Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fall Looks to be Over

Well, it's been quite a while since I've been on the bike, as my new job has been eating up just about all of my free time. However, I've made friends with a co-worker who is getting into biking and we're talking regularly, so I'm hoping after I get a year of curriculum "down pat," I'll have more time in the spring and summer to go riding, especially with the added encouragement of a friend to bike with.

Getting to be about time to move the bike down to the trainer in the basement, as I saw snow fall for the first time this week, and as much as I enjoyed my attempts at winter biking last year, the trainer in the basement was considerably more enjoyable.

Make it a great day!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Easy Evening Ride

Back on the back this evening, about 4.25 miles with Mrs. Beagle as a warm-up, then rode through some developments before stopping to chat with some friends for a few minutes, then up to Lake Ontario for a couple miles before repeating the loop just in time to pick up Mrs. Beagle at the end of her activity and enjoy a nice cooldown ride back home. Sunset was beautiful, temperature was comfortable, and the company was perfect.

Distance: 22.5 miles
Avg. Speed: 13.7 mph (lots of stops)
Calories Burned: 1,283
Avg. HR: 128
Max HR: 179

Monday, July 28, 2008

Long time no post...

Well, as I'm sure you've noticed, my posts have become non-existent since completing the century ride back in early June -- this doesn't reflect a shift in interests by any stretch, but rather a change in priorities as I have recently switched occupations, and will begin a new career as a full-time physics teachers this fall.  In the meantime, most free moments have been spent preparing curriculum items as I embark on a new adventure...

Although I do imagine I will get back to this blog, for the near future I feel comfortable that the bikebeagle blog has successfully accomplished its two primary goals -- first, to introduce me to blogging (in anticipation of this career change), and secondly, to track and document progress toward completion of my first imperial century.  Thank you for your support toward both these ends!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sunday Jaunt

Went out for a short ride this morning to get some exercise, enjoy the sun, and do a little mental planning. Winds were out of the south west, so I headed south first out of Webster down toward Fairport, with temperatures just perfect for a ride. Scenery was very green, traffic was light -- just a nice day out. Started seeing some darker clouds to the west about the time I hit Whitney Road, so I headed west from there, then turned around and came home north up 250, always a nice flat ride that goes quite quickly with a strong tailwind.

Ride Statistics:
Distance: 22 miles
Time: 1:18:01
Speed: 16.4 mph
Calories: ~1338
Avg. HR: 144

Monday, June 16, 2008

Hermano Ride

Was down in Pennsylvania visiting my folks last weekend, and managed to sneak in a quick ride with my younger brother. He has a new Lemond Alpe d'Huez, so we decided we'd do about a 25 mile ride, hoping to sneak it in before the rains hit. I was sneaky, and pretended I didn't know where we were headed so I could draft off him on the way out and perhaps give the illusion I was a strong rider (he's young, he can take it). He took it easy on me, however, and eased up on the pace as we cruised along at about 17-18 mph.

The ride out was uneventful. We started on top of a fairly large hill, coasted to the bottom, then headed out about 13 miles before turning around and coming back. A few minutes after turning around, however, we got absolutely drenched. Since little bro had a battery-powered light on the back of his bike, I took the lead and he brought up the rear to help cars see us in the heavy rains as I pulled through the torrential downpour back into town. Sure could have used some windshield wipers on my sunglasses. The rain abated as we pulled into town.

We took a different route back up the hill to avoid the highest grades, but still had a substantial climb at the end of the route -- it was about all I could handle (and I still need to get a 12-27 installed for my rear cassette). He thought it was fun, though -- and even practices the hills over and over. A good thing to do, I can't argue, but does he has to be so jovial and happy about it? Lightweights and hills. Grrrrr.
Overall, though, it was a great day for gentle 27-mile loop and I very much enjoyed my first ride with my brother.

Ride Statistics:

  • Distance: 26.97 miles
  • Speed: 15.9 mph
  • Max Speed: 30.1 mph
  • Avg. HR: 146 bpm
  • Max HR: 192 bpm
  • Calories Burned: ~1664

Monday, June 9, 2008

Century Ride I

The 2008 Tour de Cure event is finally over, and I'm quite proud to say that I completed the century, realizing a goal set more than six months ago. It seems a little bit strange now, after focusing on this event as a primary goal for so long, I have no idea what to answer when people ask "so, what's next?" Or the ever-popular question, "would you do it again?" At this point in time, I'm not certain. Perhaps right now, some of the more difficult (i.e. painful) parts of the ride are a bit too fresh in my mind. Regardless, I am glad to have had the opportunity to participate in the event, very glad to have finished the 100 miles successfully, and thrilled for all the support from friends and family, without which I couldn't have been successful.

There's no doubt in my mind, the first 50 miles of the ride were all about cashing in on my six months of training. The next 28 miles were all about not letting my friends and supporters down. The following 14 miles were all about riding on heart and love of my family. And the last 8 miles I attribute to a couple sprinklers shooting out over the road, a bit more shade as we re-entered Mendon Ponds Park, and most importantly, a gentle push from God.

Pre-Kickoff:

Mrs. Beagle made up a very nice carb-loading dinner the night before the event, with some potato gnocchi, a garden salad, and some chicken parm (she even made mine without cheese -- true love!). All day I pushed fluids, attempting to pre-hydrate before the big event, expected to be a scorcher. I got up at 5:30 the day of the ride, hopped in the shower, got dressed, and ate a banana for breakfast as well as downing a glass of water. Drank a bottle of 50% Gatorade/50% water on the way to the ride.

I arrived at the start of the ride just before 6:45, registered at the tent (very straightforward and easy), and returned to my vehicle to unload my bike, attach my ride number, pump up my tires, and make sure I had on plenty of sunscreen before we left. We were informed that we could get started as soon as we wanted, as the high heat and humidity for the day would likely slow us down, and it would be wise to get as many miles in as we could as early as we could. I was also advised that the tour directors were pushing folks toward the metric century (62 miles) instead of the 100 mile route due to the weather, but after all my training, there was no way I was going to admit defeat and do the metric before I even got on the bike.

I verified I had all my equipment -- sunscreen, cell phone, ID, insurance card, camera, GORP, GU Energy Gels, Clif Shot Blocks, Sport Beans, Camelbak (full), helmet, gloves -- yup, as good as it gets! Initially I'd figured I was hugely on the overkill side with my packing (4 Gel Paks, plus a bag of shot blocks and sport beans?) By the end of the ride, though, I determined I had brought JUST enough to get by, and probably should have taken a bit more. A terrific partner in crime tossed me one last carb-loaded Gel Pak on the last 10 miles that made quite a difference -- I was out of gas!

My riding and training partner, Target, hadn't arrived yet, so I took the opportunity to take a picture or two of the riders milling around, stretch out, continue to pre-hydrate, and generally stand around nervously saying hi to people I'd never met. Target arrived shortly after 7, registered, got set up, and we were on our way by around 7:15, 15 minutes before the official start time.


Stage 1: Mendon Ponds Park
The first 14 miles of the century ride is a loop around the rolling hills of Mendon Ponds Park. Perhaps we should have taken it as an omen, but the opening route out of the parking area (through a gate covered with celebratory balloons) was a fairly steep hill to begin with, but not very long. As we got to the top, a tour volunteer was holding up traffic and pointing us in the correct direction, and I thought to myself: "Wow Self, with support like this, today should be a truly amazing ride. I've never seen anything like this." From there we went through a number of rolling hills. I certainly wasn't pushing, but there were enough other riders in our vicinity that I was spending the extra ounce of energy or two to close gaps and suck their tire, allowing their draft to pull me along and ultimately save me energy in the long run.

I think Target started having some mechanical troubles here. Although I don't have much experience riding with others, his experience is even more limited, and it didn't look like he was comfortable getting close enough to the riders in front to gain any benefit from the draft, so he was pushing a bit harder than was probably wise. He dropped his chain right around mile marker 7, at which point I realized why he was having trouble and we agreed to slow down and go at a slower pace. Note -- by this time it was already over 80 degrees outside, with a ~15 mph wind out of the southwest. Pic on right is Target coming up the road after a chain drop.

