Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tour Diary Part 1

I'm still jazzed about the Tour de Cure that I rode in on Saturday. Hard to believe I finally got a century (100 miles) in one day. Here's the map and the mileage readout so it's official:

If you've never seen these MapMyRide maps before, they're a tool I use to keep track of my biking and workouts. You can click around and view the elevations, fly the route, or change the view to a satellite photo with the roads overlayed. It's a pretty cool gadget and it figures out the mileage and how many calories (lots) I burned so I don't have to guesstimate.

Mapping and statistics aside, it damn sure seemed like a long way around that loop. At the end of it though, I still had some fight left and I think I could have gone just a little ways further. The new 2.1 helped I'm sure. Somehow, the miles just rolled away and the lake stayed on my right until I wound up back at point A. Doc and I just kept hammering along until after seven hours, it was over. I never figured I could do anything like this.

It started badly. We were late signing in (of course) so the pack was mostly lined up and ready to go before we got through the registration tables. Before we knew it, the flag dropped and away they went without us. Somebody told Doc that if we didn't go right then, we'd have to wait an hour for the next wave. My mind was saying, "I'm not ready for this" one second then "We gotta get going" the next. Not wanting to be any later, we launched while half our team was still milling around in confusion and Chris was in the bathroom. Leaving without so much as a fare-thee-well, good luck wish or even a see-ya-later smooch from my team captain went over like the proverbial lead balloon. My cell rang from my jersey before I got a mile down the road. The conversation was decidedly one-sided and ended with a click. This did not bode well.

The initial five or six miles out of Watkins Glen was as advertised. Steep verging on vertical. This got us out of the valley and up on the hilltops where the Good Doctor and I fell into a steady cruise mode that just ate up distance. He claims he ran into my back wheel a couple of times in there while drafting me too close but you couldn't prove it by me. The Trek just kept rolling without so much as a hiccup from the impacts. By about twenty miles into it, we started passing a few people fizzling out or "hitting the bonk" real early in the game. "Bonking" is a nasty state of affairs which Wikipedia defines as, "In endurance sports, particularly cycling and running, hitting the wall or the bonk describes a condition caused by the depletion of glycogen stores...which manifests itself by precipitous fatigue and loss of energy."
I started devouring Clif bars and chugging Gatorade to avoid any such developments on my part. Doc was draining his Camelbak at a record rate, slurping down whatever that high-powered stuff is he mixes up in his water.

We passed the first two rest stops without a pause, spinning along by the farms and Amish kids waving from the lawns. Lots of them were out on bikes also but the girls were in dresses and the boys had wide-brimmed hats and buttoned up shirts. No spandex or compression shorts but they all waved and smiled at the bike geeks. Speaking of the Amish, an interesting fact about their way of doing things is that they use steel wheels instead of rubber tires on their farm equipment. I sort of knew that but never thought about it much or realized what steel does to a paved road surface. The treads chew grooves in all directions whenever they move on or across the road. Zipping along on 23mm tires over those diagonal cuts in the asphalt felt like hitting rumble strips at 70 on the freeway. My hands started falling asleep from the vibration even with gloves on. Amish families also drive horse-drawn buggies instead of cars to get around, the key phrase being 'horse-drawn'. The motive power of these vehicles tends to 'exhaust' at random intervals which creates another minor obstacle to skinny tires without fenders. Nothing like hitting road-apples at high speed and throwing a stripe up the front and back of your jersey. Fortunately, a few miles down the road it was soon back to the usual expansion cracks, potholes and angry automobile drivers on our list of hazards.

By about mile 25, the pack had stretched out to the point where we almost thought we were riding alone. Then we hit a stretch of 3% grade which put a halt to any thoughts of making time for the moment. The climb up out of that valley was mercifully short but got me down into granny-low and Doc put on that gunfighter stare he does when his legs are on fire. We passed a couple of groups on the hill but as usual, a few exotics strolled by like they were on escalators. Showoffs.
Luckily the grade eased once we got out of the valley but it was still mostly uphill for what seemed like an awful lot of miles. A couple of further efforts at conversation on the cell were still pretty short and terse but at least I knew everyone else got out of the gate and was riding somewhere. Now if we could all just get back.

This being New York, the infamous Department of Transportation decided to tear up a portion of the route that was next on our cue sheet. This after everything was chalked and published for the Tour. Ah, summer in NY...road construction and visions of dust covered orange barrels. I'm all for off-roading, pounding dirt and that kind of thing but I normally do that with a mountain bike, not with drop bars and carbon forks. They just couldn't wait a couple more days to rip out that blacktop. We'd been given a hand-written detour sheet at sign-up which led us a merry chase around the missing pavement and added about 6 miles to the loop as a bonus. No big deal but it put in yet another climb and meant you had to back-track to get to one of the rest stops. We decided to pass on that one as well since there was another anti-bonk area about 14 miles further along and the weather was starting to look a little angry. It actually spit a few drops of rain at times but not enough to wet the road or fog my shades on the leg into Geneva. It was a long, mostly straight and downhill zoom into town and Doc and I traded drafts again to make up some time. The wind was behind us and it was smooth sailing right into the traffic lights and city streets.

Going into Geneva meant we had made the turn at the end of the lake and were now on the return side of the map. So far, so good. Legs feeling strong, no mechanical troubles, still one full Gatorade in the frame and lots of time left. Out of the city traffic and back out in the open on the southbound stretch. The wind was now in our face and that cut about 3 mph off our pace but Doc tucked in my wind shadow again and we put away the last stretch to a rest stop. More to follow...

No comments: