Saturday, July 3, 2010

June Summary

At the beginning of last week I was under the impression that June wouldn't be a particularly good bike month. We had been traveling quite a bit and I didn't make to any FLCC Sunday Rides. Well, it turned out that I nonetheless rode a total of 802 km. Due to good weather and lack of commuting, Wolfgang's kilometrage reached an all-year low with 224 km. Gunnar, on the other hand, did an all-time high of 578 km. Daily average riding was 26.73 km, a little less than last month. Total accumulated annual kilometrage is at 3380 km.

Cannibalization of Lean Muscle Tissue: A Random, Non-Controlled Experimental Study1


In case my accomplice hasn't told you yet: this Wednesday I undertook an attempt to become a legit randonneur by riding more than 200 km in one day. And with a total distance of 231 km in 11.5 hours, going from Ithaca to Lake Ontario and back, I succeeded.

1 Introduction

The plan to ride all the way to Lake Ontario and back has a long history, probably dating back to the winter of 2008/09. The distance, about 110 km, seemed very long and probably beyond my reach, but not insanely so. This was especially true since the elevation profile was definitely one of the more harmless ones around Ithaca. In addition, the existence of a nice-looking state park made me think that it might be a good two-day trip, riding up, camping for one night, and riding back the next day. After having done my first century last year and some serious riding this year, I thought that I should be able to do the ride in one day. The goal of 200 km, the lowest distance that randonneurs do, was a very appealing challenge and I was fairly confident that I'd be able to do it. It might hurt, but whatevs. Because I hadn't done a lot of riding in June and already knew that I couldn't ride much in July, on Monday I decided to do the attempt on Wednesday, the last day of June. The weather forecast was very good–dry, sunny, not too hot–and I would have plenty of daylight.

2 Method

I tend to be terribly slow with everything when I have to get up earlier than usual and thus I tried to get as much of the ride preparations as possible done the previous day. I switched the Brooks and the seatposts from Wolfgang to Gunnar (note to self: need second Brooks!); raised the handlebars by one spacer; cleaned and lubed the chain; replaced the battery on my rear light; put on the Carradice rack and bag, made a heap of all the stuff I was going to bring on the ride; and printed two copies of the cue sheet. I was excited about my ride, resulting in rather bad sleep and therefore I didn't feel too peppy when the local country station woke me up at 5:40. I quickly ate two slices of the tasty banana bread (Figure 1) the accomplice had made for me and by 6:15 I was ready to roll.

Figure 1: Banana Bread

2.1 Materials

3 Results

I started the ride rather tiredly. I could still feel the racing on Saturday and the rides on subsequent days in my legs and I was pretty sleepy. What did wake me up were the low temperatures. I was wearing arm warmers and a wind vest but I was still a bit cold. After traversing Ithaca downtown, I followed NY34 up the hill alongside the Cayuga Lake shore. From Lansing I then descended down into the Salmon Creek valley and after 25 km continued on Indian Fields Road. Indian Fields Rd (which further north continues as Black St) is a nice rural backroad with little traffic and good pavement, but it also has one major disadvantage: dogs! The first pair of them appeared right next to me out of nowhere and scared the bejeezus out of me. Not many km further down I was chased by another beast and by the time I made it to Auburn I had been chased by a total of 5 dogs. This was really pissing me off and for the way back I considered avoiding this route and instead following NY34 all the way. Auburn was 60 km into the ride and around 9 a.m. I took a rest stop at the gas station there to have a cup of coffee and make a wake-up call to the accomplice. My average speed was fairly good, despite several bathroom and one seat adjustment break. The route through Auburn, bypassing the downtown area on the west, turned out to be a good choice and I cut across the city on quiet residential streets (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Dunning Ave in Auburn

Once out of Auburn, the landscape became slightly less agricultural (and less dog-infested). Until Port Byron, a little village next to I90, I stayed on quiet backroads parallel to NY 38. From there on I followed 38 almost all of the way to the state park. Even though it was state highway, the traffic on NY38 was very low. A few km north of Port Byron I made a quick stop at the Seneca River and it had finally gotten warm enough that I could take off the wind vest.

