Ride Around Kent County

Ride Around Kent County is a road tour that touches each of Kent County's four corners. Estimated at 147 miles, I knew it would be a long day in the saddle, it was sort of a last minute decision, but I had to try it.

My legs, mind and body felt alive and well all the way up to about the 95 mile mark. I was climbing well, decending fast. I found some evenly paced fellow Rapid Wheelmen to spend almost all day with (Susanne, Randy and Jim). Jim later peeled off as he was doing the 100 miler. But Susanne, Randy and I were all pretty well matched.

So the three of us pretty much spent all day taking turns leading pacelines, drafting and making small chit-chat. It wasn't until the stretch headed west that I really started to feel the pain. I kept getting dropped and even the slightest incline sent my speeds sub 10's. My legs were dead, mentally I wasn't with it either. (My self-test for this, is doing math, and I couldn't simply subtract 97 from 147 as I kept coming up with 40 miles left). Until I reached the 107 mark, I realized THEN, I had 40 miles left, and I knew something was happening. Onset of bonk.

It was hot out. 91 degrees to be exact. Garmin says 95. I don't function well in hot weather anyways, but I couldn't understand my issues. I had taken all the nutrition I normally would on long rides and had fought off two weak headaches (onset of dehydration) by taking on more fluids. So I knew to keep that up. I had eaten all the crap gels and chews I could, and it got to the point where drinking didn't taste good either. There was no coming out of this funk.

I think I was simply overheated and out of gas. It pained me to have to send everyone off and get a ride back with the SAG (thanks "SAG Matt" for the ride), but I knew feeling as bad as I was, I would not be able to survive the continuous heat, the varied up and down of Fruit Ridge Road....all into a headwind. I may have been able to complete the ride, however, it would have ruined my day, night and probably my Sunday. As it was, today (Sunday), I was still feeling the effects up until around noon. Just braindead, feeling like I had gotten hammered the night before. Unable to come up with simple words, easy to get agitated and dizzy when standing up quickly. Weird.

While I was getting a ride in the SAG wagon, we had to stop and pick up a young kid named Chris. Chris has severely bonked, he later said he stopped at an intersection with his group and went to put his feet down and immediately fell over and couldn't get back up. He actually hardly remembers it. When we arrived, we saw him laying under a shade tree, drinking from a glass of water presumably from the house he was laying in front of. He sat up to talk to us and was barely speaking, his face caked in salt he had lost in sweating. He was unable to open the door to the truck, so we had to help him in. Matt explained to him really slowly that he was going to take his bike and put it in the back and he should sit down. All he said was "okay", "uh-huh". He was really slow, and stared at us like he was drunk. He later came out of it somewhat, but he was in bad shape. All I could do was think to myself, "this could have been me in another 1.5 hours".

Anyways, 114 miles is my longest ever, and I did get to reach all 4 corners of Kent County. But next time, I'll hope to complete the ride. And mother nature: next time, please, please be cooler.


Marissa's First Trail Ride

Marissa had been counting down the days till her first trail ride for the last two weeks. I got a reminder every day. If she only knew that I had been counting down for this day to come for the last 6 years.

We rode the blue loop at Luton Park in Rockford. It is relatively flat, void of any technical obstacles. She was excited, maybe nervous when she saw all the cars in the lot this afternoon. I told her there were some rules and gave her the "courtesy breakdown" - as in if I yell at her to stop, that means pull over because there are others coming up on us on the trail. We had to use that a few times - overall she did very good listening.

We rode around once, then I asked her if she wanted to go again and the answer was "YES! how about right now?" So we did. Then she proceeded to tell me that I didn't need to give her directions any more, that she knew the way, and would let me know when she was confused.

She talked almost the whole way.

"Wow, there's a barn out here. I bet you knew that didn't you dad? You just didn't want to give away the surprise."

"Oh, there's a robin. Yup, that is a robin, it has a orange chest."

"Those are pretty flowers. Of course flowers live in the forest too, not just at people's houses."

"Woah, that was a big bump. Did you see that daddy?"

"Are we out of the forest yet? This looks like a field."

"HEY, I saw a monarch butterfly. That must be one of mine. Oh wait, except that mine were Painted Ladies." (she recently grew and released butterflies and expects them to be near her all the time, and to come back to visit the house.)

I had to keep interrupting with "Yes, honey, I know." "Yup, I see that, watch where you are going." "See that hill? Pedal! Pedal! Pedal! Go fast!"

As expected, there were a few tears. She got stung by a bee for the first time yesterday, so today when she was riding and a "bug" (maybe a fly) smacked her in the face, she slammed on the brakes and started freaking out and crying thinking it was a sting-crazy bee. It only took about 10 seconds for me to calm her down, assuring her it was not a bee, then away we went.

She was afraid to go down a few hills, so we walked. She couldn't quite make it up a few inclines and had to walk some more, did really well though on the rest. She excitedly said she would like to come back again this summer.

In the end, what a beautiful day. Full sun, not a cloud in the sky, 70 degrees and a daddy with his daughter on her first trail ride.

