44.64 Miles 05/29/11 - Bike the Drive

So after Saturday's 46 miles, half of it a hammerfest, and an afternoon/evening of eating poorly and drinking beer at a party, I decided that if the rain for Sunday looked like it was going to hold off and if I heard the alarm clock go off at 3:45 am, I'd drive downtown and participate in the annual Bike the Drive, something I'd wanted to do since beginning riding again in 2008.  It's for a good cause (raising funds for the Active Transportation Alliance) and besides just being plain cool - riding my bike on Lake Shore Drive - it would give me some practice riding in crowds of cyclists which is good prep for RAGBRAI.

I woke up at 3:30 (before the alarm clock) and checked the radar, which looked like rain would hold off at least through the morning hours.  It did mention a dense fog advisory, so I checked several Chicago-based webcams and saw none.  I decided I'd get up and go do this, even on less than five hours of sleep.  The ride kicked off at 5:30 and I still had to register. I checked and double-checked that I had everything and set off for downtown at 4:10.    I backed out of the garage... "Hey! No fog! Great!"

I spoke too soon.  About halfway into the city it began and never stopped.  To make matters worse, I remembered as I pulled into the parking garage that the screw for the GoPro mount was sitting in the garage.  How on earth was I going to make it not fly off my stem when I hit the first bump?  This sucks.  I found a paperclip on the floor of my truck and determined that it would at least make sure it stayed on my bike but would not keep it fixed in position.  I decided I'd just try and keep an eye on it and see what happened.  After all, with this fog, I wasn't going to get great shots anyway.

After paying my registration fee I got into the Southbound starting lane.  A few minutes later the announcer gave us the go-ahead.  It was at this point the only crash I'd see all morning happened.  That's right- someone in the Northbound lane crashed before even crossing the starting line.  Poor guy.

The first 1/2 mile was frightening just due to the sheer number of people all starting at once.  Thankfully LSD has many lanes and I decided to haul ass in the left to get ahead of the crowd a bit.  The weather was abysmal.  Not only was it very foggy but it was 48 degrees.  I was in shorts but (unlike yesterday) was wise enough to have a jacket.  This was soaked pretty quickly but still helped.  About 5 miles in I decided there was no way to keep my sunglasses on - they just kept getting covered in water droplets.  Taking off my glasses also meant losing my rear-view mirror which had me a bit concerned, but not as much as riding at 20mph directly into a pothole because I didn't see it.

Bike the Drive starts at Grant Park and heads North and South.  It is 7.5 miles to each end point.  This gives participants the option of a 15 or 30 mile ride.  It also gives faster riders the option for 45 or 60.  As I stated earlier, I opted for South first.  The turn-around was at the Museum of Science and Industry.  While I was cold, I had plenty of fluids left and wasn't hungry, so I skipped the rest stop and headed to the Northbound turnaround, 15 miles away.  Once there I decided I needed some food and a restroom break.  Two bananas and a couple mini muffins later I set off for the start point. 

As miserable as I was, I decided I'd take the south route again.  This would give me another 40+ mile day and I'd ride through discomfort - something I may be forced to do during RAGBRAI if the weather is bad.

I was riding at a very fast pace for me, with very little of it drafting behind others.  It was as if I finally found my legs this weekend!  The last 7.5 miles from the south turnaround to the start/end point was quite fun as I finally had a partner to take turns drafting.  He was completely his second full loop - 60 miles.  He was flying.

Could I have done the north route again?  Maybe, but I had had enough for the day.  I decided to check out some vendor tents for a few minutes, but quickly started to shiver.  It was 48 and I was no longer riding to keep warm.  I called it a day and headed back to the truck (after another banana and a bottle of Muscle Milk - which is not good, BTW).

Today's ride was my fastest average of the year - 17.1.  Again, much of this was not due to a paceline.  I was quite pleased with this.

OK now for the multimedia goodies...

The photos (click on one to launch viewer):

[flickr]set:72157626731496159[/flickr]

The time lapse video (the song was actually added on youtube - I had never heard it before but think it fits well):

And the map/stats/other stuff: