Monday, May 26, 2008

Okanagan Shuswap Century Ride

Sunday, May 25, 2008

As I had planned, I took it pretty easy all week. Did one run during the week, and had a great 1800m swim on Saturday but other than, nothing.

We made an early night of it Saturday (no wine either) and got up Sunday at 6am. Ate yogurt mixed with oatmeal and fruit, and a coffee. Nice to stick with the usual.

We had packed up the bikes the night before but by the time we had showered, dressed and eaten, it was time to hit the road. Armstrong is an hour and a half away so we left about 7:15 am. I noticed Jenn Davies, who lives just around the corner, leaving right behind us. I later saw her at the ride so I guess it was just another training ride for her with her upcoming 7600km ride across Canada starting on June 2nd.

Around Winfield, I started getting a stupid migraine aura. It was electric zig zigs of light mostly on the right side, which only lasted about 10 minutes, then disappeared. I had taken a couple of ibuprophen before I left so I didn't take any more but I drank half my water bottle and tried to relax. This is the second time in the past few months that I've had an aura but no headache. Hope it continues like that.

Anyway, we got to Armstrong about 8:30am and picked up our registration. There were 400 riders registered (300 of which were doing the 100km ride) and we got in just under the wire when my friend Teresa emailed me on Friday to tell me there were only 3 spots left. I logged in right away and #398 and 399 were gone in a flash. That was a close call!

This year the sponsors gave us backpacks at registration! I was really happy about that because I really need one when I commute to work. We chatted with a few people we knew, made sure everything was ready to go and waited for the signal. The weather was warmish (about 18C at the time) and mostly sunny. No rain in the forecast - perfect! I was wearing my short sleeved jersey and my riding jacket but right at ride time, I decided I would be too warm so I rolled up the jacket and tied it around my waist, where it would stay for the rest of the ride.

I felt like I had a complete pharmacy to store away though. What a pain in the butt. The epipen of course, my ventolin which I only need on rare occasions, my eye drops for the ever present dry eyes, my contact case and small bottle of solution, and the usual large quantity of kleenex. Today was the first day I would be riding with TWO contacts and what a difference that made! I could SEE the road!

We set ourselves up about 1/4 way into the pack and at 9:08 am, we were off. We went out fairly fast considering there were a lot of riders on the road, and we passed a lot of people until we got into a clear area where we could ride faster. The idea today was for me to draft as much as possible. When we got to the hills, Erik would plow on ahead and then wait for me. It worked pretty well although I did feel like I was alone for quite a bit of the first 45km. I would always lose the pack we were riding with when we started to climb and then, if the hill hadn't been too long, I could usually hammer hard and catch up. But eventually, we got into the longer 10km climb and I lost them. They were only about 300-500m ahead of me but they were mostly men, travelling fast, in a peleton, on carbon bikes. Little old me, on my aluminum bike, could hardly expect to ride that fast alone. Ah well. After a while, another fast group of men caught me and as they passed, one of the men said "join us if you can hang on!" So I did. That's all I really needed was a group to draft off, especially on the relatively flat or slightly rolling hills.

I met up with Erik again at the rest stop around the 30km mark. This was the turn around point for the people riding the 56km route. I stopped for a 30 second drink of water and then hopped on my bike when I saw that none of the 100km people were stopping. We rode together for a little while but again, I got lost on the hills. Erik was having a good time riding with some fast guys ahead so I just hammered along by myself. Eventually, he stopped and waited for me to catch up and we rode the last 15 km into into Salmon Arm together drafting part of the way with another guy.

The big Salmon Arm hill (Okanagan Avenue) was about the 60km mark. I told Erik to wait for me at the top so he climbed on. It is divided into 3 sections with a little leveling off after each section. The grade ranges from 10-15% (last year I clocked the max grade at 17%) so I shifted to my granny gear and hunkered down for the climb determined not to have to stop this year. Erik was ahead of me, slowly pulling away and there were only a couple of people behind me. Grind, grind, grind, up I went. Then I remembered someone told me they sang 100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall as they climbed so I began to sing under my breath. Trouble is, I didn't have much breath left so it soon became a whisper. And I was singing slower and slower as the grade increase to 15%. I was going so slow at this point that I decide to unclip my left foot in case I needed to stop suddenly. About 15 feet from the top of the second section, at the steepest point, my front tire hit a small rock but I was going so slowly that it turned my tire a bit, bumped my foot and I had to put my foot down suddenly so I didn't fall. "SHIT!" I yelled. I can never start up again on a steep hill like this. As I got off my bike and started to push it up to the next flatter section, I realized there were a bunch of people behind me. Oops - no more swearing.

