I completed my April 200k on Friday April 23rd. It was my BEST 200k to date in regards to both time and how I felt during and after the ride.
The perm that I chose was the same one that I did in March and although it felt like cheating, doing the same perm back to back, I had a few specific reasons why I wanted to do this perm again. The main reason was that I had memorized the route so I would not have to worry about the cue sheet and doing bonus miles. The second reason was that my March 200k was a personal worst for me. I finished in 12 hrs 18 minutes and I was very discouraged by that. By doing the same course I could compare apples to apples and hopefully see some improvement.
I started at 7:00 from the 7-11 in Arlington and was soon on the trail heading west. There was a headwind, but it was not as stout as it was in March, which was helpful. I tried to relax on the way out to Purcellville and focused on my cadence as opposed to my speed, trying to just maintain an easy pace. I met John, another cyclist, along the way and we rode together for awhile. He was wearing an "Outer Banks Cycling" shirt that I commented on. Come to find out that it was the only one that fit him, he was hit by a car a couple years ago and although he physically was able to ride, he "...sat on his ass, felt sorry for himself and gained a lot of weight." He also rode a Specilaized so we talked about the pro teams that ride them, the anticipation of Alberto on a Specialized vs. Lance this summer. I am not sure exactly how long we rode together, but those miles just flew by. He had to turn around and go to work, and before I knew it I was getting off the trail approaching the first control. I reached the first control a few minutes earlier than I did in March, but more importantly I felt 100 % better.
The route to the halfway point in The Plains, VA was rolling hills through horse farms and beautiful gigantic mansions. When I arrived there I was actually hungry, so I grabbed a piece of pizza, some water and sat down long enough to eat the pizza and phone home. Bev was a little surprised that I was at the halfway point at 12:10, almost an hour earlier than in March.
I made my way back to the last control before the finish in good time and I knew that heading back up the trail could be a very crowded and slow ride if it was anything like it was in March. Fortunately it was not and I was able to keep a good pace all the way back to the final control in 10 hours and 11 minutes. A personal best.
Eating and Drinking
As I am sure you all know, I have struggled with staying fed and hydrated on these rides. gels and powdered drinks like perpetuem did not work for me. So thanks to all the sound advice I got from fellow SPP riders I think I have come up with a plan that works for me. Like Fran said, what works for him may not work for me, it is highly individualized. That is SO true. With that in mind I set out with 2 cheddar cheese bagels, cut in quarters, a package of fat free fig newtons (broken down into zip lock bags with 5 in each bag) 6 bags of sportbeans, 36 e-caps, and a bag of perpetuem powder (enough for one bottle.) On the drive to Arlington I started the morning with a bagel and orange juice, and as I was riding I made a point to eat something every hour, take 2 ecaps every hour and take a sip from the water bottle every 5 minutes or so, whether I needed it or not. This worked well.
A note on the sports beans... I picked up a pack at Bike Doctor in Crofton one day last week to give them a try. Even though they were not the best tasting things in the world, at least it was not like sucking down 8 pounds of sugar like it is with the gels. So as I was researching them on the web, I saw that they were made my Jelly Belly which makes a pretty good 'regular' jelly bean as well. Then it hit me... mix real jelly beans with the sportbeans to help mask the taste. Worked great. I ate 5 of the 6 packs that I brought. I also used this strategy with the perpetuem. At the last control I bought a bottle of Orange Juice and mixed the perpetuem with water AND orange juice. It was paletable and I was able to finish it with no problem.
When I finished this 200k in March, I swore that I would never ride on Snickersville Turnpike again. It is hilly and has one climb in particular that came close to breaking my spirit. This time I was hydrated and nurished. I did not exactly fly up the hill, and my thighs were burning as I climbed it, but when I got to the top it helped reaffirm in my mind that my food and hydration plan was actually working. That gave me a big boost.
An unexpected surprise
This was going to be my last Garmin-less 200k. Because I am cue sheet challenged, I knew that I would need help for perms like Over to Dover, which has a lot of turns. I was going to break down and put out the $$$ for the 705 edge for my ride in May. Imagine how surprised I was when the 705 arrived on Thursday, especially sine I didn't order one. One of my many wonderful followers bought me one so that they could keep track of the rides that I am doing and where I am riding. I have Mike to thank for this. Mike and I rode together in January and February for our first 200k rides, and I gave her a link to Mikes blog. Now that spring and summer are here, schedules are getting crazy and solo 200k's are becoming the norm for me, she can no longer rely on Mike's blog to see where I have ridden. So, the 705 is more about 'her' wanting to see where I have been ... but I am not complaining, I have my 705 now... I am happy. I was able to get it installed on the bike before the ride. Below is a link to the Garmin Connect site with the data from the ride