Sunday, August 24, 2008

150 solo miles

The last few weeks, I've felt as though I've been behind on my Lotoja mileage. Until Saturday, I had done a grand total of four rides over 100 miles all year. Last year I did that many in the month of July alone. Not wanting to bonk for lack of sufficient miles in my legs, on Saturday I took off for an epic road ride. I hoped to find some company, but for some reason it's tough to find people interested in spending pretty much their entire Saturday on the bike. Go figure.

So about 7:30, I took off from home, intending to ride to Banks, then on to Lowman, Idaho City, and then back home.

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I was a little nervous about covering that many miles alone, so my wife and kids planned on meeting me about three hours into the ride to provide food and water and then follow during the lonely miles where if something went wrong, I'd be in a real spot of bother. I also threw a spare tire and chain in the back of the car, but in my haste to get out the door, forgot to toss a spare tube and the floor pump in the car. I wasn't too worried, though, as I always carry a spare tube and two CO2 canisters in my seat bag.

Things went well for the first couple of hours, and by the time Rachel caught up with me, I was well ahead of where I planned to be. I stopped long enough to top off the bottles and grab some more food and was back on my way. We had stopped near a campground, so Rachel stayed there with the kids and let them play for a while before proceeding.

Ordinarily I ride just to the left of the white line, as I've found forcing cars to move a little bit to go around me typically results in them giving me more space as they pass, not to mention it keeps my out of the garbage that's often on the far right side of the road. This ride was a little different, though, as the highway, especially near the white line, was really rough chip seal, but to the right of the line it was relatively smooth tarmac.

About 65 miles into the ride, I was making my way up a moderate hill just above Big Falls when I heard something ricochet from under my tire into the guard rail. Instantly, my tire was flat. I pushed the bike to a pullout that was just ahead of me and took the tire off the rim. I was going to just throw a new tube in and not even think about it but decided to inspect the tire for glass or other debris just to make sure I didn't damage the new tube. Good thing I did, because there was a half inch cut in the tire.

The tire was done, so I sat down and waited for Rachel to catch up with a new tire. At this point, I was also really wishing I had remembered the floor pump, but CO2 was going to have to do. I got the new tire on, only breaking one lever in the process. I aired it up and started back up the road. And "bang"--it was suddenly flat again. I had made the rookie mistake of not checking to make sure the tube was clear of the bead, and the tube had been pinched between the tire and the rim. With no extra tubes, the ride was over. I put the bike in the car and drove home.

Since I couldn't really wait until next week to try again, I still wanted to get out and finish the ride, so once I repaired the tire for the second time, I headed back out and got my mileage via a different route.

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Taking a two hour break in the middle of the ride wasn't my first choice, not to mention I was looking forward to doing the climb from Lowman to More's Creek Summit, but I got my mileage in and I can go back and do the climb another day.

Unlike Rick, who rides with no computer or heart rate monitor, I like to know the stats of my ride. So I have a computer on one side of the handlebars, and my HRM/Altimeter on the other. For any ride, I know my distance, time, max/min HR, and elevation gained and lost. The one thing I don't have is a power meter, so when Eric offered to let me use his on Saturday, my inner geek was ecstatic. Of course my handlebars were pretty crowded with gauges, but I know a lot about my ride. Here it is by the numbers:

  • Distance: 152.5 miles
  • Elevation gained lost: ~7900 feet (this is an estimate, since I forgot to turn off my altimeter on the drive home after the cut tire, so the climbs I did until that point got counted twice)
  • Average watts: 177
  • Max watts: 1000 (OK, this was just me goofing around giving it everything I had on the list hill before I got home--the most I showed on any of the climbs the rest of the ride was about 400, with my threshold being about 250)
  • Ride time: 9 hours

One of the biggest things I was looking at was my pacing. I definitely started to flag towards the end of the ride and was not putting out the same power as at the beginning. But it wasn't a drastic decline, so I think my pacing and nutrition were OK. Speaking of nutrition, here's what I ate on the bike:
  • 3 packs of honey stinger chews
  • 2 ham and avocado wraps
  • 1 20 oz coca cola
  • 1 pack of shot bloks
  • 1 honey stinger gel
  • 3 bottles gatorade
  • 1 clif bar
  • 1 power bar recovery
  • 2.5 homemade energy bars
  • 1 chicken and stars soup at hand
The things I enjoyed the most were the wraps, the coke, honey stinger chews, and the homemade energy bars. Least enjoyable were the clif bar, stinger gel, and powerbar. Once again, I didn't feel like eating after about eight hours. I don't know if there's anything I can do about this. Although a cold coke sounded really good on the way home. Maybe I'll keep the cooler full of coke at Lotoja just in case.

I'll admit this was not the most fun way to spend a Saturday, but it was an important training ride. If nothing else, I now feel ready and confident heading into Lotoja rather than apprehensive about the mileage. I may put in some hard efforts this week, but nothing too long. And I'll definitely be doing some group rides, because 152 miles with no protection from the wind really blows.


  1. That is a crazy ride - well done!

    My dad worked for HP too before accepting an early retirement package 3 years ago. He figured it was safer than sticking around for another 2-3 years and maybe getting let go with reduced benefits.

    I wanted to do the Sidewinder TT when I was in town earlier this month but ran out of time. Next time I'll give it a shot.

    What did you do for HP? My company is looking for a few Java developers right now. Shoot me an email if you're interested.

  2. That's a big ride (rides?). Nasty flat. I love the photo of your bars loaded with gadgets.