Monday, June 05, 2006

Ride the Border

Yes, it's been a while since you and I talked. I wouldn't blame you for feeling snubbed and ignored. But I promise I wasn't snubbing or ignoring you. No, I was preparing to Ride the Border, busy riding The Border, and then painfully recovering from the Border Ride.

My best girl and I woke up last Saturday, climbed on our bikes, and rode 35 miles north to a mountain summit over 3,000 feet higher in altitude than our starting point, and then rode another 30 miles into the teeth of a 20-mph wind to the city of a neighboring state. 65 miles in one day.

The first 35 miles were all uphill. Even the stretches we thought were flat, after driving the route hundreds of times in a car, were proven to be uphill via bicycle. There were painful stretches where we could only go two or three miles at a time before stopping for rest and rehydration. We brought over two gallons of Gatorade and finished them as we pulled into town. Altogether on Saturday we rode for five hours at a pace of just over 12 mph and we rested for another three hours. Total trip time = 8 long painful hours.

We soaked in the hotel pool and hot tub, ate Mongolian Beef at our favorite Chinese restaurant in town, and watched The Revenge of the Sith on HBO -- in that order -- and then went to sleep. Nice bed. Thankfully.

The next morning, we ate a hearty [and free] Continental Breakfast which included [for each of us] two packets of instant raisin oatmeal, two hard-boiled eggs, English muffins with jam, Cheerios with milk, multiple glasses of orange juice, and bagels -- again with jam. My best girl drank coffee. I despise the bitter venom, so drank more orange juice.

Then back home we headed.

I hate wind. Did I ever tell you that before? Funny I overlooked mentioning that. Hills I can abide because you go up, you get to go down. There's always the payoff for the hard work of climbing. But not so with wind. If the wind is coming from anywhere within your peripheral vision -- a full 200-degree arc for those of you with mathematics skills -- then wind works against you. Even if it's coming from your side, and even slightly behind you, it adds drag to your forward progress. Hard to believe, I know, but that's what the aerodynamics experts have to say. And even when you ride with the wind in your face for a while and then turn around, I swear -- I have experienced it too many times to claim otherwise -- that as often as not, the wind will shift so it's working against you on the return ride as well. Wind sucks AND it blows.

Anyway, the first 20 miles back home were both uphill and into a 20-mph wind. But after two hours of hard climbing and leg churning, the wind died down and the grades pointed steadily down as well. Wheeeeee!!!! One stretch of coasting even went on and on for about eight miles!

While our trip on Saturday took us eight grueling hours, our return trip on Sunday only took us six hours -- a bit over four hours of riding at about 15-mph, one-and-a-quarter hours of rest breaks, plus we stopped for a wonderful half-hour lunch at the only rural/rustic restaurant along the whole route and chowed down on bratworst, saurkraut, onions, relish, black olives, chips, and Mountain Dew. Yum!

From now on, we only ride downhill. And we stop at all rural/rustic restaurants for lunch.

Ride the Rockies is less than two weeks away now, and I can say with total confidence that we are as ready as two 40-something rookies can be. We have read the scouting reports of the route from the tour organizers. Sounds like days two and four will be the ones to which we need to bring our best stuff. The rest stops will be about 15 miles apart, the Gatorade will be free, and the panoramic vistas will be plenty.

Plus, I get to ride my new sweet ride -- the Fuji Touring bicycle pictured above with oversized 64-cm frame because Howard is a very large, yet sweet-tempered, man. At the risk of being repetitive: Very Sweet! I ordered the bike last week. It's scheduled to be delivered to me one week from today, which will give me less than a week to get attuned to its quirks and foibles. I can only imagine how easy the biking life will be when I drop 12 pounds of metal and friction from my 40-pound squeeker to a 28-pound bronze bomber. Am I wrong to expect that all rides will feel like they're downhill... even when they're not?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Howard, I'm impressed. Really. I've driven that stretch of road many a time, and I can't conceive of doing it on a bike. Power to you and your best girl....and we'll be expecting regular blogs from the Ride the Rockies experience!

8:23 AM, June 07, 2006  
Blogger HRlaughed said...

Thanks, but... how did you know which road I was talking about? Uh.... don't answer that.

4:55 PM, June 07, 2006  

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