The plan - to ride a minimum of 5 hours and 120 km. The details of the plan - to ride easy the first hour, then my goal pace for 2-3 hour marks, then just above for the 4 hour mark, then harder for 30 minutes, then easy.
Ah yes, the best laid plans of mice and men, go oft awry...
The plan looked good. I thought, cool, I'm going to aim for 27 km/h as my goal pace and go from there. Perhaps though, I should have taken into consideration my route and whether or not this would be achieveable.
The route I went is one I really love. I call it the Horse Creek / Lochend Rd loop. It's one that Leslie and I rode a few times and Mr. Mike B. and I rode as part of our mega 210 km ride last summer. I love it because the majority is through the countryside. It's also a challenging ride (this is the part I seemed to forget when I thought about my goal pace).
A first for this trip - I was going to ride it solo. I've done all but one of my long rides solo, but all in the relative safety of my basement. Worse case scenario down there is my bike comes loose from the trainer and I ride swiftly into a wall. I called Leslie this morning and asked if she'd be my rescuer if need be - she agreed thankfully. I truly hoped I wouldn't need to call her!
So off into the country I went. I quickly biked out of town and headed north on Horse Creek Road. The first thing I noticed was the wind. Holy hannah it was friggin blowin! To illustrate: I looked down and saw my shadow on the road. The wind was so strong that my braids looked like they were sticking straight out of the back of my head. I can just imagine what it looked like in real life.
I was praying to Mother Nature to keep the wind blowing this way because I knew I had a loooong climb towards the end of the ride and I really didn't want to face a headwind then. I know sometimes the wind can get to a person, but I was determined not to let it. In fact I was laughing at times because I'd be riding west at an ok click, then turn to go north again and whammo! I'd practically come to a screeching halt. I even had to stand on the flats just to keep moving forward.
Finally I made it to Bottrel. I stopped for a bit of water at the general store, and to pet the store's cat, then continued on east to Hwy 22. Then north again to 290, then east again. I was having to lean into the wind a bit going east, but at least it was just a cross wind.
The thing about this ride is it's all about the climb. You climb a few good hills on Horse Creek, then somemore past Bottrel, then it's a steady, yet slight, climb to Lochend Road. And Lochend? Well Lochend Road is like San Fransisco. Up, level, up, level, uuuuuup, level, doooooown, upppppp. I love it!
It didn't take me too long into my ride to realize that 'the plan' wasn't going to quite work. I'd love to ride 27 km/h up hills, but that's not for a few years. ;) Not to mention the 30 km/h winds. Rather than get flustered about not being able to follow the plan (which is what I used to do) I thought, 'new plan'!! I decided I'd make sure my cadence was greater than 60 rpm up hills and on the downhill and flats I was going to give it my best shot to achieve my goal pace.
For the most part it worked, and it made it an enjoyable ride. I was a smiling giggling fool most of the way. Even when the bumble bee smoked my cheek (I only saw his fluffy body when it was a few centimeters away from impact. Hopefully he survived!). And even when the wee ant with the power of flight landed in my profile bottle and got caught up in the mesh of the sponge (When I stopped at the golf course for a pee break I couldn't find him, which leads me to believe I got a little extra protein today or he managed to use his power of flight to escape - I so hope so!)
As I was climbing up Lochend I spotted a cyclist waaaay out in front of me. So I thought, hmmm, there's a nice challenge. Let's see if I can catch them. I then turned into Ms. Pacman...chomp, chomp, chomp. I pedaled like mad. I had some great speed on the flats, and climbed like a pro. Slowly but surely I was catching up. Chomp, chomp, chomp.
I was coming up to the hill he was climbing. He was slowing down on the hill while I was picking up my pace. NOW I HAVE YOU!! My bike, Eleanor, and my quadzilla's were no match for Mr. Mountain Biker! HA! (Okay, it would have been a sweeter victory had he been on a road or tri bike, but hey, you gotta take what you can get!) As I passed him I made sure to say a cheery 'Hey there!'. My grin went from ear to ear.
Finally I was up Lochend and back on Hwy 1A. The wind had shifted now and coming from the west. I pedaled as hard as I could. I practically flew down Cochrane hill - no brakes! It was brilliant. When I got into town I was going as fast as this one truck and when I looked over there was a little girl staring at me out this truck window I was riding beside. I think she was in shock I was going as fast as the vehicle she was in. I gave her a big smile and she smiled back. It was so sweet.
My ride was awesome. I had a great time out there. With the wind behind my back I got up to 50 km/h on the flats! I was in heaven. The only real challenge I had for the ride was my asthma. Stupid me forgot my damn inhaler. About 45 minutes in I started feeling it in my lungs. I'm allergic to pretty much everything in the country so it always sets off my asthma. For the last half of the ride I was coughing a lot and couldn't get a good breath in. It certainly made climbing more interesting! I was having too much fun out there to let it get to me though.
By the time I got back into town I decided I'd ride straight home as I needed to get a hit of my puffer. I knew I'd be around 104 km and thought I'd just finish it off on the trainer to get in the 120km. So that's what I did.
When I got home I checked out the bike computer and saw that I'd ridden 110.1 km in 4:40 hours. Nice. Oh, and look at that...my top speed was 70 km/h! I'm pretty sure it was coming down this one hill on Lochend. Weeeeeeee!!! Overall my pace was not as fast as I had wanted, but given the conditions, I was happy with it. I felt strong for the most part and that's what counted.
I finished off the last 10 km on the trainer easily to make it 120 km. My total ride time was 5:10 hours. I didn't end up going for my brick run because my chest was hurting, I was still coughing and having troubles breathing. Lesson learned. I doubt I'll forget my inhaler next time!
I'm still smiling over today's ride. What a great day!
Peace out my friends.