I will say, even though it was Mother's Day, it felt like Father's Day.

The purple 16" Trek Mystic with excited rider ready for action.

This was my view for our brief ride. Funny to see her legs going so fast.

You can't see them, but trust me, her lips are moving right now.

Quick photo op where Blue intersects Black.

Walking up the last incline. "Are your legs tired?"
"No, they're fine, but my arms hurt." HA HA

Only 4 or 5 more years till I can do this all over again with my son.
Let the countdown begin.


Cannon Cruise.

Layed down some good miles today. Likaboom. Felt great.

Almost 18mph average, 6500 calories burned.



I'm getting super nervous about an upcoming ride I have signed up for March 19.

I checked my 2012 activities and the longest ride I've done was 35 miles in March (on the mountain bike) - otherwise my other rides average around 20 miles. The ride I'm doing is significantly more miles than this (watch for updates) - so I'm super excited to see if I (mainly my arse) will survive.

This Saturday morning's Cannon Cruise should help me figure that out, but all I can do at this point is pray, because it's too late to do anything about it now.

Let it ride.


Ft. Custer Stampede

Though definitely not my first time riding Custer, it was my first race there. I thought the route was okay, especially given the fact that there really wasn't that much climbing to do. I'm a terrible climber and fell UPHILL 3 times within the first 5 miles (this happens when I'm trying too hard to keep pace). I didn't feel right from the start. I have never ridden a race in the afternoon either, so I'm sure my nutrition and hydration schedule were all "off". So after 5 miles, I was already feeling 1/2 empty. Granny kicked my a$$ in her (stupid) garden, I had to walk up the final climb both times. Why does granny have to be so mean?

I signed up for Sport class, men 35-39. There were only 32 or so registered riders in my class. Sport - two (2) laps, each lap about 9.5 miles long. So, you do the math...out of gas, after 5 out of 19 miles, I was already being to flake out about how the finish was going to be. Not a good spot mentally to be in at the start of the race.

Since most of the route was on single track, at times there were lines of men on bikes waiting to pass slower riders. I don't think I ever had anyone ride past me that was pissed that they had to wait in line for me. I was spending my extra breath to queue them up and say, "ready!? up here, take it", or "you coming?" or "you need some?". I just didn't want anyone else other than me to pay for my slowness. Everyone said thanks, so somewhere deep down inside, I was glad I could help them reach their goal even if I wasn't going to reach mine. (my own cheap way of pretending to be satisfied, when my total day was $hit.)

At mile 14 (4.5 miles from the finish) I noticed that my rear tire was sliding out from underneath me. Handling was beginning to become a big problem. I looked down and saw pressure was dwindling. At the next available spot (at the top of "Endo Junction") I stopped to try topping off with a CO2 cartridge. It held for about 10 seconds, then I could feel the tire becoming soft right away. If I were to finish the race at all, I had to replace the tube. And so the next 10-15 minutes was filled with a (very) tired, shaky and dizzy (starting to bonk) man peeling away the tire and tube and trying to get it all seated in just right and fumbling with the CO2 fitments. My second (and last) CO2 cartridge blew out the stem seal O-ring thingy, so I only got about 15 lbs of air in the new tube before ice cold CO2 was shooting out everywhere. F@*k!

All kinds of people (and friggin kids) went zooming by. Many asked if I was okay, I answered ("yup, thanks") knowing that if I said "eff no, m-effer, don't you see me here with a flat tire!? My sugar is low and I don't know where I am right now. How am I even standing up!? Where am I? I want my mommy!", they'd be gone so fast, they'd never hear anything more than russian mumbling after "eff no, m-effer", so what's the point in telling the truth?

Anyways, I planned on cruising the last 4 miles on a flat tire at 5 mph just to finish, when behold, SPECTATORS only 100 yards away! At this point, it was like seeing a mirage of bikini-laden brunettes applying lotion to each other on the horizon. (well, maybe not that fancy), so I pulled aside and asked a question: "You don't happen to have a pump do you?" The guy excitedly answered, "yeah! anything else you need, tube or something?" and ran to his minivan to fetch a pump and even pumped the air for me. I requested 40 lbs, and that is what he precisely put in it. I made sure to thank him, shake his hand and off I went. I think he was waiting all dang day to help someone out - he was so excited. Again, glad I could help keep someone else happy.

At least at this point, I was CRUSHING the slow riders and blowing by every last one of them I was so pissed (and now somewhat rested), till I was riding by myself. When I got to the finish line, everyone was having fun, drinking beer and socializing all I wanted to do was get changed, pack up and head home. I felt like I had missed everything.

I'm guessing I finished dead last in my age group (I didn't even check) - so next time I do this race I'm (almost) guaranteed significant improvement. So I got that going for me, which is nice.

Oh, and for the record, this was the fifth time out of six, riding Custer in the last 2 years where I have left with blood on the outside of my skin, instead of inside. At least, that is one thing I could count on.

I felt like garbage and performed even worse, but all-in-all it was still fun. I guess the basic reason for doing any of this in the first place. I should be happy about that at least. I don't know. Will I ever be satisfied? Probably not.