Seeing that the season for long rides is quickly dwindling I decided to do one more long ride to finish the season.
First some background. I started a new Job back in December of 2006. The new job is only 5 miles from work. My coworder mentioned that he enjoys riding his bike to work duing the Summers. When Spring of 2007 finally arrived I and started commuting to work. One thing led to an other and my coworker talked me into doing a 33 mile charity ride. Once I did the 33 mile ride I found out that it wasn't so hard to ride longer distances. I started doing a number of 30 mile rides on my own. Fast forward to this Spring, and I bought a road bike to complment my hybrid which is setup well for commuting but is too heavy to allow for quick longer rides. This Spring I rode 82 miles and then this past August I finally did my first full century ride.
MY family was going to get together at my Sister's house in the Rochester NY area this weekend. The weather forcast called for dry weather so I figured this would be one my last chances for a nice long ride. My wife would leave a few hours after me so if I realy got to the point of not being able to ride, I'd be able to call her to pick me up on the way. The route I'd take is mostly NY state bike route 5 and roughly followes the Erie Canal.
Saturday started out chilly. I got up at 7:00 am and the temp as 36 F. By 8:00 am I'd had eaten some breakfast, but now the outside temps had dropped to 35 F. I descided to wait an other hour to let the sunshine warm up the air outside a bit. This turned out to be both a good and bad thing. By 9:00 the temperature outside had dropped to 43 F... what the heck? I put on my Foxwear E-Vap coat as it is nice and wind proof. I also just picked up some toe covers for my shoes as I knew I needed some protection from the wind. My cycling shoes are mesh all around so they won't hold in any heat. This is wonderful in the Summer, but not so great then there is frost everywhere outside. I packed 4 drinks some Cliff bars and got riding right around 9:00 am. The first hour my feet were COLD. I had put my short fingered gloves over my full-fingered gloves as those are still pretty thin. I have warmer cloved, but I knew they would be far too warm once the temps got over 40F.
The 1st 20 miles were easy. I was just getting into the rythm of the ride. There was no wind, but it was frosty out. I stopped at a tiny town called Middle Port. It has a small main street and is very picturesque. I knew from a previous trip that there are some benches in down so I could get off the bike and get some feeling back into my feet and hands. The Sun was shining nicely so I stood in the sunshine for a bit to warm up a little. Now that things were warming up the wind started to kick up pretty hard as well. I was going due East and heading nearly straight into the wind . So much for the prevailing Westerly winds to give me a little nudge. Instead I had a nice 14 MPH head wind with gusts up to 19 MPH. The next 20 miles were a tough ride. The wind was relentless. The area has mild rolling hills, but there is nothing to stop the wind.
An other 20 miles down the road I stopped in Albion and found a McDonalds. I needed to find a rest room, and again needed to get my feet warmed up. After getting a double cheese burger and small fries from the dollar menu I remembered why I don't eat at McDonalds... the fries were tasy (very salty, but I could use that), but the burgers are hard to describe. The break did me some good as I was still in the middle of fighting the wind. I knew that an other 10 miles down the road I'd have a streach of road to was take me due South for at least a little bit, so I'd get a tiny break from the wind. By now the temps were hovering in the high 40's and I took off my beanie cap as it was drenched in sweat. Thankfully I was smart enough to leave a small tube of sun-block in my handlebar bag. I realized that I'd better start putting some on my face unless I wanted to risk a sunburn. With the cold/cool wind I was riding into I would never feel a burn it would be too late.
The next hour was the hardest part of the ride. The last time I rode this ride solo I was able ride around 17.5 MPH, today I was having to work hard to maintain 14 MPH. As I started to turn South there was a long gradual hill. So much for relief from the weather... As I started to go up the long hill I noticed that this time I could climb with much greater ease than when I rode this ride 6 months ago. Once I got to the top I still was not winded. I remember having to take a few minute break the last time I reached this same stop. That little "win" helped my feel a lot better about the ride. It had been such a hard ride this time that I was starting to wonder what had happended to all the extra riding I'd done this Summer.
During the next hour I noticed that the wind was shifting a little to the North East. Thank goodness I was not longer heading straight into the wind. My speed was still slow compared the what I am used to, but I stopped looking at the speed and just concentrated on trying to enjoy the scenery. In the Brockport area I needed to find an other restroom again and found a Wegmans grocery store along the way. That worked out nice as I needed to reload on some Gatorade and water as well as my supplies were nearly on empty. There were some picnic benches in front of the store. I went in got what I needed an enjoyed a little food break in the sunshine. I finally removed my toe coveres as it was warn enough outside. The toe covers put a little more pressure on the shoes and I noticed that my feet were getting numb pretty quickly. At this time I also shedded the full-fingered gloves and just road with my regular cycling gloves.
The change in gloves and lack of toe covers clearly helped make for a better ride. Neighter my hand nor my toes were going numb nearly as fast. Just past Spencerport I was able to make a small detour from Bike Route 5 and get onto the Erie canal path. This is the part of the path that is paved not stone dust and therefore quite a please to ride on a road bike. I took a few minutes break right at the entry point to the canal path. I knew I only had an other 10 miles to go so I was starting to feel a lot better. Any wind at this point that I could feel was at my back, but being between a canopy of trees meant that I was getting neither help not hinderance from the wind. This also turned out to be the most beautiful part of the ride. The leaves were a little past their peak already, but the leave covered trail was a gorgeous sight. I was glad that the leaves were good and dry, but still slowed down quite a bit in areas where the leaves were thickly covering the path.
Of all the long rides I took this year I felt this one the most. I can definitely feel my legs, and shoulders got pretty sore as well. Having a steady head wind for a better part fof 50 miles was definitely tough. I am glad I didn't have this weather during my 1st attempt or I might not have made it. I'll do the ride again next Spring, hopefully the wind will be a bit more in my favor next time.
It looks like I still won't need my Winter tires on my hybrid yet, but I am sure in the next three weeks I've have to get them mounted up. Either way I'll try to ride daily throughout the Winter.
Thank you. Thankfully the ride got a little easier at the end. The beautiful scenery along the final 10 miles that followed the Erie Canal path made it worth all the effort. Seeing 6 wild turkeys on the path also was also very special. At first I thought there were Canadian Geese up ahead. I slowed down as they are tend to just stay put and I certainly don't want to harm one of them. We get LOADS of Geese here in the Buffalo area. As I got closer I realized they were wild turkeys. They walked into some bushes when I was about 20 feet away. I came to a stop and tried to spie them in the bushes, but their natural camo made them completely invisable... It is a picture I'll remember for quite a time. We see lost of deer and geese around here, but turkeys are pretty shy.
On an other note, I am very glad to see from your most recent post and that you finally had an enjoyable ride after a few frustrating weeks. Enjoy the beautiful scenery while it lasts.