My Progress

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Great Grasshopper Massacree in three part harmony of June 16, 2012

The Great Grasshopper Massacree in three part harmony of June 16, 2012

Well, it seems this ride was bound to be entertaining and interesting.  I'd been wanting to get back into the 100 mile rides since my last one in March.

The fun started out before I even left the house, my digestive system decided since I was planning a big ride, it needed to go into overdrive, (at least I was lighter!)  Then 15 miles into the ride, I pulled off at my normal, "It's time to water a tree stop" and ended up dumping the bike on the rocks and gravel.  That little stunt cost me a bruised knee, ankle and tweaked elbow, along with some bar tape and a chunk of cable housing.  And since I hit hard enough and torqued the front end of the bike, my headset came loose.  This occasioned a call to my wife to meet me with headset tools out on the road.  I figured unless I was bleeding severely or had trashed the bike I was going to ride so up the road I went.

As I was flying up Weston Road courtesy of a nice tail wind I remembered I'd forgot to start the ride with a prayer.  I thought I'd covered the relevant issues during my prayer, safety, strength, endurance, health for a couple of very sick friends and for general grace and peace, it seems though I'd not asked for no biblical plagues.

The grasshoppers were out in force, thousands of them covering the roads.  I had grasshoppers hitching rides on me, my bike, my helmet, gloves, and where I really didn't want them the crotch of my shorts.  The road was a literal carpet of grasshoppers in some places.  Riding along through those areas you got treated to a steady prolonged crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch as you went pedaling down the road.  Auto traffic going by was the worst, a cloud of grasshoppers would kick up and you got to ride through them.   At one rest stop I spent about five minutes picking grasshopper bits off my jersey.

From about mile 55 on I started noticing my rear wheel was dragging a bit, having a pathological hatred for all things disc brake now I immediately blamed the disc brake and adjusted the pads out where I thought it would quit dragging.  Of course then I had no rear brake.  Next rest stop the rear wheel was still dragging.  This caused much consternation and consideration of just removing the entire brake in order to finish the ride.  Instead I tweaked it some more and went down the road with the promise I'd remove the offending bit and go to a caliper brake.

More rest stops and Quicky Marts in Gunter, Tioga and Pilot Point.  A quick shot of pickle juice and more water and ice as well as some food at each stop.  By Pilot Point I was 72 miles in and beginning to feel it.  Leaving Pilot Point I had 12 miles to go to the next stop in Celina.  Those 12 miles were tough.  I got trapped on a steep uphill with no shoulder to bail to, an impatient dually pickup pulling a trailer and lots of oncoming traffic.  I had no option but to burn every match I had left and get up the hill as quick as possible.  By the time I topped the hill, my heart rate was spiking and I was ready to fall over in the grass and just lay there.  I managed to recover a bit and kept heading to Celina.  By the time I got to Celina though, I was hurting.  It took about 10 minutes of sipping cool water before I convinced my stomach it really didn't want to spatter its contents  all over the sidewalk.  More pickle juice, (by now thawed and warm, YUMM!), another big bottle of water, lots of ice and a Chocolate Chunk Rice Krispie treat and I was ready to go.

Mile 94 and a stop at Meyers Park for more food and stretches.  I did try and bum a horse to tow me into McKinney but the owner didn't think that would work out to well.  The run down FM1461 and onto Lake Forest gave me a bit of a second wind as I was feeling great.  Felt really good coming up my nemesis  hill by McKinney North and even recovered more waiting at the stoplight at Virginia and Lake Forest.

By the time I hit the driveway I hit 101.93 miles with a moving average speed of 16.1 mph.  Not to bad for a former fat guy!

Strava link with ride data HERE.

Oh and my rear brake?  My wife discovered that my pump and rotated on its mount when I crashed and was dragging my rear tire, it wasn't the brake at all.

Dodging a figurative bullet

Dodging a figurative bullet

It seems I dodged a bullet last month.

As a diabetic it’s routine for me to go in for blood work and talk to my endocrinologist about the results.  The last visit had her doing cartwheels over the continued decline in my A1C and my cholesterol numbers.  However, in the manner of all doctors she had to find something else to poke at, (my thought is it’s a secret doctor conspiracy to keep patients forking over more money, after all, they have to pay off those student loans somehow…) what she found was that my white blood cell count was falling, it had been low the visit before and it had fallen again.  She wanted me to go see a specialist, in this case a hematologist/oncologist. 
Being one who likes to be prepared for all situations I started googling low white blood cell count and started reading.  I didn’t really like what I was reading as bone marrow disorders, aka leukemia kept coming to the top of the lists.

However after a consult with the hematologist/oncologist they don’t think it’s a bone marrow issue.  The doctor’s best guess is either a sub-acute virus, or a low B-12 count.  With my father having a B-12 deficiency issue this could be the issue.  The sub-acute virus may also be in play also as last weekend saw me off the bike and sick all weekend.

