On August 10th I wrote about a new Specialized tire that I’d installed on my bike, the Espoir Sport with black belt flat protection… After 300 miles, I gave the tire a pretty good review, after 1,500 miles I could simply copy and paste the 300 mile review. The tire has been perfect, has barely begun showing signs of wear (you really have to look close), and hasn’t flatted once. For what they retail for you just can’t beat them. I’ll be picking up two more this winter for next year.
I purchased both from my LBS, full price, minus my club discount.
My goal for today was an enjoyable 104 mile ride, plus maybe a couple. I knew I was in for some climbing from our recon drive yesterday but I wasn’t too worried about it. I started promptly and 8:30. It was cold, but not all that bad. I picked up some Pearl Izumi toe covers recently and they did the job well. I had thought about using my full boots because it was so cold, but I was ecstatic that the P.I. toe covers did so well… Less to carry when it eventually did warm up.
I started out well and settled in quickly. I wanted to keep a 17.5 mph average till I got to the trailhead and I exceeded that. The climbs went exceptionally well on the way out. I’ve got my pace and cadence down pat and muscled up every hill easily – and there were hills on this ride. Climbing these hills reminded me somewhat, if North Carolina… Not as long, but very similar in terms of grade… And I didn’t struggle at all with them. I was quite excited about that.
I was nervous about only one thing – I only had one Gu Roctane, one Clif bar and 2 bags of Jelly Belly energy beans. Not a lot for a 100+ mile ride. On the other hand I had plenty of electrolyte tabs to add to my water and a few bucks cash so I figured I’d be ok.
The first 24 to the trail went extremely well. The people of Harrison, Michigan are incredibly biker friendly. I’ve only experienced better drivers in North Carolina. The closest anyone got was a half a lane. I started the trail leg out pretty fast. I realized, about 7 miles in that I had no reason to push it so I dialed it back a notch… That went well until mile 20 of 30 on the trail, or mile 44 overall. I started to feel famished and that is not a good sign. I’d eaten my Clif Bar at mile 34 and was down to One Gu and two bags of beans… for 64 miles.
Wind up to this point really wasn’t too much of a factor, as was forecasted, but it started to pick up – and push me. This was also not good.
I almost turned around right there, four miles to go to Midland. I should have.
I pulled into Midland a bit before noon, 54 miles in a bit less than 3-1/2 hours overall and I was tired. Not, oh this next 54 miles is going to hurt, tired, I was already hurting. I was in for a gut check. I stuck to the one Gu so I could save the beans for the rest stop in 20 miles. I sat on a park bench and sucked out every last drop from the foil bag and drank a bottle of electrolyte infused water.
Part two later – my WordPress app ate the other half so I’ll have to rewrite it…
I’ve showered, dressed and eaten. My jacket, shoes, gloves, shades and on board fuel are laid out with care, waiting to go.
It’s just starting to lighten up – I can see about 50 yards out. The temp is a balmy 39 degrees (that’s Fahrenheit, not Celcius) and won’t be better than 65 by the time I get back. It’s going to be a cool day, lots of sun.
We scoped out my run on the way in yesterday – 80% of the 22 mile ride to the Pere Marquette rail trail is beautiful rolling hills with wide shoulders. It’s that last 20% that has me as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. No shoulders and pot holes everywhere, and a regularly exceeded 55 mph speed limit.
There will be climbing today, a lot of it. My main challenger in the National Bike Challenge followed his pattern and took yesterday off, I’ve got him by 37 points. This is a good and a bad thing – good because he won’t catch me unless he puts in huge miles today and tomorrow. Bad because I won’t have the same motivation to put in those last few miles before turning around as if he were right on my heels.
I’ll find something.
The plan is for a slow, easy ride to the trail, 17 mph average, followed by 60 hard miles on the trail, then another easy 22 back. We’ll see. I don’t normally stay slow with any regularity.
