Friday, September 13

OKHT36 Trip Report

The Ride

I sort of like the idea of the Ride the Rockies and the Tour of Colorado rides.  The Old Kentucky Home Tour (OKHT) wasn't that kind of ride exactly.  The format is basically a two day loop.  The first day you have the option of 50, 70, and 100 mile routes from Louisville to Bardstown and on the second day you have a mostly different 55 mile return route.  I was doing the 100 mile route to complete the Kentucky Century Challenge so I talked Mandy into doing it with me for her first century.
The event is put on by the Louisville Bicycle Club and this was its 36th year.  It’s one of the oldest continuous bike events in the state.  The cap was 1,200 riders and it seemed all abilities were represented.
For the money you got a lot.  There were a total of 12 aid stations in 160 miles over two days.  There was a lot of free food.  The ride organizers provided gear and people shuttles between L’ville and B’town and also around B’town on Saturday evening and Sunday morning.  
I thought the ride route on Saturday was not as good as the routes for the Horsey and the Preservation Pedal.  There were more busy roads compared to the other rides.  Sunday’s route was a big improvement, but it still wasn’t as scenic or as interesting as the other rides to me.  This is my perception with the memories of earlier in the summer somewhat faded.  Of the three the Preservation Pedal was my favorite.
Pottershop Hill(s) was the signature feature of the ride.  It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t as hard as the hype made it out to be.  Mandy overheard a couple of seemingly fit annual regulars talking about it and they agreed they always walked it.  To be fair, Pottershop 1 (there are three decreasingly difficult hills) comes at mile 95 and for three miles afterward you face some really stout rollers.  More on that later.

The Rides

"It's unattended!" I bellowed, indicating the Surly Moonlander leaning against the wall outside the ride registration area on Saturday morning.

"Create a distraction!" I elbowed Mandy as I lurched toward the bike.

"Gah!  Not Crank Brothers!"  I exclaimed as I glanced alternately at the Moonlander's pedals and my bike shoes in frustration.

My wife shook her head in disgust that someone would choose to use SPD pedals over Crank Brothers, rolled her eyes, and walked on toward our bikes so we could start the ride.

In addition to the fat bike we saw lots of tandems, recumbents and recumbent trikes.  There were a couple of folding bikes that I saw, too.  It seems I remember seeing something akin to the love child of a banana seat bike and a recumbent.  I might have dreamed about that on Saturday night.

I actually saw more than one mountain bike on the ride.  I wondered if that was defensive tactics to surmount the Pottershop unholy trinity.  While I see nothing wrong with riding a mountain bike on the road, I just don’t think I’d be happy doing that kind of an event on fat tires.

I enjoyed seeing a lot of older road bikes.  I have an affinity for them.  That’s why Minus is sticking around as part of the Chainring/Pavement’s Edge fleet. 

We rode our sporty sport bikes.  I had planned on riding the Xtracycle but ended up scrapping that plan when I couldn't get the shifting lined out.  I still wish I had.  I'd considered riding Minus, but based on the amount of rollers we sailed in those two days I'm kinda glad I went with the Dogrunner.  Minus' more race-like gearing would have made Pottershop Hill feel as bad as everyone else though it was.  As it was my 25t rear cog was perfect for everything. 

Still wish I'd had the X...



The Riders

Firstly, on Saturday of the OKHT Mandy bagged her first century.  Saturday ended up being a hot day, and the rollers on the course were relentless.  Throw the unholy Pottershop trinity in beginning at mile 95 and you have a tough course for a first time century.  It wasn't my hardest century, but it sure wasn't my easiest either, so I have to give my wife major props for sticking it out in the later miles when feet, hands, and rear starting singing their monotonous sore and tingling songs.  We all felt the sweltering miles by the time Bardstown showed on the horizon.

I was really glad I got to do the ride with Mandy.  We don't usually do organized rides together, and lately as she's ticked the local cycling objectives I've been otherwise indisposed.  She had worried I would be bored riding at a reduced pace, but I think it was really good for me to moderate my pace better and for her to step up her pace a bit.  For her first (and a hilly) century she averaged 13 mph.  That's pretty respectable considering everything.  The only real ill effects she suffered was persistently numb toes.  Mandy's been riding enough that all the climbing and miles we covered were old hat.  She had a good time.

OKHT was my final Kentucky Century Challenge ride.  There had been a rumor that we were going to get our jersies at the finish, but that rumor was disappointingly false.  The OKHT was my fifth century in 2013 and my seventh ever.  

For me ticking a century is getting to be old hat.  I do want to do a decade of centuries next year.  I think that's an attainable goal, especially if I'm not focused on organized rides.  Regardless of how many I do I know I want to do at least one in less than six hours flat.  I want to go back and do the McKee century in better weather.

Jeff and Casey did the ride.  They started an hour behind us and caught us after mile 60.  We all hung out in Bardstown Saturday night and rode back together for awhile on Sunday.  It was fun getting to ride together.  That was the first time we've ever all four been on our bikes at the same time.  Jeff treated the whole ride like a giant yard sale.  Well, he stopped at all the yard sales anyway.  Of course Jeff new about 800 of the 1,200 riders.  

Then there were all the geriatrics that hit on Casey.  Apparently she's very attractive to retiree club riders.  I thought Jeff was going to tussle with someone's grampa.  We had to break up a very heated "discussion" on Saturday night.  I really didn't want to have to bail him out of the Bardstown pokey or to see someone get their hip broken.
This wasn't the guy

Speaking of jail time…I desperately wanted to rumble with Team Louisville, the racing arm of the LBC, after a few peloton-esque groups overtook us; specifically after the third SAG station.  I had finally had enough of being cut off by the team riders and their ilk.  I’m not timid in a pack, but I think it’s totally unnecessary on a recreational ride to have people cut into my line and scream by within mere inches.  On a ride like that I like to let my attention be a little more slack than I would on a faster paced “race.”

After a half dozen “Team Louisville” riders almost shouldered me off the road and cut directly into me I finally called out: “Personal space!”
The jersey guy (and a theoretical host of the ride) responded with: “Stay on your @#$!-ing side of the road!”
Now, like I said, I’m not timid in a pack, but this jerk didn’t know that.  He could have caused someone more timid to crash…and for no better reason that he wanted to keep talking to his boyfriends without having to slow down.  
Anyway, trying not to dwell…
Of course, as on all such rides, there were some colorful characters.  Mandy was having some trouble with her feet at around mile 60.  She wanted to stop and rest, but that was about the same time as Jeff and Casey caught up with us so I did my typically zone-out and forgot to stop.  When I looked back and didn’t see her coming over the top of the last hill I went back for her.  She had stopped on her own to rest, but I suggested at the top of the hill she and I stop in the shade where some other riders were lounging.  So we did.
While we rehydrated a small disjointed group came in.  One…outspoken…cyclist rolled in with her jersey unzipped well below her bright pink sports bra.  It seemed more calculated than accidental.  There was a lot of skin showing.  She then proceeded to outspokenly discuss her thoughts on whether or not she should go ahead and put on chamois cream or wait until the next aid station when she would stop to pee.  And yes, I realize I just shared with you something I didn’t want shared with me.  It’s why I’m here.
At the SAG stop at the top of Pottershop Hill I waited for Mandy.  In the interim between my topping out and hers I started talking with a gentleman (I didn’t catch his name so I’ll call him “Harry”) about the Leadville Race Series.  As Mandy rolled in I asked how she did and she compared the climb to Sky Bridge Hill.  I shared my feeling that it was “no Furnace, and definitely no Cobhill.”
“How do you know Furnace and Cobhill?!” Harry asked.  We explained that we lived within two miles of Furnace and fifteen of Cobhill.
“I used to live at Cobhill!  I lived on Mountain Springs Road for four years!”  He added that he wasn’t a cyclist when he lived there but that he had ran up Cobhill back in the day.
So that was kinda cool.  Jeff talked to him later as well, and we all chatted back at the finish.   

Jeff and Casey had invited us to share their hotel room in Bardstown.  I knew it was close to their anniversary and I said we didn’t want to crash their anniversary trip.  Jeff replied that they would do what they were going to do whether we were in the room or not.  When he said he’d put up a sheet between the beds I agreed we’d bunk with them.
It turned out okay.  I didn’t have to go all H.I. McDunnough on Jeffery after all.  It was much nicer to stay in a hotel room after a long hot day on the bike and we were grateful to them for letting us share the room.
I felt bad for having paid that Boy Scout at the lunch stop to let all the air out of Jeff’s tires.  But Casey had texted me and said if she couldn’t get him to stop hitting the yard sales they were going to be broke, and they’d never finish the ride.  I figured a little concrete in the wheelset would get him on the right track.  He didn’t seem to be any wiser when they caught us in the 60s.  His jersey pockets were bulging with knick knacks and hand tools.  I told him he could have borrowed the cargo bike…
Sunday we woke up and got ready to catch the shuttle back over to town.  When we got back to the gym where the bikes were stored for the night we discovered that they’d shut down the all you can eat pancake breakfast a half hour early.  That was disappointing.  Oh well…
I have to admit, we were facing a 55 mile ride the day after a hot century, and I wasn’t really looking forward to it.  Let’s just say my saddles were sore.  That, and I’d abstained from using sunscreen on Saturday so I was a bit crispy and would have preferred to stay out of the sun for a while.
I’d never ridden much immediately after a century.  Even on my Guanella Pass tour back in 2010 I rode 45 or so miles, then about 16, and 45 again on the third day.  That was a casual tour.  104 one day and 55 the next would be my biggest two day mileage ever.  The miles didn’t scare me, but the potential loss of skin in various ways had me in dread.  
The four of us stayed together all the way out of Bardstown, but on one short hill I discovered a problem.  I had contracted a nasty case of chainsuck.  My chain was stiff and sticky.  When I coasted it drooped sometimes inside the chainstay and tickled the spinning spokes.  When I downshifted I thought I’d dropped my chain.  Mandy cruised past and looked back to see if everything was okay.  I shrugged and got back on the bike.  The rest of the ride on Sunday I had to deal with that, but by the time we got back to the car I had managed to get it working a little better.
Sunday fare
The hills on Sunday were crushingly demoralizing.  We just wanted to be done.  Mandy’s feet were killing her and my posterior was singing to me loud and obnoxious.  I composed a new mantra after about the 800th valley crossing: “Cross a creek; climb a hill.”  It seemed to e a sort of universal truth in OKHT land.
The upside of the downhills was that our chunky Chainring family had all the advantage and hit some pretty impressive speeds, especially on the long descent into Taylorsville from the south.  
The club riders were strangely absent on the return trip.  They must have gotten an earlier start than our rag-tag crew of fatties.  It was good to get a break from them on Sunday because if I’d too many more peloton experiences I was going to club me a club rider.  I’ve decided I don’t like bike clubs.

I know, Dear Reader, you probably can’t tell from this post if we had a good time or not.  Just to clarify…we might have.  I felt like a clubbified wuss.  I do much better on self-sufficient rides where I've planned everything myself or been involved in the planning.
In all seriousness—well, some seriousness—we did enjoy the experience, but based on past rides I feel like it could have been much better…and should have been much better considering the history of the ride and the resources of the LBC.  
Next time I’ll wrap things up with my analysis of Pottershop Hill and some final thoughts.

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