Saturday, June 22, 2019

Busted my tuckus!

Like everybody, I read (and know) of elderly people who take falls in their homes and break bones. Often times these are quite debilitating and often begin a gradual decline that ends in death. My Mother is one operative example, fell and cracked a rib -> shallower respiration -> pneumonia and death a short time later.

So how do these happen? Sometimes they're brought on by dizziness or some other physical malady but all too frequently they're a result of just being careless.

Enter today's story....

I was working in my office on brevet cards for this weekends 1000K. Stood up to get something and sat back down without looking. My chair, which is on casters on a hard carpet protector, had turned sideways. Fell straight down and landed on my coccyx (tailbone).

Man oh man did it hurt! Man oh man does it hurt (three days later). I've not ridden in three days (and gained 3 lbs, thank you very much). Yesterday I went to get gas for our garden tractor and learned that picking something up uses the glutes/lower back muscles pretty hard and I thought I was going to scream there at the gas station.

Going to go for a short ride today but it might literally be down to the end of the driveway and back. Hoping for more as it's a lovely day but not counting on it.

This is particularly disconcerting as I have two 1200K's coming up soon (I leave in a week): the Herentals 1200K and the Prague 1200K. Hopefully I'll manage to get in at least a couple somewhat longer rides between now and when I leave if for no other reason to stop the precipitous weight gain.

Be careful out there!

Monday, June 17, 2019

Oh, my aching back!

Given my long standing back problems, I'm often asked by friends "how's your back doing?" My answer is always "managed, not cured" and I suspect that's going to be the answer for the rest of my life.

Here are the rides I've either not started or not finished due to back troubles:
  1. 2014 Cascade 1200
  2. 2016 Rocky Mountain 1200
  3. 2016 Great Southern 1200K
  4. 2018 Mile Failte
  5. 2018 Perth Albany Perth
  6. 2019 Colorado Front Range SR600K
So what's the deal? 

I've had an ultrasound done (as an aside, the technology these days is pretty amazing. You can go up and down the spinal cord and see each vertebrae in isolation - cool stuff!) which revealed what I already knew: a bulging disc at the S1. For those unfamiliar with the architecture of the spine, there's a tube that runs up the middle aka you're spinal cord and periodic offshoots through the sides of the vertebrae that control various bodily functions. At the S1, my disc bulges to the left side which is what allows you to e.g., walk on your heels. My PCP says if I'm not able to walk on my heels that means I've let it go too long before doing anything - so I walk on my heels once a week.

As related to cycling, there are three failure modes that I've established so far:
  1. I do something stupid (not completely uncharacteristic) like pick up something way too heavy. 
  2. I do the classic "cyclist stretch" on the bike where you stand up, let your back sag and arch your back to stretch the muscles. If I start pedaling while I'm doing this it's game over, OMFG struck by lightning sort of pain.
  3. When climbing out of the saddle I pull REALLY hard on the bars. In thinking about it, this is a lot like (1) i.e., lifting something heavy, that compresses the vertebrae on the bulging disc.

(1) was the source of my DNF at the 2014 Cascade and DNS at the Rocky Mountain 1200. For the Cascade, I was clearing an area on my property and lifted/dragged a bunch of tree trunks and really hurt my back so I started with my back hurting. I did the first day with no problem and felt pretty good at the end. On the second day there was a lengthy climb up from the Klickitat river (a couple of miles at 10%) and when I got to the top my back was really hurting. I had to stop every couple of miles between there and Goldendale to stretch my back despite the fact that it was mostly downhill. The climb up to Bickleton pretty much sealed my fate. I made it as far as the control at Sunnyside and couldn't stand it. I took a break at the control, stretched, etc., then tried to go on. I made it a couple of miles and knew I couldn't face the climbing that was in front of me so I turned around and quit.

Likewise the RM1200. I drove all the way out to the west coast and upon arriving rode up Washington Pass to the summit and my back was hurting pretty good. I went to the start and signed in. That night my wife and I went to dinner and I bent over to wash my hands after using the washroom and the pain was incredible. I knew I had no business starting a 1200K in that condition so I went back and told them I wasn't going to do the ride. Drove all the way home.

