Saturday, February 28, 2009

Tour de Trek Redux, AKA The Humble Pie Ride

Anyone ever have one of those rides where you find out that you're not even remotely as fit as you thought you were? Today was my turn; the most painful century I've ridden in years, with cramping, knee pain, constant hunger, and a rolling average of mumblemumblemumble.blush miles per hour.

Here's the route; basically, it ended up being Castle Shannon, Robinson, and Cranberry, with various and sundry exploratory stuff. Couple of new-to-me roads today; Backbone out of Sewickley was a moderately tough climb, and plummeting down Hitzel Hill on the other side of the ridge was a bit scary, due to gravel and debris. (Incidentally, I now understand why Oscar Swan refers to Hitzel Hill Rd as "a guaranteed way to make any Red Belt ride unpleasant"..) On the Gibsonia end of things, I took Meridian to 910 as a spur-of-the-moment detour; at that point, I was in enough pain that the only way I could see to salvage some pleasure from the ride was to at least ride a new road.

Ride troubles; by the time I hit Robinson, I was in trouble; felt almost like I was bonking, except that I'd been steadily hoovering down gels, Heed, and some semi-solid gas station food. I was also feeling chronically hungry; perhaps I should have stopped for a sandwich or suchlike. By the time I got to Cranberry, my right knee was getting dicey; I think my form went to hell due to the fatigue, so I started mashing more than was good for me. It's also possible that the cranks are just a fraction of an inch too close; I'd fit the P-38 to Lance a few weeks back, and maybe I didn't quite restore it to my preferred position.

On the bright side, I accomplished my goal; got February's century in for the Year-Rounder challenge, even if it was not my most shining performance. I am pleased that I managed to complete the ride without any apparent serious injury; while it's not the most glamorous of randonneuring skills, the ability to ride within the limits of a physical ailment without giving up or pushing too hard is a useful one.

On the down side, that was not the kind of riding that will get me through a brevet series. Yeah, I haven't done any long rides over the winter; yeah, the bike fit may have been a wee bit off; yeah, I've been sick for much of the last month, excuse, excuse, whine. Regardless, I have a lot of work to do for the season, if I'm going to do as well as I intend.

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