Friday, April 19, 2013

Uniontown to Creston Populaire

I did the Uniontown to Creston Populaire route again last night. Ever have one of those days where you just can't get excited or motivated to workout? That's what I was going through yesterday. I've been dealing with bronchitis, torn up feet, and a couple other minor injuries. Forecast.......82! 20-25 mph sustained from the South with a decent chance of a thunderstorm in the evening. I quickly got my riding clothes on and got out the door before making an excuse and not getting the ride in.

I hit up the Rite Aid in Uniontown and filled up my bottles with water. I would describe the ride to the first control as mainly windy! I was unable to get any shelter from the wind. It was relentless.

Yours truly fighting back the pukies!

The ducks and fishermen were out in abundance on Nimisila Reservoir.

During my entire ride, I saw two other riders. I guess the wind and chance for thunderstorms scared everyone off. The grass is turning green again and trees starting to bud.

The route goes through a small community called Rittman. There really isn't much there except the bike path, a drive thru, and the Morton Salt Company.


Within a couple miles of getting to Creston (the turnaround point), I heard a train coming so it was go time. Sprint to the tracks and beat the train!

This is what Creston looks like. There are about six small buildings and a gas station. I really hate Subway, but I was feeling quite ill and not feeling up to par. I gobbled down a chicken salad like a ravenous zombie stricken the desire to eat more brains.

I wasn't quite sure if I could even make it back. But I thought to myself "this is another fine mess I've gotten myself into". Wifey wouldn't be to happy coming out, so I had better start pedaling. Mental note for the future: when rushing out the door and knowing you will be riding in the night - pack the clear lenses for the glasses. Doh!

Sunset over Nimisila. By the time I got home it was 9:00. It wasn't an impressive performance by any stretch of the imagination, but the ride got done...........and on some days, that's all that matters.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Ohio Rando 200k - Grove City, Circleville, Mechanicsburg

It was once again time for another Ohio Randonneur brevet. This ride be 200k in distance and in the form of a large circle route starting in Grove City and then proceeding to Circleville and Mechanicsburg. By 'Biking Bob' standards, this is a relatively flat course. The forecast of the day was: starting temp of 40, a high of 52-55, winds @ 20-25 from the South West and a 40% chance of a thunderstorm. Knowing that we had a long drive ahead of us, my riding partner Rich slept over Friday night. We agreed that a 3:30 wake up call would be necessary so that we could arrive with ample time to get our gear ready. Good thing! A bridge on our way down was closed and required a detour.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Uniontown to Creston Populaire

Yesterday was my first inaugural ride of the Uniontown to Creston 116k Populaire ride. The ride has 3,500 feet of climbing. While not excessively hilly, those that are on the route are challenging and long (there are some over a mile long). The route traverses through the City of Green, Canal Fulton, New Franklin, Doylestown, and Rittman to the turnaround control in Creston. The temp was in the upper 60s with 20-25 MPH sustained wind and gusts up to 35-40; perfect riding weather for randonneurs.

Monday, April 1, 2013

104km Battelle-Darby-New Holland Populaire

Last Saturday was the unofficial start of the Ohio Randonneurs season with the 104km Battelle-Darby-New Holland Populaire ride. The ride was unofficial because it doesn't count towards a Super Randonneur series, but it gets the Ohio Rando brethren together to ride and battle the early season elements. This particular route was fairly flat, esp. by Biking Bob standards with only 1,500 feet of elevation.

My riding partner extraordinaire Rich arrived at my house @ 5:30 promptly. We quickly loaded his gear into the Rando-bus (aka Subaru Outback) and started the 2.5 hour drive to the South side of Columbus. During the drive, we got caught up on riding stories, stuff that's happened since the last season in our personal lives, reviewing techno music, and our tentative plans for the 1200k we are doing later in the summer. Rich being the crazy man he is, has already logged a 200 & 400k ride in this season.

We got to the starting point about an hour early. We unloaded the bikes from the bus griping about how cold it was - a toasty 27 degrees. We were both debating how many gloves to wear, whether to ride winter riding boots or shoes with covers, etc. Rich was fairly impressed with my new bike & setup, a Specialized Tricross Elite Disc Comp. Bob arrived early getting everyone signed in, handing out control cards and returning cards from last season. Just prior to leaving, I swapped my boots out for Keen cycling sandals and some wool socks. Rich insisted I was crazy. But with bunions and the chance for the temp to climb into the 50s, I just kinda said screw it. A couple minutes later, we were off @ 9 AM.