(2) was the problem on the Great Southern. I rode really well for the extended first day and felt great. The next morning, I got up and started riding feeling pretty good. About 2K out of town I stretched my back and started pedaling while my back was arched - wham! I rode on another 100K to the control. Took some ibuprofen, stretched and then tried to go on. I rode another 10K, couldn't stand it any more and turned around.

(3) was the problem on Perth Albany Perth. I rode well the first day. On the second day I rode pretty hard for the last half of the day, feeling pretty good. The day finished with a really steep climb up to the school that served as the overnight. Being stupid, I was determined I was going to ride it rather than walk and pulled as hard as I could. Next morning I knew before I'd even reached the outskirts of Albany that my ride was over. I rode about 120K and just couldn't stand it anymore. I quit on a section that was downhill with a tailwind.

There are also a few failures (Mile Failte and Colorado SR600) that are a bit more puzzling. I'm riding pretty well, there's a lot of climbing and my back just progressively hurts worse and worse. Nothing instantaneous, no bolt of lightning, it just gets worse until I can't stand it anymore. My guess is the muscles are somewhat under trained (although I did go into the MF with a sore back) and the extended climbing causes them to tighten up thereby compressing the vertebrae.

So other than whining and quitting, what have I done about it?

Well, the answer is longer than I feel like typing so I'll say "everything" including PT, acupuncture, cortisone injections, etc. On an ongoing basis, I do core strengthening and stretching religiously. I think it helps but it's only "insurance" not "immunity".

And so it goes...

This is you, having fun

Although I've finished my PBP qualifying rides I have several rides upcoming and want to "keep the wheels spinning". I'm also trying out a new "theory" regarding my back. In the past, prior to a 1200K I've typically done a brevet series but my other rides were relatively short (40 miles or so). My reasoning for this is that physiologically your body doesn't really "learn" that much in rides beyond about 90 minutes duration. Sure there's that "mental toughness" thing but I've done enough longer rides that I don't feel like there's a lot for me to learn in that regard.

I've begun to think however that my back does "learn" by doing longer rides and adapts to the increased workload and strain so this year I'm doing more long rides in preparation for even longer ones. As of this writing (mid June) I've done a complete ACP brevet series, two 1000K's, a fléche and a 1200K.

In order to keep the ball rolling, I decided to ride this past weekends "E-F Huntin' 600K (when E-F Huntin' talks, people listen ;-) ). The forecast leading up to the ride didn't look very promising with rain a virtual certainty but to quote that old saw "there is no bad weather, only bad clothing" and I've got pretty good rain kit: a Gore-Tex Shake Dry jacket (highly recommended) and Castelli Tempesta rain knickers (not so sure).

The first day of the ride was just under 230 miles with just over 13K feet of climbing (NB: I rode the first part of the day 2 route so I'd pass within a mile of my home where I slept for a few hours). It really was four different rides:

  • The section from Richland Center (ride start) to Elkader was just about as good as cycling gets. Mild temperatures, virtually no wind or slight tailwind, beautiful sunshiny day and a lovely route.
  • The section from Elkader to Lansing was much hotter than I expected (mid-80's) and features a lot of climbing.
  • The section from Lansing to Viroqua is relentlessly hilly and the temperatures started to cool with gusty winds as the front bringing in the rain came. I've done this section 8-10 times in both directions and it kicks my butt every time and that was the case here.
  • Soldiers Grove to the finish in Richland Center was non-stop pouring, cold rain.
The two "standout" memories from the first day were feeling rather ill when I got to Viroqua. I suspect I was somewhat dehydrated and maybe a little low on electrolytes (forgot to bring some) so I drank a bunch and put a lot of salt on my food. It did make me feel better.

The second was the stretch in the rain. It was coming down in sheets and there's nothing like riding in cold rain, at night to make you (or at least me) feel sorry for yourself.

