Monday, June 20, 2011

What a difference a week makes

So last weekend I set out to do a couple rides on Saturday and Sunday that would push myself a little bit farther than I been thus far since getting back on the bike. I decided to get out and venture a little farther out and get some rollers in. Last Saturday I felt pretty good but Sunday was a bit of a nightmare.

So this weekend I decided to go ahead and try it again. I set it in my head that I would do the same rides this weekend that I did last weekend and atone for the mistakes I made.

Saturday I did the same loop... the "Wednesday night short course" which took me out Montpellier road and Keyes Rd to Hawkins Rd, back down Lake Rd to Hickman and then home via Whitmore Rd back to Hughson. When I completed the loop and got back to the Hickman Store and resupplied my water bottles I still felt good so I decided to do the loop a second time which added about 13 miles over what I had done last weekend. On the way home I felt pretty accomplished that I was feeling good and at 53.7 miles it was ending up just 4 miles short of it being my longest ride to date (my longest ride to date at that time was the disaster that was last weeks Sunday ride)

Sunday's ride was the same ride as the week before. But I made some crucial adjustments. I started out in the morning (a little later than I wanted at 10:00 AM) instead of 2:00 in the afternoon. And I took a third water bottle in my jersey. The ride out Montpellier was pretty decent. There was a very strong tail wind, that I knew I would be dealing with as a head wind on the way back, so I kept a good pace but tried not to over do it. Turlock Rd was also fairly easy to keep a 20-22 mph pace going but when I turned on to Cox Ferry I knew I had been right about having a head wind on the way home. But at the point when I got on to Cox Ferry I had twice as much water as I did the weekend before, at the same point in the ride. And I also knew where I was and how far it was home... the weekend before I just going off of how far I THOUGHT it was home. I made it over Cox Ferry with a lot less effort than I thought it would be and headed down Keyes Rd. I was able to keep the pace up fairly well, even with the head/cross wind. When I turned down Hawkins I was still feeling pretty fresh (and I still had water... BIG PLUS) I made my way back down Lake Rd. and to the Hickman store and was still fresh enough to think about doing the Hawkins loop a second time. I decided to pack it in... I accomplished what I needed to... and it was beginning to get hot, and I was starting to develop a strong case of hot foot again.

I got home and felt about 1,000,000% better than I did on the ride the week before. Took a shower and cleaned up and then Jen and I set out to do some Father's day visiting with family. It felt pretty good to be able to do the same rides (+13 miles) I did last weekend, but felt much better and was actually able to function afterwards. It's a small milestone but a milestone none the less.

See ya out there on the roads!

Monday, June 13, 2011

First new post in nearly 2 weeks...

I probably should have been posting more the last two weeks, but you know how it is... life gets busy and certain things don't get done. Unfortunately I've been away from the bike (for the most part) the last couple weeks too. But I decided to change that, this weekend.

Saturday, I rounded up my most loyal riding partners.... me and myself... and the three of us took out on the road. I didn't really know where I wanted to go, to begin with, but decided to head down Montpellier Rd because riding south gives me a fairly good tailwind to get out away from the traffic. When I approached Keyes Rd, I felt pretty good and I decided to take a left turn and follow what I know as the "Wednesday Night Short Course" (Wednesday Night rides are the rides that have been coming out of CycleMasters in Turlock for longer than I can remember... they have had to have been going on for over 25 years now) knowing that upon completion it would be my longest ride to date since getting back on the bike... and also knowing that it would take me on what has been dubbed, for years, as Roller Coaster Rd (Hawkins Rd). With the exception of being caught in the wrong gear on one of the rollers on Hawkins I was able to complete the ride and felt much better than I thought I would upon completion. And it was nice to be able to gauge myself on a ride that I know from back in "The Good Old Days".

