Saturday, December 06, 2008

200k Attempt - Part Two

Lansing came and went with a few nice downhills that I knew I'd loathe on the way back. The fascinating architecture on the Veterans Administration's Lansing Campus -- and the old Governor's House would provide a little visual and mental stimulus after seeing nothing but brown fields, barren after harvest, and hearing nothing but buffeting wind.

Winds out of the Northwest were being attenuated by trees and structures as we transitioned into Leavenworth, which sits just on the back door of Lansing. I tried to get a few good shots of the various correctional facilities, but I just didn't have my mind on the camera today. A westward slog into the baleful headwind would take us up to K-92 to cross the Missouri River. We finally get a slight downhill and a decent tail wind for the next few miles.

Some of the expansion joints on this bridge were treacherous enough to eat a wheel.

This was our third checkpoint: an Information Control where a photograph containing the information needed, or your initials and a date stamp (and the information needed hand-written) serve as proof on the honor system that you made it to this control. Note, the windbreaker over my panniers has been drying out since QuikTrip when I changed windbreakers. I'd eventually soak through the second one by the time we got to Weston, but this one had dried out. My panniers look stuffed, but there's just stuff sitting in the bottom of them, poofing them out. I should have probably tightened the straps up and folded stuff instead of rolling it, but I doubt any of this would have saved me today.

I got no pictures from Weston MO other than the ones I already posted. This was coming back through Leavenworth.

Yes, I did just GLOSS OVER everything on the trip between this railroad shack, Weston, and back to Leavenworth (save for the photos I posted live from the road) - Maybe someday I'll get back to that. There were some good times, and some of the worst suffering of the whole trip I'm leaving out.

Once Keith and I got back onto the VA campus again, I was certain that I was jeopardizing his success. I told him to do what he had to do. Drop me and don't look back. Don't stop. Don't worry. Just get to QuikTrip as fast as he could, get his card signed then call me.

A while down the road, I found myself off course. I could get back on course. I knew where I was, but there was no way I was hitting QuikTrip in time. I was more drained at 82 miles than I was at the end of the 134-mile Permanent I had completed. I didn't have 40 more miles in me. The climb from Holliday to Midland, the one from Midland to 95th... Those alone would do me in. I couldn't even get back home on my own power.

Defeated, I called my wife to pick me up, then rode to the nearest highway where it'd be easy to find me. Then, my phone started acting up. It would reboot whenever it recieved an incoming call. This was frustrating my wife who was trying to get clear directions. Fortunately I realized what was going on and called her back.

Shortly after she picked me up, it was 2:56 and my phone rebooted. There's only one person it could be: Keith... and 2:56 is a mere 4 minutes from the Control closure at QuikTrip. I called Keith. Indeed, it was him, and he'd made it by almost as narrow a margin as I had thought. This confirms that even had I not gotten off course, the 200k was simply not in the cards for me today.

When things go wrong, I analyze them. Where I come from, we call it a Post-Mortem. In forensics, post-mortem exams are things like autopsy and the like, to determine the cause of death. In IT (and other project-centered groups), it's much the same. Take it apart and see where the failure occurred. Here's the obvious list:

  • Endurance. I had more than 750 miles under my belt in the 30 days prior to the last 200k. I had 300 miles under my belt in the 30 days prior to this one.
  • Hydration. Drinking was nearly intolerable between the temperature and flavor of my drinks this time.
  • Inexperience. I've never done more than 30 miles below 40 degrees before. It requires a lot more attention to balancing clothing and riding effort to stay warm. I was over-packed and under-prepared.
Having said that, I learned a lot on the road today that I will directly and immediately apply to my daily commute, and I wouldn't consider the ride a failure. My goal was to put some serious miles on the bike today to help me make the year-end goal of 5,000 miles a little easier to attain. Like ripping an adhesive bandage off quickly, I put myself through a lot of pain today. Because of that, I am now within 250 miles of my goal: That's only about 10 miles per day for the rest of the month. It's not getting any warmer outside, but I think I'm in striking distance!

Oh yeah. Why am I writing this tonight? I spent a lot of time on the brink of bonk, and a lot of time with my heart rate pegged into the 170s for sustained periods of time. I'm still working on getting re-hydrated. My heart still hasn't settled down. I'm wicked tired but my body's doing things that make it impossible to sleep. So here I am.


Anonymous said...

dang, you're a real trooper! i'm sure you'll have it figured out next time....and remember, even Lance Armstrong only raced one long race a season! you had a lot of miles on you into this trip!

Apertome said...

Great job, man. Seriously! I am impressed. Glad you are taking some lessons away from this.

Oh yeah, I can't stand the grape Gatorade, either. I have learned the hard way not to drink things on long rides I haven't field-tested before. I was drinking some Heed during the Brown County Breakdown, as some was provided for free, and that stuff is downright nasty. I should've stuck with my own beverages, which I knew work well for me.

Sirrus Rider said...


You have the heart of a lion and balls the size of grapefruit! :-)

Scott Redd said...

Wow, amazing ride, no matter the outcome. What is this kind of race or event called? Who sponsors and officiates them?

Dang, those expansion joints look mean.... like some kind of monster waiting to eat your bike.

Unknown said...

Awesome effort man, drinking is a major pain in the cold. I usually go with coffee and/or tea with honey and milk. Once you recover, this ride will make the rest of your miles this year a breeze. Great job!

Apertome said...

I meant to add: C'dude's Kogswell is fantastic. Gorgeous bike!

Noah said...

He says it's the poor man's Rivendell Atlantis. Badger, who we ran across in Kansas City Kansas, rides an Atlantis.

They're both beautiful bikes, both are being ridden and used a LOT, just like they were made for.

I'd settle for a Redline Conquest or a Long Haul Trucker at this point. I like road geometry but I'm really digging the beefier touring and cross bikes for year-round use.

Tim O said...

Great blog entries, I was wondering all weekend how things went! I toyed with the idea of going but I haven't been riding/in the gym enough to try it (this time). I still think we need to plan a 2-3 day Kansas touring trip, or maybe the Katy trail, next year.

I just did 23 today with the Brookside folks and was feeing pretty good by the time I got finished....but just the thought of going South from Holliday via Midland and the big hill by SM park at mile like 110 would intimidate me too!!

It's all about the journey, it is a good learning experience and you'll be fine for the next one!

Anonymous said...

Love the "picture posts by phone".


Doug said...

Awesome ride even though the outcome isn't what you were expecting. A lot of useful lessons. Hydration is just as important with cold weather riding as with hot weather. You lose just as much water when sweating from being overdressed as you can in hot weather.

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