I rode most of the first day by myself and caught up to Eric Peterson at the Culver's in Viroqua. We rode the rest of the way to Richland Center together arriving at the Ramada Inn control at 23:25. I then rode on 7 miles to home (it turned out I went "off route" and added a bonus climb and extra couple of miles - the route didn't go the way I thought it did).

The next day, Eric and I agreed to ride together and he said he was going to leave at 5:30 AM and would text me when he left. Given he had to ride to the point where I left the route (about 15-20 minutes) and would meet him I waited until 5:45 then texted him and asked if he'd left. He said he'd just awakened so I told him since I was dressed and ready that I was going to leave.

I rode the first 50 miles to Boscobel and was super hungry when I got there so I took a long break and ate a bunch (breakfast sandwich, two donuts, chocolate milk, coffee). Eric passed me while I was at the Kwik Trip and the first I heard from him was a text that said "@Fennimore Subway". I texted him back that I was 10-15 minutes away but it ended up being more like 20-25 and he was just getting ready to pull out when I got there. I was only going to have a soda and bag of chips so he said he'd wait.

We rode the rest of the way together, into a headwind from Fennimore until Spring Green - about 60 miles or so and then on to the finish with a slight tailwind.

All in all, a tough ride - especially the end of the first day. We rewarded ourselves at the end though.

Me and Dad at the finish
 One amusing post ride anecdote. While we were standing in the parking lot enjoying our beverage ("Storm King" seems particularly apropos) a guy standing at the door of the hotel started talking to us about our ride. At one point he asked "are you father and son?" Eric and I are still debating which of us were the Dad in that scenario ;-)

The Storm Kings enjoying a post-ride beverage
One not so amusing post ride anecdote. We were riding in WI-130 on a fairly long, straight stretch of two lane road with no shoulder. Some geezer in a late-life crisis Corvette laid on his horn and swerved at the last minute around Eric who was maybe 18" off of the fog line. There was no traffic coming the other way and he could easily have passed us safely. This probably says something about me but I hope the guy dies in a fiery crash. I don't know where that sense of entitlement comes from but the world would be a better place without him.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Colorado Front Range SR600K

