Sunday, August 28, 2011

New PR

Rode the Bike Psychos Century today with the hopes of finishing sub 6 hours. I rolled into the parking lot after 5:55, average speed 17 mph. Given the beastly hills and the 10-15 mph winds, I was utterly and completely happy with my efforts. I now have a new marker to keep in mind when I ride my next century.

This ride came after a night of very restless sleep. I figured I was going to bonk at some point simply because I was running on so little quality sleep. To help prevent the bonk, I ate and drank often. This time around, I didn't pack the energy gels or bars. Instead, I ate the fruit, the pbj sandwiches, and the other goodies offered at the rest stops. I took the advice of Edmund Burke and Ed Pavelka, authors of The Complete Book of Long Distance Cycling, and ate real food. I also made sure to drink, drink, drink. Not once did I feel low on energy, and I attribute my feeling good the whole 100 miles to taking these two guys' advice.

The route took us along the Illinois river, so the scenery at times was different than the usual corn fields, soy bean fields, and pastures I'm used to. The roads were shaded more often than not, keeping the air cool and in turn keeping me cool. Because we were following the river, this meant hills, very steep hills. When I saw the first climb, I was regretting my hills ride I did on Thursday. I thought maybe I was going to still feel the after effects of the hills from three days ago, and I did, but not to the extent that I couldn't get to the top in okay fashion. In fact, I kicked some major booty. Let's just say pace lines aren't all that helpful on really steep hills.

During the return portion, I kept eyeing my average speed. At the 72 mile marker, I saw my average speed dip to 16.9. I knew I was going to have to dig deep if I was going to keep the average speed from going down any further, but with the near headwind, I wasn't too sure I could keep this from happening. The rest stop was just a couple of miles in front of me. If I could make it there and fuel up, I might be able to find some reserve energy.

I ate some pasta, a banana, and some crackers at this stop, being sure to down a bottle of water, too. The next eleven miles would tell the tale, and what it told was I maintained the 16.9. I credit being able to keep the speed level to getting on the downs. I usually ride on the hoods, but again, Burke and Pavelka suggest riding on the downs when dealing with a headwind. I figured I had nothing to lose. At this point, my speed was 16.5. As soon as I dropped to the downs, my speed went up to 18.5, sometimes 19. I was stunned. Talk about a total game changer. Feeling pretty happy about things, I made it to the last rest station, ready to fuel up one last time.

As I was walking up to the tables laden with oranges, bananas, crackers, grapes, watermelon, and pbj sandwiches, Hubby called. He had made it through the 50 mile route and was waiting for me at the starting point. This is the longest ride he's completed this season, and he did a great job of going at his own pace, taking breaks when he needed to, and just making the ride his own. He told me the rest of the way in was flat and mostly with the wind. Hallelujah! I believed I could actually get the average speed back up to 17 mph. And I did. At the 100 mile marker, I wanted to throw my arms into the air like the pros do when they cross the finish line, but I'm not a no-hands kind of rider. I most likely would have gone down.

The coolest thing about the ride happened when I went to get my ice cream sandwich from the Schwan's people. A young man getting his own ice cream looked at me and said, "You did an awesome job. Every time we were at a rest stop, you rolled in, and I was just amazed. You rode this whole thing alone. I couldn't do that. Just awesome." I thanked him, telling him I ride alone all the time. He again commented on how great I did. As I was walking away, glowing in his praise, I thought about how I wouldn't know how to ride a pace line, but believe me, there were moments today with the wind that I wish I did.

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