Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hilly Billy Roubaix - Post Mortem

Ok, I didn't finish. Let's just get that out there.
At just over the 50 mile mark my head was starting to swim and my breath was really shallow.  As I came down a hill I realized I had a rear puncture so by the time I got to the course marshal (now walking) at the corner she was shouting at me "Aren't you supposed to be on your bike?" She said it with a laugh so I know she meant well.  I sat at that corner for 20 minutes debating what to do and finally realized that sanity dictated I should resign for this year.

My nerves subsided by the time my daughter and I were prepping my aid-station drop-bags. Each bag had two bottles of water, a peanut butter sandwich and a spare tube.

It was a rolling start with a field of just over 300. 

That's me above, almost dead centre, in the orange.
I was one of the last in the start group. The plan was to pace myself, let others burn out, and eventually pass them.  However, I knew by mile 5 that this was no longer a race as far as I was concerned. This event had become simply a question of survival.

I did cramp a lot but managed to get through it every time.  I drank plenty of water and ate at every opportunity. My legs felt good, my conditioning felt good but the heat (oh, the heat) defeated me in the end.  I think I was very, very close to heatstroke.  In one of the post-race interviews a competitor said her Garmin read 104 degrees.

Although I'm smiling in this after photo my head didn't feel right until about half way through dinner.

I left it all on that course in West Virginia/Pennsylvania so I have no regrets. And I will be back. June 21, 2014.

Lots of fun. Great camaraderie and conversations abounded.  Interesting aid-stations, if not actually useful (M&M peanuts, pretzels, trail-mix, Famous Amos cookies) and I even got a mention on the local news coverage (well I was one of the three Canadians in the race).

A couple of additional observations:
  • West Virginia back-roads use much larger diameter gravel that we do in Canada. Those chunks were basically golf ball sized.
  • The smaller the home the larger the flag.
  • Not Obama fans in those parts. I wouldn't normally wade into the political but they made their opinions very clear.
  • 35c tires aren't quite wide enough for this ride. I am looking at some 42c Schwalbe's for next year.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

My Brush with the Tour Divide 2013

Today JD had a good luck/going away party.  Its as close as I will get to doing the Tour Divide. Ha!

He flies to Banff Wednesday and will be acclimatizing for a couple of days before the start of the Tour.
JD is wearing the "Tour" t-shirt.
Cake Bike. I think it has a puncture.
Cycling to the party was a good opportunity to try my new eggbeater peddles for the first time. Its a few miles across town - flat all the way - but a beautiful day for some urban touring nonetheless.

http://goo.gl/maps/X4DVe --- I am trying to embed my route but cannot seem to do it. So here's the link if you're interested.  Some Hamilton views along the way:

An art-deco house in Westdale. Wonder what its selling for?
Steel mills abound across the harbour.
And now home for barbeque salmon.  Doesn't get much better.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Bicycling Ridge Road on the Niagara Escarpment

Much to the chagrin of my wife, getting up early is becoming standard practice for me.  It often means some time alone to read but this morning I joined the ranks of unnumbered other cyclists who hit the pavé at the crack of dawn. This was a bit of a new experience but quite enjoyable.

I started out climbing the Niagara Escarpment.  As a means of training for the hills of West Virginia I did it twice.

Smiling at the top, so it couldn't have been that bad!

If you do an 8% grade twice does that equal a 16% climb?
My new bike-computer actually has an altimeter but I don't have the sensor hooked up yet.

I turned east at the crossroads and into Grimsby mountain.  It's just beautiful riding up here on the escarpment.

I'm loving this whole "gravel-grinding-thing" so I typically stick to unpaved shoulders. I think other bikes that pass me wonder what the heck I am doing!

Finally the ubiquitous coffee. I am new to the world of coffee consumption and thus far from being a connoisseur.  I passed up two designer coffee shops for McCafé!

Happy cycling to you, today!

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Downtube Shifters On - Paké C'Mute Ready

Now that it's all assembled I can start training in earnest - with only 18 days to go before the Hilly Billy Roubaix (Morgantown, WV).
The Proud Father.

The Tektro brakes work really well. Lots of stopping power.

I always use a single ring up front so I only need one shifter.  Anyone wanna buy a downtube shifter for your chainring?

Never have invested in an expensive derailleur but they always work just fine.

Just missing the egg-beaters and eventually, the Brooks B-17.

I am so intimidated by what I've signed up for I almost want to back out.  I won't, but I am pretty nervous.  I can see the headline, "Local Bicycle Commuter Breaks Legs in Race He Had No Business Entering."

The overall geometry still needs adjustment.  The Paké feels a little road-bike-ish and not too responsive.  I will need to improve that for gravel grinding.