In the likelihood that people read this ride report in preparation for their own ride I'll put notes and suggestions ahead of the report of my own ride in the hope that future riders will find them useful.
  • I got to Colorado a few days early to acclimate to the altitude a little. I think it helped. I rode the first 22 miles of the route the day after I arrived and really felt like I was working pretty hard. Felt much easier on the day of the ride. My HRM confirms the difference so if you're able to get here a few days in advance I'd recommend it.
  • The store in Raymond was closed when we went through. It keeps irregular hours so don't count on it being open.
  • The lodge on Peaceful Valley road was open and we stopped there for water. The people were very nice.
  • The store indicated on the cue sheet in Ward is closed (has a "for sale" sign on it). The restaurant indicated on the ridewithgps route (Jackleggers) is a good ways off route and not visible from the road.
  • There is a store in Rollinsville (mile 61.3) a couple hundred yards down the road. There's a building on the corner with a sign that says (I think) "Grocery and Mercantile" and the building is closed. Just go on a short distance and there is a store that was open. Note that it's not far from there to Taggerts store (which is bigger/has more) but if it's hot and you've used up all your water on the out/back to Eldora you might want to stop.
  • The route through Central City on the way out is really ugly and steep for a pretty long way. This was one of the harder parts of the route. I suspect it'll be a lot busier depending on when you go through, weekends would be pretty dreadful I'd think. I rode the climbs, Eric walked them and he got to Soda Springs about 4 minutes after me so there's not much time saved by riding and they're pretty hard climbs. If nothing else, ride part way and walk the rest.
  • At mile 86.5 cue says straight into trailhead. Trail is closed and impassable. Stay left on the dirt road. It's only dirt for a few hundred yards. You end up where the trail would have exited right outside of Idaho Springs. Note that this is as of 6/11/2019 but given the amount of construction that's going on, this comment is going to be valid for quite some time.
  • I had 3 water bottles. I'm a reasonably heavy drinker and never got into my 3rd bottle but we stopped at pretty near every opportunity to reload. Note that it was relatively cool during our ride so 3 bottles or even a CamelBak are a good idea if it's really hot.
  • The climb out of Evergreen is fairly gradual for 4 miles or so but then has a couple of longish and very steep ramps - 15% or so. I had a 34x40 as my easiest gear and it was still a hard climb. I rode them but you might be better off just walking them and saving your legs a bit.
  • There's a Subway on the route in Conifer. The first thing you'll see is a c-store and it'll be tempting to stop but if you keep going there's a shopping plaza and the Subway is there. A good place to stop for second breakfast and it's a long way to the next food opportunity (Decker) with some extended climbing so I'd suggest a stop. The Subway opens at 07:00.
  • When I got to Decker (early afternoon) the Cafe wasn't open yet, only the little store. They had typical "small convenience store" stuff - chips, candy, water, sodas, etc., so you can stock up but if you were counting on a sit-down meal there you might be disappointed depending on when you get there.
  • With the exception of Central City, the climb out of Evergreen and Witter Gulch on the return,  most of the climbing is what I'd characterize as "Western style" (ala High Country): not terribly steep but goes on for 5-8 miles. In the thin air anything that cuts off the flow of oxygen for even a second (e.g., taking a drink) results in gasping for breath but you'll be climbing for a couple of hours non-stop so drinking and eating is a must. I'd suggest stopping for a few seconds periodically and taking a good drink and a bite of something.
  • Unless you're really fast, if you start after 07:00 I'd say it's very likely you're going to descend Witter Gulch in the dark. I'd suggest 07:00 unless it otherwise screws up your plans.
  • Stop and put on rain gear when you feel the first drop. I hate stopping and am always "it might not rain so I'll risk it" - don't. It turns from drops to downpour in seconds and once you're soaked you're going to have a miserable ride. FYI, according to Garmin Connect it was 34 degrees and raining hard when I descended from Echo Lake down Witter Gulch. I was borderline hypothermic when I got to Evergreen.
  • Unless by some miracle it's really warm at Echo Lake, I'd suggest taking the time to fully layer up at the control. You'll be climbing for a few more minutes (the high point of the ride is about 4 miles on) but the climbing is pretty mild so you won't get sweaty and you'll be descending for a LONG time. If the weather isn't good you can go into the lodge and suit up.
  • This may seem obvious but there is literally no flat on the ride. You're either climbing or descending constantly, maybe only 1-2% but still not flat and you're working harder. This takes a toll. 
  • I wasn't able to find any decent place to eat at Woodland Park (though I only looked around in the vicinity of the intersection). I ended up going to the City Market and getting a pre-made sandwich and some potato salad. Might be worth a Google maps search now to see if you can find something more appealing. Note there is a Wendy's there but it's a bit of a dump and had a huge line when I got there at 13:00.
  • The route from Conifer to about 15 miles short of Woodland Park is one of the prettiest parts of the ride. Closer in to WP there was a lot of traffic and the road has no shoulder. Everybody gave me room but the cars whizzing past gets tiresome.
  • There's little to (mostly) no cell phone reception between Conifer and Woodland Park.

Ride Report - Colorado Front Range SR600K

One of my long term goals before I stop doing this silly stuff is an ACP Randonneur 10000. I'm not really into chasing awards, I usually view them as a byproduct of doing rides I'm interested in but I do tend to gravitate towards those that require a long term commitment and a variety of rides such as the RUSA cup. The Randonneur 10000 requires: 10000km of brevets including a Paris-Brest-Paris, another 1200k, two full ACP series of 200, 300, 400, 600, and 1000 km brevets, a Flèche team event, and a Super Randonnee 600 within a six-year period.

So as of this writing, the only two things I lack are PBP and an SR600K. I thought I'd remedy the latter by riding John Lee Ellis' Colorado Front Range SR600K and asked Eric Peterson if he were interested in joining me - he agreed.

