I set my sights on Shakopee and committed myself to a much longer ride than I'd intended. As I came through Shakopee I started doing the math and toyed with the idea of a 500 mile week; something I haven't done in a few years and wondered if I'd ever again. I managed 95 miles that day and after the ride, I did my best to suppress the 500 mile week nonsense but the thought intrigued me and I kept coming back to it.

It was going to be a hot week and Tuesday's high temp of 85 degrees would seem cool in comparison to what would follow. I was a little sore to begin my ride but around mile 60 I found my stride. I'd tack on 83 miles to my weekly total and with this effort I'd pretty much convinced myself that I was all-in for a 500 mile week.

Wednesday surprised me. I should never have felt as good out there as I did with the ridiculous temp and dewpoint (90/80 the last hour of my ride) but I didn't question it. I let my Edge 705 guide me along some unfamiliar roads southwest of New Prague and enjoyed the sense of exploring. I spent a good part of the ride dodging some nasty weather that was popping up all around me. My Droid is paying dividends with its radar imagery.  The most difficult part of the ride was trying to keep the sweat out of my eyes; a useless endeavor but I had to try. Staying hydrated isn't easy on a day like that but my pre-ride weight and post-ride weight were the same. Another day 83 mile day.

I began Thursday with 385 miles done and two days to cover 115 miles to achieve my goal; a piece of cake. I left a little before 9:00 AM under blue skies and a temp somewhere in the 70s—almost cool in comparison to the previous day. It wouldn't take long for the temp to reach the upper 80s but the dewpoint was much more reasonable which made all the difference. Coming out of Norwood/Young America I headed west to pick up highway 25. Both my water bottles were empty and I was in need of a fix. The gas station I'd intended to refuel at was no more and I became concerned because I didn't like the thought of going much further without more fluids.

Out of what seemed like nowhere I nearly passed a small restaurant set back off the road. I circled back to have a better look. The Hillcrest Cafe' came as a great relief. I leaned my bike up against the front of the building being careful not to trample their flowers. It was an older lunchtime crowd and I felt that every person in there had their eyes on me as the cleats of my shoes announced my presence with each step toward the counter. I didn't feel comfortable taking a seat next to another patron considering how hot and sweaty I was so I ordered my ham and cheese sandwich with large lemonade to go and took it out by the side of the building to eat.

I'd begun the day intent on doing not much more than 70 miles but somewhere during the ride, that all changed and I knew I wasn't bringing it home until I'd reached my 500-mile goal. 122 miles later I was home with 7 miles to spare.

I considered taking a pass on riding Friday but it was a fleeting consideration. A solid effort on Friday would give me many more miles in one week than I'd ever achieved. I headed out into a beautiful sunshine filled morning with another hot day in the making. I was a little sore to begin the ride but that's understandable. I'd spend the first couple hours soft-pedaling it until eventually finding my stride.

114 miles for the day.

I couldn't have been more pleased with how my knees held up during the week. I've never been one to stretch but I took extra care to stretch before, during and after my rides. That had to have helped.

That was a 621 mile (1000 km) week—the most I've ridden in one week (and that included a day of rest).

I used to kick around a plan for celebrating my retirement by taking 5-7 days to bicycle out to Rapid City, SD (a little less than 600 miles) and have Tammy meet me there. I lost sight of that dream a couple of years ago when I began to wonder if my long-distance days were behind me. I believe I may have some planning to do.

A few random photos from the week.


John A Hill said...

Congrats on the week's achievement!

Kevin Gilmore said...

Thanks, John.

Anonymous said...

Sad grasp at regaining youth
check out your hero


Anonymous said...

I cannot sit on my bike's seat for that long!!