The first thirty minutes was cold, but tolerable with a head wind from the South\SouthWest between 8-10 MPH. With each passing hour, it was obvious the day was gonna be a relatively warm one. By 10:30 we did a two minute pit stop to strip off excess layers to prevent over sweating. I started riding on the drops cranking heavily to increase our avg speed. I looked back and saw that Rich was falling back a little bit. When he caught back up, he insisted that I take off without him. I said "You're my riding partner, so I stay with you. What am I going to do? I can leave until you come back..." with a grin. Rich said "set us a 17 MPH avg"; and with that we were cranking out the miles while taking in the rural views.

We were arriving at the first control when the first main group was leaving. We quickly got our cards stamped and were off again. The return route was extremely easy since the wind was at our back. It was easy to maintain our 17 MPH avg for the majority of the way to the next control point. During this leg, we were chased by a fairly large and fast dog. He had no issues maintaining 22 MPH - which prompted us to increase our speed further. At the next control, we found several Rando riders in the parking lot enjoying a lunch in the sun. The temp was now in the mid 50s. We got our control cards stamped. Rich ate another sandwich and I parted with two bananas. Rich commented on how little I was eating and wanted to know what I ate for breakfast. "1/4 cup of egg beaters". Rich started giving me an ear full about needing to eat a lot more while riding; so I promised at the 200k I would eat more. I got into a conversation with a local priest until we had to go.

The last leg of the ride had a couple rollers but was still fairly easy. The temp got up to 60 degrees (thank god I wore the sandals and not winter boots) and we arrived back at the starting point in 4:15 even. Easy ride day to log some miles and see some of the local riders again. Next up is the 200k in two weeks.

To quell the concerns from Rich about me not eating, we hit up Popeyes for a cholestrol filled chicken lunch on the way home. We arrived home early enough so that Rich could make it to a rave party. Woot!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Blogging, Or There A Lack Of

I haven’t been blogging in the longest time. Several events transpired that left me physically or mentally unable to really blog nor open up about.

Last year, one of my resolutions was to not break any bones. Goal accomplished. I didn’t suffer a single broken bone in 2012, but I did however suffer a bad injury. I was doing a local 100 mile bike club ride in which the route nor the queue sheet wasn’t marked particularly well regarding turns at the end of long down hills. I hit pretty hard on a 3 wheel recumbent. Thankfully I broke the fall for the bike, so it got away unharmed. I had a really bad case of road rash. Fast forward a week and a half, and I suffered a blot clot in my lower right leg. Excruciating pain. Several weeks of down time.

I got my beak, aka nose, fixed over the summer after Rando season slowed down. Can’t say I enjoyed the recovery much, but at least I can breathe better through the nasal passages. Doc. repaired the grossly deviated septum and hacked down the turbinates.

Shortly after this, my mom was in and out of hospitals for roughly four months with multiple compression fractures, had contracted a fairly lethal form of pneumonia typically only found in hospital settings and other health issues. After dealing with these ailments for several months with no improvement, she called in quits with continuing medical treatments and let nature take its course. It’s very hard to lose a parent regardless of circumstance, it sucks more when they are still fairly young and simply lose the desire to live. Naturally my dad has and continues to have a hard time adjusting. It’s hard to deal with the loss of a loved one after 30+ years of marriage.

I continued to have more than normal sinus drainage. The sinus drainage has been something I seem to have acquired in my middle aged years. A local Ear, Nose and Throat specialist recommend that I get endoscopic sinus surgery. The surgery basically involves the doctor going in with a roto-rootor tool and hogging out the sinus nasal passages so that the sinuses basically become very dry. I got the surgery on New Year’s Eve, had a miserable recovery and have had to get my sinuses sucked out a couple times. Knock on wood, the one good thing is that I have not had a single sinus infection since the operation. Previously, I would have had one or two by March. I’m still hoping that the current drainage slows more or stops completely.

So the 2nd half of 2012 was less than desirable and I’ve been dealing with a variety of personal issues. My only resolution this year is to blog at least once a week. I have a decent schedule of rides planned this year, so there should be ample to write about. I picked up a new bike, so expect more on that soon.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Populaire Ride For May

I got my monthly Populaire ride in on 5/26. The starting temp was 91 with a 20% chance of rain. Still gunning for that P-12 in NEO.

On Friday, I decided to arrive at work extra early so that I could get the 103k ride in and be home by 7 PM. Just my luck, that the boss called off so I had to stay extra late incase anything went wrong with the IT systems. My parents also asked if I could let their dogs out on the way home, so my plans of being home by a decent time were completely shot.

I hauled major #$% outta work and got to the CVNP as quickly as possible. I quickly got my bike setup and packed very minimally due to the heat and the slight chance of rain. Since receipts are required at every control on permanents or populaires per RUSA regulations, I debated for a moment what to blow my money on at the BP station. Ultimately, I decided on one of the most horrific things ever created by humans for humans - twinkies! On the way out, a strapping young lad asked "Hey man, what do you ride?', to which I replied "A crappy Giant OCR! How bout you"?  "Cannondale for life!" he replied. We both laughed and I was off, while other customers there thought we were mentally ill. Don't all good riders own\owned at least one Cannondale?

There were lots of people out exercising on the Tow Path and Valley View parkway trails with the warm weather. I made pretty decent time to the halfway control given the wind and hills. Also throw in the fact, this the first ride on this route for several months that I didn't get a flat on the way out; it looked like street sweepers finally got the road debris cleaned up. All of the drivers I encountered were extremely nice allowing me to cross intersections first even if hadn't.

About 20 miles in, the skies were starting to get darker and the wind was picking up.  

As I climbed off the bike to head into the gas station to get Gatorade and my card time stamped, the heavens opened up and unleashed a world of &%$#. While standing in line (6 people deep), I was getting cold from the A/C being cranked. When I got back outside, I was shaking slightly with the cooler rain coming down and from being chilled inside. "No problem" I thought, "time to put on the arm warmers on". As I went to get them out, I discovered they were never packed. Sigh. I refilled my bottles and was starting to shove off when a young lady in a mini-van stopped with her window wide open in a torrential downpour to ask if I needed a ride back to town. I replied "Are you kidding?!?! This is awesome riding weather"! Obviously my shit eating grin gave away the fact I was completely miserable but to stubborn to actually quit. She laughed and made me promise to be very safe.  Immediately after leaving the half-way control, there is a very steep downhill that was scary due to the reduced effectiveness of the brakes while wet. I made a mental note of getting disc brakes on the next bike. Any one want to buy a 'lovely' lightly used Giant OCR?

Within a mile, another two women pulled up next to me while riding asking if I need a ride back or a place for temporary shelter. All I have to say is that women in North East Ohio (more specifically Berea), are all sweet hearts.  After about three miles into the return route, the same lady who initially offered me a ride while in the gas station parking lot was riding next to me insisting I get in the car due to the weather and non-stop lightning strikes. Very sweet lady looking out for the crazy guys out riding in severe storms.

I wasted no time in getting back avoiding any and all stops. Road imperfections and pot holes were impossible to detect due to the amount of water on the streets. All the runners and bikers vanished with the storm except one couple standing underneath a bridge trying to wait out the weather (hiding on the left side).

There was not a soul riding except myself. Some  riders make fun of bikes with fenders- say what ya must, but they sure are nice during heavy downpours! I had an experience when I was younger riding in the rain with glasses on and still had a piece of gravel stuck in my eye. This resulted in an emergency room visit to have it drilled out - so it's fenders for me. There is also a long rapid descent on Snowville Rd heading back into the valley that can be frightening on a dry day, but was quite concerning on Friday.

Once I was about 8 miles from the finish, I had made it outside of the direct storm area but was still well within the lightening strike zone. I wasn't overly concerned about it since I was in a valley surrounded by trees and hills, but still didn't waste time in getting back. 

Despite the weather and my bunions still causing extreme pain, it was a fun day out on the bike. Immediately after arriving, I called wifey who was thrilled that I had got back safely and had been very concerned about the lightning. Here's a couple pics facing the direction I was just at with various lightning.

