Pedal Another Mile

Bicycling, death, life after death.

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RAGBRAI XLI Day 2: Harlan to Perry

I'm so glad    that's over with. Yikes. That was the longest ride I have done since the 102 on day three of 2011 RAGBRAI 2 years ago.

At one point or another all 4 H's appeared. The humidity was always there. The hills were there for the first 3/4. The heat was there for the last half. The headwind was there when the hills finally showed mercy and laid down. At least the headwinds were only for about 5 miles. 

The day started off really really foggy. When the air splats against you, it's humid!  

The first town was Kimballton. This is where you had to decide if you were doing 83 or 107 miles. As I said yesterday, I didn't give that 107 option a thought. I ate breakfast and headed the 83 direction. Good move on my part. 107 would have wrecked me. 

What else?? Oh yeah, the hills. These were different than the hills the first few days of 2011. Those were relatively short 6-8% graded hills. Many of these were more of the 3-5% grade, but a mile or longer.  I did hit 40.0 on one downhill, even though Strava says it was only 39.8. Even the halfway town of Guthrie Center had a radar gun/sign at the bottom of the hill into town. I only saw 34 on that.

There was one hill that stood out, near Springbrook State Park. 10%+ grade. Long. 85% of the people were walking it. I toughed it out, but wow it was tough. I think at one point I was down to 5 mph. Ouchie. 

As the day went on the heat really turned on.  As a result, the traffic jam at the beginning of today really thinned out. When that happens, and I get tired, hot, achy... it gets kinda lonely out there. There's good stretches where it is completely silent except for the sounds of my bicycle. Not even a bird chirping. Headphones are a big no-no on RAGBRAI, not to mention suicidal. During these periods, my head starts telling me I can't do it. My legs tell my head to shut the fuck up. Hard to explain the strangeness of it and why it happens, but I just try and shake it off and keep going.  I downloaded this pic to my hard drive a while ago, and it went through my head today.

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Even with the 4 H's and the strange isolation on a ride with thousands of people... I improved my average speed to 17.2 from 16.4 yesterday, while lowering my average heart rate by 12 bpm. If I learned something from 2011, it's that this week can whip your ass into shape like no other :)

Western Iowa really is a scenic area. It's beautiful, and you can really enjoy it at 15-20 mph. 

Pics from today - click here. 

Strava data for my ride today: 

Lastly, there's a guy running this thing. I don't know if he's a complete badass or insane. He didn't start last week or last month, either. He's running day for day. I saw him today, 38 miles in.  I took a pic (it's in the flickr set) and shouted a few words of encouragement. I just checked his website. He was going for the 107 today. Now I feel like a wimp!!

Okay enough rambling for tonight. I am absolutely beat and am going to sleep. In an air conditioned hotel room in Stuart, Iowa. Not in a tent in Perry. Which is currently getting absolutely pummeled by a severe thunderstorm. I hope everyone there is safe. 

RAGBRAI XLI Day 1: Council Bluffs to Harlan

Day one is in the books! It was SO much better than the first day in 2011. For starters, it was about 20 degrees cooler. The rain that was supposed to greet me this morning never materialized. There was a jawdropping sunrise, and then a partly cloudy day, low winds, in the 80s. Great weather for cycling :) 

Another difference from last time was that it was 4.5 miles to the first hill, instead of the first turn out of town.  There were no really bad hills today - nothing over a 6.5-7% grade. That's likely coming tomorrow. 

I stopped for breakfast in Underwood. Right before that I realized I forgot to start the Charity Miles app, so sorry about that $1.50 SU2C!!

I lost the mirror that attaches to my sunglasses in the halfway town of Minden. Unreal. In 2011 it took until Friday to lose it. This was 27 miles in. Ugh. I bought another one when I was done with today's ride. Let's see if I can hold onto this one for longer than a day. 

I almost wiped out in the little town of Shelby. Would have been more embarrassing than anything. I was clipped into my pedals and going slow. Too slow. The tipping started. I was able to unclip fast enough but in doing so the pedal when flying around and hit me in the shin, causing an immediate bump and bruise. My riding wasn't affected, and the swelling has gone down. 

I got on one paceline today, with three other riders. At one point an Iowa State Trooper on a motorcycle went by so we pedaled faster and caught up to him, and drafted off of him. That was fun :)) 

The little town of Shelby really went all out with their decorations. I loved it. They win best town of day one, in my opinion. 

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Here's the ride info from Strav:

Yes, I am sure it has changed by now, but at one point I was 8th overall of people who use Strava on that first hill, 4.5 miles into the ride. Lance Armstrong was 1st. He was probably signing autographs at that speed ;). 

Okay that's all for today. Tomorrow is my biggest concern the entire week. It is the longest, the hilliest, and now I have found out will likely be the hottest and most humid too. Looks windy as well. I've already decided I don't need the patch that would turn tomorrow from a 83 mile day into a 107 mile one. Screw that :)

Crunch Time!!

