Saturday March 20, I rode my March Double Century to Russells Point, Ohio, and back. I think I mentioned this, but my one challenge to myself this year is to ride this one specific double century every month. I am finding this whole challenge thing very interesting because it’s pushing me into action where I normally would be idle. There were a million things holding me back from going: foul mood prepping for the ride Friday, waking up and snoozing for too long for a really late start, simply no desire very early in the ride where it was way too easy to turn around, and finally 75 miles in finding out a customer was having some serious issues with the software I write in my spare time. The true blessing was I ended stronger than I have on any of my three previous attempts!
I contribute both the foul mood of the start and the strong finish to the same thing: Making a commitment and sticking to it! The key word in foul mood start is ‘start’, if it wasn’t for this commitment I made, the start would have never happened, thus the finish would have never happened either.
The keyword in strong finish is strong. I wanted to improve my finishing time and knew the number one way to do that is minimize my stopping time. To do that, I need to fuel as I ride. Hammer Nutrition puts out a lot of good info on how to fuel for endurance events. A couple of pieces of info which seem to ring true to me is that the human body can only consume about 200 calories an hour and on long endurance events, you should be fueling (eating) every hour.
They have a number of products to aid in you this fueling, I have taken to their Perpetuem Solids. A serving of three tablets is 100 calories, so one tube of 6 is an hour’s worth of fuel.
For all my long rides, I have carried some type of goodie with the idea of fueling every hour as to keep the engine running. On my January and February rides up to Russell’s Point, I did a good job on the riding up. Once I turns around and started to head home I won’t fuel regularly. A little bit past the half way home mark, around 160~170 miles I would mentally bonk.
In February I actually called Irma to come get me, then called her off and finished when I remembered January ride. In January I mentally bonked at the same place. About 15 miles later I ate in Xenia and was able to finish. February turned out the same way, after some food in Xenia, I was able to finish.
This time rather then stopping at Burger King in Russells Point for a meal, I simply had one of the three Cliff Protein bar I was carrying. Then I hit the road south bound and stayed on the Hammer Perpetuem Solid schedule every hour.
Going into the stretch where I bonked the last two times, I gave myself an injection of fuel via a gel, which is sort of like a shot of adrenaline. A few minutes later the gel was followed by another 200 calories of Perpetuem Solid.
I rode into Xenia, got a bite to eat, and was off again. I fueled a final time only about 12 miles from home, but I figured, fueling when the body asked for it worked so far, why stop now? The end result was a strong and happy finish, my first happy finish of the ride! Oh, my times: I left 10 minutes later this time then February but had a finishing time that was noticeably shorter. The riding time was 13 minutes shorter. The overall time was way shorter because I stopped a LOT less.
Other then the start and finish, there was a lot of interesting things to see. With the spring coming, there is tons of new life around. I think I saw at least a dozen rabbits on the trail, something I had not seen in the colder months. Tons of frogs! The first time I was cycling along and came up on one of those big country front yards, it had one of those very small, shallow spring pond. You know the ones I mean, thanks to all the rain, the ground cannot absorb any more water. The result is a pond forms in the lowest spot for a few weeks. This first one was maybe 50 feet long and 20 feet wide at the widest. As I approached it sounds like there where a million frogs in the pond! As I got next to it, it was dead quiet! Then as I left it behind me, it came alive again! I experienced this many a times on my ride, lots and lots of low lands where flooded with frogs.
On the trail at night I saw more deer than before. I also saw crops starting to grow in the fields. What was the most interesting was riding down the Little Miami Scenic Trail and seeing random Daffodil popping up right next to the trail. You are riding along and then all of a sudden there is one starting to pop up about 6 inches. A mile or two later you see another one. I wonder how they got there…
The highlight for me on the whole trip is riding through Amish country. In the parts I ride through they are mixed in with the English, as they refer to us. On my way up I identified one of their houses, and a little bit farther up there was a house and buggy filled with little girls. I think the driver might have been 12, but I am thinking 10. Her horse didn’t seem to like bikes a lot, so she pulled the buggy over while I passed.
Then I saw another house and my first thought was: man, they are poor, they really need a new coat of paint to protect their house. While I am not a big painter, I did want to paint their place. As I got closer I saw an Amish mom with some of her kids in the yard. Knowing how I know zero about the Amish, I quickly realized how judgmental I was being about both their economic situation and about my desire to paint the place. Maybe the house is fully, 100% protected from the elements in ways that are foreign to me.
What I love the most about Amish country is how radically different they are from us, English. They are truly aliens to me. Not only in their way of life, but more importantly: what are their values, what is their purpose? I firmly believe that God is moving in their community just like he is in mine to mature them in Christ. For some reason I have this desire to learn more about how God is moving in their community. I just feel God has something for me there…
Amish country is about 100 miles into the 215 mile ride. Once I got into Amish country my foul mood started to finally lift. It is a very beautiful place that provokes a lot of very loving and compassionate thoughts. It was well worth the effort to get up to Amish country!
All in all, it turned out to be a very nice way to spend a Saturday. I even got to ride in the rain, the sky opened up for me when I was about 3 mile from the finish. As I have said before, I love riding in the rain, it like singing in the rain, so it was a great way to end a good day!