Going through the park, I inadvertently altered my nutritional intake plan by eating more than a couple bugs. Crunchy -- check; high in protein -- check; tasty -- not so much. Plus, I didn't eat them so much as inhale them. Thankfully, the density of bugs dropped around mile 10, and never really picked up too badly again.

Target dropped his chain twice more before we reached rest stop #1 at about 14 miles. We took a very quick break to refill our drinks bottles (I carried a Camelbak with 100 oz. of water and 2 bottles of 50% Gatorade), I ate another banana and an apple slice, then off we went.

Stage 2: The River Road
Not 200 feet from rest stop #1, Target dropped his chain again, which repeated a couple more times before we got to the second rest stop at 26.4 miles. Each time, of course, it appeared to happen as he shifted into his smallest front chainring, usually coming up the hills, so he lost all his moment on the rolling hills and really had to toil up the hills the hard way. I'm guessing he was having trouble with cross-chaining, combined with an "opportunity for improvement" in his derailler alignment, but we pushed through (with lots of folks making sure we were okay as the side-of-road chain re-alignments were completed). Terrain was basically gentle rolling hills for this stretch, as we headed west into the wind for about 5 miles, before turning southwest directly into the wind, which seemed to be picking up a touch. Target actually started to get his bike legs on this stretch, and we pulled into rest stop #2 at 26.4 miles in fairly high spirits.

The staffers at rest stop #2 were just tremendous. Despite being very crowded, I had help refilling my Gatorade bottles, my Camelbak (which was more than half empty already in the heat!), ate another half a banana and an apple slice, and even talked one of the staffers into taking a picture of Target and I (right, I'm in yellow, Target in blue). After a quick trip to the bathroom, we were on our way again. Although I look a bit rough in the picture, at this point I'm still feeling pretty strong, although it is getting pretty darn toasty outside!

Stage 3: York
Leaving rest stop two, we turned west for about 5 miles across rolling hills, directly into the headwind. Uphills didn't seem too bad into the wind, but the downhills sure sapped speed. I kept up a reasonable spin downhill which carried me up quite a bit of the uphills, saving me energy, but many of the riders coasting down the hills had to work pretty hard to get up the next one, and I could really tell the heat was getting to Target. He started cramping up on one hill, gave it another go, but within a mile or so, he was off the bike with both a calf and a quad cramp at the same time. He tried to stretch it out and keep hydrating, but it wasn't to be. We stopped across from a dairy farm, and within a few minutes we had two SAG wagons helping us load up Target's bike, and the driver even agreed to return Target up the route about 6 more miles to his parent's place (our own personal rest stop)! I continued on, agreeing to see him in a few minutes at his parents'.

A mile or two down the road, we turned south onto some gentle rolling hills in some fairly open plains. At this point, the wind was strong enough to cause some veering, the sun was gone, and it was just gray and dreary. Having lost my riding buddy was certainly weighing on me as well, but physically I still felt good. Going through the town of York I saw quite a few fans along the sides of the route cheering me on, which does wonders for picking up your spirits. I stopped for just a minute at the rest stop to use the facilities and grab a banana.

Stage 4: Geneseo

Within a mile or two of the stage 3 rest stop, I came upon Target and his family, all out at the side of the road to greet me. I was able to trade my banana peel for a reload of ice in my Camelbak (WONDERFUL cold ice), cheered to see Target was looking in much better shape, if ambling along with a bit of a limp. I was later to learn he was basically sidelined all day, as the knots in his leg had him fairly sore. I was wished luck on the hill I'd see just prior to the next rest stop in Geneseo, and off again, now as a solo rider.

Our exploits with the bike chain and the SAG wagon had taken their toll, and by my reckoning I really had to keep pushing if I was going to complete the 100 miles by the strictly-enforced 4 p.m. deadline. Originally I'd hoped to take a 20-30 minute lunch break to stretch, relax, and generally recharge. Given where I was, all rest stops were going to have to be just a couple minutes unless I made up some serious time (something the wind was certainly NOT helping me with)!

Went another 4 miles south before turning southeast into the flats of Geneseo. The downhill was nice, but once again, the wind made the flats much more difficult than I would have hoped. Cruised into Geneseo and I could see the hill we were climbing -- by far the largest, steepest hill of the day. Quite a few cyclists were off their bikes and walking at various stages of the hill, with another large contingent taking a breather at the top. I put 'er into the granny gear and made it up, but it was quite a struggle, and I was fighting off leg cramps by the top. In hindsight, I might have been wise to join the other cyclists and walk up the steepest part, as I burned too much muscle energy here that I wished I'd saved for later.

Coming out of Geneseo a mile or two from the hill they had our fourth rest stop (45.1 miles in), which was fairly crowded and didn't have a restroom, but they did have water, Gatorade, and bananas. I reloaded my Gatorade bottles, and ate a half a banana before pulling out. Didn't think to refill my Camelbak as it had just been filled with ice, but this turned out to be a mistake, as I ran out of water on the next stage. Thankfully, still had plenty of Gatorade to drink.

I also noted in this stage that I started to feel a bit off -- My body wasn't absorbing the liquids I drank as fast as I was sweating them out, I could feel my leg muscles tightening, and the energy stores were starting to deplete. I'd have to keep a close watch on my nutrition from here on out. Also, breathing started to get a bit labored, and deep breaths caused just the slightest sensation of nausea (which would stick with me the rest of the ride). Regardless, it was time to hop back on the bike and head northeast!

Century Ride II

Stage 5: Avon
Pulling out of rest stop #4, our route took us northeast (finally a tailwind!!!) on generally flat to gentle rolling hills up to the town of Avon. Scenery to the east was generally plowed farmland, but looking over the valley we had just climbed out of to the west was gorgeous. I felt a brief sprinkle for a minute or two before the clouds cleared up and the sun came down. At first it was pretty. Then it was just plain hot.

I noticed in this stage of the ride, although I was consciously taking it easy on the bike, I was still passing quite a few riders. A few were century riders, but it appears many of them were on the metric century route. On the downhills, even without pedaling, my bike seemed faster than many others (without any drafting), and knowing how much farther I had to go, I certainly wasn't going to put on my brakes on the downhill portions of rolling hills. I continued to throw in some on-bike stretches as time allowed, and pedaled softly on the downhills to keep my legs moving. Although my stomach was a bit queasy, overall this was one of the nicest stretches of the ride, which I attribute strongly to the tailwind.

Stage 5 concluded with a relatively steep but short climb into the town of Avon, where rest stop #5 waited in a firehall at the town circle. As I pulled around the circle, a ride volunteer was standing out front cheering the cyclists on, which lifted my spirits as I pulled in with fairly dead legs after the climb. I used the restroom, refilled the Camelbak, and ate a banana. Unfortunately, the rest stop was out of Gatorade, and I drank most of the two bottles I carried during the last stretch. Guess I was running on water alone for the next stage. I also was led to understand that they had lunch for those doing the century at this rest stop, but either I completely missed it or they'd taken it back inside by the time I arrived. Stretched my legs again, started on the shot blocks and a single Gel packet, munched on some GORP for the salt, and thanked the designated "cheerer" before pulling out back onto the road.

Stage 6: Eastward Bound
Leaving Avon, we had a gentle climb out of the village before the road flattened out for a couple miles. I found myself passing a few folks, but basically keeping up with a group of 6-8 cyclists all in team jerseys who really looked like they knew what they were doing. The heat was really starting to take its toll, and I was down to a bare maintenance energy level (knew I had to keep eating, as any delays or skips would have me bonking). Following these guys for a while was fun, until I saw them go straight through an intersection which had a sign pointing to the right (south) for the century riders.

Gut check time. Having lost Target early, I'd lost quite a bit of time, and continuing on would require me to keep up a speed on the order of 15 mph to get to the finish in time. I could certainly follow the metric route from here on in without having to push my pace, and that'd be a lot safer, especially in this heat. Grudgingly, however, I turned south to continue the century route, hoping the SAG (Support and GeAR) wagons would patrol this part of the route as well, as I began to worry that perhaps this ride was beyond my current capabilities.

