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Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Power of Goop

They sell these little packets of vaguely disgusting goop in the bike shop. One's actually called Gu, there's also Hammer Gel, Clif makes a line of the stuff. They vary somewhat in recipe, but it's basically a honey-consistency sugar syrup with flavoring and sometimes a bolus of caffeine.

I was feeling a little puny as I started out on my ride today, not ill or anything, just my heart wasn't in doing a ride. But the weather was ridiculously good, BikeMS is only three weeks off, and I had gone to the trouble to get my Dad to take care of the girls while I rode, and we'd loaded up and headed to Grandpa's house, so I was going to ride, damnit.

My starting point off 68th & Switzer isn't far from the Trek store, so I decided to give these gels a try. I had one Monday night before the recovery ride, but the results were inconclusive. This time, I tried a double-shot espresso Clif and grabbed three more for the bike bag.

It worked. Rode up to 55th, went west, but instead of turning on Rosehill like usual (where the dedicated bike lane continues), I kept going west toward the Mother of All Hills. I knew it was steep, but when I got to Pflumn/Quivira (it's one going north and the other going south), I stopped for a sip and checked my top speed. I knew it was faster than I'd ever gone, but 42.8 mph! Yikes. Past the point where the road drops from view in this picture, it gets insanely steep for a bit, you accelerate at 32 feet per second per second I think.

So one good hill deserves another, right? 55th going west from here claims not to be a through street. But I've seen that claim made by neighborhoods just trying to cut down on traffic. There's a big subdivision you can see below you from the top of this hill, and there's a road climbing the other side of it I took to be the likely other road in and out.

Anyway, the climb out was pretty miserable. Would have been if I'd come back up 55th, but the other side was a ball breaker, too.

See also the hills I found on 51st as I made my way back east to Quivira.

I admit to taking a few breaks on some of these climbs to gasp for breath and feel sorry for myself. But I was starting to get my legs when I finally cut South on Quivira. Took 55th to Rosehill this time and then the usual, Pflumn to Midland to 67th, but instead of going down Lackman I went over to Maurer, another lovely downhill, not as steep as Lackman from 67th, but deliciously long.

Then Midland to Renner, took a loop around Shawnee Mission Park, then south on Renner to 95th, Legler to 99th, to Santa Fe Trail Drive, to Monrovia, 85th, Quivira, 79th, Nieman, kinda wandered some through the side streets until I found myself back on 55th, took it the other way out to Merriam Lane to the frontage road around to 75th to Switzer and at long last to my car.

37.8 miles, my second-longest ride of the year, and while I'm tired and my ass and knees are disappointed in the choices I've made, I'm not anywhere near as wiped out as I was on July 10 when I went about three miles farther (much slower and on a ride that had all of three hills worthy of the title 'hill').

I actually picked up speed toward the end (by which time I'd sucked down both my bottles of G2, about a pint of lemonade bought from some kids' stand, and two more goops, though not two more heavily caffeinated ones, three of those double espressos might be a bit much on the caffeine front). I finished with an average speed of 11.8 mph, a speed I've only matched on one other ride, and that one less than a third the length of this one.

Does this mean I'm ready for BikeMS? I doubt it, since this was less than half a day's ride in the big event. But I'm less pitifully unprepared, and I guess that's something.


Not sure how worried to be about this. I noticed after I got my bike back on the car, the side walls of the tires appear to have cracks, some of them long. I know earlier in the year, the bike shop guy made a comment about how I could use new rubber, but could 'probably get by for awhile.' I don't know if this is worse now than it was then, or if they've been this way all along.

Not sure, too, how suicidal it potentially is to be hitting 40+mph on this rubber. You experienced cyclists, feel free to give me advice on this.

Not sure, too, if I do get new rubber if I can get something a little faster without getting new wheels. I know I have 700c rims, but I'm not sure what tire choices the rims I've got would work with as far as something skinnier, higher pressure and smoother.

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