My training to recover from the cycling malaise of 2013 quietly continues. Most of my updates will have to wait for a separate post, because the main event today is my writeup of Sunday’s excellent Rando Ramble. My Monday training rides have been going pretty decently and I’ve built my endurance back up to the point where 90-some hilly miles on the bike doesn’t sound too bad. A few weeks before the ride once Bob posted his plans I emailed back and forth with Ken and he asked if I wanted to start from his place. Some of my plans for the day included riding from home and I routed an intersection from around the Monkton area bypassing the first 10 or so miles of the route. I felt ready for a hilly 96 or 7 that coasts back to the start and the ‘from home’ routes were stacking up to about 115/120 with a bunch of hills in the last 10 of each. After a little back and forth I settled on driving to the start at dawn and getting a jump on the group again. Ken said we could meet along the way and finish the ride like Pylesville with a drink at a local establishment. Sounds good to me.
I was awake and out the door early and pulled into the Ashland Shopping Center parking lot around 6:30. As I was leaving I heard Isaias shout my name from the Dunkin Donuts. He had ridden from home and got there early because he thought the ride started at 7. I kind of wanted to hang out, but I’d already had my coffee and knew I’d need all the time I could get. Training is going well, but I’ve noticed over the years as spring and summer progresses it goes well for everybody in the group so I don’t expect to ever actually catch anyone–just not get caught as fast.
Part of my undocumented experimentation over the past month has been caving to Ken and picking up a heart rate monitor to experiment with training/riding in zones. When I told him via email last week he said he couldn’t wait to see my setup and went on to describe me pulling a hospital style ekg monitor in a trailer behind me on the bike. I’m not that much of a luddite thanks… Starting with long steady rides I’ve watched my average rate, peaks and dips to get a baseline for how hard I can push myself over a day in the saddle. I’ve also taken note of how I feel over the next days as an indication of just how hard I’ve been pushing myself based on recovery times. All that research was to find a power output I can dial in and stick to all day without blowing up too soon or not pushing myself hard enough. With my preliminary ‘magic number’ in hand I took off. The first few miles were easy pace as usual. There were runners out training for a race ‘en massé’ leaving right at dawn like me so I got caught in traffic for about a mile but it thinned out very quickly. Once I turned off the trail at Monkton and up Wesley Chapel Rd. the fun began. I did pretty well controlling my max on the hills and was pushing a little harder on the descents. This section has some of my favorite scenery for the day so I just basked in being out early on a Sunday morning and alone with my thoughts. Every day the same again. Before I knew it I was back on the trail. 5 miles or so of crushed limestone and I was ready to climb again at Freeland Rd. This route is a tough one to rely solely on the gps because it’s easy for my unit to make a mistake and send you off on the ‘mile 80’ route instead of the ‘mile 20’ route at intersections. That being said the Garmin was not at fault for anything today. At mile 24 I drifted off a bit between monitoring my pulse and climbing a hill causing me to miss a turn. By the time I noticed my mistake the closest correction on the map was Middletown Rd. which I intersected with about a mile before the cue stated. I wasn’t sure what had happened until I approached the trail and recognized the single lane bridge on Dairy road I had just ridden across 13 miles earlier. %$!@–There goes my lead.
Nothing to do by that point but ride back to where I screwed up and get it right the second time. I thought about taking a trail shortcut to get back on track for a second but it was too early and I was too fresh to cheat so I kept spinning. The first rest stop is in New Freedom at the Rutters. I’d been eating on the bike a bit all morning and my bottles were still in good shape so I made the executive decision to skip it. I made a small wrong turn in town but it only took me a minute to sort out and I was on my way. P.J. later told me that he had seen me climbing the hill from the rest stop as they were arriving.
