Thursday, June 28, 2012

riding 75 miles a day for 6 days

If you've read any or all of my last six posts you've probably come to the conclusion that I'm a gluttonous pig. And I'm talking about the food, not the punishment I was able to endure. And, while if that is the conclusion that you reached, I would not argue with you, that doesn't tell the whole story.

People who have never done, would never think of doing, such a thing as a week long bike tour sometimes ask if I lose weight. Generally, no, I don't. But I don't gain any either, and I eat a lot! What a great deal!

What, and how much, you eat while riding is a very individual thing. On training rides I seldom take more with me than a granola bar. Maybe a little more if I plan to be out for several hours. Or, if it just happens that a ride turns long, I'll stop at a convenience store for a little something.

Some riders eat a big breakfast before a ride. I've done that too, but generally have better luck with something small and several little noshes along the way. Some don't eat more than a little all ride, and replenish with a big meal after. Many have told me they don't do well with too much protein during a ride and stick to carbs.

I've been trying to watch what I eat for the last 8 months with good results. But, when I'm riding a respectable distance every day for close to a week, all bets are off the table. I think I had a post-ride bonk the first day of the Tour de Kota. I'm certain that pie would have helped.

In Colorado, there are often not a lot of options for food along the route. So the CRMBT has stations every 20 miles or so to refill water bottles and have a snack. Yogurt, fruit, pb&j, cookies or crackers, just to keep you going. When there is a convenient place to have some "real food" I've been known to take advantage.

In South Dakota there are usually small towns all along the route, and the organizers work with groups in those communities to fill our needs. Sometimes the tour will stop the sag vehicle at a pulloff and have water available. Other times  a group will have free water and snacks for sale, or sell bottles of water, Gatorade, homemade goodies, etc. And if they are far enough along the route to serve something more suited to lunch, most riders will stop for lunch, even if it is 9:30am.

The way I do it works for me. I can't really stomach Gatorade until the end of the ride, or near to it. But I seem to be able to eat tremendous amounts of sweet rolls, rice krispie treats, and pie and keep on pedaling. The trick is to remember that when I get home, I have to stop. Unless I have an 80-miler planned for tomorrow.   ;)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

final day of tdk 2012

I didn't relish the thought of getting up in the middle of the night. But, to ride the last 84 miles, shower, eat and drive 400 miles back home, I thought early was better than late. I set an alarm for 4:30am, and was awake 15 minutes before that went off. I love the camping part of a bike tour, but one drawback is if you're even a little awake, you start to hear "zip, zip, zip" as folks get out of tents and close up bags. Anyway, I was up and among the zippers.

Breakfast was served beginning at 5:00 at a cafe downtown. They set up selling items out front, and had a buffet inside. Nothing grabbed me outside, and I was underwhelmed by the choices at the buffet, so I had a couple of pecan caramel rolls and a good cup of coffee. By 5:30 I was ready to go, and it was light enough that I felt pretty safe in the very light traffic heading out of DeSmet.

We rode more than 25 miles straight south, straight enough that I think I could have closed my eyes. But I didn't. After a thrilling left turn, we rode into Howard, where a child care center was raising money selling breakfast burritos and drinks. It hit the spot a couple hours into the ride, and oh yeah, another caramel roll. There was a lunch stopped planned for Canova, just 10 miles down the road. But , when the pace line I had jumped on pulled in it was still early morning, so the barbecue wasn't ready. That didn't stop me from having a piece of pie, however.

After consuming all the sweets in so little time I didn't need to stop long at the last few stops. I filled my bottles at a couple, and didn't stop at all at the last one. On the last stretch of highway, about 18 miles due east that would get us to Dell Rapids, I joined another pace line. These guys were really moving. On the end I was doing more than 20 mph without working much at all. The problem came when we hit some good, long hills. They would slow slightly, and I had done best on hills throughout the week by pushing at the bottom to not lose my momentum, and standing toward the top if needed to keep it up. They were messing with my rythym, so about 5 miles out I dropped off and was on my own again.
An ominous cloud threatened us for a good part of the morning, but seemed to be moving directly away from us. It was a beautiful morning, and I was making good time. I was among the first dozen or so to leave that morning, and I hadn't been passed by very many, so I was doing about as well as I could have hoped for.
I made it to Dell Rapids by 11:30 am. I felt pretty good about 6 hours for 84 miles with lots of stops. I found my luggage, rode to where we had parked the cars, back for the bags, showered, had lunch in the park, and was on my way home before 1:00pm. A little more than 6 hours later I was back home with 2 happy dogs,a relieved wife, a sunburned nose, some good memories, and somewhere in the neighborhood of 450 miles on my bike. A pretty good week.

little town on the prairie

Thursday was a 60 mile ride from Watertown to DeSmet, SD home of Laura Ingalls Wilder. A slight breeze from the west didn't hurt at all as we rode some west, but mostly south. I got a reasonably early start and made good time all morning. I stopped at almost every rest stop, usually just to refill bottles and get off the bike for a few minutes. But, I totally missed the location of the lunch stop where they were serving ribeye sandwiches. I heard later that they were delicious.

I might have missed it because I was visiting with other riders. I spent a good part of the morning riding and talking with a just-retired college math teacher from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD. He was wearing a Minnesota Twins jersey and we talked about the fun of being a fan when they won the World Series in '87 and '91. On the ride into DeSmet I rode with a geologist from Lincoln, NE who has worked on different Superfund clean-up sites.
As it turned out, with everyone enjoying ribeye sandwiches I was one of the first couple dozen riders into DeSmet.  We camped in a beautiful park with plenty of trees, and the high school open for showers was less than a block away. Actually nothing in DeSmet was too far away. I walked the couple blocks to the Subway/Dairy Queen for lunch and desert, and spent the rest of the day reading in the shade and visiting with riders and residents.
For dinner some riders took advantage of a shuttle to a restaurant/bar outside of town, or walked a few blocks to the country club. Many of us stayed in the park for a barbecue, concert, and ice cream social. It cooled nicely as we turned in early for one last night. We had an 84 mile ride ahead of us tomorrow, followed, I hoped by a drive home that would get me back to my wife and dogs at a reasonable hour.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

tour de kota '12 - day 3

Tuesday called for 98 miles from Brandon, SD to Marshall, MN. The winds were light out of the southeast, a little bit of a crosswind when we rode east, but feeling like a decent tailwind when we rode north, which was most of the day. Everyone was in the mood to leave early on such a long day. I was ready to go except for a quick breakfast at 6:30am and I felt like I was running late. At least 90% of riders were already on their way.
 I felt good and rode hard, passing a lot of people along the way who were riding at their own pace to get their century. I stopped at all the stops for water or snacks, but sometimes just for a few minutes. When we arrived in Pipestone, MN the Chamber of Commerce served pulled pork sandwiches at the historic Pipestone County courthouse in the shade of old trees on a perfect morning.
It was a pleasant afternoon as we rolled through Lake Benton, Tyler and Russell, getting a little warm, but I don't mind that. I was considering adding a few miles at the end of the ride, but decided against it when I broke a spoke about 3 miles from the end. I had put a small dent in a spoke on the rear wheel a few weeks ago when  I dropped my chain. The bike shop didn't have the spoke in-stock, but they didn't think it would be a problem for me. But, the last stretch of highway had somewhat jarring lines in the road that kept banging on your tires. Eventually it just snapped. I was able to limp in to Marshall and get a makeshift spoke installed.

Inclement weather was forecast for overnight, and we were camped at the middle school, so many campers opted to sleep in the gym rather than pitch a tent. This meant there was plenty of room for the couple dozen of us who did pitch tents. The decision to put up my tent would prove to be unfortunate and fortunate in the morning.

tour de kota '12 - day 2

After the punishing winds of the first day we were hoping for a more pleasant day two. We were not disappointed. Sixty-two miles of rolling hills took us briefly into Iowa, where the Novartis Animal Health plant in Larchwood set up a stop for us with gazebos for shade, free water and bananas, and for a great price, a lunch of hamburgers or brats, salads, chips, drinks, and desert.

With only 20 miles to our overnight location of Brandon, SD, we had seen some headwinds and crosswinds, but they were nothing compared to Sunday. So we rode into town in the early afternoon. As we arrived in Brandon we passed a retirement center that gave me the chance to atone for something I've regretted since my first Tour de Kota. I stopped and had a cold drink and visited with some of the residents, who were holding signs welcoming us to town, and generally just enjoying seeing all the cyclists ride by.

