I planned a fairly epic (for me) road ride on Saturday. It did not disappoint. First, it was cold - 41 degrees when I left, and stayed that way through the shaded country roads for most of the ride. I made it harder on myself (not on purpose), but not putting my jacket on until halfway through. I had a windproof type jersey on and a windproof fleece-lined vest, but when it's really cold, those just don't keep you warm. Heh, I was also wearing not only a skullcap, but also my Surly wool cap. I wished I had something to close/block the major vents in my helmet though (if anyone thinks a modern helmet like the Giro Atmos makes them hot, they're crazy).
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I had plotted out my ride on Google Maps, targeting 50 miles. Late in the ride I was having some leg strain, so I took one short cut, and the ride wound up being 47 miles. The ride featured just shy of 4000' of climbing, took 3 hours and 18 minutes (ride time), and featured some interesting roads!
The first 15 miles occurred on roads I'd ridden before. From there though, I turned onto Battle Creek, and shortly thereafter things got interesting. The road started out small and right off there was a cool covered bridge to ride through. I believe this was the first covered bridge I've ridden over. About a mile or two later though, the climbing began, and then, almost immediately after that the road turned to dirt! And, to make things even more interesting, the grade just kept increasing. It hit 13% right quick, and then throughout the rest of the climb, there were sections of 16%. Ya baby, mini Giro! Ok, yes, very mini, but hey, I dig this stuff.
So, while I'm loving this, the road of course had to then turn into a descent. Now normally, this would be much welcomed, but two things: It was 41 degrees, and more tricky, it was a relatively steep dirt and gravel road descent. I enjoy this, but had to watch it of course, not wanting to flat. The climb had been a mile or two, and the descent was probably a solid two miles. Chilly, but pretty fun. I was surfing back and forth across the gravel central line looking for the smoothest side. Good times.
Oh, the other tricky point... the dirt roads, with a bunch of little offshoots, didn't inspire confidence that I'd known when I'd hit Panther Creek, or how well it'd be marked. Just as I was getting a bit nervous though, ah, Panther Creek and pavement. I had mixed feelings about the pavement though. I actually love riding dirt roads on my road bike. I'd held off from them for a long while after getting my custom Calfee and riding Reynolds carbon wheels, thinking I wanted to protect them. But these days I've been riding them more (I'm also riding my Campy Eurus wheels though).
The other half of this loop, Wolf Creek, featured a pretty sweet descent. Luckily by this time I'd put on my jacket and was somewhat warmer. The temps were up to maybe 44-46 at this point, but honestly, I was still pretty chilly. Time for some food. Sucked down a Clif Mojo bar (my favorite), and headed towards Crow.
By the time I arrived in Crow, my right leg was feeling a bit strained, like a cramp might be coming on. I realized it was the first time in a long time I hadn't taken Sport Legs before riding, and I didn't have any Enduralytes with me. I stopped in at the Crow County Store, as V8 was calling. After passing by the big dudes buying cases of Bud, I snagged a V8 and some peanut butter/cheese crackers. V8 has got to be the most well kept secret when it comes to mid-ride convenience store liquids.
This is also where I took my shortcut, cutting out about 2-3 miles. I was back on familiar roads. Another freezer descent, but then back into the sun. I was in the final stretches, with of course the final climb being fairly burly (gradients in the teens). Pushed through, with one stop for the nice fall color on the final climb. Arrived home, psyched, but fairly blown. Inhaled some recovery drink, oh, and ya, some more V8. I had also warmed up nicely by now.
Not long after it was off for burgers and Bloody Mary's. And after that, I was in that blissful, yet totally knackered, post big ride, post big food, state - an achy and great, near coma state.