|Big fake sheep|
[content note: Lots of stuff about eating, and not eating]
It's been over a year since I last did a 200 km ride. With the pandemic, there have been no organized brevets, water fountains and restrooms at parks were closed, and I didn't feel comfortable doing my usual gas station stops. With three water bottles this limited me to 120 to 140 km, depending on the heat. With a statewide mask mandate and the research on mask effectiveness, I felt okay embarking on a longer ride and refuel at gas stations when necessary. This Saturday conditions looked perfect. A high of 28°C (80 F), mostly calm winds from the NE, sunny.
The destination for the ride was a certain retail establishment located just across the Illinois border in South Beloit. The Strava route builder did a good job of suggesting a route, and I didn't have to spend too much time fine-tuning it to collect a couple more Explorer tiles along the way. The total distance was 196 km. Far enough, but I figured I could always add a little detour or two to make it to 200.
Because I would have the wind in my back for the first half of the ride, I didn't want to leave too early. No point in riding with a calm tailwind, only then to ride back when the headwind is strongest. This was fine by me and accommodated my usual slowness in getting ready in the morning. Two coffees and one bowl of oatmeal in me, I was won the road by 7:18am.
My recently repainted Gunnar was in tip top shape (minor rear derailleur indexing issues aside) and I felt great. As predicted, the wind wasn't strong but definitely in my back. At the current speed I calculated that I could be at the turnaround point well before noon.
One thing I have been struggling with on long rides lately is eating. My glycogen stores were still full of yesterday's pasta and the bowl of oatmeal. I know I should keep eating all throughout the ride, but in the first couple hours into the ride I just didn't feel like it at all. I had had some vague plan to stop in Janesville, about 75 km in, but then of course my route didn't really go through Janesville but around it on the lovely Peace Trail. So by the time I got to the Road Ranger gas station in South Beloit, my turnaround point, I had only had one Clif Bar and one bottle of water. There I bought a bag of dill pickle chips, a bag of actual pickles, and a bottle of V8, but only half the bag of chips and drank the V8. I kindasorta knew that this wasn't going to be sustainable, but bike brain also stopped me from doing something about it.
Well, it did go alright for another hour on the return leg, but then my body started sending some "cough, cough, didn't you forget something??" messages. The first sign was that the lukewarm, slightly plasticky water in my bottle suddenly tasted absolutely amazing! I quickly downed my remaining two water bottles and set my eyes on finding a gas station quickly. It didn't take long until I got to Footville. The gas station looked vaguely familiar from previous rides and I bought a whole gallon of water. So far, so good. But apparently taking care of one bodily need made me lose track of that whole eating thing. I really enjoy sitting down on a nice bench to eat, and neither the gas station nor the Footville Memorial Park offered such amenities. "Ah well, instead of following the signs to Footville Community Park, which would take me slightly off route, I'll just keep going and stop in Evansville! Can't be more than 20k!" Yeah, I know.
Next bodily message, at the bottom of a hill, probably halfway to Evansville: "I'm not going to ride up there unless you feed me. Right. Now." Who's to argue with that. I just stopped on the side of the road and ate both a Clif Bar and a Clif Shot. This was enough to get me to Evansville, where I stopped at Lake Leota Park. I finished the remaining half of the chips and the pickles (note to self: pay attention and don't buy the spicy pickles) and kept drinking more water. This was plenty to console my body and get it ready for the remaining 50 km.
|Have I mentioned that I like pickles?|
I realized I couldn't make it back home by 4:20. (I'll leave it to my readers to figure out why this is relevant to this report). This provided a welcome excuse to add a couple kilometers and make a pit stop at the Hop Garden in Paoli. This is truly one of my most favorite spots, and a beer and a Pepsi were extremely delicious, 185 km into the ride. Once I got going again I noticed that my average pace had fallen just under 25 km/h. Not that it really mattered, but it provided a boost of motivation to get it back up to 25 and complete the 200 km in under 8 hours riding time. There are a couple minor hills Paoli and Verona -- not exactly conducive to raising the average speed -- and I did what my legs allowed me to do. Once I reached the Military Ridge Trail I was able to push the pace. And indeed, the display of my Wahoo jumped from 24.9 to 25.0 km/h maybe 5 minutes before I reached the 200 km mark, just at the city limits of Madison. Pretty good for a solo ride.
This was a great ride, and despite the eating/drinking issue I felt pretty good the whole time. Nonetheless, I'd like to figure something out about the eating issue. Maybe strictly pre-planned stops? Bring real food like I used to do on brevets? Set up an obnoxious alert on my phone or the Wahoo? Maybe embarking on a 300 km route, or a 200 km with more climbing will force me to come up with a solution.