Septembers Ride to Russells Point

Yesterday I rode my Mason-Indian Lake Randonneur route, more commonly known on this blog as my monthly double century. I am thinking of renaming the route…

When I shared with my coach months ago that I would stop at Burger King for lunch before returning, he advised me to find a Subway (or similar) place. I found one on Google only two doors down, but… In July I went to the next building over, saw a little drop that was no fun to deal with in cycling shoes and then a building that had no sign on it and didn’t really look like much of anything. Mind you it faced north, I was looking at the west side of it. It was too much trouble to explore any further, I had already cycled 107 miles and I wanted food! Yeah, I was lazy! It wasn’t until after the August ride someone that knew the area reconfirmed what Google said: That building really WAS a Subway. Sure enough, it was! I would have never guessed and the way the streets are laid out I would have never gone exploring for it if someone had not told me it was there.

$100 hamburger is aviation slang for the excuse a private pilot might use to go for a flight. The concept involves flying a short distance (less than two hours), eating at the restaurant in the airport, then flying home. Back in the day the $100 referred to the cost of renting a light general aircraft like a Cessna 172.

Entering Amish Country

While the control point in Russells Point is any store, this Subway is so close but so unobvious, I am thinking of changing the route to make that the primary control point and with that giving the route a new name. My first thought is the Double Century Subway. I am open to suggestions!

About the ride itself, it was one of pure and total faith. The official start time has always been 5:30 (when riding solo), so the alarm was set for 4am. Come midnight and Mother Nature comes knocking. I’m back in bed, but for the world I cannot sleep. I do believe I saw the 1am hour hit before I finally fell asleep. Thank goodness for oversleeping, because I did get about 3 hours and 45 minutes of sleep.

It was from the night before, lying in bed, wishing to be asleep that the faith kicked in. Unlike the past there was no doubt that I would ride Saturday, regardless of the amount of sleep I had, it would be done! Yeah, I overslept the alarm, but there was no free will in that, I remember turning off the alarm at 4am, then getting up at 4:45 realizing I was a bit behind schedule. The downside was the oatmeal with Whey protein power wasn’t in the cards. Well, I got dressed and hit the road after eating two quick breakfast bars. I left the start at 5:37. And those 7 extra minutes will play a factor…

If you are asking: But Sam, it’s only you riding, why not just delay the start a bit? That is a GREAT question. The way Randonneur Permanent works is you declare when you are going to start the ride. You have an hour from that time to begin the ride. In my case I declared 5:30, I have until 6:30 to get underway. But here is the catch: The clock starts ticking, regardless, at 5:30! (Yeah, I’m the route owner and I could print a new Brevet card that started at say 6 or 6:30, but that really isn’t in the spirit of this sport, so I try not to do that.)

There is a second reason I won’t change the time. It makes it harder. I live in a world of great luxury. I write this blog sitting on a big soft chair with my legs up in a nice house with the AC going, football on the TV. I think of the struggles the vast majority of men, women, and children have faced since our beginning and I have an amazingly soft life!

Let us compare that to Jesus’ story. Short version: God becomes man to save all of humanity. You would think that this god would be born to a great family with all the means to lead folks, but no. God choose to be born to a peasant family and live 30 years among the poorest of the poor. Why? Because he came to sacrifice for us… There is something about suffering that is good for the soul. We have two choices: we can either choose how we will suffer, or God will choose it for us, but we ARE going to suffer <grin>

I have chosen the suffering of always having an official start time on this ride of 5:30am. My delayed departure of 7 minutes will result in a touch of unintended suffering <grin>

I did pay for the lack of sleep, the first two hours I felt like a complete slug! An hour into the ride it is still dark and I am clueless to the stats. Then my phone gives me the verbal hourly report when I am climbing the first big hill. Normally I am already over the top and on the Little Miami Scenic Trail within an hour. I learned that I am moving at just over 14 mph, so I was right… I simply was not able to get my legs spinning! Once on the trail I try to turn on the steam and it starts to kick in, finally!