As I turned south, I was further disheartened to see a very wide, busy road (Route 15), that appeared to go on and on forever. I knew from studying the map previously that I would reach the lake (and the next rest stop) in 5-6 miles, but the open plain, strong headwind, strong sun, and humid conditions just sapped the life out of you. After a mile or two it didn't help that I began to see many of the century riders coming up the OTHER side of the road, having already completed the added extended century loop. I was pushing the clock, and they were 30+ miles ahead of me. I was going to be very upset if I pushed to do the century, got mighty close, and was pulled off the course due to the enforced time limit. I even began to start thinking up plans of how I could do laps around the neighborhood at home to get in any last miles if I got pulled off the course.

About the time I'd thoroughly disgusted myself with all my whining, I realized that not finishing wasn't an option. I had people counting on me, expecting me to do this, and there was no way I was going to let them down. Friends I'd see at the post-event picnic. Family both riding other routes and keeping me in their thoughts and prayers from a distance. Target, who was so excited for the ride but had to bail out early because his leg gave out -- how could I face him with a bail out when my legs were still working?

So, I started singing the Finding Nemo song in my head "just keep swimming--- just keep swimming..." until I made it to Lakeville at the north end of Lake Conesus and another rest stop.







This rest stop was jam packed with riders, although I believe many of them were on their way OUT of Lakeville as opposed to in. I saw one rider I knew from a local bike club ride I'd done previously, who was having his pulse taken by an EMT, and the grass in front of the firehall was littered with bodies taking short naps or just resting their eyes for a few moments. As tempting as it was to join them, I was on the clock. Quick trip to the restroom, another banana, and another water refill. Uh-oh, no Gatorade. Already knowing I was in the high probability arena for cramps, just drinking straight water for ANOTHER stage didn't seem like a good thing at all. I ate another gel pak, finished the shot blocks, and got back on the bike. No time to loiter!

Stage 7: East Side of Conesus Lake

Started down the east side of Conesus Lake on a fairly narrow two-lane road with minimal shoulder, not helped by the popularity of the lake leading to many cars parked on the very edge of the road, and many pickup trucks pulling large boats in trailers. I didn't feel unsafe, but by all means this was a stretch that required strong attention to the surroundings and continual re-evaluation of bail-out points in case something did go wrong. The wind off the lake (with minimal blockage) was a mixed blessing -- the breeze was slightly cooler than I'd been used to, but once again, I was headed south INTO the wind.

The lake seemed to go on for quite some time, but there were a few cyclists in my same vicinity that would stick within a couple miles of each other the rest of the way. I was starting to fade again toward the end of the stage, so managed to suck the wheel of another rider for the last mile or two into the rest stop. By now the nauseous feeling was getting stronger, and I could readily tell that drinking just water was not the answer. I needed something with some salt and electrolytes.

Made it to the rest stop to find more water and some very helpful people, as well as some half strength Gatorade. Refilled my bottles, ate another half banana, Gel-Pak, and some GORP, ran to the restroom, and came out just in time to see the strong winds pull the entire tent out of the ground and blow it into a group of arriving cyclists. No injuries, and with all the talk about whether it was possible to finish in time, I didn't stick around to see the aftermath. Hopped back on the back and headed north up the west side of the lake.

Stage 8: West Side of Conesus Lake

Heading back up the lake on the west side, traffic was much lighter, the road had a better shoulder, and congestion was much lighter in general. The heat was really starting to affect me now, as I was sweating profusely, but couldn't seem to absorb the water and Gatorade I was taking in quickly enough. This was also the first time I started noticing that my heart rate was peaking out much lower than it usually does. Typically I try to keep my HR in the 140-165 range, but going up hills and in tougher areas will see it spike into the 180s. Currently, it appeared my HR was capped at around 150. Not sure what that meant, just found it interesting.

Still feeling a bit queasy, the hills to the west of the road blocked much of the wind for the first part of the stack, which certainly upped my spirits. Now I was really leaning on my friends and family for support from a mental perspective, especially toward the end of the stage which involved a fairly long (but relatively low grade) climb. As I crested the top, a pair of cyclists passed me, noting that the descent into the next rest stop was fun. Unfortunately, we'd lost the hills to the west, and even though I was headed basically northeast, the wind appeared to have shifted to the west, making the descent relatively slow. I took the opportunity to rest my legs and stretch them on the bike, which brought me back into Lakeville at rest stop #8 (same as rest stop #6). Still no Gatorade, and quite a few folks at the rest stop, including seeing some folks just starting around the lake loop. There were quite a few riders significantly behind me!

This rest stop marked mile #78, and my legs were feeling like cramps were coming on again. They did have potato chips out at this stop. I grabbed a bag and tried to eat a few, but they were too crispy and hurt my throat. Instead, I settled for licking the salt off a couple (gross, I know, but effective), then went back to my GORP, another banana, and a Gel Pak. I really had hoped to have time to lay back and take 15-20 minutes to recharge here under a shady tree, but time was getting really tight. It was just after 2 p.m., I had 22 miles to go, and I was seriously worried about leg cramps coming up hills slowing me down. I called my support group (as I'd promised to do near mile #80) to appraise them of my status, then headed back north. Of course, up a hill.

Stage 9: Back on the Beaten Path
Heading north up the same road I had come down as I started my loop around the lake, it was still hot, humid, and windy, but at least some component of the wind was from the south, although it didn't feel like it was giving me much help. I made it up the gentle grade away from the lake, but following one or two steeper rolling hills, my whole body seized up in a cramp halfway up the climbing side. I started to feel it coming and was able to unclip and get myself off the side of the road (JUST before a major highway intersection) while both my calves, both quads, my left hamstring, and even my TRICEPS cramped up all at once. Not good. I'd learned during my training how to baby a calf or a quad and keep going, but this full body cramp was new, and I was short on time.

I tried to stretch out my left leg, but if I straightened it to stretch out the calf, my quad or hamstring would cramp. Try the opposite, and the calf would cramp. So, I just sat there in between positions for a minute, downed as much fluid as I could stomach, and though my stomach was too queasy to eat solid food, I licked the salt off the peanuts in my GORP pack. A couple minutes later I was able to stand. I walked the remaining 50 feet to the top of the hill, then not knowing what else to do, I hopped back on the bike, put 'er in granny gear, and VERY gingerly continued north, trying to do some on-bike leg stretches anywhere I could coast.

At this point, I was so close I could almost feel it. No more heading directly into the wind, relatively flat ride to the next rest stop, and I knew stage 10 had quite a few more trees for shade. But just about any output of power in my legs beyond a VERY easy spin threw my legs into cramps. Nothing to do but keep trying, so I started singing the 'just keep swimming' song to myself, along with a silent prayer or two asking if He could just help keep me from another serious cramp for the last 20 miles, I'd find the strength to keep spinning the pedals.

I made it back to the Route 15 turnoff without further incident, then turned east toward the next rest stop. Unfortunately, there were one or two reasonably-sized hills in the way. I made it up the first one, but less than halfway up the second I could feel my leg starting to seize again. I hopped off the bike on the run, and walked the bike up the hill, taking long strides to stretch out while I kept moving. Couldn't afford to sit and stretch, time was running out. Got to the top of the hill and coasted down the other side, and with some light pedaling while drafting a couple of other riders I'd managed to catch up to (how in the world did THAT happen???), pulled into the final rest stop. Went straight to the restroom, splashed some water on my face (the mirror in the rest room did not paint a pretty picture of my condition), came out, ate a half a banana, and went to refill on liquids. Once again, only water. I split what little Gatorade I had left in one bottle across the two, and refilled them the rest of the way with water. You do what you can. I also refilled the Camelbak to about 30 ounces to last me through the end of the ride, and pulled out right behind a fella I'd been talking to and roughly hanging with over the last 30 miles.

Stage 10: Homeward Bound
By this point, my new buddy and I were both pretty spent. He mentioned he'd done a metric two years ago, and last year did the century after training for months, but this year was trying to do the century without any specific training. Needless to say, he was having trouble with cramping to. Going up the first hill I saw him pulled over on the side, asked if he was OK, and said yes, just cramps. So I continued on another couple hundred feet before I felt that evil little twinge and hopped off the bike again and did my little walk/stretch routine to the top.

We joined up again within the next mile or so, and he offered me a packet of an orange/vanilla flavored gel that was carb full and supposedly had quite a bit of sodium. I graciously accepted (my first time passing food and eating on the bike at the same time) and we continued on through a small village as he talked about the motivational signs he'd seen the previous year on the home stretch. Signs that said things like "You Can Do It," "Don't Give Up," and "Victory is a State of Mind." When he stated that he'd kicked one of them over as he walked up the last hill the previous year, I couldn't help but laugh, and both our spirits picked up as we knew we were going to make it, although we were both glancing nervously at our watches.

Another mile or two up the road he cramped again going up a hill, and I couldn't afford to lose my momentum at this point, so I continued on with a wave, knowing I'd see him at the finish line. Made it up the hill (barely), and coasted down the other side until I was hit with a small miracle... someone had been kind enough to set up a sprinkler in the front yard, aimed directly into the street in the path of cyclists. That micro-shower felt awfully good and sure lifted my spirits. Hadn't seen any fans in quite a while, but when you're tired, sick, and desperate, you'll take what you can get for a psychological boost. One more big hill ahead, and I again made it about halfway up when the twinge told me to get off before I fell off. I did, stretch walked to the top, and was passed by a tall rider in light blue. Again, my bike proved an excellent steed as I caught up to him within a mile or so, and we stuck together for the last few miles. He stood up on the downhills to stretch, while I knew that would have been the end of my quads, so I broke my rule of "brakes are for sissies" and just tucked in behind him until we reached the park we started from.

Once in the park, I stuck with him for a while, but at about mile 98, after a few rolling hills, I took a brief 2-minute stretch break under a tree at the side of the road. I could have kept going, but knew if I went much further, when I crossed the finish line I might not have been able to stop and dismount with causing a scene. I had 20 minutes until the end of the race, plenty of time, better to take a moment and get myself right and not scare anyone.

After a moment, another swig of water, and a chorus of "just keep swimming," I was back on the bike, with the end of the ride in sight within minutes. As I pulled into the descent to the official finish, my support group was there with video cameras in hand cheering me on! No more peddling required (a good thing). I rode the brakes down the hill, stopped at the ride checkout, and promptly handed off my bike as I collapsed in the grass to breath for a minute, stretch out, and avoid throwing up. I'd done it, 100 miles!
video

The Aftermath

I apparently didn't look very good at the end of the ride, so an EMT came over to check on me -- he talked to me for a moment to make sure I was coherent, then left me in the capable hands of my wife and father, who helped me load up the bike in the car and we were on our way home.

Of the 10 riders in our "Beats Running" team, all had completed their rides and goals with the single exception of Target, who was forced off the course by his non-cooperative leg. Pretty great performance, given the later rumblings of 1200 riders signing up for the event, with only 700 actually finishing, and many of the experienced century riders opting out and going to the metric century.


Mrs. Beagle and her supporting crew had a great picnic lined up for our team back at the house, complete with a signature team cake! I wasn't quite up for solid foods yet, so upon returning to the house we unloaded the bike, I staggered inside, was handed a mighty cold Coors Lite, and I headed for the shower, turning on the water, laying down in the tub, and cracking open that mighty tasty can. I could only drink about half of it, but it sure tasted good to me.



Took me a little while throughout the evening to get back to solid foods, but eventually I was able to work through a hot dog and hamburger, which did wonders for improving my state. I was asleep shortly after 9 p.m., and feeling pretty darn good the next morning, if a bit tired. Went into work for a few hours (had originally taken the whole day as vacation), but was out of gas late in the morning, so I went home, took a LONG nap, and got up in the afternoon in time to get cleaned up before heading off to my night teaching job.

Came home after class, had some leftovers from the picnic for dinner, then it was upstairs to start writing this report. All is normal, first century complete, the team did an amazing job and raised more than $3500 for the American Diabetes Association.

I am truly blessed with an amazing cast of family and friends, and am very proud of their performance and support as well as my own. The century was certainly a challenge, one that I'd trained and prepared for as best as I knew how. The added complications of the heat, humidity, and wind transformed it from a challenge, however, to a test of heart and determination. Although it was mighty close, I passed (barely) -- due to the support and caring from friends as well as more than a touch of help from above. Thank you.

Sunday's 2008 Tour de Cure Century Ride in Rochester, NY was a good day.

First Century III

Tour de Cure 2008 Century Ride Statistics:

Distance: 100 miles
Time Moving: 6:45:55
Avg. Moving Speed: 14.6 mph
Fastest Speed: 33.1 mph
Avg. HR: 149 bpm
Max HR: 187 bpm
Avg. Temp: 86°F
Calories Burned: ~ 5,844

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Shakedown Ride

Well, one more day until the big event. Went out and picked up some SportBeans and ShotBlocks for emergency energy, then took the bike out for an easy shakedown spin of around 12-14 miles (no bike computer), just an easy pace to make sure all was well (and it was).

Got home and checked out the weather forecast, as rumors of thunderstorms have been circling for some time. Despite the standard response of "I think they'll be later in the day," it appears the storms should start about the time we get on our bikes, and stop about the time we get off. Wonderful... But, I suppose there's nothing I can do about it, so no sense in worrying!

I've decided to take my Camelbak along for the ride. As hot as it's going to be, I'd rather have the security of my Camelbak which I'm used to drinking from regularly as opposed to forgetting to drink from the bottle on the bike. Also, it'll allow me to bring a fresh pair of socks or two in case they get soaked and uncomfortable early in the ride. Have also packed up a packet each of SportBeans, ClifShots, GU Gel Paks, and three bags of GORP. I know there will be food along the way, but as much as possible, I want to stick with the foods I've been training with, as I know they don't upset my stomach if I eat them at the intervals I'm used to.

Bike is loaded, have a few more details to get ready before heading out tomorrow morning, but I think this is as ready as I get. Here's hoping the lightning holds off tomorrow, the bike behaves well, and if it's not too much to ask, a gentle tailwind would certainly be appreciated! All else failing, I plan to hold to my overall strategy for this ride -- ultimate goal is to keep the bike between me and the asphalt at all times.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Anticipation

Well, we're closing in on the home stretch. Only a couple more days to the big event, and already I'm getting nervous. I'm feeling better about my knee having given it a few weeks off to heal, but am definitely concerned about the other side of the knee improvement -- what have those few weeks off done to my conditioning?

I was pretty confident after the last metric century, although that was on fairly flat, level ground, done at my own pace, in great weather. For this Sunday's century, we're estimating close to 6000 feet of climbing, by far my longest ride yet, with many other riders, and the weather guesser is predicting temperatures in the low 90s with scattered thunderstorms throughout the day. I'm not worried about completing 100 miles -- if I have to walk a portion I'd do it -- I am concerned, however, about the time limit imposed by the event. Riders start at 7:30 a.m., and must be off the course by 4 p.m., for a total of 8.5 hours. That seems reasonable as long as breaks are kept fairly short, but weather complications could certainly complicate matters.
Here's hoping the weather guesser is a bit off and those scattered thunderstorms are very scattered!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Training Sunday, 6/1/08

With the century coming up in a week, I want to make sure I keep my knee in good shape, so I decided on a short, hard 1-hour interval workout today by riding up and down some hills along the lake, then a hard push with the wind at my back toward home. (Winds out of the west at 15-20 mph).


Knee started hurting a bit toward 10 miles, so I eased up a touch at the end and settled on just a 12.4 mile route for the day. Weather has been ugly last couple days, so not many other chances to sneak rides in, and with my second job (evenings) kicking in starting Monday, I may be in a forced taper getting ready for the big 100 mile ride.

  • Distance: 12.44 miles
  • Speed: 17.2 mph
  • Fastest: 23.7 mph
  • Avg. HR: 161
  • Max HR: 182
  • Calories Burned: ~ 800

Route has been posted for the upcoming century:



Detailed Topo7 maps (w/aerial imaging) are available by clicking on DeLorme Mapshare.