As soon as I was up to the flats again, I got back on and started pedalling again. It was another 1.5 km to the top. I was mostly alone, but two men rode up to me and both encouraged me to keep at it. One rode beside me and chatted a little which cheered me up. I asked him why I was the only person panting up this hill. Finally, we rounded the corner and I saw the rest station - whew I made it! 65 km done and the rest of relatively easy, small climbs, rollers, and fast flats and downhills. Erik was there having a drink and a snack. I was greeted by the LBS guy who sold me my new Madone last week and he congratulated me for making it up the hill.

I took a hit off my puffer so I could breathe a little and grabbed a half bottle of gatorade. I'd been eating shot blox along the way and didn't feel like any of the food. I really don't like to stop for long, I just start to seize up, so within 2-3 minutes, we were back on the road again. I asked Erik if he'd take it a bit easier on the hills so I could keep up with him and then I wouldn't have to hammer on the flats to catch him. It worked really well and we were both able to go faster overall because I could draft and he didn't have to ride slow for long periods or wait for me.

We were alone for quite a while then a small group of 5-6 guys passed us and I sped up and caught on their rear wheel. I didn't ask so I'm not sure if they minded or not but we hung with them for about 5km until we hit a small hill and I lost my draft. Ah well, we were almost there. I had been managing about 26.5 kmh for the first 65km and now we were doing 35-40 kmh on these flats and downhills so my avg speed was climbing a little. There was one more short but ugly hill about 8km out of Armstrong. Once we were at the top of that, we flew all the way back, passing lots of people on our way. I had hoped we could break the 3:30 mark but it was not to be. I arrived at the starting line at 3:35:37. For Erik, it was closer to 3:31:00. Whoo hoo! That was still 12 minutes faster than last year.

My average speed overall was 27.8 kmh (17.3 mph) and my average heart rate was a whopping 160 bpm - Zone 4 the whole way! I ended up with about 20 minutes in Zone 5, 1:40 in Zone 4, and about the same amount in high Zone 3. A hard ride, but I knew I'd be doing that going out.

Here's the elevation profile of the ride.

Yowza - my legs were shaking when I got off the bike but I kept walking around and trying to stretch them out so they didn't cramp up. I ate half a bagel with cream cheese, a banana, half an orange, and 3 big cookies. And I drank more water. My whole upper body felt really tight and my chest hurt both from breathing so hard for so long, and from being in the drops pretty much the entire time.

I rode that 100km like a time trial. I wondered if I'd be able to walk the next day. Erik's buddy rode up to us a few minutes after we arrived at the finish line. He said he'd been trying to catch us for the last 30 km but just couldn't. He was amazed at how fast we were. :) :) :)

There is no time clock for this ride - it's supposed to be just for fun, but some of us like to challenge ourselves. :D I have no idea where we came in as far at the group was concerned but I'd imagine it was in the top third at least.

Overall, I was REALLY happy with my ride. I went as hard as I could the entire time, I didn't feel sorry for myself when I was alone, and I congratulated myself when I was able to keep up with the men. I figure I did pretty well for a 48 year old woman on an aluminum bike. Hee hee.

So today, Monday, I feel pretty good. My quads really don't hurt at all, amazingly. My knees are a bit sore but I don't think that will last and my hips are a bit tight but ok. The biggest pain in the butt was a pain in the butt. I didn't have any chamois cream so I rode without. I had no trouble the entire ride but I was sore last night and really sore this morning. I actually have what looks like rope burn on my inner thighs and the seam of my undies are really irritating it today. TMI? Well that cycling for ya. LOL. It will be fine in another day or so. The greatest thing is, I feel really good today - like I have my energy back and I'm ready to do some training this week. I really hope I can run tomorrow. If not, I'll give it an extra day.

Here's my very lame attempt at a cell phone self portrait after the ride. LOL...

PS to Kathleen. Are you still reading my blog?


Knot said...

Great picture! (smile!) Love the one at the top of your blog. You are one hot babe! (and the bike looks good, too!)


Kelownagirl said...

LOL, love ya Knot!

Mike M. said...

love the picture. i can so relate.


Paul said...

Well done Barb! I think I'd be afraid to ride with you. I wouldn't be able to keep up! Great photo by the way. ;)