Monday, September 22, 2014

Cycle the Lakes (9/20/14)

I'm an all-in kinda gal. When I find something interesting, I jump in with both feet... like riding my bike.

I've had a mountain bike, my beloved Sherm, for years and years. And he faithfully takes me all over - running biking errands, exercising, exploring, hauling stuff, playing, commuting. I love that bike. 
When I got injured early in 2014 and couldn't run, I decided to turn my attention toward biking, which doesn't hurt my ouchy Achilles tendon. I began increasing my mileage, and then, on a whim,  I signed up for the Ride Around Clark County in May. It was SO fun - and so different from the dozens and dozens of running events that I've done.

While Sherm and I had a blast on the 34 miler, and conquered some big hills with no problem (mountain bike for the win!), Brad convinced me to start shopping for a road bike. My friend, Richard, says it's like having an SUV and a sports car: different purposes.

We shopped around for a nice, entry-level road bike that fit my short legs, finally finding a terrific deal on Craigslist. 
I've been logging tons of miles with Brad, Dad and Sean. But riding around town isn't enough for me - I need the excitement of the event! So we also did the Pioneer Century (32-mile route) on my birthday, the Covered Bridge Ride (40-mile route) in August and Cycle the Lakes this past Saturday.

This time we went for the 67-mile route - my longest ride ever! (We did a 55-mile training ride a couple weeks ago, and that was my previous PDR - personal distance record.)
The ride was a fund raiser for the Cottage Grove Rotary Club. The Village Green Resort offered a $59 (!) rate for participants, so we booked a room and decided to make a weekend of it!

The hotel included breakfast to help us fuel for the big ride. We both tanked up:
It was funny to see the restaurant full of spandex-clad people :)
The course opened at 7 a.m. and breakfast started at 7 a.m. So we ate and then hopped on our bikes to pedal the short distance to the start line Bohemia Park. I was a bit nervous but feeling confident. Our plan was to go nice and slow, take lots of breaks when needed and keep hydrated and fueled.
We spotted this sign on the way, and I got really excited!
The start of bike events is so much different than running races - much more casual and laid back. We added our wheels to the collection while we checked in and got maps and instructions from the nicest volunteers ever!
We set off and soon rode across this little covered bridge:
Our course was a giant figure eight with the start/finish in the middle of the two loops. The first loop headed south (and uphill) to Cottage Grove Lake and beyond. At about Mile 18, we found our turnaround and our first rest stop stocked with yummy food and more great volunteers:
The route back was a bit downhill and on a path - easy riding! Then we saw this poor sap walking his bike with a flat tire. He had no patch kit, no spare tube and no pump. We and another couple stopped to help and got him on his way. I don't think he even thanked us. At least we had a nice view of the lake.
Mile 35: back at the start/finish/midpoint spot for a little rest and more snacks:
The second loop goes east/south to Dorena Lake and beyond. Outbound was all on the Row River Trail - which I assume is an old railroad right of way. Shady and very nice!
It looks like Brad's going really fast!
My left knee bugged me at the end of our 55 miler, and I was nervous about how it would hold up Saturday. Because I started feeling it before the first rest stop, I contemplated bailing at Mile 34 when we returned to the park. But we decided to just take it easy and keep going until I couldn't. Brad said he'd come get me with the car if we had to.

Well, when we were out on the flat Row River Trail, it seemed to warm up and calm down. It still felt abnormal but tolerable. Because it hurt most when I put heavy pressure on it, I pulled up a lot when we hit any hills. Good thing I've learned to wear clipless bike shoes!

Our turnaround - and final rest stop - was at Mile 51:
Again the people were so nice! There was a older guy there making custom sandwiches. We ordered a standard PBJ to split. MAN, that was so yummy!
Because the outbound trail was fairly smooth with a slight uphill grade, we thought the last 15 miles would be mostly downhill. But the course was a loop, returning on roads with rolling hills. Still, it was no biggie.

Then came the big hill at Mile 60. It was short and steep, but organizers gave a flatter option to skip it. I decided to go for it. If I'm going to do this, I'm going to do this :)

I took my time, pulling up more than pushing down. It was a piece of cake. And then we got to cruise down the other side, hitting 30 mph in the process!

The last couple miles were back on the flat Row River Trail, and we cruised in to the park and under the finish banner:
Certificates of completion!
This ride offered apple pie and ice cream to finishers. Brad was in Heaven! I skipped the pie and ate my weight in watermelon! Salty potato chips also tasted so good!

This ride was incredible. The course was great - though I would rather have done two out-and-backs on the trails instead of the loops with half on roads. The volunteers and course support was over the top - in a good way. Almost every intersection was staffed, and when needed, volunteers even pushed the crossing buttons for us so the "walk" signals came on before we even reached the roads. The volunteers were super friendly - probably the friendliest I've ever encountered at an event.

The food was abundant and tasty. The maps and cue sheets told us everything we needed to know and more. The attention to detail was amazing - from the certificates that were individually signed to the flags lining the way to the finish line to the mandatory checkpoints to make sure we were safe to the lady who went over the entire course with us on the big map before we started.

I am SO doing this ride next year. And hopefully the 100 miler!

After some resting and refueling, we saddled up once more for the short ride back to the hotel. In all - 73 miles!!!!
We changed into swimsuits and hit the unheated pool for a "cool bath" to help our muscles recover. Then showers, a short nap and dinner at the Vintage Inn.

We slept in Sunday, ate more free breakfast, lazed around and then took our time going home. A great weekend of work and relaxation :)

1 comment: