Thursday, April 5, 2012

Mid Ohio Lakes and Rivers Tour 200k

Forecast: 42-57, overcast, with clouds clearing in the early afternoon. 0% chance of rain. Winds N\NW 5-7 MPH.

The first brevet ride for the Ohio Randonneurs of the year had over 55 registered riders. Rumor has it that the route was based off an old Dave Buzzee permanent. The brevet overall was relatively flat and very scenic. The route started and ended at Alum Dam and included: crossing the Hoover Dam, seeing the Hoover reservoir, traveling through some of Alum Creek State Park, Delaware State Park and Big Island Wilderness areas. Before we proceed any further, I should address something. Yes, I rode across Hoover Dam. No, not "THE Hoover Dam". There are multiple Hoover Dams in the U.S., just like every city probably has a Main St.

The morning started out a tad chilly at 40 degrees, very overcast with a good breeze coming from the Hoover reservoir. While waiting for the ride to begin, I sat in my car because I really don't care for the cold; as in I hate riding in weather below 50. Several riders were standing in close ranks while talking to retain heat. One couple were standing and covered up with a large blanket, while another couple stayed in a hugging formation to stay warm. Once we were about 10 minutes from the start, I ventured out to join the other randos who were lined up around our fearless leader Bob's car. I had the opportunity to meet a nice fellow from Fort Wayne and Paul with whom I got to do part of a 600k in NY last summer.

With about 2-3 minutes from the launch, Bob gave us encouraging words of wisdom like to stay warm, ride carefully, turn your lights on if returning late and to ride fast so he wouldn't have to sit in the parking lot until 9:30 PM. Bob also told us that if we returned prior to him, to have a bystander in the park initial and time stamp our control card; in which case a rider asked: "If I'm on a tandem, can my co-rider accomplish this for me, or do I need to find something else. Snicker, snicker.” Despite the cold temps, no one lost their sense of humor. With a smile and a quick reply, Bob states "smart ass! Let's go!" and we were off.

This would be my first attempt at a 200k with my new Catrike 700, so I wanted to start off a tad slow to help guarantee a finish. If for some reason a rider has a bike problem or doesn't have the ability to finish physically, it can be incredibly difficult to talk someone into driving out 50-100 miles to pick you up and return you to the start. Given I was riding a tadpole, this would probably be 10x more difficult (because who has a car large enough for a tadpole bike) and I wanted to make sure I left ample energy in reserves.

Purposely starting out last and remaining there for a long while was quite humbling. For me, I enjoy riding a traditional road bike and powering through hills and extended efforts at higher speeds; so this was a big, big, big change for me. After a few miles, I caught up to and rode with a nice group of guys including Paul and Bill with whom I was talking to in the parking lot. Soon after joining the group, we reached our first control which was an informational control. The question was "What activities are prohibited at Hoover Dam?” Any guesses on the answer? Apparently, sledding, skiing and snowboarding are not prohibited. I generally don't want to see anyone break the rules or get hurt, but if there is a 2 planker out there crazy enough to ride down that, I will gladly watch. Any volunteers?

After writing our answers, we got to ride across Hoover Dam which was pretty cool. The dam has 4 gates about waist high. My riding partners had to very slowly ride around the outside of the gate posts with what little room was left on the sides. Seeing how I was on my sporty new Catrike, I simply rode under the gates - ftw!

Around noon we reached the second control @ mile 58. To our delight, the temperate really warmed up to a toasty 42. Good thing that we all underdressed for that projected high of 57. When getting off the bike, my feet felt odd. I assumed it was from having my feat elevated for several hours riding a recumbent. I didn't think much about it really. Some riders got their card signed and moved on, others stayed to warm up and eat. As the day wore on, the riders and groups spread further and further apart. One thing that did not change was the weather. Did I mention I hate the cold and dressed relatively light for the expected high?

I spent most if not all of the afternoon riding solo. Being on the Catrike really allowed me to ride in comfort and just enjoy the scenery, albeit, at a slower pace. Now if I only had that new camera which would auto take photos for me while riding, hmmm. I did debate several times taking my phone out and attempt to take some moving photos, but my hands were feeling cold. Around 3 PM, my left knee was starting to bother me. It felt like a tendon or ligament pain. I haven't been experiencing any pain during training rides, so I think at the previous controls when my feet weren't feeling all there, I may have twisted my leg and not realized it. It did make the rest of the day quite long since I had to slow the pace down even more.

Leaving the last control heading back to the start, I got twisted up leaving the wrong way. It happens. You're a little tired, have a sore knee and want to eat some real food. A couple minutes later, I was back on track and working on tackling the last 13 miles. I had maybe 4 miles left when I experienced my only idiot of the day. A car pulled up behind me and laying on the horn non-stop. He stayed back there for a solid minute before passing slowly (still holding the horn) while shouting sweet nothings to me. It bothers me some drivers act like this. I have found overall, since riding the tadpole vs. a road bike, drivers tend to be much more compassionate by not beeping horns, screaming and leaving ample room to pass. I don't know what to accredit this too exactly, but that has been my experience with the bike since last fall. With this particular driver, there is no way the driver couldn't have seen me (if this was the driver's issue?) because I had a red strobe light on all day and since it was getting close to 6, I had also turned on a solid red tail light as well. This particular section of road was also quite straight with long visibility, so I believe the person was just being a jerk.

I returned to the dam where some of the other guys had recently returned and were chatting. I finished in 9:43. Nothing to write home about, but with brevets, it's about adjusting to what you’re given and simply finishing within the time frame.

I offered my bike up to several people who had commented it looked fun to ride throughout the day, but didn't have any takers. I think everyone was tired of riding for the day and probably a tad cold :)
I talked to Tim for several minutes about our upcoming Fleche ride. We are on the Danville Express team and will be heading cross state from Danville, Ill back to Ohio. Part of the reason I decided to join this team is because I have done rides with Tim A (the capt.) and Tim C. Both are laid back and strong riders. I specifically remember last fall Tim C. talking about the Fleche team that he was on for 2011 and how the team was constantly arguing as the day wore on. Both of the 'T's are laid back and drama free which is how I like to ride, so I am quite confident it's going to be a fun first fleche for me.

After getting back I immediately started changing prior to getting my bike and gear packed up. After taking my shoes off, my feet (even with the socks on) felt completely frozen. After removing my socks……… "Holy bad weather forecasting Batman, those are purple feet!" A couple of my toes were bright white and the rest of my feet were purple. Here's a dandy photo with my crappy Droid phone.
Purple Foot
The purple looks more red in this photo, but believe me, it was dark purple. I knew I should have worn my Lake winter shoes! Better to have hot feet than freezing feet. I also checked the weather and the high for the day hit 44 with no sun. Yes, my index toe was shattered in the past. Pretty sexy right?
All day Sunday my left knee continued to hurt. I'll be milking it out for several days and will be transitioning back to a road bike for the 300k and Fleche rides later in the month. After that, back to the tadpole to hopefully finish off the brevet series.

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