Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Hardest 100kms

My ride last night turned out to be a lot harder than I had anticipated. I rode 104kms in 5hrs on the bike and 6hrs in total time - for an average speed of 21.1kph (on bike)/17.3kph (total time).

The first 15kms included a lot of urban riding including stop lights, narrow suspension bridges, MUPs, a short 14% climb and a 2.5km offroad section. This offered me lots of challenges and allowed me to work on my bent handling skills. My average speed was around 18kph through here.

Then I was on hwy 8 where I figured I could ramp up the speed and make some good time. Wrong - it was such a comedy of errors I was laughing when I wasn't crying...=-) First I encountered a hellacious headwind (25kph) that kept my speed at 18kph. You know the kind of headwind where you get to the top of a climb and have to actually pedal on the downhill! I also discovered that I had mounted my cleats too far back on my shoes. I realized this when my leg spasmed and cramped up really hard. No worries! I stopped took off my shoe covers, my shoes and got out my multitool. Problem solved! Well not really a couple kms further on I had to readjust them again because I put them too far forward. Problem solved! Yes mostly - except I left my multitool on the rock where I had been sitting while adjusting the cleats. No way I was riding back in this headwind and giving up the hard won distance I had earned.

Unfortunately I discovered I had more acclimatizing to do on the new bike than I thought. My legs were cramping quite badly and I could not put much power to the pedals. The poor cleat position exacerbated the situation and even though I had corrected the problem the damaged was done.

My hyrdation choices left something to be desired as well. I had two bottles (one of perpetuem and one of plain water) in the bottle holders of my seatbag. This was great, but I had to stop everytime I wanted a drink. Since my legs were cramping I took the opportunity to stretch them out at the same time. This slowed me down a fair bit.

By the time I reached hwy 22 around the 40km mark I was feeling pretty down. My legs had hit the height of their crampiness, it was dark & cold and I was off the 15kph pace I would have to maintain to successfully complete a brevet. I had turned 90 deg and still had a headwind! How is that possible?? The nail in the coffin was a slight uphill that combined with the headwind slowed me right down even though it looked flat to the eye. I got really close to calling for a ride home, licking my wounds and coming out stronger next time - really close. However, I recalled that in many randonneur reports riders worked through problems to finish on time. I decided to keep going.

I worked through my cramps - stretching on the bike as best I could. I reached Bragg Creek and the 50km point feeling a bit better and with half the ride done. I enjoyed a chocolate milk, snickers bar, chips and stocked up on water at the gas station before heading out into the night.

My lights worked really well as far as being seen was concerned. I had three rear LEDs and the planet bike superflash lights were incredibly bright. My twin Cateye HL-500II halogen headlights were acceptable, but not great. My max speed was 67KPH and that was an exercise in faith. I am using NiMH rechargeable batteries in these lights which are only 1.2V compared to the 1.5V of a disposable alkaline battery, but I can't stomach throwing away 22 battries each night. It was also cold out and my first set of batteries was partially used on a previous ride. I have a SON hub and Solidlights 1203D on the way. Yippee! This ride just confirmed for me what a good decision that was. I changed out my batteries at the Priddis turn off about 75kms into the ride - these fresh batteries were great, but the lights were noticeably dimmer within less than 2hrs.

By this point I had ridden myself back to an average speed greater than 15kph and my cramping had pretty much disappeared. I was feeling better and pushing a bigger gear. You would expect night riding to be slower, but on this ride I made up time the whole night. I was really digging riding in the dark. It was quiet with little traffic so I rode on the road most of the time and enjoyed a new perspective on a familiar route.

I was soon headed back into Calgary along 37th St SW, Anderson Rd & Elbow Dr. I felt the strongest on this part of the ride and was happy to be keeping my speed above 25kph. I really enjoy riding around town at night. The roads are empty and you can just fly along.

I made it home a fair bit later than I had anticipated, but it was a good experience in many respects.

Lessons Learned:

- don't mess with your cleats before a long ride. I should have done a 10km ride with my new shoes and cleats to ensure all was good.

- I need to be able to drink and eat without stopping. I have a waterbottle mount on the way that I can clamp to my stem extension. I'll put a bottle of perpetuem in it for easy access. I will be using a cammelback for my plain water in the future and I'll keep my frame pack full of other food so I can snack on the go.

- a concentrated multi-hour bottle of perpetuem is a lot more palatable than a dilute 1hr bottle.

- Put away any tools or gear right away when you are done with them BEFORE moving on to something else or you'll forget something. I had to drive back and get my multitool at 11pm after my ride.

- my Cateye HL-500II headlights are not bright enough and NiMH batteries only provide 2hrs of decent light in them. Hopefully the SON & Solidlights 1203D that I ordered will solve all these problems.

- the rest of my lights worked well.

- I need to spend lots and lots of time climbing hills on my Volae. My gearing is low enough to climb anything I can ride up. I just need to be able to do it faster.

- The Continental Sport Contact 26 x 1.3 may not be light, but they ride well on rough pavement and shrug off road debris well.

- the Volae is comfortable for 6 hrs with no ergonomic issues at all.

- my feet got cold and eventually numb due to convective heat loss from the pedals/cleats. I need to throw in some insoles when riding in these sorts of temperatures.

- the Sidi shoes work well and are comfortable.

- just pulling a buff up over my face warmed me up quite a lot. Always bring a buff!

- my polar heartrate monitor lost the signal from the transmitter belt after about 25kms and I couldn't get it to work the rest of the ride. Of course when I tried it at home it worked.

- my "bent" muscles are sore today. I need to plan a good recovery day after long bent rides until my muscles get accustomed to the new bike.

- I shouldn't ever give up on a ride unless my safety or health is at stake. You never know when the tide will turn and you can make up a lot of time in a later section of a long ride. I learned a lot from this experience that will help me persevere through problems on future rides.

Favourite parts of the ride:

- the beautiful sunset behind the Rockies.

- chocolate milk, snickers bar & chips!

- cruising down quiet rural highways in the darkness.


Michael said...


A nice start! You'll have everything dialed in in no time. I'm a 'bent rider with 6 years of experience, and every time I get a new bike, even though I know exactly what I want and how it should feel, it still takes me 200 miles to get the bike feeling like a second skin. You'll still be tweaking over the next couple rides.

As for drinking, if you look at the pictures Jennifer took of me on the 508, you'll see that I mounted bottle cages behind my seat, on both sides just at about hip level. If you're going to go with bottles, that's a pretty good solution. I do very much like bladders, however.

Funny that you liked the Perpetuem better in concentrate. I did a lot better with it diluted. Didn't really like the flavoring they use, just straight malto and soy would have probably gone down easier for me.

I'll keep checking back! Good luck and have a great time!

Anonymous said...

Hey Vik,

"No way I was riding back in this headwind and giving up the hard won distance I had earned." LOL! You know that I know that you know that you would have had a tailwind at least 1/2 the way!

The Randonneur community is lucky to have you! I have enjoyed your writing and photos for years, and now you will be bringing both into yet another forum... cool.

My favourite ride last summer at the 24 Hrs of Adrenaline was in a PISSSSSING rain, night ride. I thought I was going to hate it - but I LOVED it; it was SOOO surreal... beautiful... otherworldly.


Anonymous said...

Vik, I recently got the Fastback Double Century bag and it fits great on my Volae. I have two 70 oz. bladders that can get me a loooong way before stopping for water. Generally, though, I use the second bag just for tools, coats, tires, etc. I did a UMCA 100 miler in August and I wish I would have had the Double Century bag then to carry water. I wouldn't have ever needed to stop. :)

Dennis Tresenriter