Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Brevet is Half Full

Hi all,
Well, I write this it is 34 degrees and snowing heavily. A far cry from the 62 degrees a mere ten hours ago this morning. Ah, springtime in Utah. At least my legs can get some rest.
Why do my legs need some rest? Yesterday, I enjoyed the challenge of a benchmark ride. This ride was to assess my progress towards completing my first 200 km brevet in June. As I mentioned in the previous post, the plan is to ride from my house to the Fielding Garr Ranch on the southeast side of Antelope Island. By my estimate it is about 60 miles, and has both flat and hilly terrain; a perfect route for this half-brevet test.
There was quite a bit of planning in this small adventure. I wanted to evaluate not only my fitness to ride long distance, but many other minor issues like: food, clothing, and hydration. Brevet riding is self-supported, so I had better get things right now, as opposed to creating challenges on the open road in June.
Bison off the side of the road.

My day started perfectly. Out the door at 7:15 as Kathy headed for school. Cool weather with none of the forecasted winds made for nice riding conditions. All day long I stressed steady pacing; not sprinting down hills, not over spinning up hills, and just kept to the plan of around 16 mph average. My first goals had been to complete the route in less than 6 hours, which is about half of the 13.5 hour standard for a 200 km brevet.

A nice view of the south part of the island.

Surprisingly, I arrived at the ranch in exactly 2 hours of riding time, right on schedule. After a 15 minute break, a nice chat with the caretaker, a few pictures, and I was back on the little red bike and headed north. As I rode north I kept to the plan. Steady spinning and keeping the average speed around 16 mph. As I crossed the 7 mile causeway, I realized that I was ahead of schedule. Way ahead of schedule. In fact, some mental math brought me to the conclusion that if I stayed the course (Sorry, Mr. Prez) I could complete the ride in 4 hours. So, I just upped the pace, and kept an eye on the clock. Although in sticking with the plan I decided that if I got home in 4:00 it would be great, but it wasn’t crucial at the expense of the plan.

The view from the ranch.
As it turned out, I made it; 4 hours to the second. (Insert happy dance here). Now, I know that there are hundreds of brevet riders that can do a 4 hour 60 mile in their sleep. But, for me, especially in March and early in the year, it is a grand day.

Pronghorn Antelope, staring at me...
A few vital statistics:
Miles: 60
Time: 4:00 flat. Total time: 4+40.
Animals seen on the island: Bison, Pronghorn Antelope, Pheasant, Foxes, Coyotes, Grouse, a few jackrabbits.
Water Consumed: 20-24 ounces.
Snacks: A baggie full of cereal raisin nut mix, one Clif Bar, one breakfast bar, half an apple.

Am I ready for the 200k? Not quite, but I am definitely ahead of schedule. I just keep working on slow and steady progress; every day, every month, every year. I think back to a few years back, when I would write in my log: “12 miles, longest ride of the year!”
Now, while the snow is here, back to the gym, and work harder!

Happy riding


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

March Miles

Hi All,
Well 13 days without writing, but 13 days of good riding! 126 miles later, more miles in March than the last 3 March’s combined. It is both good news, and bad news. The good news: Great weather; Fresh air; and plenty of early season riding and great conditioning. The bad news: No rain and snow. The state is woefully below projections for water and snow pack, so it’s going to be water rationing dry summer. But since I can’t control what comes out the sky, I might as well ride and enjoy the sunshine.

Most of my riding has been out to Antelope Island. During late winter and early spring, the island is a great place to ride. No bugs, no cars, and cool temperatures make it ideal for long training rides. I have enjoyed three 40+ miles rides in the last two weeks, riding from the house to the island and then riding a loop or two up around to the northeast side.

As my plans continue for my first Brevet in June, I have decided to ride a test half-Brevet. The test Brevet will include 100 km, or 62 miles, with a total running time of 6 hours. The Bryce Canyon 200k on June 9th will have a 13.5 hour time limit, so this will be a good early season test to see if this whole plan is a good idea or not. Where to ride the test? Antelope Island! (Some sort of compulsion I guess). Actually, I want to enjoy the island for the last few weeks before the clouds of gnats and mosquitoes make their appearance. After that, I will put the island out of my memory until late May or June. So, the 100k will include a ride from the house to the marina, then south to the Fielding Garr Ranch. It is a flat ride until the section south to the ranch, then it becomes rolling terrain with two good steady climbs.

That’s all the news on the cycling front. I would also like to give some props to Kathy who for several weeks has been painstakingly repairing the figurines that crashed to the floor in January. (See the January 30th post). Every morning, she has been carefully picking through the pieces and fixing our treasures. They won’t ever be the same, but it was the point of the exercise. She has made things whole again!
Please enjoy a few pictures of the figurines and from the island.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

New Parts

My shiny new Ultegra Derailleur
Hi All,
Well, another busy week is zipping by, but Spring is here! Good riding weather is upon us, and with the onset of early daylight savings this weekend, there will be more time to ride. While I was in Arizona, I took the opportunity to take the Little Red Bike to the shop for an annual tune-up. The bike had lost interest in shifting efficiently on the rear set, and you may recall I had broken the front derailleur last fall.
The busted derailleur. It wouldn't throw the chain to the granny gear at all.
So, the bike shop took good care while I was away, and the bike is now back in the garage, primed and ready to go. A test ride showed tremendous improvement in shifting.

Items replaced/fixed:

Front derailleur replaced.
Rear derailleur cable replaced.
Wheel hubs lubricated.
Chain replaced. (It takes 2.5 chains!)
Wheels trued.
Now, when I have a free day to ride courtesy of stringent FAA medical rules, it's raining!
Of course! What else would one expect.

See you down the road.