Sunday, September 13, 2009

north shore century


My first attempt at a 100 miles solo ride began in a scatterbrained fashion. I left the house without my helmet, gloves or glasses at 6:10 am, I got my key out of my seat bag turned around and got those. So I'm off at 6:10 am for Evanston, headed up Kedzie to the North Shore Trail. The streets of Chicago are a beautiful thing at the crack of dawn. If this pic was at all in focus, you'd be able to tell what I was talking about, but here is a delightfully empty Kedzie Ave:

Got to the registration at 6:45, picked up my packet and hit the route. This was a start-whenever-you-like ride, so there were just a smattering of people (total riders was not more than 1600 for all distances, so it was pretty mellow altogether).

After riding for a few miles, one nice fellow rider (thanks buddy!) finally let me know my seat bag was open. Turns out that after I got my key back out to get in the house and get my helmet, etc. I had left it open. Nice move dude. The only thing that made this not a total disaster was that I did not put my little ziploc with ID, credit card, cash and house key back in the bag after I got it out to get in the house. It went in my jersey after. Now, I can put a lot of stuff in this bag, it's fairly large (and has a tendency to swing when I ride, my friend Ryan is reminded of these when he sees it swinging)

At any rate, I just ended up losing half of my "food" stash (quotation marks are meant to indicate doubt at the proposition of calling things like GU and Clif Shotblocks food, but you get the idea. Fortunately my multi-tool, tubes and cartridges were all still in there.
I was annoyed nonetheless.

It was quite a brisk morning out there. low-ish 60s and super duper moist and overcast. By moist, I mean I had dew all over me like I had been sitting in someone's yard overnight. It was a good 2-ish hours before the sun began to make a meaningful appearance. I got in a little 3 person line early, that turned into 4 and we were motoring along at a pretty good clip until the delightful roads of the "North Shore" intervened. For some rich "villages" and suburbs, the greater north-of-Chicago area has some of the most bootleg roads in this part of the state. I mean, REALLY, many of them make Chicago's average road look pretty nice, and that is not an easy feat. I had already hit a couple of large bumps that almost caused my seat tube mounted bottle cage to spit out it's large, rather heavy bottle of gatorade, but had managed to catch it and put it back. Going around a corner up in Glenview or somewhere at about 18 mph, it finally popped out again and did a neat trick of flipping over into my rear wheel, popping open and disgorging it's contents all over my wheel. I stopped, bent my bottle cage into a tighter grip, put the empty back in, realized that whole mess had also knocked my chain off, put that back and began to try and claw back to my little group, but the moment had passed. I ended up passing a couple of them later no longer working together. Ah well. We went for a while on this nice path that looked to me to be brand spankin' new. The Skokie Valley bike path (?)

Check out the fresh sod and freshly tarmac with newly painted lines. Nice!!

When the sun finally came out about an hour later, I realized I had also forgotten to put on any sunscreen. I hereby resolve to make a list for future rides.
1) Zip up your seat bag, you dumb****!
2) Bring your helmet, etc.
3) Put on sunscreen
4) Make sure you have tight bottle cages.

I'm sure I'll think of some more things once they too go wrong.

At the first rest stop around 30 miles, I found that there were ample power bars, shot blocks, etc. and a nice gentleman volunteer went to his car and got some ancient 15spf sunscreen for me too. I left there feeling much better. Jumped into a line with a couple of guys that just came up around me and rode the next 25 miles with them. This was at a burning pace (for me at least), averaging about 23/24 mph. It definitely helped my average, but it was killing me after that much time. They stopped for a moment, I carried on and they passed me shortly after never to be seen again. This was around the time we got to the lake shore at Kenosha. It was a pretty scene up there.

I slowed my roll considerably after the blistering speed of the previous stretch as things also seemed to begin to be much more slightly uphill and headwindy than before. Puttered along around an average of 16 for a while though after another rest stop I had a bit more of a second wind and got moving again okay.

What else can I tell you? Crappy roads, a few nice ones (mostly in actual nice neighborhoods, I think that's the other side of NIMBY, nice roads IMBY!). Went through a bunch of places I kind of recognized, Glencoe, Fort Sheridan, finally to Wilmette and back down into Evanston. I pulled back into the registration zone at 105.5 miles for the ride, done in 6 hours, 15 minutes.

More ride stats:
Ride time (excluding stops): 5 hours 48 minutes
Max speed: 27.3 mph
Average speed (excluding stops): 18.1 mph
Average speed (including stops): 16.9 mph
Fun quotient: 2.5 of 5 (would have been a lot more fun to have a buddy out with me, roads were killing my lower back)
Total mileage including my ride to and from Evanston: 127!

A personal best time-wise anyway. I think this may wrap it up for the road riding "season" such as it was. Methinks I'll not repeat this bone-jarring event again. The roads at the Coal City Century were like butter overall compared to this, and that's including gravel sections and all. Pay for some roads North Shore!!!

I'm going to be off the bike for about a week and a half starting this Thursday as I leave town to make a new album in Kansas and play a couple of shows with Kid Congo Powers. Probably ready for a little extended recovery time anyway.

In other cycling news:

WAY TO GO VALVERDE! He looked to be cracking on the final climb of the Vuelta's stage 14 today, but then just found the extra gumption to actually extend his lead with no help from teammates. Way to suffer dude, my hat is off to you.

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