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Bicycling experiment

Great day for a wee bit o' gravel

Well, I have some unhappy results from yesterday afternoon's bicycling experiment. After spending a couple hours in the lab, I came home, ate lunch, threw on spandex and sunscreen, and set out to test-ride the first half of the route we're putting together for an overnight 200k brevet next month. My thinking was, if my body starts to complain vociferously about piriformis discomfort, well, this is a route set up with bail-out options (albeit 10-mile ones), and I'm in no hurry whatsoever anyway.

I felt fine on the ride, and fine when I got home and immediately stretched (aside from being absolutely salt-encrusted and sweaty). I did some preventative butt-icing, too, but I am noticeably more stiff and sore this morning than I was yesterday morning. It's not nearly as bad as after the 300k last weekend (thank goodness!), but I'll declare that all signs and portents suggest that I continue to: take it easy for another week, do stretches and strengthening things, and go see a professional (aka doctor). Although hmm, I have not seen any evidence of an insurance card showing up here. More investigation required.

Continued leg drama aside, it was a wonderful pre-ride. My main goal was to calculate how much of the ride would be on gravel roads. In putting the route together, I borrowed material from a Gravel Worlds map I found, plus a round-Lincoln century route from a cycling acquaintance, plus the little bit of experiential knowledge I've managed to gain so far (mostly on the southern and eastern sides of town). So it needed some ground-truthing. Plus, I needed to add some "information" to the information controls.

I was relieved to discover that the relevant section of the MoPac trail at the beginning was rideable. One section was a bit washed out, but enough of the trail remained intact that it wasn't necessary to dismount. The first half was a good mixture of gravel riding and pavement - enough gravel to make me think, "I see why some people call it 'gravel grinding'," but not so much gravel that the brevet will be impossible for mere mortals to finish within the time limits. The first half also has a great selection of rolling hills - perfect PBP preparatory terrain!

I made it almost halfway around the loop, all the way to Denton, and then dinnertime hunger set in, so I stopped at the Denton Daily Double for some sissy beer (good in hot weather), a grilled cheese sandwich, and fried everything (cauliflower, onion rings, mushrooms, french fries). Maybe I should have toned that down a little. There were more french fries than I'd anticipated. Also, I didn't feel all that hot, but then again the copious amounts of liquid I downed and the salt-crust on my face seem to tell a different story. Maybe it's just that 90 degrees doesn't feel so bad after a couple of years of Texas heat and humidity. So Texas was good for one thing at least, toughening up.

Then I turned my nose towards home. Van Dorn wasn't an especially fun ride at twilight, but it was tolerable and eventually fed me onto a bike path, which took me to familiar roads in town and home again.

Today I'll go back to the lab for a couple hours again, and then I think I'll do some low-key, restful activities, plus more windshield wipers and pigeon poses.


( 7 remarks — Remark )
Jun. 21st, 2015 04:45 pm (UTC)
I've been spending a lot of time reading about the PBP and thinking about your exploits lately.
Jun. 21st, 2015 05:31 pm (UTC)
I have continued to greatly enjoy randonneuring as a way to have adventures, both near and far...even in the midst of an intense work schedule.

Things are a little tough right now, not knowing whether this whole piriformis issue is going to be a game-ender (which would be super-sad given that I've already finished out all of the qualifying rides!). But I figure if it all doesn't work out, well, shrug, I'll meander around Europe for a couple of weeks and have other sorts of adventures. Disappointing, but then I'll just set my sights of 2019.

And you can rest assured that I will take PLENTY of photos!

Also, I still love this PBP report, and I keep telling people about how she brought along a whole roast chicken for PBP.
Jun. 21st, 2015 09:58 pm (UTC)
You're making PBP sound dramatically more attractive by the day. Fie!
Jun. 22nd, 2015 12:21 am (UTC)
It's worth considering! The first start, of course, is completing some domestic brevet series, where the cuisine is...slightly different. I've been so happy with how nice the Nebraska and Iowa randonneurs are. I suspect there are some crazies among the Colorado gang, but the Colorado gang is also pretty large (relatively speaking), so there's probably a decent subgroup to ride with.

It's also kind of useful to know that PBP only happens once every four years, so you're looking at four years out at the earliest, at this point.

Not that you need any more hobbies.
Jun. 22nd, 2015 12:39 am (UTC)
I've read a ton about PBP over the years, so I have some idea of what I'd be in for and when.
The problem is that because the way I've organized my life, it's unlikely that I'll ever have the time to do it. But I can live vicariously through your posts.
Jun. 23rd, 2015 07:21 am (UTC)
Oh, sympathy. Bodily rebellion issues are the worst. I hope you get it sorted.

Is there an expected, appreciated, or recommended percentage of gravel in long rides? Or do you just measure and inform people so that they can make their own decision about whether or not that's for them?
Jun. 23rd, 2015 02:23 pm (UTC)
For most people, the expectation is for NO gravel, as the majority of these events are geared towards road riders.

However, I know there are some folks in northern Arizona who have set up "permanents" / brevets that are on nearly 100% gravel roads. The thing is, the time requirements don't get adjusted for riding on gravel, which is significantly slower than riding on pavement. So you have to be a serious beast to ride brevets on 100% gravel. I am figuring that the 25 miles of gravel on the current route will add a little bit of challenge and intrigue towards the beginning, but not so much of a challenge that the event becomes insurmountable. It takes a greater level of concentration to ride on gravel as compared to pavement, but it's not as gnarly as true mountain biking.
( 7 remarks — Remark )

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