That first hour and a half was just torture, but it was purely mental, physically I was fine. I just knew I was riding very, very slow and I had hoped to have a Personal Record (PR) ride. The goal was to get in before 10pm, normally in my solo rides it was 11pm or later. What was so rewarding was that my faith never wavered. At no point did I ever give serious consideration to quitting. As I talked about in my February ride I had so much doubt that I would have bailed had the first control not been 60 miles into the ride. Not this time, I knew I would ride it to completion.

Upon analyzing my ride results, it turns out that I had some serious speed going into that first control. Out of the first control is the first real hill of the ride and I had a PR climbing that!

An odd couple

Ah, but the Devil never rests! Now I am in the Ohio Plain of cornfield, mostly riding north. I notice that it felt windy, aka strong headwind, but when I look at all the grass and trees around me to get validation, I don’t seem to see indication of a strong headwind. So I assume it is just me being sluggish again. About 2 miles from lunch there is this one little windmill that spins like a crazy man when it is windy. It wasn’t going as bonkers as I had seen it, but it was most definitely on the move! Now I don’t know if you believe in the Devil or not, I do. I think these are the tricks he plays with us. We see and feel the truth right there, but somehow he whispers doubt into us, getting us to think lies. Needless to say, there was quite a headwind going up, which meant a GREAT tailwind coming home.


For the longest time I have claimed to dislike Subway. While eating lunch I realized why I made that claim, it was all Dad’s fault, he spoiled me too much! I remember many a day trip with Dad where he would make the most amazing cold cut sandwiches, far better than you can get anywhere else in the world! Out on a wonderful day trip we would stop for lunch and have this wonderful meal! Come many years later, folks expect me to go into Subway, or any sub place and drop $5~$8 on a sub that is a million times lower quality than the amazing sandwich I could have if I made it like Dad? I think not!!!! As I sat there eating my very yummy Subway sub I realized that I was not about to carry a cooler on my bike and with that I realized, Subway isn’t all that bad 🙂

My way home was GREAT, maybe the best ride home yet from Russells Point. It was great weather and most importantly I had a wonderful tail wind. I don’t watch my speed, I simply knew I was flying! As I neared Xenia, my normal dinner stop, I decided to mix it up a bit and not do a formal dinner. It was a time issue, I wanted to finish by 10pm and that was within sight!

As I got close to Xenia I remembered that UDF (a local chain of gas station/convenient store in the area) had these little sandwich wraps. They were yummy and quick to consume, so I stopped there and was able to keep the stop down to about 20 minutes, which I have learned is about the minimum stop time at a control.

Then I headed the final leg home. It is always a fast leg because half of it is on the trail that is all a bit of a downhill. I blow through there, climb the hill fast enough to get my second best time on Strava (the hill I was way too slow on in the morning). Then I hustled through Lebanon. Once I was back in Mason, I had a very good idea of the time it would take me to finish. It was 9:48, but the end was about 20~25 minutes away!

I knew there was absolutely no way I could pull off a finish by 10pm, I simply am not that fast! I gave up, but what was funny is that my legs didn’t! Despite them being a bit tired, I noticed they were kicking into gear again. I rolled into the finish at 10:05:)

Remember how I departed 7 minutes late? If I had left on time, I would have been back by with two minutes to spare! Actually, there are a LOT of if’s that could have shaved off the 7 minutes, a whole lot of ifs! All things considered, such as early on when I was moving like a slug I figured I might end up with another 1am finish, this was a GREAT ride. I didn’t meet the crazy-hard goal I set for myself, but I did get a Personal Record for the ride of 16:35!

Here is the best part of the whole ride: I am at the finish, get off my bike and look up… What do I see? The most beautiful woman in the world, my wife Irma! Turns out that she had been keeping an eye on my via the iPhone Find My Friends, when walking the dogs heard some cars doing crazy, teenage like things, and thought she would come meet me at the end. That was simply too cool! A perfect ending to a simply delightful day!

For those of you that like numbers: My coach and I use Training Peaks to track and monitor my progress. Back in the spring when I was riding these my fitness score was around 38.5, today it is around 92, a 2.4x increase in fitness, man do I feel the difference too!


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