With the confidence that I gained from my Saturday ride, I decided to up the ante and gather my riding partners again, and set out and take on an even more ambitious ride than my Saturday ride (even though Saturday was 10 miles longer than I had gone since getting back on the bike) I decided to set out and do the Wednesday Night Long Course AND Short Course... which would include 2 "Roller Coaster Roads" Hawkins and Cox Ferry. I wasn't sure how much longer the ride was going to be, than the day before, but I was figuring it would go about 20 miles farther than I had gone to date. So I gathered my Power Bars and my Water Bottles and off I went. Starting off at about 2:00 PM

The ride started out well. I had a nice tail wind all the way down Montpellier Rd. I turned down Turlock Rd and still felt pretty good. No real head wind (it was actually a cross wind from slightly behind). Turlock Rd to Cox Ferry was a LOT longer than I remember. But it was nice to see the familiar scenery from back in the day. I also remember that Turlock road was the last ride I did back when I used to ride... it was the road that my knee problems came to a head years ago. When I made it to the Catholic Church in Hopeton I thought about stopping and getting some more water, even though I still had one full bottle... I didn't... that would end up being a big mistake. I was still feeling good a couple miles down the road when I saw the turn on to Cox Ferry. I made it up and down all the Rollers on Cox Ferry with relative ease. It brought back a lot of memories rolling down the road. I think every thing on that road is EXACTLY the same as it was 15 years ago.

Looking down on the last Roller of Cox Ferry Rd, the turn on to Keyes Rd is
just beyond the rise in the picture.

When I turned off of Cox Ferry and on to Keyes Rd. I thought I was home free. I still felt pretty good and I still had about 3/4 of a water bottle to go. I thought it wouldn't be long until I saw Hawkins and I'd be on the way home. WRONG... I totally misjudged, and forgot how far it was from Cox Ferry to Hawkins, it was at least twice as far as I figured. And there are a LOT more rollers on Keyes Rd. than I remembered... I think there is some kind of fault line on Keyes Rd. and the rollers have grown to double their size that they were 15-20 years ago (at least that is what I was telling myself as I was riding).

I finally saw the power lines in the distance going off to the Right and knew I was approaching Hawkins Rd. At least now I would be on roads that I had a recent familiarity with, but when I took a drink from my water bottle I knew I was in a bit of a spot. I only had about 1/2 a bottle and I knew I had a ways to go, and it was still fairly hot. I knew if I went home via Keyes Rd. I would cut out the rollers of Hawkins Rd. But I also knew I would be facing a pretty good head wind on Montpellier if I went that way. The rollers of Hawkins pretty much negate the effects of the head wind. And I also had in my mind, that I was going to do the ride I set out to do, and not wuss out. In retrospect, I probably should have just gone back home via Keyes

I started the rollers on Hawkins feeling good, but about half way to Lake Rd. I started feeling the effects. I also ran dry of water. I knew I only had about 8 miles until I would reach the Hickman store where I could get some water and Gatorade or whatever else I needed. But I didn't realize what kind of state I would be in by the time I covered those 8 miles. The roads seemed to be steeper, it seemed like the miles were clicking by slower, my feet started to go numb, and it's amazing how much more thirsty you get when you know you don't have water. I continued on and finally got past all the hills that Lake Rd. has to offer. I was on the flats and I knew there was only one more potential obstacle between me and the Hickman store... the dog that had chased me the day before. That dog really hadn't been a bother on Saturday... but I had also been feeling pretty good when I came upon it... today was a different story. I just didn't feel like I had the legs to move if I needed to. I was spinning a small gear just to try to reserve what ever I had left to get home and I just didn't need a chase to raise my adrenaline at this point. Turns out the dog must have been sleeping or something because I didn't hear a peep out of it.

So, I finally got to the Hickman Store... that run down old shack never looked better. I was able to get some water for one bottle and some Gatorade from the other. Now I had some liquids to help me out. I had a seat and chilled out for a few minutes before getting back on and doing the last 6 or 8 miles back home. But the effects of running dry for so long had already taken effect. I suffered like never before for the last leg of the ride. I literally had to verbally talk myself in to finishing the end of the ride rather than getting off the bike and laying down on the side of the road. But I made it... and I did the ride I set out to do. And I learned some valuable lessons in the process...

NEVER judge a ride on what you remember from 15+ years ago when you were in elite riding form.
NEVER pass up the opportunity to get water, when you are out on the road a million miles away from nowhere.