My dance card is rather full for 2019 so the only place I could fit it in was early June so we decided on Tuesday June 4th. I got out to Colorado a few days early to acclimate to the elevation (my home in Wisconsin is at 600' above sea level and I'd be going up over 11K feet on the ride). I rode the first 22 miles of the route and I think it helped. Comparing the climbing portion of the ride (about a 10 mile stretch 13 miles into the ride) with what I did during the SR600, I was 1 MPH faster on the SR600 and my average heart rate was 5 BPM lower.

Eric and I met at the start and got underway at 07:05. The weather was beautiful with a 40% chance of rain through the day. A note about how to interpret this in the Rockies: a 40% chance of rain should be interpreted to mean there's a 100% chance it's going to rain but only a 40% chance you're going to be under it when it does ;-) You can pretty much set your watch by the afternoon thundershower and it certainly didn't disappoint during the ride.

Our starting on Tuesday meant there was little to no traffic on St Vrain canyon and relatively light traffic for most of the ride (more on this later). As we were riding into Lyons we saw a rider in front of us that looked familiar. When we got to the first photo control in Lyons it turned out the rider was none other than John Lee Ellis! This was pure coincidence (or so he said, we think he was there to check up on us!). John took a few pictures of Eric and I and rode with us until about mile 32 of the ride just after where we turned off of Peaceful Valley Rd onto CO-72 then turned around to retrace his route. This was an unexpected surprise and I enjoyed chatting with John as we rode along.

The first advertised place to stop for water was in Raymond but the store keeps irregular hours and was closed when we got there so we rode on. The next spot was Peaceful Valley lodge which was open. The people there are working on reopening the lodge after it being closed for several years and were very nice, letting us use the bathrooms and refill our water bottles.

After leaving Peaceful Valley Rd we rolled on in beautiful weather. I made a quick stop at the store in Rollinsville (37 miles, more on this below) then rode on toward Nederland (49 miles). We didn't really feel like a long stop in Nederland so we skipped the Cafe and Coffee shop and settled on the Kwik Mart and convenience store pizza.

Leaving Nederland we headed toward the out and back in Eldora with its photo control at the turnaround point. Note for future riders: although there is a "Welcome to Eldora" sign when you first get there, that's not the right one. You go all the way through Eldora until the road just turns into dirt and there's the "Welcome to Eldora" sign that's the photo control.

From Eldora we headed toward Central City/Blackhawk with a quick stop at Taggerts store (mile 68). I have to say Central City was the worst part of the route. It's like other crappy little towns in the west (Deadwood South Dakota is another that leaps to mind) that have tried to turn themselves into gambling meccas with the additional "plus" that it's not bike friendly. Adding to the charm was the fact that they were doing road construction on the "bike route" through town so we had to wait a considerable time. I make a habit of striking up a conversation with the flagman while I wait and did so here. I've found that if you talk with them a bit they'll give you a bit more consideration in getting through the construction and won't tell their counterpart on the other side it's clear before they're sure you're through.

In addition to the above, the route through Central City is steep! I didn't look at the grade on my Wahoo but it was certainly in the 12% range and went on for a good bit. I rode it, Eric walked it and only got to Idaho Springs a few minutes after I did.

We got to Idaho Springs after a detour off the route due to construction (more on this below) and in a stroke of luck it started to rain just as we got there. We settled on McDonald's and replenished some calories (chocolate shakes FTW!) then started off toward the next photo control at Echo Lake. Although we'd done a lot of climbing to this point, this was the first extended climb:

I felt pretty good at this point and motored up at a reasonable pace. I got to the photo control at Echo Lake about 2.5 hours ahead of when I thought I'd get there so things were going pretty well. I felt good and was enjoying the ride.

And then everything went to hell ;-)

As I was finishing taking my control picture it started to rain. I knew that it could go from drops to downpour in seconds so I grabbed what I could put on quickly which was a very light Shake Dry rain jacket (a great piece of kit!), Castelli rain knickers and Gore booties. I still had a few miles to go to the high point of the ride so I figured I'd put this on to stay dry and then stop and suit up for the long descent at the first sheltered spot. I never saw one. NB: after the ride I drove this part of the route and saw that there were two turnouts with restrooms that would have been good places to put on more clothes. I'd just missed seeing them because of the heavy rain and focusing on keeping the bike upright.

