Saturday, Feb 12, 2011 and it is a cold, clear day. Couple of weeks until the 67th anniversary of my day of birth. Dang, it’s colder than forecast, hoping it warms soon. The ride that Don laid out yesterday will be a good one. Now I am wondering about that life goal I set — the one about riding my years in miles each birthday. Since I usually won’t be able to do that on the exact date this can be the day for this year. We are both confident we can do the 67, 68 should be just fine, 69, 70 … I’m a bit worried about 80!
Why am I even doing this. Last March my exercise regimen began in earnest with the “Atwoods weight loss contest” and evolved into the Couch-to-5K program and running the CASA 5K in September. This should be easier on the new bike as compared to the Peugeot Triathlon. Looking forward, my participation in the MS-150 charity ride for the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation looms large. My wonderful cousin, recently diagnosed with a form of MS, deserves for me to be able to do this.
Let’s pull up Garmin Mapsource and lay out the route. Ok, that’s done and loaded onto the Garmin Oregon 400t. The Garmin Forerunner 305 is fully charged and the Oregon has new batteries. Gotta have the electronics ready! Cell phone is charged and the iPoki program has been checked out … test it on the web … working … posting a note on Facebook with a link to the iPoki tracking site for anyone who wants to follow. Of course, once we get out in the boonies near Castell (BTW, click on the thumbnails for a larger pic)
we will lose cell coverage — as good as Verizon is (and I’ve talked all over the West and Northwest with them), they don’t cover that area.
Clothes. What clothing to put on and how to leave room in the Osprey hydration pack for when it is time to peel stuff off. I love my Osprey Raptor 14 hydration pack. Let’s see now: 6 Honey Stingers, couple of Clif’s bars, one peanut butter and one oatmeal, couple of orange GU Chomps, banana, apple, extra gloves, sleeve warmers, almonds, craisens, a few other items all in the pack. Top it up with 2 liters of water with Elete electrolyte drops. It sure takes a lot of work to have fun!
Time to dress. Just noticed the time – supposed to be at Don’s for a 10a.m. departure. Padded tights — I’m pretty cute in them! Pearl Izumi padded shorts over that — I’m thinking my bum is going to be paying a price today and I’ve heard of people wearing two pair of padded pants. Wicking base layer over the torso, followed by the red turtle-neck, topped with the orange running jacket. Then the light-weight sleeveless (blue) windbreaker. I will put the full windbreaker on top of that during the cold period. I could pull the sleeves off of that convertible windbreaker but with the other one already on, it will be a quicker peel. Socks, mountain-biking style shoes. I’m dressed, finally. Glad I got the Louis Garneau Mountain Bike style of shoe as they are easier to walk in. Now off to Don’s.
That’s the easy part, now attach the Garmin Oregon and Forerunner 305 electronics. Start the iPoki app on the Droid X. Hmmm, it’s still quite cool, let’s get out the leg warmers to put on top of the tights. Pack onto the back, start the Cateye front-facing strobe, start the rear flasher. Damn, forgot to start the flasher mounted on back of the Osprey, Grrrr, reaching around to push the button. “Don, am I flashing?” “Yes, you are now.” I’m glad he did not take advantage of that obvious opening to do me verbal harm. For a mathematician/engineer he has a pretty good way with words.
Off we go after Peggy’s usual “here’s what they looked like when last seen” photo. Easy pedaling as we pull away. It is still cool, about 47 degrees and we both feel the need to warm up slowly. At age 66 and looking 67 in the teeth, “stuff” doesn’t work quite like it used to.
There’s the Bluffton Store, Don needs to buy a couple of bottles of water. Bluffton is an interesting town — one that no longer exists after the 1937 inundation by Lake Buchanan. This is a good warmup. Funny, I never really noticed the old windmill and cistern next to the store. Don will be inside for a bit so let me get a picture of that. I like the juxtaposition of the old windmill with the modern street lamp. And there is the storage hut. Quaint.
There’s Don. Time to clip in. Now there is something curious. These special shoe+pedal combinations are called “clipless” but in fact, there are clips — cleats on the shoe that “clip” into a special pedal. I usually don’t start to wonder about strange things until further into a ride — that point where oxygen deprivation has begun to have an effect — but this suddenly strikes me as something I’ve wondered about before. I can’t do much about that now but must research that when I get back.