Elevation Profile:

Climbing Elevation: 5105.7 ft

Monday, May 26, 2008

Training Sunday, 5/25/08

Second Metric Century Complete!
Sunday started off with a plan to bike east along Lake Ontario to Sodus Point and back, a relatively flat 50 miler to get me some easy saddle time after yesterday's battle with the hills, and see how the knee felt the next day. Weather was supposed to be 70 degrees and sunny, with winds from the NNW. Given that winds out of the north cross Lake Ontario and tend to be mighty chilly, I planned a route that kept me a mile or two inland to avoid the direct breeze from the lake for as long as I could, which added about 6 miles in total to the round trip. So, at roughly 11 a.m., I hopped on the bike with my 100-oz. Camelbak full of water and was off.

The first 15 miles or so went without incident, as I was far enough off the lake that the slight non-frigid breeze felt great, the grass and trees were as green as could be, birds were chirping -- you could have pulled the scene straight from Song of the South and sang Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah along with the Uncle Remus and Mr. Bluebird. I pushed past Pultneyville at about mile 16 and eventually stopped at a parking lot in Williamson around mile 23 for a five-minute stretch break, snack, and big gulp of Gatorade.

From here, my route to Sodus Point forced me north onto Lake Road (interestingly enough, right beside Lake Ontario), at which point that nice gentle breeze became a frigid wind. Thankfully, it was only another four miles or so (mostly downhill) to the point, where I stopped at a picnic table near the 'Point Hots' establishment for a bio break, warming session in the sun, another swig of Gatorade, and a red-hot at approximately 1 p.m.

Turning around for the return trip, I wasn't really looking forward to the climb up out of Sodus, but still imagined it had to be easier than yesterday's climbs. And it was. The climb out of Sodus also helped keep me a bit warmer as I had to follow Lake Road for a spell before I could turn inland again. Afer about three miles I turned south away from the lake, and resumed my trek westward back toward home at a much more comfortable temperature. By this time I'd put about 30 miles into the trip, and after the climb up from Sodus, my legs were feeling a bit weak -- I was fine from an aerobic and energy standpoint, but could tell that my leg muscles needed a bit of recovery time. I'll have to watch out for this during the century, and try not to burn up my muscle stores early in the ride, staying in the aerobic zone and spinning at higher candences as long as I can.

I continued west at a fairly leisurely pace, still sipping from my Camelbak regularly, and had a couple of fruit newtons while on the bike to provide a bit more energy. Despite my weak legs, I started convincing myself that I was fine, this was a normal feeling I should get used to, and I had a nice long flat ride back home to recover on. Seemed to work fairly well, and although I never really recovered the leg strength on the ride, I wasn't in bad shape by any stretch. At mile 47 I found another little turnoff in the woods for a bio break as well as a chance to finish up the Gatorade and have another snack (GORP). Once I hopped back on the bike, I started doing the math in my head and realized I should get home around mile 56. That seemed like a bit of a waste. I was in very flat territory, still feeling pretty good, and was going to come home just 6 miles short of my second metric century? Couldn't let that happen, especially when I knew the area very well and could easily avoid any hills. So a few miles before home I decided I'd hop on the town bike trail (at a very easy speed, of course -- don't want to run into any joggers) and head west across town to recovery, then hope back on one of my favorite roads with the wind slightly at my back for the last couple miles back east, which should put me right at 62 miles.

Right after I'd decided that, I took a swig out of my Camelbak and finished my 100 oz. of water I'd carried with me. Out of fluids, I figured I was fine to complete the last 9 miles without another stop. Perhaps not my brightest move ever, but it wasn't a problem.

Got on the Multi-Use Path (MUP) and coasted west for a couple miles, which drastically brought my average speed down, but certainly improved my leg strength. Came across a few families on bikes, including one with a father at the front of the pack completely oblivious to all traffic and ability to control his bike -- he literally rode me off the MUP into the grass (but did apologize as he struggled not to fall). His wife, at the end of the pack, was having trouble staying on the bike too, but only because she was laughing so hard.

Hopped off the MUP at Five-Mile-Line Road, cruised north to Klem, and turned easy for the last leg of my journey. No problems, feeling good. Cruised into the driveway a short spell later, with a total distance of 62.39 miles at a moving time of 3:59:13 for an average moving speed of 15.6 mph.


Ride Statistics:
  • Distance: 62.39 miles
  • Avg. Speed: 15.6 mph
  • Avg. Speed: 14.0 mph (w/stops)
  • Max Speed: 25.9 mph
  • Avg. HR: 147 bpm
  • Calories Burned: ~3823
  • Time Moving: 4 hours
  • Total Climbing: 2,123 feet

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Training Saturday, 5/24/08

Following the recent knee troubles, I took an entire week off hoping to get all my parts back in better shape. By Tuesday my knee felt much better, but by Thursday middle of the day it was hurting again. Definitely seems to come and go, either on or off. By Saturday morning it was barely noticeable, and I didn't think I could put off training any more, so I hopped on the bike for an easy 40-mile spin. Knee was fairly well behaved most of the ride -- I could feel it and had a bit of pain, but nothing that couldn't be dealt with.

My mistake, however, was in not mapping out my route directly, and instead picking some general directions without regard to topography. I started off at a nice leisurely pace, and even explored a couple neighborhood developments as a meandered around before getting serious about getting somewhere again.

About 20 miles in I encountered a hill just south of Egypt (Egypt, NY). {skipping the lame jokes here, they're just too easy...} The climb past the stop light looked reasonable, and with the many trees around the area, I couldn't see that the climb continued. And continued. And continued. Each bend was more higher-grade climbing. I made it to the top, but I'd really burnt myself out, and was sorely wishing I'd taken my bike in previously to swap out the rear cassette for one with an easier gearing or two (currently the Felt has a true 50/34 compact double on the front, and a 12-25 on the back. Pretty sure I'd best get at least a 12-27 if I want to save my knees in the long run). Had been trying very hard to stay seated and avoid excess knee pressure, but when the grade started showing as 10-12%, it got to be too much to do comfortably.
Once I reached the top, I found a nice spot of grass to take a break in, drink some Gatorade, and munch on a banana for a few minutes. From there, the descent was rapid, exciting, and a bit cold (all that sweat from the climb dried out in a hurry at 33.5 mph -- and I was riding the brakes). Once I got to the bottom, I had a brief spell of flat land to enjoy, and followed another rider until I saw a familiar road -- turned on to Valentown Road with the intent of starting my way back, and as I turned north toward home at the next intersection, I ended up with the thrill of another steep climb.

Distance wasn't quite as bad, but my legs still hadn't recovered from the last climb, and the grade was just as high if not higher. I made it roughly halfway up the hill and pulled over to take a breather and convince myself that hills weren't evil, but should be thought of as friendly training opportunities. Despite the little voice in my head telling me to walk the bike up the hill (how embarrassing!) I turned my attitude a bit more positive, hopped back on the bike and continued up the hill out of the saddle for the half the distance, then sat down and pushed the rest of the way up in my 34/25 easiest gear, again wishing I had something easier on the rear cassette.

Made it to the top, and had a beautiful view to enjoy while I 'cruised' along the peak in my granny gear, as that was all my legs could handle for the moment. I turned off the peak toward the west, climbed the small remainder of Turk Hill Road south of Fairport, and from there took Turk Hill Road all the way back to Penfield on my way back north. I figured the hills on Turk Hill Road would be difficult, but was quite pleased to find that due to the rolling nature of the hills, in most cases I had plenty of speed on the downhill swing to make the uphill journey on the opposite side fairly easily. These may look like big hills in a car, but compared to the grades I had dealt with previously, they were relative 'cake.'

Once I got back to Penfield I could tell I was still a bit low on energy, and was fighting a 10mph wind out of the northwest, but I wanted to get at least 40 miles in, so I zig-zagged through Penfield and on into Webster, leaving my last few miles a straight eastward journey down flat, smooth, friendly Klem Road before turning for home.

A post-ride review of my route shows that pre-planning my route would have allowed me to avoid the high-grade hills fairly easily, but twice I made "less than optimal" choices that led to the big climbs. However, for future reference, I've found two great hills for challenging climbing practice.

