Saturday, May 9, 2015

damp, thoughtful century

Laura OLPH had planned to do a ride Sunday, and emailed a few of us about doing a ride to Belmar - either 100 miles from near her place, or about 85 miles from Mercer Park, or about 67 miles from Etra Park. But Sunday is Mother's Day, and it's also the day that The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I get together with The Excellent In-Laws to celebrate my birthday (earlier this month) and my brother-in-law's birthday (the next day; for one day each year we are the same age). Others, of course, had similar commitments, so Laura decided to move her ride from tomorrow to today.

Well, of course I was in for that, especially to prove that I could do it after my crash a few weeks ago. Every now and then, I feel the need to do a 100-mile ride, partly to prove I have it in me, and partly to remind myself that my real favorite distance to ride is about 60-65 miles. The day was predicted cloudy, with only 20% chance of rain (if there were a soundtrack to this blog, music of impending doom would be playing now).

Snakehead Ed and I met Laura at the start. Snakehead's pur 700x28 tires on his road bike; there is BARELY enough clearance for them; the picture below doesn't do justice to the closeness:

The tire rubs on the drive-side chainstay.  We had a discussion about possible fixes; I think the best is to tighten the non-drive-side spokes about a half a jottle, but Ed's reluctant to take a spoke wrench to the wheel.

So we left the start and headed to Mercer Park, at which we picked up Marco:

... and then to Etra, where Jeff X was waiting.

We took off into the fog, which became a mist... and before long, the rain that wasn't predicted was falling. I did fine until the first stop, in (I guess) Jackson:

Even (or perhaps especially) in the grey light, the colors on Laura's bike, Kermit, were poppin'.

But when we started up again after the stop, I was chilled and could not get warm; I kept my gearing down and my cadence up all the way to Belmar to get some body heat going. Ed and I shared a cheese steak sandwich, which was a risk: I was half afraid it would return for another appearance... but I was a bit warmer after the stop.

The obligatory all-of-the-bikes shot:

On the way back, Laura and I got to talking about somebody with whom we've both had disagreements; I thought he'd trolled one of our blogs, but he's been a lot of help to people since, and, although I still find him hard to take, I must admit he's not been as troublesome. I've had to think about how I deal with people like that - for example, at what point is my avoiding that person appropriate, and when does it become self-serving and cranky. (One of the advantages of a long ride like this is that it's good for time and focus for such meditations.)

And then about mile 67 or so, I got a flat. Through my rain-covered glasses,, I couldn't see it at first, but Laura caught the sound, and soon it was unmistakeable. Where I stopped, there was some poison ivy. I was grateful to the rest of the ride, especially Marco, who helped me avoid the poison ivy and change the tire. I had two bad bouts with poison ivy by the time I was 26 or so, and I'd rather not repeat the pleasure.

Later, Jeff passed me going up a hill as if I were stopped. He'd been an olympic hopeful, and is stronger and faster than I; I started to chase, but finally decided not to. I'm not good at this, but TEW helps to remind me that there are always going to be people who are faster than I, and they won't always be younger.

We kept going. We went by Etra, to drop off Jeff, and then by Mercer Park, before which Marco went off. And then I started feeling shaky. I'd been eating and drinking at the stops, but it felt like a sugar drop; I had the tremor that I associate wit that (although I almost always have some level of benign essential tremor these days). I had the last of a bag of maple jelly beans, which I had gotten from Cheryl M because they were too sweet for her. I have the sweet tooth of a four-year-old; I tried to eat 'em while I was riding, but I just couldn't. I found a stretch of road where I would be visible, pulled over, and finished 'em off. By the time Laura and Ed came back to me, I was ready to go.

There's some dispute about the results. My Garmin showed 101.6 miles, but Laura had about 104. Also, my average in the device, at 15.7, was almost a mile per hour lower than hers. As an experiment, I uploaded my results to both the Garmin site and to RideWithGPS. As you can see, the average on RideWithGPS corresponds with Laura's... but (as is often the case with that site) the elevation data is much higher than the Garmin site (I've heard that complaint from other riders). I've decided I'm going with the speed from the RideWithGPS site (since it's similar to Laura's), and the elevation on the Garmin site.

And for tomorrow, I'll be cleaning the road grime off my bike, my glasses, my bottles...

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