As I neared the summit it started to rain really hard and this continued for the next 17 miles descending in to our overnight in Evergreen. This included the descent down Witter Gulch road which is really steep with a number of unmarked 90 degree switchbacks. I have to say this descent would be pretty scary on a sunny day with bright sunshine. In the early evening, shaking from being cold in pouring rain it was downright horrifying. As I was descending off of Echo Lake I was so cold I was repeatedly throwing the bike into a shimmy because I was shaking so hard and had to slow almost to a stop to regain control.

Here's the data from Garmin Connect. As you can see the temperature was in the mid-70's in Idaho Springs and fell to 34 at the summit. It gradually warmed up on the descent and was a balmy 45 (but still raining) when I got to Evergeen.

When I finally finished the descent and got to Evergreen it took several minutes before I was even able to turn the pedals and my back (my historical downfall) was really hurting from bracing myself against the braking forces and no small amount of tension from descending a mountain road in treacherous conditions.

Nevertheless, I got to the overnight at Alpen Way lodge a little over three hours ahead of schedule in 13:30. I was freezing when I got there so I stripped off everything, got into the shower and stood under the hot water until I warmed up. I heard Eric arriving while I was in the shower and was happy that he'd made it too but when I went out he said that he'd quit and gotten a ride from Echo Lake.

I didn't sleep particularly well that night and got up and on the road about 5 AM. Leaving Evergreen, you start climbing almost right away but it's relatively gradual for a while. I felt pretty good at that point, tired but nothing out of the ordinary considering yesterday's effort. That changed when I hit the first of the two steep sections going up to the first photo control of the day on Sandy Rd. Again, I wasn't looking at the percent grade on my Wahoo but I'd say that it was 15% or more and my back pretty much went right there. With benefit of hindsight, I probably should have walked it. By the time I got to the second steep ramp my back was really hurting and experience suggested this didn't bode well for the rest of the ride.

I got to Conifer and stopped at the Subway for a second breakfast. I took a couple of ibuprofen and did some stretching then started off toward Woodland Park. This next section included the second extended climb on the way out and I was having to stop frequently to relieve my increasingly aching back.

The section of the route from Conifer to about 10 miles short of Woodland Park was very nice, running alongside the Platte river. One of my favorite things about longer rides is you go far enough for the geography to change and that's what happened here as the landscape turned from hardwoods in the high mountains to mostly pine and became progressively more arid.

As I got closer to Woodland Park, traffic increased substantially and this was another low point in the ride: my back was really hurting, there was no shoulder and a lot of traffic. Everyone gave me room but being from rural Wisconsin I'm not used to having cars roaring past me constantly and I find it very fatiguing.

I got to Woodland Park with exactly half the ride time used up: 30 hours pretty much on the nose. The bad news is the three hours I was ahead of schedule when I arrived at Evergreen had shrunk to 49 minutes. This isn't surprising and is what typically happens when my back flares up: it hurts to push on the pedals so I don't and therefore I go slower.

I knew from the trip out that there was no cell phone reception between Woodland Park and Conifer so once I turned back I was committed to getting there on my own power. I tried to gauge how rapidly my back was getting worse against the climbing that I knew was in front of me and to make an already long story short, I decided that it was unlikely I was going to be able to make it back to Evergreen so I decided to call it.

I called Eric who was in Niwot picking up his car and he very graciously said he'd come and get me. He not only did that, he drove me all the way back to my car at Niwot sacrificing the time he was going to spend with his daughter before driving back to Illinois. I'm very grateful for his kindness at a time that I was feeling pretty low.

Reading this report, one might get a negative impression of the route and this would be a mistake. Overall, the route is lovely and, especially with our mid-week start, the majority is on relatively quiet roads. The only two sections that I didn't care for were through Central City/Blackhawk and the last few miles into Woodland Park so out of 188 miles there were 173 that were beautiful and about 15 that weren't that great.

