Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Lon Was Right

Lon was right.

At our finish line banquet in Tybee Island after the Southern Transcontinental, he cautioned us to not be surprised if we found ourselves (body and spirit) going through some changes the first weeks after returning home. We had all been focused to the point of obsession for 6, 12, 18 months preparing for and then riding the 26 day transcon. Now, as soon as the dinner was over and we'd said our good-byes to our sojourning companions, our lives would return to "normal." But normal would forever be redefined. There would be as many definitions are there were riders.

For me, I found it took my body about three months to decompress, revitalize my immune system, and return to more traditional eating and sleeping patterns. But the hardest was figuring out where I wanted to go next cycling-wise.

I had been dreaming about this transcon for more than 30 years--since the early '80's when Lon first did RAAM. I knew I'd never race across the country, but I knew I needed to ride across it.

In the '80's our kids were school age so taking off a month was unthinkable. Then in the '90's I was undergoing back surgeries and endless rehab. But by 2001 I was back on a bike, a recumbent this time, learning how to ride all over again after the 11 year hiatus on account of the back deal.

One day in 2004 I woke up and realized if I was going to do this transcon thing, I'd better hurry. As Lisa said in "My Cousin Vinny," my biological clock was ticking--not for birthing babies, but for celebrating a birthday (60) after which transcons just may be less possible. That's how it all got started. But now it was finished. I can punch out a century any day I want. So what was going to challenge me? That has remained the question on my mental table for nearly four months.


After my Florida solo, self-contained expedition with maps from local 7-11's I decided never again. Thanks to Tom, a Garmin aficionado, I, too, am now Garminized. I got the 76CSx and am in the process of trying to get the 300K Brevet route loaded before I go to Desert Camp March 3rd. It'll be good practice for loading the 200K Brevet and our other daily desert routes.

I'll be riding Week 2 of PAC Tour's 7 weeks in the desert. . Week 2 is Coaching Week chosen because I can ride a 200K Brevet on Wednesday and a 300K on Saturday after our return to Tucson after having ridden out of Sierra Vista for the week. The daily mileage is modest (60-85) which is just about right given that I, and probably many other riders, have been cooped up indoors on our trainers for the last 4-6 weeks due to day-after-day of sub-zeros and now blankets of snow.

I'll be taking both the Lightning P-38 and the Sat'R Day. I've been looking forward to seeing what the Sat'R Day can do on back-to-back-to-back days plus some elevation and and climbs. But the seat issues encountered in Florida haven't been resolved yet. Rolf at the Hostel Shoppe in Stevens Point, WI and Dave at Bike Friday are working on a fix, but it won't be ready for Desert Camp. So, I plan to switch bikes as needed to avoid nuking my back and butt on an ill-fitted seat.

I mailed off a 53 pound box of stuff to my son, Daniel, who lives in Tucson--bike stuff, professional stuff, and just plain stuff. Since I'll be in Tucson for three weeks I'll hub at his house as I move between training at The Meadows , business development with several Arizona-based treatment centers, launching some professional writing projects, and adding to my bentwanterding .

If you're ever in Tucson be sure to check out Daniel's band that plays regularly at cool Tucson venues.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Florida on a Sat'R Day

This pix was taken in Chicago when the temp was in the teens--hence the winter gear.

I’m back from a joy-filled (mostly) 200 mile ride from Orlando to Delray Beach on my new Sat’R Day pulling the trailer. Lots of firsts for me.

Thank you, Tom, for the route. Without it I couldn’t have made it, for sure. I bought street maps along the way but I couldn’t get good county maps—just this town and that and sometimes there were several towns in between. (Think I see a Garmin in my future).

I had originally planned to ride from Ocklawaha to Titusville on Sunday, January 21st but opted out of that. I got spooked thinking about riding the Sat’R Day for its first long ride, pulling a loaded trailer for the first time, riding roads many of which had limited to no shoulders while negotiating the likes of Orlando late Sunday afternoon. So the good folks at The Refuge, the treatment center I’d been visiting for three days, gave me a lift to the east side of Orlando.

I left at 7:00 a.m. on Monday the 22nd for what I thought would be an 85 mile day. The police pulled me over at 7:45 and told me I couldn’t ride across the NASA Causeway until 8:30 a.m. because of the morning rush. (I was re-appreciating all the route scouting and P arrows PAC does to minimize these kinds of interruptions). So I hung out along side the road for 45 minutes being eaten by red ants and mosquitoes. (Insect repellant was not on my packing list for January having left Chicago in the teens).

