Monday, June 17

Well Preserved

To be perfectly honest, of the three rides I’m doing for the Kentucky Century Challenge, and of the four options available, the Preservation Pedal is the one that would have appealed to me the least, followed by the Horsey Hunnert, the Old Kentucky Home Tour, and finally, the one I wanted to do the most but was unable to do: The Redbud Ride.

Initially the Preservation Pedal didn’t appeal to me.  But at the Kentucky Walk Bike Summit the organizer, Rachel Kennedy, spoke about the ride and the origins of the Challenge along with Pam Thomas.  Pam is involved with the Bluegrass Cycling Club, the Horsey, and the Bluegrass Bike Partners.  They came up with the idea for the Century Challenge and presented it to KY Adventure Tourism and a phenomenon was born.  The Redbud registration exploded as did the numbers for the other rides.  Apparently getting a free jersey will motivate people better than you’d think.

I like local histories, and I like riding my bike, so the Preservation Pedal, with its historic theme, ended up being an interesting event concept to me after all.  I wondered if anyone would be riding a penny farthing for 100 miles.  Where is A.D. Ruff when you need him?  Oh yeah, the Owingsville Cemetery.

There is definitely the potential for the Preservation Pedal to explode into the world’s largest tweed ride.

DIY Cyclo-drama

Since I had my calendar all jammed up with century rides this year, and because this one particular ride didn’t seem to be as interesting to me (hold on, I’m getting on to the point!) I decided I would ride the Cannonball X on the Preservation Pedal.  I decided, and then nothing could sway my determination to ride my cargo bike a hundred miles.  

I had to approach the ride differently than I had any other century I’ve faced.  For one thing, I knew speed wouldn’t be a huge factor.  While I can crank pretty fast on the Cannonball when chased, I also knew I wouldn’t be setting any records on it over such a long distance.  Aerodynamic she is not.  The elevation profile looked to be somewhat milder than the Horsey, so I was pretty sure the Xtra weight of the longtail bike wouldn’t be a huge factor.  

A benefit of riding my old standard was that I could pack a proper lunch and carry some tasty beverages along the way instead of relying on my jersey pockets for refreshment.  Mmmm…gels!  Also, I wouldn’t look so silly in mountain bike shorts (I have a sensitive heinie, someday I’ll post about saddle sores with twenty-seven 8x10 color glossy photos) and a t-shirt.  Tho…I decided that for the first time ever I would go clipless on the CBX.  No, really!

Before I got around to swapping pedals for the Pedal I hit a snag: chain skip.  Since I last posted about the Cannonball I put on a new chain, gave the ole girl a good cleaning, tuning and ultimately decided to put the fenders and commuter tires back on her.  But I can’t get it tuned well enough to keep the chain from skipping all over the place back there in the back.

The new chain is identical to the old one.  The length is only one link difference.  It’s properly lubed.  I tried swapping derailers but nothing changed so I went back to the nicer Shimano that’s been on the bike ever since I built it up.  Finally I loosened everything and “re”-installed the rear derailer and chain, and then adjusted everything accordingly…still skipping.

Monday evening I resigned myself to the fact that I would not be riding the Cannonball on Saturday.  Dernit, I don’t give up that easy!  So when no one was looking I got on the ole innernet Tuesday and goggled “Why does the chain on my Xtracycle skip?”  There were no helpful results…except for references to Sheldon “RIP” Brown’s website pages on proper chain length.  It couldn’t hurt to check the chain length again.

Chain length: check.  Cables and housings: check.  Retuned again: check.  Chainskip eliminated: no check.

Finally I decided it was a lost cause.  For whatever reason I just couldn't troubleshoot that one.  It’s a brand new chain that has been lubed twice.  On the stand the bike shifts sort of okay but nothing skips.  Then I get on the bike and ride and the chain jumps all over the place.

So, the Dogrunner would be my second choice, obviously, because who would want to ride a mountain bike 100 miles?  On the road…

I gave the bike one more look-over on Thursday.  Finally I got it on the stand, sat down close and looked deep into the cogs.  My cassette is worn out.  Grumble, grumble...Xtra no cycle.

It was a tad cool (60F) when I rolled the sporty sport bike out to the car at 5am on Saturday morning.  I was carrying a lot of mental baggage which made the bike feel extra light.  I wasn't sure I was up to riding a century.  It would be a challenge.

"It's Not a Race Jeff!"

The first hitch in the plan was when I arrived in Frankfort and saw that the Kentucky Coffeetree Cafe doesn't open until 8am on Saturdays.  Shut the front door!  8am?!  A coffee shop?  Criminal.

Nothing opens before 8am in downtown Frankfort on a Saturday morning.  Nothing.  Nada.  Nyet.  Nien.  Negatorious.  This was a problem because I had no breakfast.  I'd been counting on some fresh coffee and something with egg in it to boost the century slaying system.  Fortunately I had a banana, two Clif Bars and a gel.  Mmm...gel.

I snagged up my ride (not a race) packet and then met up with Jeff and Casey.  Jeff gave me a book.  It's called Heft on Wheels. He told me I'd like it, that after reading it he wanted to lose weight.

"So you're saying I'm fat?" 

That's okay, as we were riding past the registration area I called out over my shoulder in Jeff's general direction, rather loudly with sweet indignation:
"It's not a race Jeff!"

On the first big descent Jeff called out from my slipstream: "I like your block!" (I've told him the story of the Alpine Odyssey on one of our dawn patrol epics). That's okay, I'm so hefty on wheels even the mighty Mozhican can't keep up with me on a solid descent.  A quarter of a mile into the flats I looked back and the rest of Team Mozhican was nowhere to be found.  For a moment I panicked.  Had I missed a turn?!  But then I saw the brazen sheen of Jeff's shins twinkling in the early morning sunlight.

Also of note on the earlier section of the ride was the helpful cyclist who pointed out Casey's chain had come off as we were climbing up out of Frankfort.  If he'd not told her she might have ridden the whole route with no chain.

The Mozhican Yard Sale 100 and Flea Market

Before the first (second) aid station we rode a long section of rural roads with a high frequency of yard sales.  Jeff looked longingly at each one.  At first I thought he knew some of the residents along the road.  He was calling out and waving to the yard sale hosts.  It turns out Jeff has a yard sale problem.  After a few such lawn bazaars he began whimpering and bemoaning the fact that he didn't have ample enough jersey pockets to carry anything home.  I was very thankful that I'd not ridden the Cannonball.  I'm certain Jeff would have loaded me down, both to satisfy his junk bin fetish and to get a better draft.

I told him if he were to die on one of those descents I'd organize a Jeff Mozhican Memorial Yard Sale Century with swap meet after party.  Only cargo bikes or bikes with trailers or panniers or some other cargo hauling vestments would be allowed.
Speaking of cargo bikes...I'd have never kept up with the Mozhicans if I'd been on the Cannonball.  I would have been forced to resort to nefarious methods of subterfuge to slow the both of them down: lowered PSI, crimped shifter housings, maladjusted brake pads.  It would be a more level playing field that way.

Eventually we ran out of yard sales to pine over and started wondering if we'd missed the first aid station.  The cues said mile 18.  We'd hit mile 22 and no potty break.  This was unfortunate for Jeff since all that yard sale excitement made him nearly wet himself.

Sorry I'm Bonking the Party

As we approached the first (second) aid station we kept passing and being passed by a pretty burly little lady, or...a burly little pretty lady.  She'd pedal away on the hills, and of course I'd bomb past her on the descents.  Jeff was hanging onto my seat post on those bomb runs trying to boost his average mph.  He's really a closet Strava dork.

New Castle Aid Station

Anyway, at the first (second) aid station in New Castle at mile 38 we chatted with Melanie from Tennessee and she asked if she could ride with us.  We knew she could keep up, so we agreed she could be an honorary member of Team Mozhican.

Jeff suggested that if we wanted to keep up our solid pace he and I should take turns pulling.  I was game, and he took the first turn.  In classic Pavement's Edge fashion that just didn't go as planned.  Jeff pulled hard for about 20 miles.  We made stellar time from New Castle on past 50 miles.  We were all marveling at what good time we were making.  Then right about the metric century mark I fell off the train.  One minute I was rocketing along in Jeff's draft; the next I watched as the three of them disappeared on the horizon.  Jeff hung back at a route turn, and I briefly caught up.

"Man, I'm bonking! Can I borrow a gel?"  That got a chuckle, much like the oft quoted "Is this a Strava segment?"

The next pull I fought hard to hang on, but the first short hill I was off the back again.  There was no recovery at that pace.  I jammed down some more unpalatable calories and faked my way to the next aid station.

Wait for meeeee...

The cycle for me for the rest of the ride went like this: eat, boost, crash, slow, eat, boost, crash, slow, etc.  The lack of a good breakfast had finally caught up with me.  I was lingering longer and longer at the aid stations, eating and drinking and stashing more food from the stops in my pockets.  After every bite and boost I'd think I was coming back, but the long, slow bonk kept wearing me down.  Finally, somewhere around mile 80 I pulled up to the three of them waiting for me at an intersection and apologized: "Sorry I'm bonking the party."

I knew I was getting close to the rest stop at mile 83.  I decided if I saw a store I was going to stop and get something more substantial than aid station fare.  I wanted a Coke and something edible.  And there it was: a little country store at a crossroads.  

I leaned the bike by the lone gas pump and a kindly local held the door for me.

"Where you headed?" He asked.

"Frankfort," I replied.

"You goin' down to the church?" He indicated down the road the green arrows had indicated.

"I guess so," I said.

"Well, it's not very far," he said, and something from his tone made me think he thought I might want to skip buying something and get free stuff down the road.

"Oh, but they only have water and Gatorade.  I wanna Coke!" I told him.

"Oh, well then..." He said with a grin, and he motioned for me to go on inside.  I really wanted an Ale-8 to stick in my jersey pocket--Ale-8...jersey...hmmm--anyway, they didn't have any, so I grabbed a Coca-cola, paid for it and hit the road.

I bet there's freakin' Coke in there!

As reported, the aid station was just down the road and the rest of the Mozhican Choo-Choo were waiting for me.  I desperately wanted to rest for awhile and eat,  but our honorary member was antsy to get going.  I swallowed down some chips, a half a banana, half my Coke, and, as I was getting ready to leave, a half a cup of ice cold chocolate milk.  That may not have been he best idea ever.  

"I'm setting myself up for the most epic sugar crash in the history of the world," I told Jeff as we pulled out.  I figured if I could just keep slamming fuel in my gut to burn I'd just ride the wave train of boosts and crashes all the way back to Frankfort.  However...

After that aid station everything I ate just seemed to sit in my stomach.  It had gotten warm as they day progressed.  And when I finally just went off the rails at about mile 86 I felt like I was going to vomit at every breath for the next 21 miles.

More non-bonking, riders

After mile 86 I didn't see Jeff, Casey or Melanie until I got back to Frankfort.  They didn't beat me by much, but I just couldn't keep up to save my life.

"It's not a race Jeff!"

At 6 hours on the bike I had gone 99.25 miles.  I hit 100 at 6:02.  I ended the ride with 107 miles and 6:31. We had right at an 8 hour ride with stops.  My average speed on the bike at the end of the day was 16.4 mph.  I'm happy with that for a century.  My fastest century ever!

Strava dorks unite!

I found the others easy enough at the end of the ride.  They'd just eaten.  I found all I could get down immediately off the bike was some salad.  I decided my hunger monster would probably awaken as I passed through Winchester.  And it did.

Jeff texted me a couple hours later:
Is the blog post up yet? Make me look good. And go ahead and brag about yourself too. Great ride!

By the time I got around to replying I still hadn't had a chance to start composing this magnum opus of a post:

Sorry man, I've been stuffing my face since we parted ways.  I'm almost up to optimal DH [downhill] weight.  But I think Mandy wants to take me to the burn unit now for my sunburn.

We had a Fathers Day cookout and I'd eaten another salad, three burgers, a hotdog, chips, two cans of Ale-8, a piece of cake and a brownie cupcake by the time I got Jeff's text.  That was last night, and I'm still hungry.

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