About a week ago Rafal and I embarked on our first endurance race of the year by touring some unpaved country roads surrounding Lincoln, NE. It was a perfect day for the race. Cool temps early in the morning that rose to maybe 80 degrees in the afternoon. For those of you who think that riding around Nebraska means riding the great plains with no hills...you are mistaken. This ride was one hilly mutha! the tough part about these hills was their spacing because you lost all momentum from the descent before climbing the next rolling hill. The race started out with 40-some riders at about 615 in the morning and included checkpoints at mile 40, 65, 81, and 106 before finishing back in Lincoln for mile 142. I was doing well the first 60 miles before leg cramps set in and thought, "oh shit, not good" so, i walked the bike for a minute or two, stretched out, and took it easy while increasing the fluid and electrolyte intake. One thing i learned on this race was to push as much fluid and food as possible because you burn tons of calories while spinning and climbing the rollers.
another thing i learned is that i should have brought my ipod or something to pass the time. mile after mile of gravel gets kinda boring and all you have is time to think about all sorts of things. the wedding, work, bikes, where you've been, what you wanna do, getting a house, the fam, friends, all types of stuff. Eventually you run out of things to think about and you just stare at the road and try to find the smoothest line to take your bike through. finding a good line seemed to always be the task at hand. you could be pt-cruising and then run your bike through some soupy gravel which drops your momentum and cadence...then you just hafta work your legs back up to it.
One of the toughest segments of the race was the last 35 mile leg. typically the wind blows out of the south and we would have had a great tailwind to push us home. instead, we had a wall of wind to welcome us back to lincoln. luckily there were some strong riders from kansas to ride with that decreased the workload. these fellas were strong and kept a quick pace, especially their leader, Warren, a 50-year-old former Marine who still looks like one. I hope to have this guy's endurance and biking proficiency when I'm his age. We knew things were gonna be ok when we hit the flat Mo-Pac trail for the final two miles to victory lane. the feeling of completing something that i thought would be a stretch was great. im wondering if i can do another 60 miles on top of that....the Dirty Kanza 200 is next May...we'll see. for the time being, i'll stick with shorter rides out to Platte for some sweet bacon