Saturday, November 10, 2012

Another Ride on the I & M Canal

Yesterday I had the opportunity to go north, to Peru/Lasalle, to ride the I & M Canal. I've ridden part of the canal before, but I wanted to go further, around 60 miles, to give me a chance to see what this distance feels like on the mountain bike. With the Gravel Grovel only two weeks away, I knew I needed to get some distance in or I will be hurting badly in two weeks. Hubby dropped me off at the Lasalle access, and I started off under sunny skies and a breeze blowing out of the south.

My goal was to try and average at least 15 mph. My first five miles showed 14. I noticed I felt tired, like I didn't have a lot of energy though I'd made sure to eat a good breakfast. The last two or three weeks, I've not had much of an appetite. I've basically been eating only to make sure I don't get so fatigued I can't focus or function. There have been a couple of times, too, when I do eat that I reach a point where I feel nauseous. Mostly, though, I find myself standing in the kitchen, going through the cupboards and fridge, searching for something to spark my interest. Nothing does. The only thing that has sounded good is pancakes. And french fries. Why these two items, I don't know, but if it means eating, I'll eat them. I've had more pancakes the last two weeks than I have the last two years.

So I tried to kick my pace up a notch. For the next ten miles I was able to keep the average speed above 15. I still wasn't feeling great though. I stopped and drank some of my sports drink and ate a GU, then started off again, hoping to feel better at some point. I wondered if not riding at all the last two weeks, since the Tour de Shawnee, was part of my problem, but you'd think having some time away would actually be a good thing. I have been commuting every day, a short 6 miler; however, this distance probably isn't nearly enough to maintain the level of fitness I'd achieved from the summer ride.

When I was 38 miles in, I reached Morris. Hubby met me there to have lunch. We found a little bakery and had panini sandwiches with soup and a piece of pumpkin pie. I ate half of my sandwich and the pie, but again, I just couldn't find it in me to eat anymore. Usually when I ride like this, I can put the food away. Instead, just looking at the second half of the sandwich made me feel like barfing. I wrapped it, put it in a bag, and stowed it in the truck to have after finishing the ride.

I set off again, heading towards my 60 miles for the day. Five miles beyond Morris I resigned myself to having to settle for a steady 14 mph pace. I just didn't have the gumption to do anymore than that. During this part of the ride, I also stopped and took pictures. This length of the I & M was new territory for me, so I wanted to enjoy it as much as possible. During one long stretch, the path took me through a thick woods. I saw movement on my left, and when I turned to look, I saw the most beautiful buck I've ever seen in my life. He ran alongside me then ahead, and when he was thirty yards beyond, he cut over and onto the path. He ran for quite some time in front of me before veering to the right and back into the woods. That majestic animal was the picture that got away. And I hope he continues to get away from the hunters whose deer stands could be spotted all through those woods, and grace others with his beauty.

The last 15 miles of the ride offered up some truly wonderful sights. A spillway with yellow leaves trapped at the bottom, a hornets nest hanging from a branch over the canal water, trees gnawed at by beavers, the dam the beavers built, and gulls diving down to the lake's surface to snatch up an unsuspecting fish.While my average speed for the day didn't meet my intended goal, I don't really care. Life isn't a race to rush through. Rather, it's something to savor.


Cathy said...

I have been craving pancakes too!!!! As for weird appetites and energy, I blame Mercury being in retrograde :)

JK said...

We're going to have to sit down and you explain the retrograde idea. That's unknown territory for me. And for breakfast in the morning, my youngest already made crepe batter for Nutella with banana crepes. Perfect!

Penny said...

I grew up just North of the I & M canal and to the east of Morris. As a teen I rode that path, fished in the canal, ran and explored that area, its beautiful. I've traveled from Marseilles to Channahon many times. But never more than 10 miles at one time. Sounds wonderful! I think I would like to know more about the type of bikes out there now a days, your making me want a new bike. I have a Schwinn Sierra 700 GS, I've had it 15-16 years and it made the trip from Seneca to Marseilles and back to Seneca. Its not a great bike for the gravel trail. From what I know about biking its a better bike on pavement. I grew up not wearing a bike helmet and I have no idea how to pick one out-a decent one. I'm seriously thinking about getting back in the biking habit...but maybe in the spring...not sure I'm up to your standard of commuting! Beautiful pictures!