It’s 7:47, 43 minutes to go. The temp just dropped 2 degrees as it normally does at day break. Time to load up, pump the tires, and set out on another long ride solo adventure. Nobody but myself to rely on for 100+ miles – nobody but me, and really good equipment I should add…
10, 9, 8….
Just four points separate me and the guy in second place for National Bike Challenge… I’m going to lure him in today with a nice little 13 mile ride into downtown Swartz Creek, I wouldn’t even be surprised if he takes first place this evening… Then WHAM, drop a nice century on him tomorrow. Oh, what I’d pay to be a fly on the wall in his house on Sunday morning. And the best part is that there’s almost no time to recover. Now, this actually could get interesting. If he’s got a long ride planned for tomorrow as well…
Well, I’ve read from several competitive racing bloggers that it helps to know your competition, so I just checked mine out. Tim is a commuter – 18 miles a day, minimum, but he’s taken every Friday off his bike this month. In addition, his longest ride for the month is 43 miles. In fact, that was his longest ride since May – and his biggest Saturday/Sunday punch was this month at 73 miles. Of course, his long ride day is Saturday and then he commutes long to work on Sunday (usually 29 miles there and back)… I can tell you this, the guy is dedicated – he’s riding to work at 1 pm and riding home at 11 pm, in the dark. With my 13 mile ride today and 100 tomorrow, I should have a comfortable enough lead to take a rest on Sunday.
There’s more than 54 points between me and third place, so any way that this shakes out, it’s a first or a second place finish for the state for me.
Some of you may be wondering why this is a big deal to me… After all, we’re only talking about a challenge for a tracking app, yada, yada, yada… And you’d have a point. But when you consider the fact that I’ve never actually won anything… with the exception of team sports, this might make a little sense. To come in tops in my state, out of 600 other people who track their workouts for an entire month… Well, hopefully you can cut me some slack for being fired up.
This coming Saturday I’d planned a long but very simple/boring ride to finish September off big and to virtually guarantee a first place finish for Michigan in the National Bike Challenge. I was planning to drive from my mother-in-law’s house to Midland (45 minutes), ride 50 out then back and drive back to my mother-in-law’s.
Mrs. BDJ came up with a much better idea though. Instead I’ll be riding from Harrison to Clare where I’ll pick up the trail, ride to Midland and then head back. Now that’s an adventure!
Just the thought got me so fired up I had to temper myself on my ride this afternoon. I started out easy enough, but I got going in a hurry. In the end, after stopping at every light and stop sign on my 16 mile ride I still managed an average of 19 mph… No stops and I’d have been at 21 easy.
Tomorrow, I’ll ride easy with the misses before packing up and heading north… And then it’s on. I can’t wait. I’ll be sure to write about before Sunday morning.
I’m back on top for Michigan in the Endomondo/National Bike Challenge stats for Michigan after having to take last weekend off with a cold. I’d written the chance of staying on top off, but I was obviously mistaken. My lead, however, is slim. As of this morning it’s only seven points…
Originally, I was quite fired up because I’ll be riding in the Sloan Museum century that starts in Flint on the last day of the month, so I was certain that I’d have an insurmountable lead with 100 miles worth of points on the last day. Unfortunately the ride had to be pushed back to next Saturday so I was going to be under the gun to make up the miles. Well as luck would have it, my wife is taking the kids up north to go camping with her mother – which leaves me free to ride my butt off over the weekend. I’m going to be heading up north with the fam and bringing my bike with me so from there I’ll head down to Midland to do the Pere-Marquette rail trail again – I’m really excited now, I love that trail and to be able to ride it again so soon is a real treat.
This time I’ve invited my accountant and her husband along for an easier cruise. I won’t be doing the 200k again – depending on whether or not they go my overall distance will change. If they do, we’ll take an easy ride out to Clare, have a nice lunch and head back for something around a 100k. If that happens, I’ll have to go for a shorter 30 miler or so on Sunday. If, on the other hand, I’m riding solo again, I’ll be on the hook for 100 miles, in which case I can probably take Sunday off – if I really want to, and I doubt that I’ll really want to. 😉