In previous years I wouldn’t have attempted this ride so early in the season. As a matter of fact, prior to the 56-mile Quilt Barn ride last July, I’ve only done this ride one other time, and it was the longest ride I had ever attempted. The last time I rode this ride was at the end of the 2008 summer, and I had about 700 miles under my tires by then. However, I’ve felt pretty strong on previous road and trail rides that I have done, plus I’ve spent a pretty good amount of time in the gym. I’ve also felt a strong desire to get out for a while, as other ride plans have been foiled by work and other obligations. I also wanted to test myself to see how strong I was, and to see if I could keep up with my buddy, Chris, would has been doing a good deal more riding than I have thus far this year. Chris also got a new bike, so I hoped that I could keep up with him on my vintage Schwinn. Overall, I’d say my legs, lungs, and bike held up pretty well. Chris had ridden 30 hard miles the day before, so it’s likely if he was at full strength, I might have had a harder time keeping up with him. Here’s what we did:
Starting at our usual rendezvous point at Peden Stadium, we rode up Richland to Dairybarn Lane. Right off the bat, my legs felt a bit heavy, as I had ridden too short, but very hard, trail rides the previous week. I was a bit concerned, but I figured riding up North Blackburn would give me an idea about how I might fair for the rest of the ride. Chris and I made it up Blackburn with the usual amount of wheezing and cussing, but we recovered pretty quickly. The ride down to Ervin was fairly easy, and offered a nice recovery from the previous hill. We noted that the pavement was particularly bad on Ervin down to the railroad tracks, but once it turned into Baker, it smoothed out nicely.
Baker to Fox Lake is a beautiful ride, and because of the close proximity to my house, I ride this road quite often. The road offers a good amount of scenery to accompany you up and down several rollers and a couple of really good climbs. Around mile 6 or so we got chased by a mean little red dog, right in the middle of a considerable hill. Chris and I were already dropped down into low gear, so it was difficult to get any speed to separate from the dog. He chased us for about 75 feet, but it seemed like an eternity as he zigged back and forth in front of my front wheel, barking and snarling. He never made an attempt to bite, but just wanted to look mean I guess. In the process of attempting to escape, Chris somehow bit both sides of his tongue, supposedly while gritting his teeth the sprint away from the dog.
We followed Fox Lake down to 681, then took 681 to 356. We stopped to eat once we arrived at 356, and Chris’ tongue finally stopped bleeding long enough for him to eat a Cliff Bar. While we were resting there, Tom rolled up and we chatted for a bit. He asked if we were planning on riding the Athens Spring Ride next weekend. We told him it was on our radar, but we’d have to see how the week works out. I’m hoping to ride it, I just don’t know how far I want to go. Tom told us that he was doing the reverse of what we were riding today, and we told him to watch out for that little red dog that makes you bite your tongue. He’d be going downhill, so he’d have more of a fighting chance than we did.
We continued down 356 to 56 until the junction of 691, which we would take back to Nelsonville and meet up with the Bike Path. We stopped to rest (and pray) at the junction of 56 and 691, as the hill up from the junction is a bear. On the histogram on the map, you can see the hill at mile 19-20. It is a gut buster, but Chris and I managed to ride side by side all the way to the top. Usually once reaching the top we have to stop and catch our breaths for a minute or two, but we kept riding after cresting the hill. That was likely the highlight of the day, as that hill will truly test how strong you are, especially after riding 20 miles before taking it on. We proved that we were better than the hill that day.
We continued on 691, taking on a couple of more decent sized hills before finally making it to the bike path. After a brief rest, we continued down the bike path, averaging 17-19 mph all the way back to Peden. I started to seriously feel the effects of being in the saddle for so long on the long flat stretch of the bike path, but I pushed through and made it back to Peden in one piece. This was a fantastic day to be on the bike, and I am confident that I will be up for much longer distances later in the year.
Total time of ride: 2:52 trip time. 3:15 total time. For reference, when we did the ride in August 2008, it took us 15 more minutes to finish. This is a good time for us so early in the season, I think.
Food for the ride: I ate two PBJs an hour before the ride with a diet Coke. I ate a granola bar at 356/691 junction and a bagel with peanut butter at the bike path. I ate a protein bar a the car after the ride.
Clothes for the ride: Temperatures were in the mid to high 50’s. I wore shorts, a jersey, and a longsleeve Pearl Izumi under the jersey.