I went for broke this weekend on the bike. Tom was planning his next gravel ride for this Sunday and with the wife and kidlet out of town, I figured it would be a great time to get another ride in and one step closer to earning a half cup of dirt. As the saying goes, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions." We hit the Hy-Vee on Grand to meet up with a few others that were doing some mountain biking and rolled out at 7 to do a loop of Denman's before hitting the gravel.
Everything went pretty well at first. Sure there was a fair headwind as we opted to head west before working out way back with a tailwind. I felt pretty good for the most part and was even relatively comfortable on the new Selle An-atomica saddle I'd thrown on in some attempts to find long term comfort for the ride. I'd actually bought and mounted it on the tandem earlier this summer, but never got to ride it, so I figured it was now or never for a big test of it's supposed comfort.
We rolled in to DeSoto around 10:30 and I had about 40 miles on the clock with Tom about 13 miles more since he'd ridden in to Hy-Vee from home. We made a bit of an extended stop for food and drink and to re-calculate out plans. We ended up going with my suggestion which was to turn tail and take advantage of the blustery wind pushing us back from whence we came and then finding some areas closer to home to get remaining mileage.
After the stop, I felt pretty good and was still riding strong albeit with my left knee giving me some pain. It actually started hurting and feeling swollen a scant 20 miles in, but I'd been hitting it with ibuprofen along the way. Tom hit his mid-ride low and I pulled off the front. In an attempt to make up a few of the miles, I started turning back and doing loops up and down the rode while he was trudging along. This netted me 2 miles back of the 13 he had on me. As we approached Warren road, we made the decision for me to head south on Warren to get my additional miles needed to catch up while Tom would head to the Cumming tap for a bit of a respit.
As I headed out on my own, the wind seemed to have picked up even more and I was fighting the cross wind for the most part. I thought this would bode well heading due south and then coming back north, but I was sadly mistaken. Additionally, anyone who's ridden Warren road south of the Cumming Highway knows how hilly it is. I gained around 1000' of climb in a 10 mile out and back. As I turned back north, I knew I was in trouble. The wind was just as vicious from the north as it was from the west. I bucked it all the way to Cumming and hit the tap pretty well spent. I enjoyed a pint of Fat Tire as I let my cramping quads take a rest before we hit the bikes again.
Heading back out, I was bankrupt. I'd lost not only my energy, but also the desire to go much further. I tried convincing myself that if we were able to ride Denman's for the remaining miles, I'd be ok as I could just go slow and use my lights to finish out. It wasn't meant to be as the wind did nothing but thaw out the frozen soup from the morning and left us leaving a decent track through the dirty connector and deciding to avoid the rest of the trail so we wouldn't do any further damage. I bailed at this point and headed back to the truck. Barely able to crank over the pedals going up Railroad on the pavement even, I knew it was the right decision. I bagged it with a shade over 80 miles on the ticker.
Bonk is probably the best description for what happened. Looking back, I didn't eat nearly enough often enough. A couple sips of gel in the morning (I did eat a good breakfast though), some Gu2O drink mix, and a sandwich with chips and coke at DeSoto were my food up to that point and now I was 4+ hours after that stop. I think it was probably inevitable as my excitement level before the ride commenced was less than optimal and even though it picked up decently mid-ride, that was about as good as it got.
I don't think I'll be making the half cup o dirt this year even though I started out looking for a full cup. I'm not sure I'll even go out for one in December unless conditions are right. I'd like frozen ground, sunshine, and little to know wind thank you very much. Beyond that, I think I'll focus on riding a bit more locally, playing with some night rides now that I've got lights (more on that later), and probably try to get some indoor training started. I need to rebuild now rather than keep tearing things down which is what I felt this ride and my last hundy (Track and back) did to me.