Thursday, July 7, 2011

Almost Hot Out There

Yesterday's high 90 degree weather was an opportunity for a ride in the heat that I just couldn't pass up since I know that's about as cool as the day will get during the Hotter 'n Hell 100. I wound up lasting only 50 miles so I'm seriously disappointed but at the same time, I have to admit that when I get out after work, I'm usually just fighting to stay awake and I usually fail. I've never gotten used to getting up at 4:00 AM.

I used the Blackstone Valley Bikeway because I could park the car at one end and use it as my "rest stop." - trying to simulate as closely as possible what I would be facing during the HHH. I started at around 11:00 AM.

My plan was as follows: Get as comfortable as I could in the saddle and let my legs do the work.

I started easy as I know with 12,000+ riders in the event, there isn't room for a fast pace through until that first rest stop at the 10 mile mark where most families turn off for the shorter course. My time splits on the 3 laps weren't spectacular but I would up cutting 5 minutes off the last lap as compared to the first.

Still, projecting out the time splits, while adequate to get me to Hell's Gate at the 60+ mile mark before it closes, would have been too long when I factor in the rest time. I'm hoping that if I can get in another 600 miles before I leave for Texas that this will improve. I just hope there are more hot days to come because by the end of the ride, I felt like I had earned every inch of the 52.2 miles that I logged.

I also decided to simulate the snacks that would be available at the rest stops. My thoughts on those are as follows:
  • Oranges are fantastic. I inhaled an orange like I was eating jelly beans.
  • Bananas work but aren't refreshing.
  • Pretzels taste like I'm eating flour.
  • Powerade and Gatorade are the most disgusting things ever promoted by the soda companies.
I have started using NUUN tablets almost exclusively for electrolyte replacement and I swear that Powerade just sucked the energy right out of me. It's bad enough that I use Powerbar Energy Gels because things like that (GU, etc.) bave a tendency to hit my system hard and make me jittery. I usually shake off more energy than I'm using. Unfortunately, my latest shipment of NUUN hasn't arrived so I went with watered-down Powerade in one of my water bottles as I know it will be available at the rest stops.

I also usually eat a homemade energy bar but I wanted to see what the other snacks would do for me (or do to me). I am trying to find a balance between the faster-acting gels and solid food that will keep me from ordering a pizza while on the route a la Dean Karnazes.

So all in all, it was a great litmus test to show me that I'm not ready for a 100 miler in 100 degree heat but at least I have still have time to improve.

Natural Encounters on the Ride
  • A couple of hawks circling low - probably looking at the delicious chipmunk smörgåsbord.
  • A deer in the path who took off faster than the two I saw last weekend.
  • A turkey with its brood in tow decided to get out of the path for me.
  • A duck took off from a pond and flew right in front me at (in duck hunter's terms) point blank range. Who knew bicycles were such good hunting dogs?