The rest of the ride of the ride to the park was characterized by rolling hills (Figures 3, 4). I had been aware that this portion of the route wouldn't be completely flat, but I hadn't expected the constant rollers that tired me out quite a bit. The constant crosswinds from the Northwest didn't help either; however, the prospect of being at the state park soon kept me going. With arms, calves, and shoulders hurting a bit, I took a final turn from NY38 onto 104 and arrived at the state park at around 11:30, after 115 km. The park turned out to be really nice, providing a great view of the lake and, more importantly, a large sandy beach with significant waves. After a coke from the convenience store and a lunch Clif Bar I put on my swim shorts and went swimming (or rather: standing in the water and enjoying the waves) for a bit. (Figures 5, 6)

Figure 3: Not long, not steep, but tiring nonetheless

Figure 4: Another roller

Figure 5: Great beach, great surf

Figure 6: Someone as excited as me to get into the surprisingly warm water

Even though I still was well within my schedule I didn't stay for too long and got back on the road at about 12:15. In addition to refilling my water bottles, I also prepared one bottle with Hammer Perpetuem, an endurance "food" that apparently is very popular amongst randonneurs and other endurance crazies. I might write a separate review at some point, but let's just say that a) it didn't taste quite as bad as expected and b) I have the suspicion that my stomach can't deal with maltodextrin, one of Perpetuem's main ingredients. Anyway, I was in good spirits and going in this direction the wind actually helped a bit with the rolling hills. I could really feel the uphills in my legs but overall I still held up a respectable speed (for the first half my moving average was somewhere between 24 and 25 km/h). Once back in Auburn, after about 165 km, I made another rest stop at the same gas station and got a big bottle of Gatorade and a pack of peanuts. While consuming these items, I chatted with some teenager on a BMX who wanted to know if there was any money to be made by riding your bike for long distances. If only…

For the last leg of the ride I decided to stay on NY34 to avoid the annoying dogs (somewhere around Port Byron another one had chased me, this time with the owner being present but unable to control it). This turned out to be an excellent decision, as the road had just been repaved. First I was a little annoyed, as the pavement was so new that it was still sticky, but this was only for a short stretch. After that it was super-smooth tarmac in combination with a mostly level road and I sped away in the drops until I got to the intersection with NY90. There it was time for a last stop for another bathroom break and another bottle of Gatorade. Just a few hundred meters after the intersection I reached the 200km mark! (Figure 7) A happy moment, as you can see in the picture. (Figures 6,7) The last section of the ride was rather uneventful and at 5:45, after 11.5 hours and 231 km and with an average moving speed of 24.5 km/h, I arrived back home.

Figure 7: 200km!

4 Discussion

4.1 Pain

The ride was a complete success. By its end I obviously was tired (Figure 8), but compared to some of winter rides this ride wasn't the most painful one. My butt was feeling quite alright, the neck was not too sore (I attribute this partly to me not wearing the helmet) and raising the handlebars seems to have reduced the stress to the upper arms and shoulders a bit. What did hurt surprisingly were my Achilles heels, but I attribute that to Monday's riding in Birks and a saddle that probably was a bit too high. What was also sore was my lower back, something I hadn't experienced on any previous ride.

Figure 8: My tired self (yeah, I do need a haircut)

4.2 Nutrition and Hydration

My nutrition strategy worked very well. By the end of the ride I had
  • 5 Clif bars (250 kcal each)
  • 1 Perpetuem (270 kcal)
  • 1 large bottle Gatorade (200 kcal)
  • .5 small bottle Gatorade (50 kcal)
  • 2 slices of banana bread (400 kcal?)
  • 1 small pack of peanuts (300 kcal?)
  • 1 can of coke (155 kcal)
  • 1 cup of coffee with 1 pack of sugar (15 kcal)
I never felt terribly bonked and only while drinking the Perpetuem did my stomach feel upset. In the future I'll just stick to my Clif Bars which are tasty, energy-rich, and stomach-friendly. Because of the relatively low temperatures I also never was dehydrated. The overall calorie intake of about 2600 kcal was probably pretty close to the maximum possible intake. (Your body can only deal with about 250 kcal per hour)

4.3 Equipment

Aside from the need to readjust the angle of the saddle once and dropping the chain twice I didn't have any mechanical issues. Props to Gunnar for being such a reliable sport. My newly acquired headband did a great job of keeping the sweat out of my eyes (and making me look pretty goofy).

4.4 Route

Because my GPS hasn't made it back to me yet I solely relied on my cuesheets for navigation. This worked perfectly fine. The GPS's stats would've been nice but are not quite necessary. The route itself was a little boring. The landscape between Lansing and Auburn is monotonously agrarian and the section between Auburn and the lake is not too much more exciting. What is great about the route is the very low traffic volume and the halfway point at Fair Haven Beach is really awesome. If I were to do the ride again I would definitely avoid the dog-infested sections (or bring a big can of Halt!)

1.5.5 Future Researchiding

Obviously, the next milestone would be a 300km ride. Not sure if I will do it this year, but at some point I will…


The author is very grateful for the accomplice's support in the form
of banana bread, a great post-ride dinner and a positive attitude
towards my odd hobby.


[1] "Cannibalization of lean muscle tissue" is what Hammer Perpetuem is supposed to prevent. Not sure if it worked. My muscles felt quite a bit cannibalized but maybe that's just me.