Sunday, August 05, 2007

Bipolar 175

My friend, Barb, called this ride “bipolar” given that I went South, North, and then South again. Or maybe she was just thinking I am plain crazy to do this stuff.

Anyhow, The Cochise Classic, a 252 mile ride out of Douglas, AZ, is in only two months (October 13th). It’s an unsupported, timed ride that draws only the hard core, mostly AZ-based racers. Only about 20 participate, only 1 or 2 from out of state, only 1 or 2 females, only about 1 or 2 my age, and no other recumbents. So, the training is on big time to ready myself for my own self-assigned goal of completing the 252 miles in 16 hours. For me that’s a touchable, but possibly audacious goal requiring an elapsed average speed of 15.75 mph. So, I have to ride even faster than that average to accommodate stops to pee, refuel, change out a tire, or take care of any other road business that comes along.

Bryan and Daniel will be crewing for me. Thanks to my crewing for RAAM this year I learned a lot about how they can crew that will minimize my off-the-bike time which, along with the unknown and uncontrollable AZ wind factor, will be the two largest deciding factors of my success with my 16 hour goal.

So, to that end Saturday, August 4th, was a 175 mile ride. “Ride Illinois” was hosting an 87 mile Tri-State Tour originating in Hammond, IN and concluding in Kenosha, WI. I figured if I rode TO Hammond, hooked up with those guys, rode to Kenosha, and took the long route home from Kenosha I could get 175 miles in. I arrived home with 175.04. Can’t get any more precise than that, I don’t think.

The start out of Hammond was 6:00 a.m. which meant I needed to leave my house at 3:00 a.m. It doesn’t take 3 hours to ride 35 miles, but there was the darkness factor to attend to.

I really like night riding. So quiet, no traffic. If I did very much of it in unlighted areas I would definitely want to get a Schmitt hub to through some good light on my path. But given that I live in one of the several most brightly illuminated cities in the US, as seen from satellite pix, a Schmitt hub won’t be my next big purchase.

A few encounters of the night-kind were either predictable or poignant. For those of you who know the Lake Front Path, it was about 4:00 a.m. and I was at Recreation Drive on The Path when three 30-something females were coming toward me. They were dressed in their partying clothes, carrying their heels, each walking alone with that weary, the-night-used-me-up, all alone countenance about them. They were not together, just happened there were three of them at about the same place and the same time. For those of you who don’t know The Path, this is not a Path to home. It is a Path were the whole world of Chicago cyclists, runners, and bladers, do their daily workout thing, or do a north-south bike commute. So why a single female is walking this part of The Path at 4:00 a.m., one of the few places on The Path that is not lighted… Well, I don’t know the answer to that question, but what ever the answer is, can only be a sad one, I think.

My second encounter, by the Oak Street Beach Curve, was with a harmless African-American drunk. One of my two front headlights fell off my bike, right in front of him. So, nothing to do but stop, get off, and get my light. I made some friendly comment about losing my light to which he regaled himself with an a-humorous comment about losing virginity. He was still laughing at his “joke” as I rode off. So much for 4:15 a.m. drunk humor. I gave up putting the fallen-off light back on, looked at the sky and knew, with gratitude, that by the time I hit the blight of NW IN, there would be enough light in the sky to not need my 2nd headlight.

My third encounter was down by Grand Ave. and The Path. About a dozen folks are mingling about. I’m assuming they are all under the influence of something, if nothing else than fatigue. So, I announce my upcoming presence and this one African-American guy, who is so drunk I can smell the alcohol as I whiz past at 16 mph, shouts out, “Whoa! What kind a bike that is?” I chuckled at his syntax.

The ride to Kenosha was uneventful. I didn’t want to ride a good portion of the “official” course as it was a lot of bike paths crowded with weekenders, tree roots, and pot holes—not a rubber-side down combination. The ride organizer was sympathetic and was totally fine with my riding off-SAG when I wanted.

I got to the Kenosha terminus with 125 miles on my odometer and there was not another cyclist or crew member around. I called the ride organizer thinking I was at the wrong shelter in this park, or something. I said, “I’m here, where are you guys?” “I’m in Lake Forest”, he said. Now that is at least 20 miles back!! Well, I thanked him for the ride and told him since I had 50 more miles to go, I was heading on home.

Stopped for lunch at Franks Diner. I’ve been hearing about this place of landmark-fame for quite awhile and never took the time to check it out. Today was the day. It’s a made in an old train car that landed in Kenosha in 1926. Truly a place to visit if you’re ever hungry in Kenosha. Check it out.

Finished the ride with an average moving speed of 16 mph, not including the 35 miles in the dark. The moving speed is respectable, but not good enough for a Cochise 252 in 16 hours. More work to be done. But, all in all, a most excellent day on the bike.

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