Wednesday, April 9

Why I'm Doing the #KY4X100

I had vowed around the middle of 2013 that the only organized bike event I would do in 2014 was the Redbud Ride.  And at the end of 2013 I was still resolved not to get wrapped up in organized events.

Then Mandy decided (when she saw the 2014 jersey) she wanted to do the Kentucky Century Challenge.  I was only going to do the Redbud with her, but then the Preservation Pedal is going to be one county over from us, and the Hub City tour is all new to the Challenge.  Might as well just kick in for the whole thing...

Jeffro talked me into doing the Mohican again this year.  And that darned Joe Bowen has organized a trail half marathon in the Red River Gorge.  Sigh...

At least the 4 Good Trail Run and the Sheltowee Challenge are donate-what-you-can-afford events.

What's different about this year is my lovely wife is going to be doing it.  So if nothing else I get to ride 300 (or 400) miles with my best friend this year.  We're kind of on the fence over the Horsey Hundred.  I'd be fine if I never rode it again, but I think she would enjoy it.

I'm looking forward to doing another century together.  Three more, least.  And it'll be cool to have the matching jersies.  Plus, it's no fun to go do these things by myself, or to go do them with other people while she stays at home.  I never enjoy them as much as I do when she's with me.

Speaking of KOMs (yesterday's post), I raced home and tried to do some segment maintenance.  Considering that I hold the KOM on Cobhill and my cargo bike ascent was still faster than the other three Stravathletes who have tracked it I decided I need to get on the ball with my local segments.  I did my Clark Kent-in-a-phone-booth thing and raced away toward Furnace Mountain at a gutbusting pace.

I can't get anywhere in the world from my house without dealing with a hill.  There are four ways out and three of them require at least a moderate climb out.  The fourth way is out the mouth of the creek I live on to the main (read: busiest) road in the county.  To return home I have to climb unless I'm coming off Furnace Mountain and drop down Hart's Orchard.

So I climbed over Granny (Gears) Moppet which dumped me at the base of Furnace.  I didn't slack off and charged skyward.  At the top of the first crux I was beginning to breathe heavy.  I kept attacking the pedals through the reprieve around the second turn.  I stood on the pedals up the second--and longer--crux for a few yards and then dropped back to the saddle and slowed.  But I went into the upper rest on my feet again, with chest heaving from the effort.  I slowed.  I slowed.  But then I kicked up a couple of gears through the last reprieve.  Then I clawed to the top as my momentum failed. Eighteen minutes flat from the mouth of the Bike Cave to the "summit" of Furnace Mountain.

I hoped it was enough to secure the KOM.  I fought to control my breathing and get my foggy brain back under control for the terminal velocity descent.  In review, I would manage only my second fastest ascent (by 20 seconds).

I took in the postcard view, turned my wheel back toward home, and used my girth for something constructive.  Every time I start down the "downhill b4 town" segment I vow I won't touch the brakes.  And every time I grab the levers of wussitude and slow myself on three of the sub-standard curves with awkward horizontal alignments.

I try to make up for my PW by cranking hard between curves.  It's hard when you're doing 40+ and edging a blind curve you know some meth-head will be short-cutting on the way up.  I try to stay out of the paint in the middle.

I fired through the last curve before the bottom and opened the throttle.

Looking back, I probably should have eaten something--anything--a half hour or so before I set out to claim my localest KOM.  I didn't.  It really was an impromptu jaunt.  I went light and with a nearly empty tank hoping I could leverage the minimalist approach into faster speeds.  What I really need to do is leverage about 30 pounds off of myself and become a physical minimalist.

I slammed harder on the pedals looking out far beyond the curve at the bottom, scanning for oncoming traffic.  If only I could take it a little wider, I might be able to wring a few more mph out of my effort.  In the end I grabbed the levers of Strava mediocrity and slowed.

I eased back on the reins when the road flattened out and sat up, catching my breath, and preparing for the last obstacle before home: the short stout face of Granny Moppet. 

In retrospect I realized one reason I might be falling short of a KOM on the descent: I always ease off at the bottom, but the segment goes on for another couple tenths of a mile.

I laughed as I vocalized this to my SAG bunny at the kitchen table.  It's likely I'm pretty fast on the hill, but I'm not carrying the effort through the segment.

While I didn't clean up my local segments I did tick one thing off my cycling bucket list.  I hit 50 mph on the Furnace descent.  That's something I've been trying to do for a year.  I've only managed it a couple of other times on the Mount Vernon Canyon descent along US 40 west of Golden.  It's so much harder on the short steep hills in Kentucky where off-standard curves guard everything.

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