Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Tough Decision

Yesterday I went out for a ride on the Dirty Kanza machine to get some miles in and see if all was ready, including me. (Sorry, no pics. Forgot the camera!) As regular readers of this blog know, I have been hard pressed to get in any riding for this event this year.

The day started out almost perfect. Hot, a bit humid, sunny, and temperatures into the low 80's. I decided to tackle the southern routes, since going north was out of the question with the recent storm damage. After tweaking a couple of things in route out of town, I was off.

Things were going all right. I didn't feel quite right though, a sensation that was niggling in the back of my mind. Not sure what it was, but I kept riding. Generally I go through a period where I feel sort of out of it before I break a sweat. Then everything is usually fine and I can ride without a problem. I went through that, just like I usually do, but I still didn't quite feel right.

Speeds were good though, so I pushed on into Tama County. I noticed a bit of Northwest wind. "Hmm.....could be trouble later coming home.", I thought. How prophetic that turned out to be! But that comes a bit later.

I slogged up a couple hills that usually get to me anyway, nothing abnormal yet. Speeds were still there, but I started feeling fatigue in the legs at this point. Thinking I just needed to eat more, I snarfed down another nutrition bar and kept going. It helped a little bit. I made the turn into Traer going west and felt the wind. Yeah, it was coming up for sure. Not a good sign for going back the other way.

I stopped into the convenience store for food and water refills. Got going again fairly quickly. I decided to take Ridge Road Northwesterly out of Traer. It was getting quite windy now, and I was headed right into it. I suffered up a few of the initial climbs and made my way to the intersection just before the water tower. There I stopped to take stock of what to do. I looked at the time for the first time on the ride. I was concerned. It was almost three o'clock and I'd been out for four hours. Speeds were down. I needed to head home on the most direct route. So, North it was, with a jog East here and there.

The wind was really blowing now to the point that my bike was getting knocked off line in the gusts. Fighting with that, poor legs, and that uncomfortable feeling in my head was really starting to take a toll. Pretty soon, I could feel the legs going away. Nothing for the uphills anymore. I ended up walking a fair bit off and on during my trek northward. My heart rate was elevated and I was out of breath at each stop. Still in Tama County too. It was a long way from home and I was really hurting.

So it was on a lonely stretch of gravel in Tama County that I decided that Dirty Kanza wasn't going to happen for me this year. I just am not ready. That is the biggest reason, and the only one that I'll share here, but there are other factors that have been piling up in the last week that made the decision a lot easier. In fact, you could say that I'm almost happy I'm not going now. It just wasn't meant to be.

That was all well and fine, but I still had to get home! So, off I would go, stopping every so often to walk out the legs until I finally made it to Hudson and another convenience store. I refueled there and got going again. On totally flat bike trail now, I was able to keep spinning. The wind was pretty bad at this point though, so it was all pedalling, no coasting. I actually started to feel a bit more snap in the legs before I got home and even sped up in the last miles. Maybe that was just getting close to home though. A mental boost for sure.

When I got home I saw I had been gone for seven hours and I figured later that I had done maybe a hair less than 70 miles. Not even good enough to make the first Dirty Kanza checkpoint. Decision sealed. I can't justify showing up unprepared. I will just use this to build off of and shoot for July. Right now, my attentions will be refocused on The Big Wheeled Ballyhoo and on product testing for Twenty Nine Inches and The Bike Lab. I'll get my longer rides in too. I'll be in better shape later than I wanted to be, but I'll get there.

That's the tough part about having two jobs, poor weather in the early season, and events to put on. It doesn't leave room for fudging things. I can't change that part. All I can say is, I'm moving forward from here.

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