The Riding Season Thus Far

80 miles into the Tulsa Tough, just before the KOM climb.

It’s been an interesting season so far. An eye-opener in how far I’ve come, and even moreso in how far I have to go. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

  • Rides: 43 (89 hours)
  • Trainer Intervals: 23 (14 hours)
  • Total Distance: 1,478.37 miles
  • Average Speed: 16.58 mph
  • Elevation Gained: 48,429 ft.
  • Events: 4

I’m on track of meeting my goal of 3k miles for the year. And while my training is going well, some of the events could’ve turned out a lot better.

First there was the Flower Power Ride out of Muskogee (read more). Talk about putting a dampening your spirits. Next came the Tour de Tulsa. I signed up for the century, but only made it 55.5 miles.  With my arms and legs going numb, and my vision beginning to blur, there was just no way I was going to finish. Sad too, since I started out feeling great. Unfortunately, the heat and humidity had other plans.

But it wasn’t the only disappointment I’d face this cycling season. Next up came the Team Superior Trail Century. I had high hopes for this one, since it was all paved trails, half of which I was very familiar with. On this ride, I tried conserving my energy, pacing myself much slower than I’d normally want to push. We rode all the way to Skiatook, and after lunch started heading back. By the time we reached OSU (about 70 miles in), I was definitely feeling my limits. Pushing on from there to Turkey Mountain 82 miles in, I was beat. I would’ve stopped there if not for the other Team Superior members who waited for me. Finally, at about 91 miles in, I had to call it quits. So close – SO CLOSE – yet so far. Felt horrible, but thankfully Billie from Team Superior was kind enough to give me a lift home.

Continuing on my path of unfinished tasks, next came Tulsa Tough. The Saturday century ride was 107.7 miles, with more hills than I could’ve imagined. The nice thing about Tulsa Tough was the beginning. At least 100 people truly took off, and a few of us hung with the lead pack, flying at 25mph for much of the beginning of the course. With such a solid peloton, you barely needed to pedal. First rest we took was about 38 miles in. At that point I was rolling with Bret, who was having a solid showing. We pushed on to a rest stop at mile 50. I should’ve spent more time here, but left too soon. Got to about mile 65, but at that point I couldn’t keep up with Bret and told him to push on (I didn’t want to slow him down).

I made it to the next rest stop, and then around mile 80 hit the “King of the Mountain” climb taking me to the mile 82 rest stop. As a decent showing, I managed the KOM climb in 10 minutes, 30 seconds, which puts me about 53rd overall (not bad in a field of hundreds). At this rest stop though, I’d had enough. By now I’d realized that I just didn’t have enough training to do a century. Hell, 60+ miles was usually pushing it. 90+ for me was just wrong. And at this stop I was ready to call it. But fortunately, Mike, Jodie, and T.J. were there. They were on the 100k route, which had about 8 miles left (whereas my route had another 26 miles). Not wanting to give up, but realizing it was very unlikely I’d reach the next rest stop at mile 97 (15 miles away), I rolled out with Mike, Jodie and T.J. to the finish line. I don’t remember much of that last 8 miles, but I do remember that Mike would check on me from time to time, and I can’t thank them enough for making sure I didn’t plow into a wall or something.

While I was passing out, Bret not only completed the first day’s century+ ride, but also completed Sunday’s century+ ride as well, earning him the “Double Tough” award. Even more incredible was Lancy, who managed to finish both rides at under 5 hours (I think his total time way around 9:30), earning himself the very rare “Deuce” jersey. To earn it you have to ride both century rides at under five hours. That’s two days of riding at a pace of greater than 20mph!

So, is there good news? Yeah, I think so. First, I’ve ridden further than I ever have before – I don’t know about you, but 90 miles is a solid distance to me. And though I’m still pushing hard against my upper-limits, my short and middle distance rides have become much easier. A 25 mile ride is a solid warm-up, and a 40-50 mile ride is a good training ride. I remember when I started last year, my first 25 mile ride wiped me out. And I’ve getting more used to this brutal riding weather of mid-to-high 90’s and humidity upwards of 50%.

My next ride is in two weeks – the Tour of Payne, out in Stillwater (near where the Oklahoma Land Run started). I’ve signed up for the 62 mile ride. After that comes Hotter’N Hell 100, down in Wichita Falls, TX, where I’ll be joined by over 10k other riders to blaze across the hot course towards Hell’s Gate before the temperatures get too high.

Let’s see what the second-half of this year has in store.