Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Calvin's Challenge

Jeff Rogers

Calvin’s was handedly one of my most gratifying one-day rides. Yes, the 186.5 miles in 11:30 felt good, actually really good; but the gratification was much more about all the little things that I learned and changes that I made between Calvin’s 2010 and Calvin’s 2011.

For starters I had never “raced” and actually didn’t think, in 2010, of Calvin’s as being a race. Yes, I knew it was timed, but...just naive, I’d say. So, in 2010 I didn’t think racing strategies. Just showed up to ride.

2011 I was thinking ‘race’ and showed up early at the start along the HS driveway semi-circle that served as Loop Counting and Start/Finish and staked out a golden spot for my cooler full of non-allergenic goodies to sustain me through the ride and into the long evening at the Awards Ceremony.

2010 I was still getting sick, sick, sick in the stomach, every time I rode and didn’t know why. Who woulda’ thunk that Hammer HEED was a performance stopper. But, shortly after Calvin’s 2010, thanks to a hot tip from Sandy Earl, I eliminated HEED and I eliminated getting sick! So, what’s in my bottles now? One scoop of Hammer Sustained Energy and 2 scoops of Clif Electrolyte Replacement Drink--a winning combo for me.

Embarrassed to say, but I’ve also become a fan of RedBull; I’m otherwise, compulsively attentive to what I put into my fuel tank. But April 30th at Calvin’s 2011 three small cans of Red Bull were in my cooler--my special treat after each 50 mile loop.

2010 I rode my Lightning P-38, my steady friend for 7 +/- years and 80,000+ miles. But in 2011 I showed up on my new-to-me Bacchetta Ti Aero. Don’t think I was imagining things, but what a HUGE difference this bike did make. I’m a believer in the B!!!

Added a new Bent Up Cycles Aero Seat Bag which allowed me to carry 2 more water bottles, in addition to the 2 mounted on my carbon seat frame. Clearly helps to be able to go twice as long without having to change out bottles.

That the weather was PERFECT, even by non-Calvin’s standards--no rain, decent temp, but yes, some wind, along with no mechanicals added to the days gratification.

My goal was to ride a 300k (186 miles) in 12 hours. That seemed quite attainable given my times for several round-trip jaunts to Milwaukee and a recent 300k. I made my goal at 11:30. I chose not to ride another 7 mile loop, although I had plenty of time to do so. Somehow 193 just didn’t have a ring to it, and I didn’t have time to do 2 more loops and hit the coveted 200 miles in 12 hours.

Had I 4 bottles on my bike and 4 more bottles pre-filled, so all I had to do was swap them out, and had I known that, if all conditions were right, a 200 was within reach, I’m confident I could have hit that mark, as well.
While there will not be another Calvin’s in my future, since we’re moving to Tucson in the Fall, there will be lots of WARM 300k’s, 200 milers, and 12-Hr’s out in AZ and Southern CA which will be fun opportunities for me to push my limits.

Thanks Calvin’s!!

Monday, May 09, 2011

GLR 200k

The Great Lakes Randonneur’s 200k (GLR) was my 2011 ‘debut’ organized ride on my new-to-me Bacchetta Ti Aero and was it a successful, joyful ride!

The Super 8 in Delavan, WI is GLR start-finish headquarters. Compared to true Ultracyclists I’m just a dabbler in the margins, but then I got started in this this long distance stuff only about five years ago at age 60. Reflecting on my first 200k with GLR in 2007 I knew no other riders. Four years later I knew about a third of the 25-30 riders whose fingers were crossed for “decent” April midwest weather. Indeed we were blessed by a brief respite from the endless rains of April. The wind, however, didn’t let us forget it was still in charge. The good news was that we got the 25-30 mph head and cross winds over with in the first 100 miles. The last 30 miles were then full of tailwind sweetness.

I had visions of riding some miles with Jeff Rogers, my nearly-next-door-riding buddy, and Bettina Cuneo,a fellow Vision Quest member. But the next day was Easter and Kirk (my husband) and I were to join our daughter and her family for a pre-Easter dinner in Algonquin, IL at 5:30. That meant I had to complete the ride by 4:00, be in the car by 4:30 to be at dinner by 5:30. So, a steady pace was the operative which meant I really didn’t share any miles with Jeff or Bettina. :-(

But, an unexpected joy was the appearance of Scott Christopherson, riding a Volae, appeared by my side at about mile 7. Usually the way these side-by-sides work out is you say howdy-do and after less than 5 minutes you both realize that your paces/riding styles are not matched and one of you pulls ahead and out of sight. But not so with Scott. We rode and rode and rode together ending up riding the next 120 miles together pulling, pushing, and challenging each other along the way.

Scott was worth his weight in proverbial gold when at mile 71 I flatted. The sodden pavement from 2 weeks of rain, and especially from the pouring the night before, cursed many riders with flats. My 36 mm valve stem on my spare tube was too short for my slightly aeroed Velocity Spartacus rims. Fortunately I had thrown in a second spare tube with a 48 mm valve stem. But, time-wise, what that meant was we got to change this tire twice.

I would have made it back to the Super 8 by 4:00 had I not had the flat; I made it to Algonquin by 6:00 instead of 5:30, and was able to share a quick bite of Easter Dinner before heading off to Easter Eve services.

My take-aways from this ride were several:
1) my network of riding buddies and contacts have greatly expanded in the last 4-5 years. I attribute most all of that connectedness to being a part of the PAC Tour family.

2) Recumbents DO, indeed, ride differently than uprights. I have known that, but when I look the camaraderie sustained over long miles that I shared with 6 other bents at the NOLA 300k in February and on this 200k with Scott, it put a huge underscore on that reality.

3) I’m rally looking forward to doing more brevets, 12-HR challenge rides and Double Centuries after we move to Arizona later this year.