Right now my life consists of work, cycling, fundraising, and occasional sleep, so my periodic updates this time of year tend to cover a lot of ground… like this one, which covers the past month.
July was a memorable month, but not for good reasons. Although I usually spend most of the Fourth of July holiday on the bike, with one of those days comprising a century ride, this year a terrible cold hit me Friday afternoon and kept me housebound the entire holiday weekend. Pure suckage!
The next weekend I had to go up to Maine, and convinced myself that I could get some training in by riding the 70 miles from Portland to Augusta. That ride wound up being really difficult, thanks to my lingering illness, a 25-35 mph headwind that hadn’t been forecast, and a mile-long section of muddy dirt road up and over a big hill in Sabbatus. But at least I managed to get some time in the saddle…
So CttC was just brutal. Combine my reduced training this year with oppressively humid 96-degree blazing sun and the CRW’s extremely limited idea of what constitutes a supported ride, and you can begin to imagine how difficult it was. Thankfully, I can say that my age wasn’t a factor, as my three buddies (all 17+ years younger) also concluded that they never wanted to do that ride again.
The ironic thing is that I spent half the day hammering, thinking I was chasing them, when actually I was ahead of them. Although I let them go ahead after the first 10 miles, they stopped at a water stop I skipped. I was surprised to see them ride past me in Princeton, where I stopped but they did not. So I got back on the bike and chased, unknowingly passing them *again* when they stopped at a convenience store. So I beat them over the mountain, and they only caught up with me after I’d spent 20 minutes at the next water stop, 53 miles in.
And as I predicted last year, the summit road was closed to us for the third year in a row, which was disappointing.
Toward the end of the ride, I was nauseous and unsafely overheated, and kept pouring water over my head to cool off. I stopped at the little Chinese grocery in West Concord and picked up their last two bottles of water, only to discover on gulping it down that it was seltzer! I sipped what my stomach could tolerate and poured the rest over my head and limped to the finish, where I pretty much just collapsed. But not before getting shit from the ride organizers for asking if I could have some ice. I was too destroyed to muster any argument when the guys decided to go home early rather than take the traditional postride dip in Walden Pond.
Definitely one of my worst days on the bike. There damned well better be some training benefit, after all that suffering!
And to make matters worse, my brand new $700 bike computer / GPS failed to record the quarter of the ride that included Mt. Wachusett and the following descent (GPS data). I had already left its heart rate monitor at home, because it had been malfunctioning. At least Garmin is replacing the HRM strap; hopefully the new one will last longer than the first one.
And then yesterday Boston tied the second hottest temperature ever recorded in the city’s 140 years of keeping records. Thinking I couldn’t get into much trouble in just one hour, I biked home from work in 103°F / 40°C heat. Against a convection oven-like 25 mph headwind, over three sections of stripped/grooved pavement along one of Boston’s biggest and fastest 6-lane arterials, and then stupidly up and over Dorchester Heights, just for fun.
That kind of heat will raise your heart rate 10 bpm no matter what you’re doing, and by the time I was done my heart was pounding and I was feeling very lightheaded. Kinda scary! Hopefully this stretch of intense heat will break and the weather will be more forgiving for the upcoming PMC ride!
And that brings me around to the tiny list of positive things that happened this month. First, Garmin did replace my problem HRM strap, and the new one seems to be functioning well; tho I probably will use it sparingly until PMC weekend.
Second, a question I’d sent in to the RoadBikeRider online magazine was published this week. The question was about how to fit a cooldown, stretching, shower, and recovery meal all into the half hour after stopping that is the optimal window for those activities. You can see the full question and RBR’s response here.
And, finally, the news that really matters: PMC fundraising. Once I finally started getting fundraising letters out, the money came in quite readily. I’ve surpassed the minimum and made the Heavy Hitter level for the sixth year in a row, and have settled at $7,200 for the moment, which is quite satisfactory, although there’ll be additional donations coming in over the next month or two.
Naturally, if you haven’t made your donation yet, please do so here.
And PMC weekend is only two weeks away. I’d normally be excited, but after the difficulties of the Maine ride and CttC and this brutal heat, I’m a little gun-shy about looking forward to riding. It hasn’t been a great year for any of my cycling buddies; just ask Lynda, who canceled her plans to do the epic 745-mile PBP ride; or Paul, who bought a pricey new bike only to have Jay destroy it by driving his truck over it on the way to the 150-mile Harpoon B2B ride that was supposed to be the highlight of his season.
The bad juju is in full force this year.
So we’ll see. There’s two more weekends before the PMC, and I don’t have anything special planned for them. Hopefully there’ll be a couple Quad rides and some hill repeats in there, and then a relaxing, rewarding PMC ride once the calendar turns to August.