I think just about anybody would call that a pretty fantastic ratio. If you're thinking of doing an SR600 you should definitely consider the Colorado Front Range!

As for me, well the SR600 and as a consequence the Randonneur 10000 remain goals so I'll have another go at some point. In post ride analysis, I've pondered the self-assessment of my deteriorating back against the climbing that I knew was in front of me. Maybe I over thought it? It's honestly hard for me to say, even with benefit of hindsight. Perhaps I should have pressed on and risked being stuck between Woodland Park and Conifer. It's likely I wouldn't have died (and yes, that's a joke) but just been inconvenienced as I tried to find a way back to Evergreen and/or Niwot.

Who knows? That's one of the challenges that I enjoy about randonneuring - it's a test in the strictest sense of the word: an experiment with an uncertain outcome. I will say the SR600 is hard enough that mistakes are fairly punitive so being in shape, having good luck with the weather, having the right clothes, nutrition, hydration, etc., all matter - perhaps a lot more than on other long rides.

Half empty or half full? 2018 in review

So how do you measure your results? By what you planned to do or what you actually did?

For 2018, I set out a fairly ambitious plan:

  • Super 600K in Australia ("The Snowies") in March
  • Gippsland 1200K in Australia in March
  • Tour of the Driftless 1000K in April
  • Blue Ridge to Bay 1200K in May
  • Mile Failte (Ireland) and Ronde Eleanore d'Acquitaine in July
  • Coulee Challenge pre-ride in August (tentative)
  • Merselo-Verona end of August
  • Natchez Trace 1000K in September
  • Perth-Albany-Perth in November
So how'd I do?
  • Snowies Super 6: DNF with back pain
  • Gippsland 1200K: DNF - hit by car
  • Tour of the Driftless:  DNF because the forecast on day 3 was dreadful and I had the Blue Ridge to Bay 1200K coming up soon afterward. Day 3 ended up being very nice :-(
  • Blue Ridge to Bay: DNS. Saddle sore problems (more on this below)
  • Mile Failte: DNF with back pain. 900K done, DNF'd with 300K to go and 30 hours in hand.
  • Ronde Eleanore d'Acquitaine: DNS. So pissed off and down about the Mile Failte DNF I just went home.
  • Coulee Challenge pre-ride: DNS. Back was hurting so I knew how that story would end.
  • Merselo-Verona: DNS. Back was hurting and I knew how that story would end.
  • Natchez Trace 1000K: never signed up
  • Perth-Albany-Perth: DNF day 2 with 900K done. Back pain.
So really a pretty shitty year huh?

But here's what I did do:
  • Finished two SR Series (200K, 300K, 400K, 600K) plus various and assorted other brevets and permanents.
  • Made K-Hound status (10,000 K's in a year)
  • Completed the inaugural Florida Tip to Tail 1600K
So with benefit of hindsight - good year or bad year?

Truthfully, I go back and forth on it. A friend called my actual results "a career year for most randonneurs" and it's likely he's right. But I tend to look at it more often as goals not achieved and feel disappointed.

So what's the answer? Lower the bar and set goals that I know I can do? To me, that's like claiming you batted 350 at T-Ball. 

So, I'll continue to set ambitious goals and hopefully manage to achieve a few of them.

* Saddle sore problems

I have to say this is one of the strangest episodes I've had since I started riding. I went through a period of about 5 weeks where after 15 miles my butt hurt so bad I literally couldn't stand it so I'd turn around and ride home. Every long distance cyclist has had saddle sore issues at one time or another but what made this puzzling was:
  • It happened on short rides.
  • NOTHING changed. Same bike(s), same saddles, same shorts, same diet. Literally nothing at all was different.

Last Chance 2017

Posting as a placeholder so at least the blog is in chronological order despite it being almost two years since this happened.

I'll get around to writing something - I promise!

2017 Super Brevet Scandinavia

Posting as a placeholder so at least the blog is in chronological order despite it being almost two years since this happened.

I'll get around to writing something - I promise!