Oh my. Just nine days from now I will be whisked away to the western side of Iowa by Dan, Tanya, and CJ. Ten days from now I'll be headed back east across the hills of Iowa on my bicycle.  Wow is this year really flying by! Here's the route I will be taking:


I wanted to get more miles in, but a crazy (and believe it or not, stressful - zen hasn't been my co-worker lately) three months at work plus finicky weather didn't help me do so. Still, I've got over 1,200 miles in so far this year, and only the 2nd day is going to be mileage-heavy. It's 83 miles with an option for an extra 24.4. Whether or not I will do that extra part is still up in the air. The weather will have a big say in it. I also don't like that it's on day two and I also don't like that I have 14 miles to decide if I'm doing the extra or not. In 2011 I had at least 50 miles to make up my mind. Day two also has the most hills of any day that week. But hey, if you do it you get a fancy patch! This is a huge deal! So huge that I will have to try and remember where my patch from 2011 is ;) .Here's a pic of it. Please contain your excitement :)

Transient

I woke up the morning of July 4th, checked my phone for the weather, saw it was going to be awesome, and within 15 minutes I was on my way to ride the Joliet Bicycle Club's Fourth of July Metric Century (100km- 62.1 miles)). I rode to the start from home, so it was actually 66 and change for me. It was the fastest average I have ever had in my life. In fact, my average was 20.1 through 100km - it was only the last few miles where I was completely exhausted and finished at 19.8. Much of the ride I spent with three people I had just met. Turns out they will be doing RAGBRAI as well. I'll look for them, but with 10,000 other people it's not going to be easy! Here's the ride info for July 4th:

 


The labels were shipped to me yesterday. I'll have to check for duplicates, and I have seen some on there, but there are 150 entries. Wow! I'll be getting those all printed up and put on my bike next week after work.

I am proud to report that we are only about $250 from my goal of $15,000 total raised by Team Pedal Another Mile. That's $15,000 in less than three years and #18 in terms of amount raised!  Thanks go out to all of you who have donated in the past. I really really appreciate your generosity.


As some of you know, I run an app while riding called Charity Miles. They donate ten cents for every mile I ride. I usually pick SU2C. July 4th I selected Wounded Warrior Project.  For this RAGBRAI ride, I am going to be doing SU2C on Days 1, 2, and 7. Day 3 is for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Days 4, 5, and 6 I will leave up to you. The top three is who I ride for those days. Vote here:

Stages

No, not of grief, of thank you cards. I've underestimated the number needed twice now. The first 200 go out tomorrow. Everyone else, hang tight, I'm awaiting replenishment from the funeral home.

This was something I've been putting off for some time, or rather, I'd get the motivation to do it which would last a few hours. and then fizzle out. Our niece Anjelika and Aunt Julie were a big help to me. It has been ongoing for a few weeks now.

Today I did my early morning bike ride, did a few hours of stuff for work, picked up my prescriptions, and then decided "no more putting this off" and have spent all afternoon kicking it into overdrive.

It's not an enjoyable task, as the entire time I'm doing it I'm looking at the guest book and it's bringing back memories of that day. But I AM thankful to everyone for everything, and I must push through those difficult memories no matter what.

Also, some of you have terrible penmanship. I'd call you out by name if I could read them ;). I spent hours googling to try and confirm addresses. I hope you receive them.

I'm not sure if there's an etiquette for response times for thank you cards for funerals. If there is, I am positive I blew it. I apologize - I have no excuse other than not wanting to face them.

To those who were not able to attend or did and did not sign the guest book or leave an address - thank you as well. I truly appreciate all the well wishes, thoughts, prayers, meals, help, and everything else.


Today's ride was much better than yesterday, but shorter due to work obligations. I wanted to make sure I got back in time. I think my co-workers would rather get paid than have me get to 500 miles for 2013 today, so that will have to wait for tomorrow :).

Partial fix

I kept going away from the truck. I figured why not - it's not going to get worse than it was. At the most I'd just cry more.

So I headed north another 10 miles. By the time I stopped to turn around I was slightly better. Several friends had texted me word of concern or encouragement - I appreciated it.

I answered those texts and turned around. By then the sun had finally made an appearance and I had a tailwind. Somehow this combination made "shut off brain, murder legs" functional again. I am unsure if walking will be possible tomorrow. I hammered the entire 22 miles back. Hard as I could muster today. What took me 90 minutes to do on the way out took 59:14 on the way back. According to Strava I set four personal records on today's ride. I even went up the bridge at 21.1 mph. Yeah, tomorrow is going to sting a bit, I think.

It seemed to do the job. I finished exhausted, but with a "sadness hangover". Hard to explain. I'll get through the rest of the day instead of climbing into bed and putting the covers over my head, but I'm physically and now mentally exhausted.

I have been doing so well. I don't know why this happens. It seems like PTSD but instead of a battlefield or something it's a hospital bed. It comes out of nowhere, without warning, at any time. And they are happening farther apart, giving me a false sense of, well I guess security for lack of a better word. Shit. I fucking hate this.

It's Uncle Dave's birthday so we are going to check out the Frog Leg Festival in Fellsmere. I'm glad my mood has improved enough to go with and try and have some fun. And yes, I'm going to try one.

Malfunction

No, not the new bike - me. I'm sitting on the curb of a gas station writing this post on my phone. I am 12.5 miles into my ride, all into the wind. It's damp and cloudy too. That's ok though.

What's not ok is that the ping pongs have been strong in my head today. Very strong, and very bad. And when I instruct my brain to turn off and murder my legs, my legs say "nope - you're on your own today".

I got a flood of memories of those last few weeks of Billy Jo's life, especially the last one, that came with such force that it was impossible to close the hatch to prevent more flooding. It was like a snowball rolling down a mountain.

At least four of these twelve miles have been ridden with tears mixing with the sweat, talking out loud to her. Thankfully it's early and no one can laugh and point at the crazy guy.

It has not been fun. I try to think of a happy time and ten seconds later I'm remembering her breathing patterns at the end of her life. It's a fucking nightmare and I'm awake, and worse, I can't just roll over and try and forget- I'm riding a bicycle. On a road. With cars.

So that's my story as I eat my egg white and ham flatbread subway sandwich. The only decision I have to make now is to say "fuck it" and head back to the truck, or keep riding away from it, hoping things get better today, and knowing every additional mile away is another one I have to do back...


So, how's everyone else's morning going? I hope better than mine.