Well, it has been an interesting, but not especially productive month since my last post. For those of you hanging with baited breath for this next post, sorry for the delay. Raise your hand if that includes you... Bueller... Bueller... Bueller. Ok, for everyone else (basically, everyone), here it is anyway....
When I last left you, I had just completed a 40-mile ride and was looking forward to the Feed the Need Ride in SW WI. I had signed up for the 75K ride (just under 50 miles), and the weather was not looking too friendly. Turns out there were only a few riders scheduled (less than 40). When the organizers surveyed riders about cancelling due to the weather (predicted snow), 90% said they would cancel. So the Feed the Need Ride was cancelled.
That didn't happen though two weeks later. Both the LaCrosse (WI) Fitness Festival ride and the Minnesota Gran Fondo (MGF) went off on schedule.
For the Saturday ride (April 30) in LaCrosse, the temps were in the 40s and it rained. It was a 32 mile ride that I completed in just over two hours. The rain didn't start until the second hour of the ride. By then, I was warmed up enough that the rain wasn't too bad.
The one downside of the ride was the feeling I got that the ride was an after-thought. Parts of the course weren't marked very well, particularly in town itself. In addition, riders returning from the 32-mile course were arriving at the same time as the 5K run/walk was going on. A 5K run only takes about 15 minutes, and this event could have been scheduled to start at 8:00 instead of 9:00. Or the bikes could've started at 8:00 instead of 7:00.
From LaCrosse, I followed Hwy 61 north to the Twin Cities for the MGF. Check in was on Saturday at the State Fairgrounds in St Paul at the Minnesota Bike Expo. At the Expo I got meet Jeff, another member of the Groucho Sports team. Another great guy! (No surprise.) They also had a sample Loving The Bike kit there. It looks even better than I had imagined it. A pre-sale order has been placed and it will be generally available here starting in June.
I spent the night at my brother's (Thanks Chuck!), before heading out to Lakeville, MN for the ride. For the ride, I signed up for the timed ride, the Gran Fondo. We lined up at 7:30 and had an escort out of town. The 68-mile ride went west for about 23 miles to Jordan, before tunring south and east to Lonsdale. From there, we traveled north and east back to Lakeville.
It. Was. Nasty.
I actually contemplated giving up and SAGging back to the start/finish. Quitting. My feet were cold and I felt like I was dragging a parachute. Staying to the right, I jealously watched other riders pass me on the left, cutting through the wind like a hot knife through butter. (Or so I thought.)
I pulled over at a church to get out of the wind, collect myself and munch on a granola bar. After a few minutes of rest, I clipped back in and pushed on towards Jordan. I was as glad to arrive there as I was at Quasky on Day 6 of RAGBRAI last year. It took 2:15 for me to cover the 23 miles. A distance I normally cover in 1:30. I was cold. I was tired. I was sore. I was relieved to be there. I rested for 20 minutes or so, grabbing some snacks to refuel on and using the facilities.
I will say that the ride organizers and the local community did a FABULOUS job with the rest stop! Thanks for your hospitality, Jordan HS!
Despite turning south, the wind was still a nasty element for much of the rest of the day - at least the parts where we were peddling south and north. Going east was, understandably, pretty darned nice. The crosswinds though were difficult to ride in. I rode the 22 miles to Lonsdale in just under 1:30. At the rest stop there, they had a wide assortment of snacks, plus pasta! I wasn't planning on eating there, but it was good. In retrospect, a protein would have been a better option, but the pasta was pretty good.
From Lonsdale, we rode north and east back to Lakeville. As we entered town, I was caught at a red light with a few other riders. One said he'd let us go first up the hill as he was struggling. I didn't believe him. But as we took off, I turned to someone riding with him and said I was jealous of their ability to cut through the wind. He responded that it was tough for them too. That made me feel a little better. And gave me a boost of adrenaline that I used to try to and keep up with a couple of these more fit riders. A well placed red light helped with that. But I did ok on those closing miles.
I covered the last 23 miles in 1:26 and arrived back at the start/finish 6:20 after I left. I was 134th in time (which included the stop time at the rest areas). Out of 165. Bottom 20%. Ok, I knew I didn't have a good ride. That confirms it. Guess Team Radio Shack won't be calling anytime soon.
But, I completed the 68 miles. I made it back to Lakeville. On my own. I didn't quit. I didn't SAG. I made it. And here I am back at Lakeville North HS:
The next rides I want to do are a 75-mile ride in Milwaukee (Miller LiIte Ride for the Arts) on 6/5 and a 50-mile ride in July for the Boys and Girls Club in Madison. Until then, I need to get on my bike more. While I have been riding my commute bike 9 mi/day, I haven't logged any miles on the road bike since the MGF. Time to ride!