I took back roads up to Glen Rock where I hopped back on the trail for one of the smoother sections in the entire route. North of Seven Valleys it was back to the streets for a few miles. At some point around here I intersected with Andy and Rita who were backtracking to find the group along the road. They kept going south in search of the group and I kept chugging north. Between here and York I screwed up again one more time in exactly the same place I did 2 years ago…
I Flew down the hill past Messersmith. When looping around the Garmin said R on Messersmith and I blindly obeyed. Then I turned on Tunnel Hill because I saw that on the cue (we intersect with it but not for another mile up the road). Needed a compass to get this one figured out–got to Genova’s in one piece though. I had enough time to sit down, get a drink, send some texts and order before P.J. and the rest of the group pulled up. Damn I had been hoping for at least a half-hour lead but at least I didn’t get caught at mile 25 like last month…
It was a good lunch and it was nice to catch up for a bit. By the time the check came I was really itching to get going. I’d been off the bike for around 1 hour, 45 minutes and was wondering if I had it in me to ride back. Definitely second-guessing the mug of Yuengling. On the trail I found the southern headwind that I had thought was a westerly all morning long. Nothing to do but watch as the peloton cruised away. In the first off road section I intersected with Dave (#3 or new #1) who needed a cue. Luckily I had snagged a souvenir from Bob at lunch to pass on. He offered to give me a pull through the wind back up to the group but I declined as the hills are just as much of a challenge for me and I don’t have it in me to run that hot even if I did catch up. Just like last time that section kind of sucked. I had maybe 2/3 a glass of beer at lunch and given the unseasonable temps for the day it was probably a bad idea. I was suffering from dry-mouth and rationing my water all the way to the Rutters in New Freedom even though I had 2 bottles with me for a combined 40 oz of liquid. I chipped away at the hills and made it back to Glen Rock for one of the only on-trail sections that is a mental drain–the 5 mile 2% grade south to New Freedom which coincides nicely with my mile 85 slump. My heart rate was drifting down into the low 130’s but I could feel in my legs that I didn’t want to push too much harder. There was a train running the route from Glen Rock along the trail with kids waving from the windows and I was matching pace for a bit. It was nice to have something to look at and take my mind off of the gravel for a while. Back at the Rutters for the second time I felt a break was in order. I checked out with an ice-cream cone, a jug of water and a bag of salty pretzel bits for later just in case I could feel my legs cramping up. I saw a few of the guys sitting inside and thought everyone else had long since left so I sat down and joined the conversation. When we stepped outside later it turns out most everyone was sitting out on the side of the building. Ken, Isaias and I talked about cutting the route short. I was getting tired but still had energy to burn so I pulled out of the Rutters with the intention of finishing the route exactly as cued. The downhill section of trail in Maryland boosted my spirits, but when I got to the turnoff point (just before mile 91 above) and saw the same hill that I already climbed 2 times earlier today I decided to skip that offroad section. I missed Mt. Zion and Gore Mill, but got 15 extra miles doubling back so it was a wash. Approaching Monkton I caught up with Ken. The rest of the group caught up with us (they were behind because they decided to ride a few extra roads in the off-trail section ‘just because’) a few minutes later. When we got to Monkton we stopped for a few minutes to stretch and enjoy the view. Bob rolled in and we decided to knock out the last on-road section together. There were a few hills but nothing compared to the morning or early afternoon. Not 20 minutes later we hit the trail again and the ride back to the start was gravy.
Best part of the day – getting a few minutes to hang out with the group…
We loitered in the parking lot for a little bit, then Ken and I piled in the sag wagon and drove over to the Iron Horse Tavern at Sanders’ Corner for a round or 2 of beers and appetizers. Final word, another good ride in the books. Thanks to Bob and all. Hope to see you on the Monument Ride.
Distance: 110.2mi | moving time: 9h28m | avg: 9.3 | mv avg: 12.9 | elev: 6987′
Loooooong lunch killed the overall average. When it comes to moving time, the garmin says 9.5 hours and ridewithgps says 7.75 hours. Different algorithms for calculating what’s “stopped”? Weird. Felt pretty good the day after so I guess I had 110 in me after all.