November... time to ride the Verboort Populaire again. Last year, I was one of the ride organizers, and pre-rode it in 6:13.
Today is an anniversary - 1 year post-treatment. I think I can say with some confidence now that my body is finally back to what my head thinks it should be able to do. Actually my body is exceeding expectations. (really big grin here)
So, the ride. I wasn't riding WITH anyone this year - Susan was off running another half marathon, and Cecil wasn't riding either. So I thought... suppose I could do it in under 5 hours?
This ride requires no major preparations - I tossed a banana and a couple of bars in my bag. The weather was going to be cloudy and 50's, with the rain holding off until the evening. So I added booties to the bag, and extra gloves, and called it good. Oh, and pumped up Sweetpea's tires.
Sweetpea has yet another saddle. Got another Terry Butterfly Ti. While the Brooks is a lovely saddle, and makes any bike look darn cool, I just cannot sit on it for any length of time. So, I've got a Brooks Flyer "S" with a Selle Anatomica cutout AND the Brooks saddle maintenance kit (includes Proofhide AND the special adjustment spanner) for sale...
Arrived at the Grand Lodge around 8:30am, carefully threading the van around all those cyclists milling around in the parking lot. Checked in, visited. Pulled on my rain jacket and long finger gloves. It was not raining, but the mist was pretty thick. Made sure the lights were on (see previous comment about thick mist). Off promptly at 9am, headed for Longbottoms'.
I found myself toward the front part of the group (!) As I completely knew where I was going, no need to consult the cue sheet. Alan Bell from SIR rode up and introduced himself; we rode together all the way to Longbottoms. There was a crash on Hornecker. As there was very large crowd already there, we edged around and continued. Alan was talking up the SIR 200km Solstice Ride :-) Ride all night and watch the sun rise. (I can hear the husband now: "can't you stay in Portland and ride all night in the dark when you can't see anything anyway?" :-) )
Alan got a flat just before Longbottoms. I got my card signed, ditched the jacket and long finger gloves, ate the banana, and elected to ride on.
Rode with Ron H until the next control at Snooseville. He was riding a single speed. I am impressed. Oliver and Megan found us heading out of North Plains; we all continued up Dairy Creek Rd to the control together. I took pictures, and Oliver took my camera and took some more pictures. Getting pretty confident here, passing a camera around WHILE RIDING.
Still not raining. The mist had lightened, but the air still felt very, very damp. Got to the control, to find Ed G with strong hot coffee and vegan sausages! And cocoa mix! Mixed myself up a Rando Mocha in a real mug and shared a Smoked Apple sausage with Ron. We both figured half a sausage would not be too much.
Finished eating, took a few more pictures, and then Ron and I headed out. It was, um, a bit chilly, but I resisted putting the jacket back on. I warmed up after a couple of miles. And eventually realized that Ron had fallen back, and I was on my own again.
Back onto Mountaindale, then over to the Highway 26 crossing ("Frogger Junction"). Scott and Linda found me there (they had gotten in some bonus miles. Normally they are so far ahead of me...) We crossed together, and they rocketed off ahead. Pretty ride west on Mountaindale/Wilkesboro, then turned north into Banks, where I found Kyle, who was having a navigational quandary. Turned out he'd already gone through Banks, west on Cedar Canyon, east on Hwy 6 and... found himself back in Banks.
We rode together until the end. :-) Cedar Canyon and the wetlands were pretty, but no birds in the wetlands yet. We found Diane at the info control, and all proceeded onto Hwy 6 and then OFF Hwy 6 onto Stafford Rd. And up. The climb seemed easy this time. It never seems easy.
Not too much further to go, and definitely on track for a sub-5 hour finish. Onto Strohmayer with the plum orchards in fall colors, the road changing to Kansas City, then Thatcher. Left onto Kemper, cross Hwy 47 (I should have eaten something in Banks), south on Visitation, where we could see the flashing light that marked the sausage feed and... done.
Diane came up shortly after that. We found the bulk sausage sales and did a little shopping, then walked over to the bingo tent for sausage to eat right now. Ron found us there.
After eating, we walked back to the bikes to head back to the Grand Lodge. I collected a whole crew of riders who weren't clear on how to get back; we all rode together. It was still not raining :-)
4:41 total elapsed time (yes, I am shouting! Best time ever, by 30 minutes, and that was back in 2007!), 62.7 miles. Moving average of 14.82 mph, including the ride back to the Grand Lodge (overall total, 65.21 miles).
All the pics here (there's lots more!)