We did it! The 25-mile loop is now behind us, and what a glorious ride it was.
Temperature: 84 degrees
Wind Speeds: 5-8 mph
Humidity: Don’t Remember (So Much Sweat)
Ride Status: 25.1 miles completed with 554 feet of elevation gain
We got up at our usual weekday time (4:45 a.m.) and puttered around with breakfast and coffee to be sure we were adequately fueled for the ride. This meant I got to have a ridiculously huge bowl of cereal and have since realized an excellent benefit of these longer rides: I get to carb load. With abandon. Fitness is nice, but the carb load is a big fat dollop of cream cheese icing on the cake. NOMF.
I wasn’t as nervous this year, just looking forward to something new because we’d be part of a much larger group for the first half of our ride. Normally I avoid crowds, but riding with that big group really enhanced the experience. We felt more welcomed this year with so many people saying good morning or wishing us a safe ride (or, as one guy said to Brian as he passed us, “Kill it, brother!). Those folks made a good day even better.
We rode out near the end of the big group, passing and being passed as we headed south toward Highway 7. The police had traffic stopped along the route until after we crossed the highway on Second Street and that made me feel like a rock star. Getting to ride IN the road rather than clinging to the shoulder to avoid texting ninnyhammer drivers was also pretty great. It was a beautiful morning, the winds were light, and we were well fueled. The route was a breeze until we hit Huff ’n Puff Hill almost ten miles into the ride.
Yes, Huff ‘n Puff Hill. It deserves to be named. Any hill that makes you drop into Granny Gear (1, 1) should have its own designation. I can’t tell you what grade it is, only that it will stop you like a wall if you don’t gear down at the right spot. I had powered up it the week before, but I made a mistake shifting this time and got stopped dead in my tracks, which meant I had to get off and push my bike up that blasted thing like a chump. Next year, The Hill will be mine, because we’re going to be riding this route a lot to train.
The first rest stop is just down the road from The Hill, so we stopped there to refuel. Another couple at the stop was riding a tandem Cannondale pulling a kid trailer with their toddler inside. We were impressed with their stamina and their daughter’s cuteness; she had a cookie in one hand and a pickle in the other, and she was good to go.
After leaving the rest stop, we rode east and then south again to my favorite part of the route. That stretch of road runs through a beautiful forested area and fields that make me want to have a house out there. Actually, I want to have the house that’s already out there because it’s the prettiest place I’ve seen in this area. If the owners have seen us ride by, they probably think I’m mental because I keep peering at their home. Sorry guys, your house is too pretty. If you ever sell it, I’m there.
We cruised west for a while before turning back toward Duncan and the second rest stop, which appeared after another fairly gross incline. It isn’t as steep as The Hill, but it’s long. We were both hurting a bit by the time we hit that lovely shaded area to refuel and admire a pair of really cute ducks. Speaking of fuel, bananas and Gatorade now rule my world. I was faceplant-exhausted by the time we got home but had no problems completing the ride thanks to bananas and Gatorade. (Bananas and Gatorade will be the name of my next band.)
The final six miles seemed weirdly easy after we got moving again. Part of that may be because of a peachy downhill that let us hit 26 mph (wheeee!), but I think it was mostly knowing we were almost there. By the time we hit Beech, I felt like I could just ride back to the house, easy peasy. The band kids were cheering for as we rode back into the parking lot, which gave me a big stupid grin. We missed that last time because we got back too early. The cheering, like the carb loading, made the ride extra worth it.
Overall, it was a perfect day. No mechanical issues, no problems, only saddle time and good company. The volunteers were happy and helpful, and they did a great job cheering us along the route. We will definitely be back next year. In fact, I love the Dehydrator so much I’d volunteer to work on it if I were unable to ride. It’s an awesome event and well worth the time.
Temperature: 82 degrees
Wind Speeds: 6-10 mph
Humidity: 100% (Oh Look, It’s Raining)
Ride Status: 9 miles completed with zero stops
We took it easy this week for recovery purposes and because I contracted a stomach bug and had zero extra energy. Our ride today was going to be an 18-miler, but we shortened it to nine because I’m still recovering from that cootie. And I got my first tire rash today! A balance derp coming out of the driveway caused my foot to slip off the pedal and my knee to mash into the rolling tire as the wheel turned.
Abrasions don’t stop me, though. It was a nice morning for a ride, humid without being too hot or windy. We hauled butt along our usual route and were about two miles in when the clouds opened up. We decided to stick it out for the full nine since the rain was light, and I’m glad we did. Our pace improved significantly today; we rolled back into the carport a sodden, but speedily victorious, duo.
Besides, I haven’t ridden my bike in the rain since I was a kid.
It’s still fun.