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Monday, September 06, 2010

Giro d'Hell

Most folks seem to just intuit that I'm not the piper to follow. I map out rides and invite people and generally, I'm the whole group that shows up.

This promised to be a little different, Dr. Jill expressed interest, Kitty RSVP'd that she was probably game, and Roj, well, a guy that does RAGBRAI on a BMX, it's hard to propose something too crazy for that guy.

I didn't think I was too crazy, I thought we'd leave at four and in four hours we'd be able to cover the 42-ish miles my map outlined. Back before dark and all that.

Everyone but Roj ended up in the Regrets column, and I guess Roj ended up there in a way. As in, I bet he regrets showing up. His sister called, while I waited, and said he'd just gotten to her place and was worried I'd leave without him, but really, without him I was the whole group.

She sent some awesome smelling Cascade hops she grew in her back yard, so Roj showed up looking every bit the bicycle messenger for the pot distributor, with the little baggie of herb clutched in his hand.

We didn't get rolling until 4:20, and what with the gnarly hills, the headwinds, and stopping, we kinda ran out of daylight and, as it happens, weather. The way I'd planned it, given the forecast, we should have finished with a strong tailwind. But those southerly gusts only held up long enough to thwart our progress south in western Shawnee.

We lucked out on the rest stop situation. As we rode out 47th to Old K-7, Roj was saying we needed to find some grub or he'd bonk.

I wasn't sure what was out there, really, I've ridden almost all of this (except 63rd to Mize to 83rd) before, but convenience stores are few and far between. But there was a Shell with detour signs to steer us around construction that was 23 miles in, right around the half way mark. We probably loitered too long when it comes to the daylight situation, but it was a place where you could get water, Diet Dew, Peanut M&Ms and other anti-bonking agents.

I swear, Peanut M&Ms are nature's perfect food for a long ride: the candy shell is simple sugar for immediate energy; the milk chocolate has some slightly more complex sugars along with a bit of caffeine and whatnot, and then the peanut has salt and fat with complex carbohydrates for later. If Adam and Eve hadn't blown it, I'm pretty sure we'd all be living on Peanut M&Ms and Rooster Booster Lite.

By the time we were headed west, the winds had come around and the sky had blackened. It wasn't all bad, the temperature dropped by almost twenty degrees in fifteen minutes, which made up for the persistent headwind no matter which way we seemed to go.

It also wasn't all good, because it started raining before we got done.

Roj started to fall behind by margins I couldn't account for, and after waiting longer than I thought probable at a light, I said, 'I didn't think I was riding that fast.'

'You're not,' he said. 'My knees, I had to walk it up that one.'

Crap. A well planned route, we'd have some sort of shortcut/chicken exit plan. This route, though, you are kind of boxed in by where you can get through on a bicycle. The only real choice, at 95th and Renner was whether to take Renner to Midland (which means some hills) and then climb back up out of the Mill Creek Valley, or go east into the darkest sky of all and take the relatively flat frontage roads. About the same distance, I think, and Roj's knees told him, 'Well the flat one.'

Which was only relatively flat. This whole ride was basically a hill ride once you get past that first leg on Merriam Lane. At the top of the ramp to Quivira near 87th, he said, 'I thought you said no more hills.'

My cycling 'puter said 45.2 miles when I finished, but Roj had ridden from Westport to begin with. I put his bike on my rack and gave him a ride home, as much pain as I could tell he was in on the climbs, no way I could let him ride another eight or ten miles in the dark to get home.

We should have left an hour earlier (or more). Eventually I'll learn, and if I don't, I better find a way to lay my hands on a Magic Shine.

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