Monday, May 11, 2009

The Soggiest Ride Yet

And no, "soggiest" is not some new slang that means awesome.

I had set up with my brother Chad that we would meet Saturday morning and get in a nice 40 mile ride. The plan was to meet at his office in Mystic at 8 am and roll over to a spot downtown that riders meet up on Saturdays, hook up with a few of his rider friends from the area, and take off for my most epic ride yet.

Well, we met at 8 am, but from there the plan started to shift a bit. First of all, it was raining, like it had been all week, and subsequently there wasn't any other willing participants waiting to ride at the local meeting spot. OK, so we ride by ourselves, no big deal. I was excited to ride with a big group, but I was a little nervous too, so I wasn't devastated or anything that it would just be the two of us.

You hopefully get the sense, having read all my lovely posts, that I tend to be on the optimistic side. Normally a trait that serves me well, and something that I can count on. However, this morning, my optimism was not helping me in the slightest. It was drizzling when I left my house, but my sunshiny brain said not to worry, I'm sure it'll clear up by the time I arrive in Mystic an hour away. This cheerful thought process made me somehow think that just bringing a t-shirt and cycling shorts would be enough to ride in. Now that I was standing outside in the rain that clearly had not stopped, I was starting to regret my choice of cycling wear. I also forgot to take into account that where I live, an hour inland, is always about 5-10 degrees warmer during the cooler months than the shore. Now that I was right beside the coast and the Mystic river, I was wondering how I could forget such a thing. Chad to the rescue. He let me use a pair of arm warmers, a totally new concept to me, and agreed to ride past his house so that we could pick up some UnderArmour for me. It would keep me warmer but it would also mean that the beginning of our ride would have to involve a few decent climbs to get up to his house. Well, we did, and here is a picture of what a noncyclist looks like when he shows up for a wet ride under dressed. Yup, that's a t-shirt, add arm warmers, top with an UnderArmour sleeveless top, and let soak for 3 hours.
At least we're on the road now. Besides being cold and soaked, the ride is actually going pretty well. Even though we weren't with a big group, I'm finding out how much nicer it is to ride even with one other person. It makes the whole thing a lot more fun. Not to mention how much nicer it is to ride on these lightly trafficed roads of the southeastern corner of CT. I like living in central CT but it seems that no matter where you ride, traffic is sure to follow. Here, it's the exception, not the rule that a car is coming up to pass. Besides being my first ride in the rain, I also set another max speed. I would have probably liked to have done it on dry roads, but after one particularly hard climb we were rewarded with a long downhill, in which I was able to put the pedal to the medal and get my steed over 43 miles an hour. Lots of fun, I'm quickly getting addicted to the speed that cycling offers compared to say running. Running has it's place, it can get you in shape, it's a cheap hobby, it's safe but I can't say I've ever had a thrilling jog. This was a thrilling downhill, and I liked it.

By this point, a couple hours into it, the rain had pretty much stopped and we were plugging away. Besides being the longest ride I've done, this also was the most challenging in terms of climbing. We got to do a bunch of fun downhills, but we earned them for sure. It seemed that around ever corner was a new hill. We did over 1500 feet of vertical climbing this ride. Maybe not impressive for a cyclist, but for me, that was more uphill time spent in the lowest gear I could find, than ever before. Good for training I guess, but tough on tired legs for sure. It was around this time I was glad we weren't with a big group. While Chad never got too far ahead of me on these climbs, I'm sure he wasn't pushing it like he would have surrounded by his cycling peers. We finished strong, rolling through downtown Mystic and back to his shop. I was a little stunned when we pulled up to our final destination and Chad kept riding and waved to me to do the same. A bit loopy/hypothermic by this time, I followed and as I pulled up next to him to ask what the heck was going on, he explained that we were at 44.7 miles and that it would just be wrong to not make it a 45 mile ride. So we rode down the street and back and thus concluded our 45 mile ride. Five full miles longer and and much wetter than planned. Can you believe it? 45 miles and I could still stand up and everything. Pretty awesome.

What I lacked in planning for cycling wear, I made up for in post ride preparation. I had brought a towel and a change of clothes including dry socks and underpants which was like Christmas in May. Dry and smiling, we headed back to his house for some pizza and relaxation. All in all, a good training ride and a good Saturday morning.

Stay tuned for a Mileage Monday update later, and I'll be able to spill the beans about the fundraiser soon too. Till then, thanks for reading.

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