After getting my bike remounted, changing clothes and letting my parent's dogs out, I finally arrived home at 10 PM. It was a very long day, but ended it on a high note with a few Yuenglings.

Next task at hand, the Ohio 600k. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

400k Brevet: Ashland-Lake Erie, Part II

I was pleasantly surprised  that all three cars who passed during this time checked to see if I needed further assistance as well as a man who came out of his house to offer up a spare tube or air pump. There are a lot of awesome people down in Loudonville! As usual, the Amish folk were out working hard and waving hello also. This stretch was only 49 miles and I thought roughly 55-60 ozs of Gatorade or water would be enough, but I was getting dangerously dehydrated from the heat and hills.  I was close to completely out of fluid with a good 15 miles to go to the control with no place to get fluids. I had completely stopped sweating for long while, had horrific cramping, very nauseous and was getting weird heart palpations.

At this point, quitting was not an option and I was very strongly contemplating pulling a Bear Grylls, when literally two minutes later I found a lady painting on the side of the road. I asked if she knew of any nearby stores even if they were out of the way. She said "No, there aren't any. You look like you need some water!" Out she pulled several bottles of ice cold water. I told her she was an angel  and thanked her for the water.

After arriving at control #4, I was feeling horrible from the heat and  from an injury called a bunion (problem #3: )on my pinkie toes that was causing excoriating pain. I just recently found out what a bunion is from a friend who is a nurse and how severe an injury it is (or could become). I stopped at a McDonald's and had a Big Mac meal while sitting in the A/C to get my core temp back down. I had my shoes off to make the bunions feel better. I called wifey to see how the girls were doing and to calm my mind with all the bad things that had transpired thus far. After a 30 minute prolonged break, I proceeded on and was soon joined again by Rich. We rode the complete second half together. Periodically stopping to rub my bunion and to refill water bottles. I was also experiencing a lot of digestive issues which I normally don't have since I was eating a lot more vs. drinking my powder mix, so riding in general was just uncomfortable.

We enjoyed a nice sunset on Lake Erie while traveling from Vermilion.

Night riding was slower due to navigation by bike lighting, and that  we may have been a little tired (although you wouldn't hear us say that to anyone we met). Here we are arriving at the Huron control. Just one more 54 mile stretch to go.

There was periodic talking while finding the correct turns. Most of the noise was from the wind, animals running (deer, raccoons?) in the woods, dogs barking or either of us yawning. The temp held close 50 but felt considerably lower when hitting lowlands with heavy amounts of fog. My friends and family often ask "How dark is it when you are biking out there at night?" Granted the ContourRoam isn't great with night photos, but it looks a lot like this. Also note, that after a couple minutes riding in the dark, the eyes adjust well to what light is available.

At about 12:30, Rich asked if we could stop for 5 minutes to rest and so he could eat something. We stopped at the corner of Main St. and Route 60 in New London. Rich was hunched over by a trashcan while eating and I was laying against the building with my shoes off so that the dreaded bunions would temporarily feel better. A couple cars went by giving us funny glares. One car in particular stayed at the intersection for a solid 2.5 minutes before leaving. As we were mounting our bikes and starting to pedal, a cop car came zooming up and was closely watching us. I'm guessing that the one driver called us in for suspicious behavior. After all, how often do you see some people hanging out on the sidewalk in a very small town at almost 1 in the morning?

We finished at 2:01 AM with Rich doing a lead-in to Motel 6. Indeed a long day. 

For one last piece of comedy gold: Rich blew by the hotel's office and went straight back to his car. I chased him down and let him know that he needed to go back. Rich replied "Why!?!?"  "Because you need to get the final signature and time stamp."  Rich: "Oh! I'm so tired! Thanks!"  I took a quick shower in Bob's room and then slept 3 hours in the Subaru. It wasn't the most comfortable place to sleep, but I could have probably slept on the sidewalk just the same.

Given all the things that went bad and dealing with numerous injuries, my performance wasn't pretty, but the brevet got done.

Four riders had to drop due to dehydration. Completely understandable given the terrain, heat and if the rider's nutrition wasn't perfect.