So with my cleated shoes I “clip in” into the “clipless” pedals and begin to crank. Have to warm up a bit again — it’s interesting how quickly muscles begin to tighten when we stop, ever so briefly. Luckily the traffic is light so it is easy to just cruise moderately for a while. Picking up a little speed we pass the turnoff to CR216, a turn-point for one of our favorite rides, the Lone Grove Loop. “Now we start some climb from here into Llano” I hear Don call out. Soon we make it to Llano, at about 17.5 miles and stop to have my banana and pop a Honey Stinger. Suck a bit more water out of the Osprey and “borrow” the “facilities” at Stonewall Pizza. Is that cashier looking at me wondering why I’m not buying something? Oh, maybe it’s the tights and skull cap! If she challenges me I’ll point out how many burgers I’ve eaten here in the past … no problem, she turns back to her chores.
Outside and ready to go Peggy has caught up to us, camera in hand, for yet another of the “these are the hooligan-geezers you are looking for” photos. At least we can prove we got this far. Clip in and away we go again. I am looking forward to this part of the ride. The last time on this route we had started in Castell, rode to Llano, and back to Castell. I was on Don’s old Peugeot Triathlon with half-again the weight of this bike, 12 versus 30 speeds on the drive train, and me not being in the physical conditioning I’m in now. That round trip route is 36.2 miles and at 32 miles I ran totally out of bodily fuel! Had to get a lift. That was a bit embarrassing. Now is the chance for redemption. Pedaling is pretty easy now. These rolling hills are not near what we’ve been riding in around the Burnet area. Funny, I always thought the Llano area to be more hilly than the Burnet area. That is still true to the Southwest of Llano but Burnet has been a good training area. A few miles out now, there is that first deep dip. “That’s where Eric ran out of steam and fell over” Don is saying. Oh good, let’s not do that. Need to gain speed for the downhill section now. Click, up a gear on the Brifters, click another, click another, another, click up to the front big ring, speed approaching 27mph now on the downside of the hill, into the dip and curving up to the left, click down a gear, double click to get down on the middle front ring and simultaneously up on the rear sprockets, climbing now … click down, click, down, down, finally cresting the steep section. Click up, up, speed rising again, click up more and get back into cruise mode … for a short while.
There are two more of those creek-crossing dips and each is attacked about the same way. Each time I accelerate, hit the dip and start the climb
with effortless shifting I marvel at the combination brake/shifter “brifter” lever of the Shimano 105 ST-5700 Shift Levers. There are two truly ergonomic devices on this bike that make a huge difference in the ride.
One is the “clipless” pedals and the other is this lever system where you can brake AND shift with your hands right there on the bars. No reaching down to levers on the frame or even those mounted on the bars. I love that feeling of total integration with the bike.
Here comes that one long climb at about 22.5 miles (5 miles out of Llano). Keep the resolve to maintain a long-distance pace, don’t go sprinting up that hill. Back on relatively level ground now, we continue the steady cadence. I carefully watch the cadence count being fed wirelessly from the device on the bike up to the Forerunner 305. My goal is to have a cadence in the 80-90rpms and to shift as necessary to maintain that while conserving energy when possible. On the Buchanan-Castell leg the cadence is averaging 80.2.
There, I can see the buildings at Castell, that leaves about 1/2 to 3/4 miles to go, let’s sprint. It’s pretty level terrain here with some slight uphill. Staying in the saddle I begin to crank harder. Click. Up a gear, then click, click, up to the big ring on the front, click, now top gear and running at 25mph. Heart rate according to the Forerunner is climbing out of zone 3 (aerobic) into zone 4 (anaerobic) range, looks like it will peak at 162. This is close to a maximum effort for me and I am staying below my maximum target rate of 185. Rounding that final curve into Castell. A couple of people are crossing the road in front of the General Store, looking down the road at me now, suddenly they scurry on across the road! Little did they know that there is no way I am passing by the source of BBQ.
Out of breath, heart rate coming down rapidly as I get off the bike now. Good recovery rate on the heart rate = excellent cardio health. Legs? Not bad, feeling good. Recovering my wind as Don cruises in a few minutes behind me. I see a lot of bikers and rednecks, a few redneck bikers, and a handful of gucci-like types out for laughs at the rednecks. Hey, I can think that — I are one! Don and I are drawing a lot of attention. His Catrike always does.
