Monday, April 12, 2010
What was that movie: "Back to the Future"? I'm beginning to look like Christopher Lloyd. Now if I could get "back" to having 30 year old legs, brevets would be so much more fun.
Almost a year ago I had a liver transplant which meant limited strenuous activity. While I was approved to cycle about 8 weeks after the surgery, any long distance rides such as this were verboten.
Scheduled 200km rides for January were scratched by nurse Toni, who when told that temps would be in the high 30's with possible rain, said: "I know you love cycling, but tell your bike friends that "Mama Nurse Toni" says "NO". What Mama Nurse Toni says, I do. Faithfully. I like being around.
With the Central Florida Randonneurs 300km brevet on my calendar I kept looking at the weather forecast and thankfully even though a "cold" front was coming through the evening temps would only be around 50 F degrees.
One of the "going to be fun" things about this brevet is that a bunch of my recumbent buds who ride Bacchettas would be attending, John Schlitter amongst them. John is one of these long distance intrepid souls who started racing sailcars across the plains of Kansas. A racer at a young age, as he (ahem) matured, he got into long distance events, RAAM included. He currently holds the RAAM record as the only cyclist to complete RAAM on a recumbent. I knew I'd see him at the start and that would be it. These cyclists will complete a 300km ride (180) miles in about 10 to 11 hours.
I have to keep telling them: "It's not a race. It's a brevet". Can't take the heart out of the lion.
When I started the 300km it was 5:00 a.m. in the morning, coldish, and we were going against a cross headwind out of the WNW at 20 to 30 mph with gusts to 40 mph plus. So I pondered: "And Joe, why are you doing these?" I got the same answer when I started in 2003: "Ummmm I don't know, but I really like 'em." Although this time I was questioning my sanity.
Most of the brevet was on either lightly traffic roads or back roads with the surface from "wow" to "ow", especially one 20 mile section that looked like something from a war zone. I'm sure it was used for either bombing or strafing practice. I came to realize the benefit of my titanium trusty steed and wondered what that road would have felt like on a standard bike.
Usually I'm the "Rouge Lanterne", but this time there were one or two riders who rode with me for awhile or lagged behind at the control. So I didn't finish last on this one, as I normally do.
One third of the way into the race, cycling head first into that headwind and lucky to maintain 9 to 10 mph I was sure I would never do a long distance brevet again. Why need to? I'm not qualifying for anything or going for a medal. Turning back into a cross headwind my legs had nothing...I mean nothing. It was all I could do to turn the pedals and move.
Then it happened.
On my last brevet I also went from "lunch legs" to "energizer bunny". How or why I don't know. All I know is that the next 100 miles were "well...let's just keep going..." and I felt like I could ride forever. That's usually my style: Just keep pedaling in a spin and grin gear. It works.
Finished in about 15 hours riding time which is standard fare of about 12mph to 13mph overall average for me on these long distance rides.
Have a 400km coming up in two weeks and I'm sure I'll ask myself the same question: "And Joe, why do you do these ridiculously long bike rides?'
Same answer: "I dunno.". Wait. Yes I do: "Because they're there."
P.S. The ride back went through Titusville on the eve that the last night shuttle launch was to take place. Took my time looking at the hundreds upon hundreds of campers, vendors, food stands, etc. being established overnight: A veritable city popped up.
I met Shelly in NYC in the mid to late 90's. He owns (or did) a bike messenger company and has been carless for I don't know how long. His blog urbanmobilityproject.blogspot.com/ is a door into the biking culture of NYC.
Well worth the read washcycle.typepad.com/home/2008/07/the-myth-of-the.html it am.