Sunday, May 20, 2007

Snickers(ville) really doesn't satisy

So I finished my final training ride yesterday and all in all it went really well It was a 90 mile ride -- which was going to be pretty hilly - so I decided not to kill myself by stomping on it on the pace. Take it relatively easy and knock out the hills as they come. From a riding perspective and a physiological perspective I pulled off the strategy pretty well. Mechanically it went in the crapper.

A quick overview of the ride - the ride was broken into a 50 mile portion and a 40 mile portion with lunch inbetween back at the start.

At mile 12 or so we started a series of climbs which took us up Mount Weather - a climb of 1000 feet in about 5 miles. After that the ride would keep us on the crest of Mouth Weather for a while until is let us bomb back down the mountain into the valley. A note here for fellow riders when the road signs say "SLOW 15 MPH" that's probably a rock solid sign that there is a sharp turn ahead and you might want to take it easy I being a bit of an idiot I didn't and couldn't hold my line coming around the turn and ended up in the oncoming traffic lane and had to bail out of the turn in the face of an approaching car. No damage done, so no harm no foul and we chock that one up to a learning experience -- lesson being hold your turns better.

After that we had our first SAG stop of the day. I refilled on some goodies and rolled out of the stop. Since we were back down in the valley the roads flattened out quite a bit and I was able to get rolling a bit.
An aside -- since I haven't been able to shed some of those pounds I've been wanting to loose, gravity and inertia are still prominent riders in Peleton Jones. Once I get the mass that is me moving and I'm on a flat ground, I can keep it going pretty well - wheras if I am climbing a hill it takes more effort than it should to keep me going uphill ... so I like flats.
So I had been rolling for about 10 minutes and was cruising along the shoulder of the road and encountered the shattered remnants of what was likely one of the locals PBRs from recent times. Anyway I was quickly reminded that glass and bicycle tires don't mix and I got my first flat of the season. Frankly it was surprising I had gone this long without one. The SAG wagon driver for the team rolled up on me shortly after the flat with a floor pump and I was on my way with 110 lbs of air in my tire. As flats go, this seemed like a relatively benign encounter.

The rest of this segment of the ride was relatively uneventful. I picked up Noel along the way and we rolled into lunch without too much excitement. We grabbed some tasty grub and we were on our way. We did note one of our teammates mention that the second half of the ride wasn't too bad -- well expect for Snickersville road. We figured that meant lots of obnoxious rollers with grades steep enough to suck the momentum out of you before you are anywhere near cresting. But hey that's part of training and its no big deal right??

Well Snickersville Road turned out to be deeply unsatisfying for me yesterday. It wasn't so much that the road was physically taxing. It was a good workout and all, and a good part of a good ride, but my bike completely crapped out on that section of road. About 6 miles into an 8 1/2 length of the road my tires started feeling squishy and I was pretty sure in a few seconds that it was flat again. Turns out what I think happened was that the puncture from the glass before left a pretty good hole in my tire...enough for the tube to get worn a bit and punctured. So off came the tire and on with a new one. Also turns out that I forgot to pick up a new tire when I was back at the pit stop so I had no tires in my bag, so I dipped into noel's stash. I refilled the tire (with a boot between the tube and the tire) with my crappy little hand pump and went on my way.

Those little minipumps suck...but I didn't want to use up noel's CO2. So we headed down the road but within a few hundred yards I could feel the tire slipping around and realized I needed more air in it, so I borrowed noel's CO2 canister and filled it up. We started rolling and within 30 seconds the tube exploded. What I think happened this time was that I put too much CO2 in the tire and when it expanded in the warm air (as pressurized gas is want to do) it found that it could get itself way beyond the 125 psi that the tube was rated for. Having burned through noel's only C02 I was forced to put the third (and last) tube into the tire and pump it up with the minipump. I think I got it up to 80 psi which was sufficient to get me to the next SAG stop where there was a floor pump and I could top it off.

The remainder of the ride was uneventful and we cruised into the parking lot, where some of our teammates were making best use of some cows!! UMMM burgers and beef dogs!! (there was also some magical animal, but well we know I'm not down with the magical animal)

I thought that all in all this was a fun and challenging ride. Sadly though I don't think I will be enthused about doing it again. Not because of the mechanical troubles. My bike problems were a combination of "shit happens" and thoughtlessness on my park. What I did not like about the ride was that it seems that all the drivers in the greater middleburg area are jackasses. Noel and I had one situation where one women wouldn't pass us on a hill climb even though the road was clear and instead decided to sit on her horn and yell at us. We also had another situation where both of us bailed into the grass because the truck behind us locked up its brakes when it couldn't get into the other lane to pass us. And there were too many situations to count of people just going too fast on country back roads. There was one instance of a nice older guy in a cicra 1950s pickup letting a line of 3 or 4 widely spaced cyclists all pass before he turned. He was a super nice dude. Unfortunately I think he was the exception to the rule. I've ridden out there twice and the car & truck drivers sucked both times. At some point that area's going to claim a bicyclist life if it already hasn't. That being said, I'll likely ride out there again becuase so many rides depart out of there.

The ride was good though. At the end of the ride my Garmin said we did 6420 feet of climbing on the ride. Not bad at all and - even though I can't find an exact number for Tahoe - likely more than we will do in the ride in a couple weeks.



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