Brief notes from the OKHT
The annual Old Kentucky Home Tour is an annual event which goes from Louisville down to Bardstown on day one and returns on day two. One may take a 50, 70, or 100 mile route heading to Bardstown. The starting point is 5 miles from my house, so I chose to ride up to it and then down for the 70 miler, giving me a total of 75 miles. My longest ride to date had been 62, exactly one year ago.
The first 5 miles were spent in chilly blissful solitude, then I encountered a large group of largely female riders, the Barking Betties. Fueled up no doubt by large amounts of caffeine generously laced by Estratest, these ladies screeched and barked the entire time I rode with them: "Car up! Car back! Stick! Squirrel on road!" I know some of this is proper on group rides but when carried to extremes and done with Hillariesque voices it was quite a nightmarish experience.
On one hill that I used to go down without brakes and now feather them in deference to my glacially-receding reaction time, the Bettys hit the brakes, their bikes squealing as if in pain. I end up in the left-hand side of the right lane trying to avoid the maelstrom, only to have an alpha-Betty pull up and lecture me, "I hate to pass you on the right, but you shouldn't be riding on the left, and blah blah blah" as she sped off into the distance.
Maybe I'll try the century
The alpha-Betty experience reminded me to slow down and enjoy the ride, which I did, for awhile. The route took us through beautiful farmland, creek bottoms, rolling hills, cornfields, dairy farms, you name it. I loved it. By mile 40 I felt fine and started pondering perhaps going for 100 rather than 75. I made no effort to stay up with anyone: no pacelines, no "squirrel on left". It was very relaxing.
About this average moving speed business
Some hardcore riders complain that the OKHT is one big SAG interrupted by brief moments of asphalt. They'd be right, although I don't see it as a problem. There were five SAGs on the trip, which meant that I saw some riders pass me five times. I'm sure they had average moving speeds far higher than mine, and yet covered the same distance only 10-15 minutes quicker than I did. I'm not into numbers envy, so I guess it's OK with me, but I'm always skeptical when some of the folks make a big deal about their average moving speed. Mine was 13.4 MPH. I'm not sure that means much. I finished the trip on the same day. That is what I was aiming for.
What part of me is not in pain right now?
Unfortunately at or around mile 50 everything started to hurt: back, neck, legs, feet (a little) to the point where I amused myself by cataloging body parts that weren't hurting. That list was pretty short and included things like nares, left testicle, and a few other things, but everything else just hurt.
First I decided that the 100 miler was not a good idea. Then I began to question why I was out there in the first place. I wasn't sure whether to go for an out-of-body experience where I just detached from all bodily things, or to go for an "embrace the pain and flow with it" zen/mortification approach. Mainly I just counted off miles until I was done.
So how do you do it?
That part was pretty discouraging. I've been pretty active in my cycling all year. I've been averaging around 240 miles a month, which is a lot for me. I know I've elongated the distance I can go before I wear out, but I just can't ever imagine going 100 miles, much less enjoying it. More power to some of you hammerheads out there. I'll never be able to keep up with you.
Barking Betty redux
So at mile 62 I encounter a big nasty hill on a road with a very poor surface. About two-thirds up the way I decide the pain/enjoyment ratio did not justify continuation so I stopped, hopped off my bike, and pushed it for about 20 yards. Riding up behind me was none other than the alpha-Betty who had read me the riot act about 4 hours ago.
"That looks like a good idea! We're just having mechanicals, right? It's not like we couldn't make it if we really wanted to. It's hot out here. How come they don't have SAGs the last 20 miles when you really need them and blah blah blah".
It was enough to motivate me to get my butt back on the bike and grind my way to the top of the hill. As I pedaled off I could still hear her prattle on about something. I didn't see her anymore for the rest of the ride.
There was a 50 miler on day two. The weather is perfect outside: 72 degrees and sunny, light wind, gorgeous. I hope everyone had a good time. I slept in and woke up at 11:30 AM.