We camped in the park that night, with many food vendors on hand, shuttles to take us downtown, and free entertainment by the beer garden from 5:00 to 9:00pm. It felt really good to get in early and have the rest of the day to relax, recuperate, and prepare for the next two near-century days ahead of us.

a tale of three states

It was the best of rides, it was the worst of rides. Overall, it was pretty good. As I wrote in an e-mail to my wife early in the week "I'm suffering, but having fun". I got back home Friday night from a six-day ride through South Dakota, with a brief excursion into northwest Iowa, and later, an overnight stop in Minnesota. The out-of-state overnight was a first for the Argus Leader's  Tour de Kota, in it's eighth year.
Saturday, June 16, I drove 400 miles north to Dell Rapids, SD to check in, sign my waiver, and prepare for the week ahead. The main drag through town led to the city park where riders could camp near the Big Sioux River, and enjoy dinner and breakfast without having to leave the park.
Sunday morning after breakfast I packed up camp, dropped of my bags and headed out on a beautiful, sunny morning.
As we rode a little west, a little east, but mostly south, it was a glorious morning for the first half of the 69-mile ride. Slowly it became partly cloudy, but that was okay because it helped the temperature from climbing any faster than it did. But it did climb. It got hot, but even more windy. The last 20 miles from Worthing were straight south into probably the hardest wind into which I've ever ridden. I heard that it was a sustained wind over 30 miles an hour, but all I know is that it blew! And several of the water/food stops that some of the communities were going to set up were not yet there when the first half of the riders went by.
At one point less than 10 miles from the finish, which could take over an hour in those conditions, I was completely out of water. A woman I stopped by gave me a quarter of her last bottle to get me through. We found a water stop about 3 miles from Beresford, our stop for the night, and limped in mid-afternoon. My legs felt fine, but I was slightly nauseous and light-headed. I felt like I had been beat up pretty good by the wind. Some Gatorade, a nap, and a spaghetti supper later, I was feeling better. I read a little and turned in early to be ready for day two. If the wind would blow the same direction, we could make the 62 miles north to Brandon in no time flat!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

tour de kota 2012

I think I'm all packed and ready to roll. Saturday morning I'll drive to Dell Rapids, SD (with a stop in Sioux Falls to hit Scheels) to check in for the Tour de Kota. The route we'll follow Sunday to Friday is 464 miles of rolling hills through eastern South Dakota, with a brief incursion into Iowa, and even an overnight stop in Marshall, MN.
This tour was the first week-long ride that I ever did, and it inspired me to ride BAK and become a repeat offender on CRMBT. I'm really looking forward to seeing some of the small towns and residents who will host us as we ride through or overnight. I'm planning on taking pictures whenever the opportunities prevent themselves. And, I plan to ride fast enough to get in at a good time, but slow enough to appreciate the journey.

I'm really looking forward to a week where all I have to concern myself with is where to ride, and what to eat. If I feel like it I'll put something on Facebook or Twitter, but I'll share the entire tour with you when I'm safe at home.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

i've been everywhere

It started out to be a leisurely 50 mile ride, then it turned epic! It was sunny, but cool this morning so I puttered around the house until 10:00am before I headed out. I figured even going slow I would be home 3:00. The wind was from the west so I started in that direction. I went further west than I had been in over a year. I ended up looking like a straggler on a century ride held by the local bike club, which I had totally forgotten about. Riders were headed back towards town as I plugged away on the other side of the road. I made it into the neighboring county before needing to choose north or south when I ran out of road. I went south and felt like Wellsville would be a good far point to make a loop that would put me over 50 miles.

I had stuffed some snacks in my pocket and ate them in the city park in Wellsville. My approach had been from the north, and I knew there was a road on the east side of town that would take me back to roads I was familiar with and get me headed for home. But, there was construction, and I was advised to not go north on that road. So, I headed south and was going away from where I wanted to end up. Seven miles later I was able to head east on a highway with a good shoulder, but more traffic than I cared for. After about 10 miles I was able to turn to the north on a road I knew. It would get me home, eventually.

Able to refill my bottles at Hillsdale Lake and again at the park in Gardner, and once more at the ball fields in Olathe, I was less than 3 miles from home before my phone rang. My dear wife was just calling to check on me and my 7 hour adventure. It wasn't planned, but I  was glad to get a good ride in that will be as long as all but two days on the Tour de Kota. Two more weeks and I'll be on my way.