Monday, August 15, 2011

Biking - I Did A Ride!

More like a ride and a half. Yesterday was ADK's annual Ididaride, a 75-mile very hilly ride through New York's Adirondacks. Depending on your information source, the total elevation gained is between 4,500 and 6,900 feet, but no matter how you look at it, that's a lot of uphill, and also down. The most elevation I did in one day on last year's entire TransAm tour was only 4,200 feet, so this would be a challenging day.

The forecast was for rain, heavy at times, but mostly later in the day, so friend Terry and I decided to give it a go anyway. Some other friends canceled because of the impending weather. I came prepared for the worst, with a pannier containing an assortment of foul-weather gear and dry clothing, an additional 8 pounds to drag up the hills. Very few other riders seemed to be carrying much of anything at all.

Terry and I got an early start, some 40 minutes ahead of the crowd of over 300 other riders. Terry was having an off day, and turned around after about 16 miles, and returned to the start, which left me to ride my own ride, not necessarily a bad thing.

Up and down the first climb wasn't bad, nor was the long gentle climb to Speculator on NY30. I stopped in a store there for lunch and to pick up an additional bottle of Gatorade. With few long rides under my belt this year, I was expecting cramping problems later in the ride, and wanted to be prepared.

The next hill north of Speculator was touted as one of the worst on the ride, and though it was long and slow going, it wasn't as bad as I'd expected. From there, it was a rolling ride with long ups and downs to the Lewey Lake Campground, at about 45 miles. No problems yet, but the fun was about to begin.

A mile or two beyond Lewey Lake, I felt the first hints of some leg cramps. I'd been hydrating pretty well, so pulled over, stretched, and drank some more, hoping to stave them off as long as possible. There was still some tough terrain ahead, and I was beginning to doubt my chances of actually making it to the finish. As I approached each hill now, I wondered if it would be the last, if it would cause my legs to seize up and make me unable to continue. I really had to baby them now, expending as little effort as possible on the climbs, and stopping when necessary to give them a short break.

At the third rest stop in Indian Lake, I downed another banana, a good potassium source, and my third of the day, and continued on. The popular mantra that "it's all downhill from Indian Lake" is decidedly false, with 4-5 more climbs, some with truck lanes, before the long descent to the Hudson River. I was close to walking one of these, but the cramps continued to hold off, and I made it to the long descent, the bottom of which is only about 4 miles from the finish.

I had to stop once on this stretch, with the cramps threatening once again. I was pretty tired of Gatorade at this point, but took another good slug and continued on. Shortly, friend Herb caught up with me, and we rode together to the finish. We'd played leapfrog since somewhere north of Speculator, and I'd loaned him the use of my pump at one point when he'd flatted. We rode across the finish line together, and then joined the post-race feast that was already in progress, along with Terry, Herb's wife Gillian, their friend Mike, and their dog Rocky.

It had been a long day, but the rain never materialized. The sun was out much of the time, and it was warmer than predicted, but a good day for riding. Terry and I left for home shortly thereafter, and drove through a very heavy downpour just to the south, near Warrensburg. The timing could not have been better.

Distance: 76.08 miles
Elevation: A lot, but see above
Rolling time: 5:48
Elapsed time: 6:47
Avg speed: 13.0 mph
Max speed: 39.5 mph

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