Ride Statistics:
  • Distance: 43 miles
  • Avg. Speed: 14.6 mph
  • Max Speed: 33.5 mph
  • Avg. HR: 151
  • Max HR: 191 (on the hills, of course)
  • Climbing: 2331 feet
  • Calories Burned: ~ 2544

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Training Saturday, 5/17/08

Got up early in an attempt to get some miles in before the thunderstorms hit... turned into a bit of a rough day, however. With a temperature in the mid-50s and a 10mph south wind, I headed south into the wind to start the ride. Before I got half a mile from the house, my knee was giving me trouble. Five miles into the ride, I was almost in tears from the pain (despite taking a VERY easy pace). I could only manage about 12 mph on the flats, spinning at a cadence near 100.

I kept pushing as best I could, mostly because I didn't want to have to call anybody to come pick me up -- I turned around at the first convenient spot that would allow me to avoid any climbs, and by mile 15 I was either used to my knee hurting or it wasn't quite as bad, because the flat route north on 250 with the wind at my back had me at an average speed over 20 mph -- knee still hurt, but wasn't as bad. And I wasn't pushing hard at all. Got home with a total distance of 21.5 miles (avg. speed 15.9 mph), and decided this just wasn't going to work. Not quite sure what the next steps are, but I don't want to repeat a ride like this anytime soon... at a minimum will skip the Sunday ride.

Distance: 21.55 miles
Time: 1:21:04
Avg. Speed: 15.9 mph
Max Speed: 28.3 mph
Avg. HR: 146 bpm
Max HR: 174 bpm
Calories Burned: ~ 1331

Thursday, May 15, 2008

(Re)-Introduction

Seeing as it's been a few months, I thought it might be helpful if I provided some background on what this Blog (weB LOG) is all about for those readers who are new to this site. You see, last year my lovely fiance (now wife) talked me into training for and running in a duathlon -- a 2 mile run and 10-mile bike ride, followed by another 2-mile run. So really, if we want to be honest with ourselves, all that follows is really her fault.

I enjoyed the training and getting in shape, and got quite a kick out of the biking, although still can't say as I'm a fan of running. But as I started using the bike to get in shape, we made a deal -- if I stuck with it, ran the duathlon, and put in a certain number of miles on my flat-bar bike, I was allowed to buy a road bike. Well, we did, and I did, so I did, and ended up purchasing an end-of-year demo-unit Felt F75 road bike.

On to 2008. Since 2007's goal was to compete in the duathlon, I decided I wanted to set an ambitious goal for 2008. My twin brother has run a marathon (a very impressive feat, but as mentioned before, I don't like running unless it's to chase down the ice cream truck). What could I do that would be the equivalent on the bike, something I enjoy? A century, of course! And as much as I wanted to pick the metric century (100 km), which is quite an achievement in its own right, goal setting after New Year's is all about setting truly challenging goals, so I decided I'd do an imperial century. (Not to mention my little brother just completed his first imperial century today... sneaky little goober!)

Next question was, how would I accomplish this... initially I planned on doing a solo century toward the end of the summer after I'd had all summer to ride and get in shape. When I learned about the American Diabetes Association's Tour de Cure here in Rochester, however, I saw an opportunity to not only help the community and fight a disease that affects several members of my family, but also a chance to pull in my friends and family as we worked toward a common goal. Since then, our Tour de Cure team, "Beats Running," has grown to 10 riders, with team members signing up for the whole range of distances, from 15 miles all the way to two of us attempting the 100-mile route! This blog, then, is my training journal to prepare for the event, including fund-raising, team training, nutrition, and other 'excitement' that pops up in our quest. I'm proud to say that I can already feel a difference in my overall health since I started the program back in January, having lost 14 pounds (out of a goal of 21 lbs.), re-acquainted myself with the weight set at the local gym, and had a great time doing it.

For those who are interested, the actual ride is on Sunday, June 8, starting from Mendon Park, NY (south of Rochester). Our team is still looking for riders who would like to join us for a fun day of biking and community service, as well as sponsorship (see link here to join our team.)

To date, we have raised $2370 for the American Diabetes Association, which I consider an excellent achievement from a team of complete rookies, and I'm quite proud of every single team member as they've truly stepped up to the challenge. As part of my training, I've already completed the metric century (actually went about 67 miles), and am starting to believe I may actually be able to finish the 100-miler in a few more weeks!

We have more work to do, but so far things are falling into place nicely. Wish us luck!!!

Training Thursday, 5/15/08

Went out on an easy training ride, hoping to rehab my knee a bit and see how it would hold up. Took a 2-hour loop through Webster, into Walworth, west to Penfield, then back to Webster on a nice sunny 58°F afternoon. Knee held up fairly well, but I did struggly a bit coming west on 441 on a series of hills -- even spinning in my smallest gear I had trouble getting up a few of the hills, as I was trying to avoid standing to reduce knee stress. Once I got back to Penfield, however, it was pretty much a straight, flat route back to Webster.

Ride Statistics:
Distance: 31.3 miles
Time: 1:56
Speed: 16.1 mph
Climbing: 378 feet
Max Speed: 32.5 mph
Avg. HR: 153 bpm
Max HR: 203 bpm
Calories burned: ~ 1941

AND, congratulations to my little brother on completing his first Imperial Century. Awesome job, Squab!

{Next morning update -- knee is NOT behaving at all. Gonna be a long day at work!}

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sawbones Update, 5/14/08

Well, caved in and went to see the orthopod around my hurting knee. After waiting for a long long long time, he took a look and confirmed it appears to be a torn meniscus (issue previously known about due to an MRI six years ago), and that I'd probably aggravated it again. Said when it got too painful, call in and get an MRI done and they'd clean it up arthroscopically, but until then, I wasn't going to damage it any worse, it might get better/go away as things settle in my knee, and any physical therapy he'd prescribe would involve me sitting on a bike anyway, so...

1) Keep icing/elevating at night.
2) OK to keep riding bike.
3) Take ibuprofen.
4) Avoid knee twisting/turning for a spell (i.e. volleyball, basketball, running).
5) May want to try a compression sleeve -- helps for some people.
6) Consider trying glucosamine/chondroitin supplements -- helps for some people.
>6) Call doc again when it gets so bad I'm ready for more drastic (i.e. surgical) measures.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Training Tuesday, 5/13/08

Well, I've been off the bike for more than a week dealing with some pretty rough knee pain (the usual -- Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). Pain was mostly gone by Monday, so I tried an easy training ride Tuesday afternoon (following a bike fit review with the cycling physiologist), and it didn't take long to flare up again. NOT encouraging. On the bright side, the week off gave me plenty of time to get the bike tuned up prior to the century ride on June 8. Sounds like it's time to visit the Doc, while making sure to stock up on ibuprofen for the long ride in June...

Today's slow and easy ride stats:

Distance: 14.44 miles
Time: 52:52
Speed: 16.4 mph
Avg. HR: 141
Calories burned: 902
Weather: 63°F and sunny

Sunday, May 4, 2008

First Metric Century!!!

So I set out on my first metric century this weekend. The local bicycling club had scheduled a 42-mile ride on back roads through some moderate hills, and I figured that would be a good training ride. Realizing the start of the ride was at a school only 12 miles from my home, why not bike to the ride, and then back home, make it an even 66 miles? Seemed like a good idea at the time... I loaded up the bike with 100 oz. of water in my Camelbak, a banana, two small bags of GORP that Mrs. Beagle had kindly packed for me, six raspberry newtons, a 16 oz. bottle of the local Gatorade look-alike, and a packet of raspberry Hammer Gel.

Headed out around noon to fairly ominous skies, 55 degree temperatures, and 17-20 mph winds out of the west-southwest. Heading basically southeast to the start of the ride, the 12 miles from home to the starting point was quite easy -- wind made keeping a line a bit challenging, but sure was no problem with speed, and I made it to the starting point with plenty of time to spare despite taking it really easy. Got off the bike and quickly realized how cold things were when you weren't moving, so I huddled in a doorway at the school until it was time to go again (and was never again cold on the ride).

