Felt a bit tired early in the week and my only rides were commuting. Early alarms Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday but all three days were ignored, back to sleep... pretty lame. I did stretch my commutes out to around 20 miles for 3 of the days. Most of that was spent just cruising around at night admiring the sites and the calm of the city while everyone else is sleeping. Friday morning I was sitting at about 70 miles and 5.5 hrs.
Friday morning I woke up naturally around 10 and felt great- decided it was time to get back into the swing of the long rides. The wind coerced me into starting in a southerly direction. Decided to get onto the gravel and try to pick my way down to Chatfield. Found an absolutely beautiful section of road down in a deep valley that I will definitely ride again in the future. Rolled into Chatfield, grabbed a horrible sandwich and some g2 then hit the road. Obviously magnum road was going to be the ticket out of town. Hit that hilliest section of the '09 Almanzo and then cut north and northwest up to Stewartville. Coasted home from there with the wind at about 70 miles.
Recently I've been eating a lot of tortelloni- super easy way to get some dense calories and easy to make. My favorite recipe right now is to mix them with campbell's healthy choice "Italian Wedding" soup, or the "chicken tortilla" and a can of low salt black beans. With either option I also season liberally with sriracha. Anyways, I threw together a quick tortelloni soup dinner, showered and got out the door. Rode the 13 miles or so down to "catch 22" and met up with Mike Rust for a beer.
Halfway through the 2nd blue mooon I checked Facebook and saw that some guys from QBP were going to be riding 140-150 miles Saturday morning up in the cities. Not sure how I made up my mind that I should do that... I had ridden too much already to be "my best" Saturday morning and I was relatively sure that they'd be going pretty fast. Still, I had plans to try to ride that far and get a feel for it sometime very soon (very likely today, Sunday) and knew it would be incredibly helpful to do it with a group. I decided to make it happen. We were to leave at 6:30am from the colossal cafe up in Minneapolis near where I grew up. I rode back home on the bike paths through downtown etc. (the shortest route was now quite dark/dangerous with car traffic) By the time I got organized this left me with about 5 hrs of sleep, but I was feeling well as I unpacked the MCS in the dark and loaded my pockets with food.
The group seemed quite surprised that someone "else" was there to ride with them, and perhaps even more so that I was on a mountain bike. Everyone was friendly, there wasn't a lot of time to waste and we got started. The decision was made that we would do the "cannonball run" ride which would take us out to the Afton area, through Hastings, to Red Wing for brunch, past Cannon Falls, Vermillion etc. and then back to Minneapolis.
Things started out fast and stayed that way. I was more tired than I wanted to be from the beginning, but I hoped that as time went on the group might tire a bit and that I might stay more or less the same. I fell off a bit during an "early" climb around mile 45 and knew that I was likely to struggle some. Was smart? enough to admit that right away though and started spending a lot of time at the back of the group. I also told myself that I would climb at a pace which was comfortable for me and that I would watch my heart rate. Basically, I would put a hr "ceiling" on myself around 180 bpm in order to try to maintain any strength or high end power I did have left. If you've ridden with me you know how much I like to climb, so this was probably good for my ego to get my ass kicked up a few of them eh? Anyways, I held on more or less all the way into Red Wing with around 77 miles on the odometer.
The absolute highlight of that half of the ride was the "closed" bridges that we had to cross, the ones that happened to be covered in paintball paint and required climbing skills to conquer (well, for those who have such skills and who weren't wearing carbon road shoes- I had to crawl underneath like a wimp).
I was feeling pretty "broken" already and I was in my home town where I knew I had a couch, some NCAA basketball and a beer or two just waiting for me. I was able to convince myself to start back to the cities, but only just barely.
The rest of the ride was a blur and it was where the motorpacing really came in (or at least what passes for "motorpacing" for me on gravel). The pace never significantly dropped off- we kept an average up in the mid 16s and didn't waver much other than when they had to wait for me after every sustained climb. Luckily I was able to continue to spin the pace on the flats and hopefully I didn't slow them down too much. I almost quit the group and rode back to Red Wing around mile 110 (which I convinced myself was an option because I'd still get my miles in, albeit at my own pace), but Joe talked me out of it. Things got rough, the group helped me or the group dropped me, I felt bad, I kept pedaling. There were sections of road completely covered with beach sand. Things were rough. I was pleasantly surprised that nothing really weird happened. My legs were weak, but my aerobic system was still functioning fine and my food/drink situation was fine. I was weaker than the group, but other than on steep grades I felt the same as ever. They continued to help me. The route got longer and longer- seriously, it went from about 140 to being well over 150... I tried not to hold them up. We crossed into Minneapolis, the pace was still high.
In the end we rode about 155-160 miles (depending on which rider's computer you trust) in about 9:45 of riding time. My average heartrate was 145... disturbing.
I know that we went through a lot of beautiful terrain and interesting sites etc., but this ride wasn't about that for me... I was just too close to the edge the whole time to pay attention.
I can't thank the other riders enough for pulling me and just for letting me come along. The next time I will be more prepared (better rested and hopefully on a cross bike), I hope I'm invited!
Met my parents for dinner at Outback, slept about 11 hrs,did some yardwork etc.. Then got to work on my bike. Put on my new truvativ noir crankset (thanks charly tri) and realized the outgoing BB was absolutely, completely destroyed... couldn't even spin the driveside bearing by hand. Grateful it didn't fail to the point of ending my ride yesterday.
Now we are off to play some golf.
List of Postcards - In the interest of letting folks know that I received their card (without the hassle of emailing each and every one of you... not that it is too much work....
2 days ago