Sunday, June 19, 2011

Morning Ride

I got up early this morning for a ride, although I didn't get out of the house until 8:30. A cup of coffee, look at the paper, eat my cereal, another cup of coffee, check the blogs, another cup of coffee... Well, you get the idea.

Since the wind was coming from the southeast (that took a half-cup of coffee to check), I figured I'd better head southeast and check out the windmills that are being built over in Ohio.

On the way down, I couldn't help but notice how good the crops looked. It's been exceptionally wet here all spring, and planting was delayed - especially for corn. But almost everything is now planted and even the late planted crops look very good.

Here are a few photos of crops on an Amish farm in my neighborhood. All of these fields below are right next to each other and make for good diversity for good soil health and reduced pest pressure. This is a new alfalfa seeding. It grows all growing season and can be cut for hay 3 or 4 times during the season, and will produce for 3 or 4 years.

Here's a field of oats. There aren't too many oats planted - they'll probably be used to feed horses. They'll be ready to cut in a couple weeks.

The king of crops - corn. This corn looks very good. "Knee-high by the 4th of July" is the saying, but this corn will be knee-high by this Friday.

Soybeans. Looking good.

And here's the farm across the road.

Twenty miles later and I'm close to the windmills. Since it was really hazy this morning, I couldn't see how many have been built, but it's over 20 now. The plan is for 200+ windmills to eventually be built here. Oh, and this is winter wheat in the foreground. It'll be ready to harvest in another 3 weeks or so.

Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there!


Monday, June 13, 2011

Now This is What I'm Talking About!

After highs in the 60's up until last weekend, then highs in the upper 80's and lower 90's all last week, we finally got some decent weather yesterday and today. Today's high was a glorious 73 F, with light winds, and sunny skies. Very low humidity.

The kind of day when a person feels that all is good and right. When a person walks outside and says, "yes, I am really going to accomplish something today. But why would I, when I can just ride home and enjoy the scenery." And that's what I did!

County Road 29, south of Auburn.

Here's the small lake at the bottom of Lakewood Park hill.

The Cedarville Reservoir, just down the road from my home, looking more lovely than usual.

Rando panda. I picked up this jersey from the Ohio Randonneurs club.

Happy riding!


Thursday, June 9, 2011

600K DNF

Well, I won't keep you in suspense any longer. I didn't finish the 600K ride last Saturday/Sunday in Ohio. I did try to post Monday night, but blogger didn't want to upload my photos, and after the third try, I went to bed. Tonight's the first night I've had a chance to make this fateful post.

While I was disappointed I didn't finish the ride (I'll tell you what happened in a little bit...), I still had a really great time, for the most part. And I learned a great deal more about randonneuring.

We started on Saturday at 5:00am in Blue Ash, on the northeast side of Cincinnati. Did you notice that all of these starts look the same?

It was quite warm, I'm guessing in the low 70's. Our high temps weren't even in the 70's as little as 5 days prior to this ride. An ominous sign of things to come?

As the sun came up, it was a beautiful, warm, green morning. The abundant rains this spring have burst every bud imaginable with lush, green foliage and lovely bloom. After a few hours riding, I settled into a very reasonable rhythm. I felt very good and strong, especially on the hills. I soon found myself in a small pack with Toshi, below here, on the right hand side, and two tandems (I forgot all 4 names). I find riding with tandems to be fun, because there are twice as many people in one spot, and they fly on flat ground - a great vehicle behind which I can draft. On the uphills, however, they are quite slow. None of the tandem folk found it amusing when I offered to provide a draft up the hills for them.

Once we got into the hilly country, I dropped the tandems behind and out of sight. But Jim came into view coming down a hill from the opposite direction. He said we were going the wrong direction, but I knew I was right, because this portion of the route is the same as the 400K ride I did here 3 weeks ago.

A little while later, Jim came roaring back and caught up with me. Jim is quite the strong rider as he is able to cruise at a much higher speed on flat ground than I am. And he flies down hills. But I am able to keep up with him or go a little bit faster uphill than he. Here he is below, way ahead, up the hill.

And around the curve.

And around another curve.

Like I said, I was feeling very good, great, even! And the scenery was magnificent!

Everyone who could make hay was out today making it.

Pretty soon we were in West Union, almost 100 miles into the ride. I grabbed a quick bottle of water, got the brevet card signed, and headed right back onto my bike. About 10 miles outside of West Union, I had my first cramp - in the hamstring. Pretty soon, my right hamstring was really cramped up, and going up the steep hills really hurt. I walked up the steepest hills, then pedaled slowly on the downhills. Soon, my left hamstring cramped up. Damn! I still had at least 30 miles to Georgetown, the next control.