Looking at my training performance for the April and May makes me wonder just how long I’ve had this issue.  I’ve not truly felt at the top of my performance level since March.  Other than last weekend, I’ve not felt 100% sick but just off.
Last night was the first ride I’ve had since the Muenster ride where I’ve really felt good.  Maybe I’ve kicked whatever this is and have turned that corner.  Hopefully that is the case as I’ve got to start ramping up my training in preparation for September’s 300K/double century ride.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

For want of a pickle, a review of the 2012 Collin County Classic.

Yesterday, June 9th was the annual Collin County Classic bicycle ride.  This ride had been on my to do list for quite a while and I was really looking forward to it.

Since the ride starts just on the other side of town I figured I'd add in some bonus miles by riding to and from the start.  I'd already signed up for the long ride, 62 miles, and with my bonus miles I would end up right about 75 miles.  I figured if I was that close to a century, (100 miles) I may as well add in a few more and knock out another century.

The ride was extremely well set up and organized.  There was a ton of volunteers at the start helping everyone get parked, registered and where they needed to be, lots of support from the local shops; Cadence Cyclery and Plano Bike and Fitness, and most importantly, lots of port-a-johns, (I knew I should not have had that cup of coffee!).  I was there early enough that I got the chance to ride around the parking lot talking to people, ran across several folks from the local recumbent community, talked to a fellow Red Rider, (diabetic), and met a really inspiring guy who had lost a leg to an accident riding a carbon hand cycle.

The start of the ride was the usual mass chaos with the announcer trying to outshout the deafening music, riders all jockeying for space to ride in and everyone trying to funnel through the starting line.  Fortunately I didn't see anyone go down and get trampled by the thundering herd.

The first part of the ride took us through McKinney.  McKinney's finest were out in force at all the intersections to guide us through traffic.  They did an outstanding job and were very much appreciated.  In fact the entire ride had either police or sheriff presence at all intersections to make sure things were running smoothly.  All I can say to the law enforcement officers who helped out is great gob and a big thank you!  Their efforts were very much appreciated.

By the time I got to SAG #1, the morning coffee I drank was making it known that I needed to either find a tree to  water or find another port-a-john.  Fortunately all the SAG stops were well stocked with portables.  While at the SAG I ran into a guy I'd been talking with a bit on the first part of the ride, he came over, pointed to my jersey, (Marine Corps jersey) and said thank you.  Turns out he was Navy, even more, turns out he was a Navy Corpsman who served with Fleet Marine Force patching up wounded Marines.  I ended up shaking his hand and giving him a very well deserved Thank You!  I grabbed a cookie and was off down the road.

I was making some really nice time on the ride by staying with the main fast group as we rolled up the roads north east of McKinney.  It was fun just sitting in and rolling along 22-24 mph for mile after mile.  After SAG #3, where I grabbed some more water and a bag of Chex Mix for the salt, the groups started breaking up and I started riding from small group to small group.  I had a lot of fun talking with folks along the route and enjoying the day.  As is normal on a large ride like this a lot of people were asking about my recumbent so lots of questions were answered.  Got more questions about my tail light, (Dinotte 140L), one of the brightest out there, and about the GoPro camera I was running.  I had lots of fun answering the questions and talking bike gear with people.

By mile 40-45, my legs were starting to get a bit tight and starting to act like they were going to cramp up on me.  I hit the next sag stop in search of pickles.  Pickles work magic on me by preventing leg cramps.  I'm not sure how or why it works, it just does.  Last April, I'd done the Muenster Metric ride by eating pickles at every SAG.  Sadly, the Collin County Classic had no pickles.  With no pickles to be had, I hit the bananas and the Hammer Nutrition Enduralites figuring that should work.  Nope, God had other plans.

Of course this was also the area where the nastiest hill of the ride was, it's been nicknamed Alpe d' Wheeze..

On down the road I went with the legs getting progressively worse.  I started pushing more water and Gatoraid, took a couple more Enduralites and prayed for the best.  God answered those prayers by saying, "Hey stop that stupid crap" in ever louder and louder ways.  I limped into the finish line in hopes of grabbing some Dickey's BBQ for lunch cause I knew they would have the holy grail of leg cramp relief, PICKLES!  I didn't plan on a line 200 people deep moving at a snails pace however.  No joy on lunch, and no joy on pickles.  More Enduralites, more water, and pedaled my way towards home.

I hit a stoplight #1 and cramped hard, stoplight #2 and cramped even harder, (it's really fun by the way riding up a nasty hill while one leg is cramping).  I was almost home and hit a stop sign that I had to stop at, (right thing to do but a big mistake).  God had enough of my not listening to what he was telling me and figured enough was enough.  Both legs lit off and the entire left side of my body cramped, (that was a first).  Everything from my jawline down to my ankle was cramping.  It kind of felt like I'd been hit by a couple of thousand volts of electricity.  It was all I could do to ride 10' to a parking lot, stop without falling off the bike and screaming like a little girl.  After a bit of terrifying some folks out walking by howling, gnawing on my handlebar tape, stretching, more howling, I called Vicky for a pickup as I was DONE.

I think for next years Collin County Classic, I'll contact the organizers well before the event.  My cunning plan is to donate a case or three of pickles for the ride.

74 miles a change, so close but yet so far, all for the want of some pickles.