A slice of BBQ and some visiting occur now. Here is an opening at one of the picnic-style tables and I contort my legs to ease onto the seat. Couple of gucci types sitting there visiting. “How far did you ride” the 30-something asks. “35 miles so far” I’m telling her, “started from Lake Buchanan” adds Don. “Where are you headed from here” she asks to which I say “Lake Buchanan.” “I couldn’t do that” says the 30-something to which Don adds “not bad for a couple of geezers, I guess” but he is thinking “the question is, could your husband do it.” I’m glad he’s not tacky to the dude who is clearly 30 years older than the 30-something, who, notwithstanding his obvious multiple overhauls could not ride around the block … but I’m being tacky in my own thoughts.
We are at the peak elevation of the ride and I am glad to contemplate that. We have the other half of this 70 mile trek ahead of us so I am grateful for the “generally” downhill nature of this leg. BBQ down the hatch and legs recovered, we suit up again, clip in, and crank away. Time for more warm-up as the legs have “set up” considerably. We are both content to take it easy as we cruise away from the sounds of laughter and music gathered around the Castell General Store. The smell of BBQ wafting through the air is finally replaced with the fresh breeze as we turn South for a short while, then a 90 degree turning straight East and we begin to pick up the pace a bit.
The lower back is talking to me. It was a little “tweaky” almost from the outset this morning. We start cruising about 15mph pretty steadily. Here comes the first decent hill and Don is gearing down. Click down one, click, click, lower and lower until I am barely maintaining balance while Don is comfortably ensconced in his rolling Barcalounger. Pull around him now and gradually pull ahead on the hill at a more comfortable pedal cadence for me. Cresting the hill and Don is quickly catching up. Smooth pedaling now and I pick up the pace for a bit. We both seem to be pretty comfortable with this pace. After a few miles of this “you need to dial it back a bit, we have a lot of miles to go” says Don, wisely.
The back is pretty tight. Stop and stretch as Don goes by. Catch up. Stop and stretch again as Don again passes by. Catch up ….
Llano comes into view. I hardly remember the three fun dips as the tweaky back is in the forefront of my consciousness. The Fuel Coffee House, with their smoothies is open and we head straight for it. We are 53 miles into the adventure. We are refreshed, now time to go as we observe the beautifully-restored ’55 Chevy parked out front — locked up tight! The Llano policeman trying to assist the owner in recovering his keys carefully locked inside is impressed with the real steel doors and full window frame that makes impossible the usual “air bladder” approach to getting into vehicles these days. There is a ’57 Chevy Nomad parked next to it. Both classics and nicely restored.
Suit up, clip in, crank away. The remaining 17.5 miles will be a little tough notwithstanding the overall downhill terrain. That “overall” idea still has quite a few “ups” among the “downs.” Coming out of Llano we have a steep one to get up to Hwy 29 and Don shouts moderate expletives, whether at me or the hill I’m not certain. Occasional “back stretch” stops for me. Slow grinds up the hills for Don. Occasional easy cruising on the flats. One pretty good hill at 62 miles continuing up another slope up to the 65 mile point. I’m watching for 67 miles to roll up on the odometer and there it’s coming just in sight of the Bluffton Store. At about 67.2 I pull into their parking lot to take a picture of the GPS. Phone/camera is dead. I knew I had heard a beep out of it earlier, its final death rattle, I guess.
Not to matter. Victory is declared at the Bluffton Store: 67 miles for my 67th birthday. And for Don’s as well as I discovered we share the same birthday. He is older (by a few hours) and I take some perverse comfort in this.
I wanted this screen shot at 67 miles but here it is with the final ride result. 71.53 miles at an average speed mile moving of 12.2 mph. The overall is low at 9.3 due to the lunch stop and long stop at Fuel. And the elevation shown is totally off, by the way. I need to recalibrate. All of the elevation profile data came from the Forerunner 305.
At the right is the summary screen from the SportTracks software for the Buchanan to Castell portion of the ride. Just under 1300 feet of climb. I’m pleased with the average heart rate of 135.
This was a great ride but boy am I bushed. I am thinking a lot about that MS-150. As usual, there are stats and the map is posted on GPSies:Distance 71.53 miles Avg speed 12.7 mph while moving (per the Forerunner). Max speed 30.2 mph. Total climb 2288 feet, corrected by SRTM-1 digital elevation data in the SportTracks software. Avg heart rate 133, Max 162 Calories burned 3,718 Time moving 5:34:22 Avg cadence 77.2 rpm Avg power output 109.5 watts Temperature range 47-67 degrees Total mileage on this bike now 494 miles
And that’s the way it was on 12 FEB 2011.