Some last-minute route adjustments were made by the ride leader to avoid some heavy traffic construction areas at the southern-most tip of our route. As we took off at 1 p.m., I had initially planned to stay in the middle of the pack, but was actually having trouble going that slow up the hills, as my bike only has a compact double, and those with the triples were able to meander more slowly up the hill, while I was almost falling over and having trouble pushing my smallest gear while seated, and couldn't go that slow standing. After trying about two hills that way, I saw a group of five riders out about a quarter mile in head of us, and was easily able to join up with them thanks to a couple downhills (my bike seems to like going down hills, and I don't mind so much either).

Once we joined up, our group of six stayed together for about 6-8 miles, before one of our group peeled off to take a different route that took him near his home. Our lead rider set quite a pace, but as we were going mostly south, we weren't headed directly into the wind, so didn't have too bad a time of it. By the time we turned east a few miles later, we'd lost one more of the group, and were down to a foursome. As I we turned east with a nice tailwind, I enjoyed talking to a new friend who had been riding about 15 years. We were riding at a challenging pace, but no so hard that I was worried about burning out. A nice group challenge pace. This worked fine until we hit our next turn point, a long loop to the south and west directly into the wind. At this point, our lead rider kicked it into gear and really pushed us through the wind for the better part of 12 miles. Throw in some hills and this tough pace, and my new friend and I were starting to get worried about pushing too hard, and definitely thinking it was time to hop off the bikes for a quick stretch and something to eat from our packs for energy. Unfortunately, we didn't want to lose the group, so kept pushing. We dropped my new friend around mile 10, and I waited for him at the top of a mild hill, taking the opportunity to pull a banana from my pack and start replenishing my energy, as I was worried I'd start to cramp up soon.

We joined up from there and he and I and pushed to catch the leaders, who were taking an on-bike breather and route check about a half mile down the road at a stop sign. As a group we took about two minutes to breath, I finished my banana, drank about half the sports drink, and off we went again. This break did us all good, as we were able to keep up with our ride leader (who again pulled our group of 4 well over 75% of the time, even though all of us TRIED to take our turns pulling). After about 5 miles, my new friend was again having trouble keeping up, and I could tell he was out of gas, and I wasn't very behind. At this point our route turned east again, with the wind, but unfortunately this was the hilly portion of our ride. Nothing too terrible, but each descent was followed with an even bigger hill, which gets a bit challenging on already wobbly legs. I made it most of the way up the top of the second hill when both of my legs started cramping (quadriceps) as I had to stand to make it up the last few feet of the hill. Was quite worried about falling over while clipped in my legs were in such bad shape, but I was able to get off the ride, unclip both feet, and get my rear on the ground before I got in serious trouble. It wasn't graceful, but I was in the grass with no further damage.

There I decided it was time I took that break I'd been needing for a few minutes. Drank some more sports drink, had a bite of GORP, two newtons, and waited for my buddy to catch up. He was in similar shape, and worried he might cramp up too, so we both took a minute breather there on the hill before completing the remaining hills. At this point my left knee started hurting. Nothing too bad, but it didn't feel quite right.

I made it over the next two hills, just barely reaching the top of the final hill (and the two cyclists who were leading our mini-group) without cramping again. Once there, we spotted the slower contingent we had pulled away from at the beginning of our ride. They'd taken a shortcut and were now back in the midst of everyone. We hopped back in the middle of the group, but somehow our group of four found itself out in front again after a few miles. I stayed with the two leaders for a couple more miles, but quickly lost my buddy again. I tried keeping both groups in site for a while, playing intermediary, but finally gave up and pulled over in a nice field for a few minutes to eat some more, stretch out, and try to regain some strength. Didn't want my new pal to get himself in trouble on his own, and I'd said earlier I wasn't going to leave him as that just didn't seem very nice. Tried out my first packet of gel -- not very tasty, but it certainly helped. Finished off the sports drink, had a few bites of GORP and a couple more newtons, then packed everything up just in time to head off with my friend again.

We only had a couple more miles before the route turned back toward our original starting point. Given that I was struggling at this point, and I knew he was too, I made the call that I was going to split off and head west toward the main route back to my house instead of east back to the school. Wouldn't cut too many miles off the trip, but in case I did get myself in trouble and started cramping again, it was a main route my wife would know how to find me on fairly easily if I did have to call in support. With the slower group coming up behind, he felt safe that he had support if he needed it, so we said our goodbyes and took off on our different directions.

As I set off on my own, I planned to take it easy, ride at my own pace now, and really "test my mettle" to just keep on going. I didn't want to have to call in support, no matter how bad I was hurting, and realized this could be a huge milestone for me -- my first metric century, and a good test for my upcoming century in June (I've heard that if you can do 1/2 to 2/3 of the 100 miles comfortable, a full century is no problem). Well, I wasn't comfortable, but I was still moving!

As I cleared the first small hill on my way to the main thoroughfare home, I think I cussed out loud when I saw the larger looming "double-hill" up in head of my. Darn, I'd forgotten about that sucker! Well, the hill wasn't getting any smaller by baring my teeth at it, so I got my speed up on the incoming downhill, then pushed up as best I could, standing on my way up until just before I thought I might cramp up, then setting and hitting my smallest gear again for the last 20 feet or so. Once again I thought how nice a triple might be right now. I cleared the top of the hill, pulled off to the right, and took a moment to eat my last two newtons and drink some more water before heading into the town of Fairport.

One minor hill in Fairport, then a straight shot north on Route 250 about 10 miles home (most of it flat after two bigger hills). Still fighting cramps in my legs, I wasn't so fond of being on a road with more traffic, but it had a wide berm, and other than about a quarter mile of big intersection, it'd be fairly easy to keep myself toward the edge of the road in case I had to bail. Thankfully, I made it up both hills and breathed a huge sigh of relief as I was even starting to get a touch of energy back. Now, by no means was I in good shape, but other than feeling a bit weak in the legs and my left knee starting to ping a bit more loudly, I was starting to think I really might make it home on my own.

Went about five more miles north (fairly flat), and took a pre-emptive stretch break along the side of a road near a gas station. I knew the rest of the way by heart -- flat, straight, wind abreast -- I could do this! Finished the last few miles on autopilot, then looked at my cycling computer -- only 58 miles! I couldn't go home THIS close to a metric... so I made a couple-mile loop around the neighborhood to get over 62 miles before coming to rest at the front door, completely exhausted, sore, and by now limping pretty well due to the left knee. But I made it. It was only later in the evening that I looked at my route (Garmin Edge GPS) and saw that it had turned off and cut the route over a stretch -- I must have turned it off for a minute waiting for my friend at one of my stops, and forgotten to turn it back on for a while. Thankfully, the part I missed made a right triangle, so with just a touch of help from Pythagoras I was able to determine I had actually gone 67 miles.

Looking back, I don't think the 62 miles would have been nearly as bad if we hadn't tried to keep up with our group pacer for so long (and I know he was trying to take it easy on us). Should have let myself get dropped back when I could tell I was going to burn out, but I wasn't experienced enough to realize how debilitating that effort to keep up would turn out to be, and wasn't confident enough to finish up alone that far from familiar territory. Things to know for next time. Also learned, without a doubt, when I do the century, I want to stop every 10-15 miles, eat something stretch, and in general keep my energy up. When my body tells me "hey, you should rest and stretch for a spell, and perhaps refuel a bit," I should listen to it -- it seems to be smarter than me.

I am concerned about my left knee hurting as badly as it does. I pushed a week ago and had some left knee pain that took two days to subside, and I'm definitely in worse shape now (left knee, left side of the knee cap). Hoping it comes from pushing too hard, and isn't something I'll have to fight for every longer-distance ride.

