Today I did the 23rd Annual Tour of Lakes Bicycle Ride. http://www.paulbunyancyclists.com/To...f%20Lakes.html.
This ride is in my neck of the woods in northern Minnesota. The ride meanders around lakes and through the woods on low traffic rolling to flat terrain with a couple of real hills.
I signed in at the start and felt that because the day was cloudless that I could get by without my leg warmers so I ditched them at the car. So even though it was only 42 degrees I was down to shorts, wool socks, full finger gloves, short sleeve jersey, arm warmers and jacket. I froze for the first six miles, I was almost shaking, and regretted ditching the leg warmers. My hands and feet were especially cold. Then I and the world around me started warming up and I was glad not to have the knee warmers.
Mile 15 or thereabouts was the first rest area. It was filled with tons of food that I did not need. I have this thing about free food. Stuff in as much as you can because you may never get to eat again! I more or less resisted. I ditched the arm warmers and put the jacket back on. I ate half a hard boiled egg, half a cup of yogurt with granola and blueberries, topped off my water, snatched a cookie for my top tube bag, and hit the road.
After riding the first 15 miles alone, I started the next section riding with a young couple. It was nice to have the company plus I ride faster with others. However, we then hit a hilly section and I got left behind to tackle the hills alone. The hills were rolling and weren't bad. But I still suck at hills. I ditched the jacket at the top of a hill and was down to shorts and a short sleeve jersey. It was probably in the 50s.
The next rest area was at mile 34. They had homemade tacos and all sorts of other food. I ate a cheese stick and a brownie and a few chips. So much for my plans to try to eat healthy on this ride! Man that brownie was good, homemade with lots of frosting! I had a hand full of blueberries and hit the road again.
The next part of the ride had two good sized hills. They weren't long, but they were steep. I was a bit worried that I would slow down so much that I couldn't clip out of my pedals. But very slowly, in my easiest gear, I got to the top. I had to weave back and forth to make the steepest hill. A number of riders passed me by, but at least they were moaning and groaning as they passed!
After the two short but hard hills things flattened out but my right leg and knee gave me some grief after the hills. I took it really easy and eventually it worked it way out. There was a bit of a head wind but nothing too significant. A few people here and there passed me but I didn't see many on the road, most of the time I only saw a couple of dots of people ahead. This was on a ride with 1200 people. I think a lot of people did not start right away and waited for things to warm up a bit. There was a two hour start period.
Round about mile 45 the route I was on began to overlap with a separate shorter route. There were quite a few riders on the short route which was advertised as a 35 mile ride, in contrast to the 68 mile long route. At this point I was rolling along pretty good and passed quite a few people who were clearly on the short ride as a more of a leisure ride. A number were really struggling. Every once in a while a group would pull over to the road side and rest and chat. There were quite a few dads on their road bikes riding with their sons on their mountain bikes. Poor kids, working hard to keep up! There was an older couple on a tandem pulling a homemade cart with who appeared to be an adult disabled son in the cart. It looked like a tough go for them.
The last rest area was at about mile 49-50. Again, lots and lots of food. This rest stop was quite crowded because of all the riders on the short ride. I parked my bike by a woman who had the same bike as me, a 2011 blue Madone 4.7. Her's was huge as compared to mine, it was fun to compare how they looked and to chat about how much we liked our bikes.
I ate too much. I had some beans and a half a sausage on a bun, and a brownie. But I was feeling good and there wasn't a lot of miles to go. I topped off the water and headed out
The remaining miles were very gently rolling to flat on good pavement. I passed a lot of people and lot of people passed me. About five miles from the end I followed a guy who had passed me and I upped my speed considerably for the last few miles. I had gone very slow at the start, did ok on the rolling hills, got killed on the two steep hills, tooled along on the flats, but then blasted to the end with plenty of juice in the tank. I think I could have pushed a bit harder but this was my longest ride to date, I didn't know really what the course was like (rolling hills mean such different things depending where you are and I didn't know how much was relatively flat). I am sure I would have done better if I had started later and ridden with more people, rather than doing almost the entire ride alone. But on the other hand, it is good to finish strong and feeling good. I am too old to beat myself up! At the end they had root beer floats. I had two.
So, I finished my first metric century. 100 kilometers. (The ride was published at 68 miles, but my speedometer did not show quite that much).
Average speed 13.7mph.
It was a good day in my back yard.