Friday, September 26, 2008

Day 20--Thru the Cotton Fields

This was a tough day. 145 miles after 133 miles yesterday twenty days into the ride proved to be challenging for me. But first a couple of pictures from yesterday that I couldn't take because I was scared to stop.

This is the approach to the Mississippi River bridge.
And this is how much room there was to ride.

And what the river looks like looking toward New Orleans.

And the official Mississippi sign.

Back to today. I really never understood the relationship between eating and energy until I started cycling long distances. Today was another refresher course. The first 90 miles were flat and hot. Lots of huge soybean and cotton fields. It is amazing how efficient these farmers are. But after mile 90 the cycling gods became cruel by making the next 50 miles rolling hills, some quite steep although not long.

The Mississippi roads were terrible. There were a few miles with no pavement at all. My 700x25 tires had a very hard time moving through this soft dirt. Those riding 18's fell and/or had to walk. I don't think we had a road with a wide shoulder all day.

Again today I was following my best practices eating and drinking. Lunch was at mile 72 and it was grilled cheese, pudding and coke.

Arriving for Lunch

Then, for some reason, I fell off my eating plan. A quick rest stop at mile 102 where I ate a piece of watermelon. At mile 110 I started to get tired and fell behind my usual group. That was a clear signal to me that I needed to eat. I stuffed down a Powerbar and stopped at a gas station and got a Monster energy drink. Monster is rocket fuel for me (16 oz of sugar and caffeine) in that it kicks my nervous system into high gear immediately but risks a flame out some miles down the road. But I needed to catch my group or be out riding alone an extra 30 minutes. Since it was going to be a 10 hour day of riding, an extra 30 minutes was most unappealing.

It worked and my energy shoot up and I caught my group at mile 126. I then started drinking coke for the last 19 miles to prevent the flame out. I did flame out eventually but I was already in the bath tub.

Except for the eating mistake, today's ride went per plan. I try to hold a pace between 14-15 mph over the entire ride (including stops for lunch and snacks). Which means a 145 mile ride will take 10 hours. Start at 7:15 and end at 5:15. Today took 9:55 at an average speed of 14.5. But if I hadn't caught my riding partners I would have been slower, burned more energy, and arrived nearer to 6pm.

Summary: 2,256 miles and 64,698 feet of climbs.


Ginger said...

As someone with a mild case of gephyrophobia (yes, I really am that weird), let me just tell you that pic of you guys crossing the bridge made me sick just looking at it.

But you are so close to being done! I'm very much impressed and still very proud.

Love you.

sammy g said...

I don't even like crossing that bridge in my truck let alone on a bike. Good job making it across alive, not a small feat in these here parts. So when you get back we can all go out and i will treat you to a great meal. grilled cheese, puddin and a coke. :) Hang in there you are almost there.

anne said...

Almost there! We're all very excited to be crossing the finish line with you. Hang in there. Anne & Brian

pauline h. said...

Here it is Sunday and we didn't see a post for Saturday. We hope you are alright. These long days with poor roads and these bridges, are something else. Glad you are hanging in there. The end is in sight. Thinking of you
Pauline and Svein

Larry said...

That bridge scared everyone! And the cars were rude because they had to wait on us. There was no way to pass us in the lane and the traffic from the other direction was super heavy.