Anyhow, final ride statistics are below:

  • Distance -- 67 miles
  • Avg. Speed -- 15.4 mph
  • Max Speed -- 28.8 mph
  • Avg. HR -- 152
  • Max HR -- 181
  • Calories Burned -- ~ 4000
Woohooie, 1st Metric Century Completed!!!
Nutrition:
  • Breakfast -- scrambled eggs, 4 pieces bacon, 4 pieces wheat toast, orange juice, water
  • Lunch -- 6 raspberry newtons, banana, GORP, Wegman's MVP Sports Drink, 60 oz. water, raspberry HammerGel
  • Dinner -- gnocchi in red sauce with gourmet-chopped red and green peppers

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Training Saturday, 5/3/08

No biking today, instead joined up with my friends for a 4's volleyball tournament. We played fairly well on the day, coming out first in our pool, getting a bye through the first round of playoffs, winning our way to the finals in the second round, and then getting a solid education in the finals. The opposing team was definitely better than us and should have won, but as in all cases, we had plenty of opportunities that we missed and mistakes made we'd like to do over. All-in-all, though, a successful tournament and a fun day with friends. Back and right shoulder were slightly sore at the end of the day, but nothing serious.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Training Sunday, 4/27

Went out for my second group ride today, this time just two of us as my friend Target joined me for a 33 mile trip out to Pultneyville and back. We started off slow and easy into the wind, at about 15.5 mph, hanging out a couple miles off the lake. Sun was out, but wind was just a bit coolish off the lake, still quite beautiful however.

We avoided traffic by taking back roads, and caught up on recent news on the way out. Started having a bit of knee pain at the front of my left kneecap about five miles in, but nothing too terrible, so we kept up our pace, and I focused on keeping my cadence up in the 95-105 rpm region to avoid stressing my knee too much further. Took a five minute break at Forman Park out in Pultneyville before turning around for the trip home. With the wind at our backs, we were a bit faster on the return trip, including pushing a bit on the last mile or two (I didn't tell Target, just wanted to see if he could keep up). All in all, a very nice training ride.

Ride Stats:

  • Distance: 33.4 miles
  • Avg. Speed: 16.2
  • Avg. HR: 139 bpm
  • Max HR: 166 bpm
  • Calories Burned: 2072

Post-ride notes: Gave my left knee the RICE treatment (rest, ice, compression, elevation) in the evening, but it's still a bit painful on stairs. May need to take it easy for a day or two (which coincides with some ugly weather).

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Training Saturday, 4/26/08

Joined up with some members of the Rochester Bicycling Club for a nice jaunt from Webster Park over to Pultneyville on back roads, then back again. My first time riding any distance in a group, so it was a completely new experience. Living within a couple miles of the park, I rode down to the lake and met up with the group. I found everyone there friendly, if a bit shy, and promptly joined a group talking, kept my mouth shut, and listened for a bit to see what I could learn. Introduced myself around, and met some other newcomers who I tried to buddy up with.

Shortly thereafter, we took off, and quickly subdivided into three groups. Officially the ride is a "Sweep" ride, which means that the ride leader rides at the back of the group and makes sure nobody gets left behind. I figured it was a nice intermediate ride to start out with, meet some people, and see what sort of level I could join in with while avoiding "holding back" any riders.

The group started out strong, and quickly segregated into three groups, a faster, medium, and more relaxed group, with the faster group going a bit farther before turning back, medium group going not quite as far, and the relaxed group cutting back at 15 miles (for a grand total of 30 round trip).

I initially started out tailing one of the more experienced riders, and before I knew it, found myself up in the faster group, bring up the rear along with another of the new riders, a nice young lady on a one-week-old Surly Long-Haul Trucker! We stuck together as rookies for most of the ride, managing to hang with the fast group all the way to Pultneyville (although I did see my heart rate a bit higher than I normally would have expected, in the 171 bpm range). Once we got to Pultneyville we pulled over in the park to enjoy the Lake Ontario scenery for a bit before turning around for the trek back to Webster.

Trip back to Webster went fairly well, and either the group slowed down, or I was less anxious about riding in a pack, as my heart rate subsided considerably. Hit more back roads on the way home, but finished up with a pretty high-speed descent down the last 1 - 1.5 miles on Holt Road, doing everything I could to keep up with the pack leader. Our average speed was around 22 mph down the road, but I was glad we hit the lake (and the end of our route) when we did, as I couldn't have kept up that pace for much longer.

Overall, a very nice ride with some welcoming folks, and I learned that riding in a group can be quite a bit of fun (and sure helps the miles fly by).

Ride Statistics:

  • Distance: 44.77 miles
  • Avg. Speed: 16.6 mph
  • Avg. HR: 161 bpm
  • Max HR: 186 bpm
  • Calories Burned: 2820

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Training Thursday, 4/24

Took some time off for a relaxation ride with Mrs. Beagle this evening. We went out for a nice easy hour ride, enjoying the first hints of spring, eating a few bugs, and in general just enjoying the warmer temperatures. Ride stats: 9 miles, 385 calories burned, average speed 9.6 mph.

Nutrition:
  • Breakfast -- FiberOne oats/chocolate bar and large decaf coffee
  • Lunch -- bowl of pasta/sausage/tomato soup
  • Dinner -- pizza!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Training Tuesday, 4/22/08

Went in to work wicked early, but also got out early, so came home and hit the road on the bike. Figured I'd head out to Pultneyville and back, a trek of around 30 miles, then perhaps, depending on how I felt and the weather, consider another 12-mile loop around Webster.

On the way out I ran into a strong headwind heading north to the lake, with the wind coming at about 15 mph from the northeast. This changed the temperature from the weather-guesser's predicted 74 degrees to what I imagine couldn't have been much more than 60. I was glad I only have a long-sleeve jersey, as I was pretty cold. Fighting the wind all the way east with the chill wasn't especially fun, and I struggled a bit with some pain in my rump. Originally I thought it was the seat, but when I took a break in Pultneyville to stretch, I realized it was tight upper leg muscles.

I'd planned on grabbing something quick to eat at the ever-famous Pultneyville Pickle Company, but a sign on the door stated the company had gone out of business in February. Bugger. So I took five minutes to stretch before hopping back on the bike for the trip back west to Webster. Needless to say, the trip to Webster was MUCH more enjoyable with the wind at my back. Didn't seem as cold, either, at least once I reached the halfway point, although I was getting much slower.

Apparently the wind gods decided I'd been bad this week, because the wind shifted and started blowing from the southwest (like the weather guesser had originally predicted). Now I was warmer, but the wind was BACK in my face. Grrrrr. Made it back to Webster for a total distance of 30 miles and an average speed of 16.7 mph, but decided to skip the add-on Webster loop as I was out of water, and also worried I'd bonk if I didn't eat something (had been a bit light on meals all day, intending to grab a slice of pizza in Pultneyville).

Overall, however, another good training ride. 30 miles, 1:46:44, 16.7 mph average, top speed of 31 mph, and an average heart rate of 149 bpm. I was pleased to see I kept my max HR down this time, at about the 168 bpm level. Calories burned: 1,865.

Now, off to find something to eat!

Nutrition:

  • Breakfast -- FiberOne oats/chocolate bar and large decaf coffee
  • Lunch -- bowl of pasta/vegetable soup
  • Dinner -- pizza

Friday, April 18, 2008

Training Friday, 4/18/08

A beautiful day here in Rochester, with temperatures touching the 70s and a ton of sunshine. Snuck out of work a tad early in order to get a short ride in before guests arrive for the weekend. Took it slow and easy on a 15-mile ride along the lakeshore, 15.2 miles, 15.8 mph average, and an estimated calorie burn of 934. Average HR: 143 bpm. Even managed to spot a few turkeys in one of the front yards along the lake!

Nutrition:

  • Breakfast -- FiberOne oats/chocolate bar and large decaf coffee
  • Lunch -- Turkey sandwich on wheat w/lettuce, onions, pickles, Italian dressing; chips
  • Dinner -- burger and fries

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Training Thursday, 4/17/08

With sand volleyball on the evening docket, made today a rest day from the bike. Temperatures got up into the mid-60s, the sun was out, and it felt great to be playing in temperatures that didn't have your toes wishing for socks by the end of the match. As soon as we finished our first match (3 games), I was asked to hit outside as a sub on another team, so I got in six fairly good workout games in a row for today's exercise.

Nutrition:
  • Breakfast -- FiberOne oats/chocolate bar and large decaf coffee
  • Lunch -- Turkey sandwich on wheat w/lettuce, onions, pickles, Italian dressing; chips
  • Snack -- Coors Lite
  • Dinner -- chicken breast, rice, broccoli