I was able to make it, but it took me over 3 more hours to cover that 30 miles. The temperature must have been above 95 degrees, and I was covered in buckets of sweat. By the time I got to Georgetown, I was totally beat. I sat in the United Dairy Farmers convenience store and slowly drank a big Gatorade. Then I filled my water bottles, bought another big gatorade and a big bottle of water and put those in my rack trunk, and headed out into the heat. I felt much better, but after 10 miles, the cramps were back. I still had 47 miles to go to get back to the next control - Blue Ash, where we started.

I kept riding, slowly, and still had to walk the steepest portions of the big hills. As I was almost out of water and Gatorade, I came upon this little park pavillion with a drinking fountain. I stopped here and spent quite a while. By this time, my breathing was shallow and rapid, even after I had stayed in the shade here for quite some time. I knew I was in trouble.

I managed to get back to Blue Ash (the hotel was the control). After I had the brevet card signed, I went across the road, bought a chicken sandwich, Klondike bar, and small bottle of chocolate milk and went back to my hotel room. I quickly devoured the food, took a cool shower, and layed down for an hour in the bed.

I got up and headed back out on the bike around 11:00 pm. Bob, the Regional Brevet Administrator (RBA), was in the room right next door. He was standing outside when I came out of my room, and he had his regular shorts and a t-shirt on. Bob and his wife, Patti, started the ride this morning also (on a tandem), but bailed because of the heat.

That put an idea in my head. I could bail. But I didn't want to. I got on the bike, and slowly, and painfully, pedaled out of town. By this time, the skies were lit up almost constantly by lightning from severe thunderstorms to the north - the direction I was headed. Since I had very little energy left in my legs, and they were immensely sore, I headed back into Blue Ash, turned over my brevet card to Bob, and went back to bed. Man, did I ever sleep good.

I awoke the next morning and headed for home. I wished I had drank much more water and Gatorade on the first part of the ride. The morning gradually became warmer, and I didn't pay attention to that, and became dehydrated. By the time I got to West Union, it was too late, the damage was done.

There were 35 people who started, but only 18 finished. Those 18 are tough, and experienced randonneurs. I am glad I got to ride with them, for a while. I'd like to say I'll attempt another 600K this year, but I'm not sure that I will. I'll definitely ride some more 200K's with these fine Ohio folk. For now, I'm just glad to still be riding.

Happy riding!


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Carbed Up, Lubed, Ready to Roll

I just came in from the garage, having completed the last-minute adjustments to my bike for Saturday's 600K, starting and ending in Blue Ash, OH. In what must have been a curious looking frenzy, I got the brilliant idea to count the teeth on all the chain rings on all my bikes, searching for the smallest chainring I could find. I ended up with the Shimano 600 crankset and chainrings I bought in 1979 to put on my Schwinn LeTour III. It is a beautiful crank, with a 52 large ring and 39 small ring. I used a 42 small ring on the 400K, and found it difficult to climb the steepest hills. But with the 39, it should be a little easier.

The Q-factor for the Shimano 600 crank and bottom bracket is narrower than for the stock Sakae crank and bottom bracket that came with the Trek when I purchased it new in 1986. After a test spin tonight, I forgot how sweet that narrow crank is - it feels so nice.

I replaced my old Gatorskins (I've been using those for training and for commuting) with the Pasela Tour Guard tires I also used on the 400K, making sure to put the tire that was in front on the 400K to the rear and vice versa. I also put in brand new tubes, and I have two new spare tubes, plus two patch kits and several tire boots. Plus 4 CO2 cartridges and my tiny hand pump. I'm taking the Gatorskins to leave in the truck, because we come back to the start at the half-way point. I should be good to go for tires and tubes anyway.

I readjusted the brakes, but left the saddle and handlebars exactly as they are, because they are very comfortable now as they are. I'm headed in to work tomorrow with the roosters, so I can come home early, throw everything in the back of my truck, and head to Cincinnati tomorrow night.

My worries over being able to finish the 600K have passed now. Somehow, fiddling with the bike and getting all my stuff ready has helped make the ride seem OK. I don't know if I'll finish, but I'm going to try like hell to make it to the very end. Sometime Sunday night I'll be asking myself what the heck I was thinking to try something stupid like this, but hopefully, I'll be a Super Randonneur (having completed a full ACP Randonneur series). That's been my goal all winter long, and I've been looking at this as my prize for loosing so much weight.

Anyway, I've got to go - need to recharge the camera battery and my cell phone. Oh yeah, and get to bed.

Happy riding!