I fully expected this would be a different kind of ride, but didn’t have a clue what to expect in terms of perceived effort or what I’d be capable of speed-wise pulling 50 pounds of gear. The day couldn’t have been more perfect weather-wise—blue, blue skies, about a 12-15 mph head to cross-wind. It was a slow go, though—about 12 mph riding speed and about 10 mph for total elapsed time. I was surprised to feel early in the day like I was having trouble managing my fluid and electrolyte intake/output. Some of the tell-tale hyponatremia symptoms nagged my kidneys and my head. (Being hospitalized with hyponatremia in 2004 after the Cochise 157 miler remains a clear memory and present danger.) I was super conscientious about restricting my fluids to 1 oz per mile. Best I can tell my body was doing its super-sensitive thing to the sudden change in temperature and humidity.

The Optima seat on the Sat’R Day was a real challenge causing cramps and spasms in my left butt. I had to stop every 10 miles to deal with butt issues. I had made several tweaks in the stock seat padding before the ride but knew that the seat was probably going to be an issue on this extended ride—maybe even a Sat’R Day deal-breaker for me. I spent the evening working on my bod, consulting with Deb (my PT/trainer/coach). By morning I was ready to ride again. Day 1’s expected 85 miles turned into being 107. I got panicky when I still had another 15 miles to go and only had an hour of light (thanks to the NASA Causeway delay, longer than expected mileage, and frequent stops to deal with butt issues). I called Kirk in the height of my dysfunctional anxiety. He was wonderful, as always. He did the map quest thing from where I was at the moment and “GPS’d” my route for me through Ft. Pierce to my hotel. The last 1-2 miles were in uncivil twilight.

Jerry, A1A was really very user-friendly. Great ped-way safely off to the edge of the busy 2-lane road whose road surface was every bit as good as the road itself. The few places where I was on Route 1 there was also a sidewalk. Going 10-12 mph hopping the sidewalk was not a big deal.

Day 2 Ft. Pierce to West Palm was a beautiful, beautiful ride. For many miles I thought I was actually riding through a botanic garden. And then, of course there were bodies of water visible off and on to both the east and west of me. I expected Day 2 to be about 50 miles. But my best calculations always came up short. So Day 2 was actually 67 miles. No trouble this day with fluid management. Weather was about the same, except I had the gift of a tail wind. I still restricted my fluids to 1 oz per mile. (The only time I have ever exceeded that since the Cochise happening was when I was in the desert on The Southern when I increased my intake to 1 ½ ounces per mile). My left butt was much more amenable to the seat, too —still not nearly as comfortable as the Lightning seat, but I had hope it would not have to be a Sat’R Day deal breaker.

Housekeeping was still making up my room in West Palm when I arrived so Erin, my housekeeper, regaled me with stories about her two friends who loved to ride their bikes. Two months ago they were crossing the Singer Bridge (which I had just crossed about an hour before) and a drunk driver stuck them both. One was thrown over the bridge and died immediately upon impact (the sand, not the water), the other was dragged the distance of the bridge and also killed. Her second story was about this young teen who had been shot and killed this very morning about 1 block from where I had paused to take a phone call from the treatment center I’d come to work with in West Palm. My prayers were for gratitude for safe passage at the end of Day 2.

Day 3 was a brief ride—West Palm to Delray Beach—actually Lantana as I couldn’t get a room in Delray. Today’s adventure was Motel 6 itself. Of my goodness. Let’s just say I slept with all my luggage up against the door and my trusty Swiss army knife on my pillow. That was probably all overkill (no pun intended), but it certainly had less than a one star feel to it despite that being Travelocity’s rating.

Would I do a solo, self-contained ride again? Absolutely.

What would I do differently? What’s next?

  • Well, for starters I’d make certain my daily distance diet was less than a confirmed 70 miles per day.
  • I’ll talk with Bike Friday to see what they can recommend to make it less butt traumatic. Comfy would be really nice.
  • Kirk knows a Garmin GPS is on my wish list.
  • Looking forward to taking the Sat’R Day to Desert Camp to see how it does on the hills, with skinnier tires, and back-to-back higher mileage, and hopefully an improved seat.