Monday, March 24, 2008

Larry Schwartz - March - 93 miles

Who is Larry Schwartz? He was a retired engineer who decided to start riding long distances .

I have decided to try and earn the Larry Schwartz Award.

This is a chronicle of my first attempt.

Saturday night I went over the course possibilities with my son C. Since the wind was coming out of the north, and would be present all day, we determined to head out into the wind. Our plan was to start an hour before dawn and try for under 6 1/2 hours. Plans are made to be broken.

We got started at 7:15 and rode north on Ooltewah-Georgtown. It was a cold morning dropping down to a low of 33°F before the sun rose above the ridge line. I had made a batch of energy bars the night before and the plan was to stop every hour, take a break and eat a bar to keep the energy levels up.

Our first stop came at 17 miles, just after Smith road. We sat and chatted and tried to warm up. C had chosen not to wear any booties and was experiencing cold toes, I was feeling the cold in my hands. Continuing on, we started heading East at Brittsville on the Lower River Rd. We took our second rest stop on the corner of the Lower River Rd and Eureka, the sun was shining strong and the temp had risen to about 40°F. Easter Sunday Traffic started to pick up but was not bothersome.

Resuming our journey we crossed some ridges, got passed by a nice looking black Dodge Viper, and went through some bottom lands, smelled the foul odours coming from Bowater's paper mill, and headed for the hills that are between Calhoun and Benton.

After spending an inordinate amount of time on Rt 163 we decided to take a more rural approach to Benton and started down 959, which is Pine Knot Rd., with C saying something about gun toting red-necks. (Doing this over again I would come out of Calhoun on 950, then continue on 956 which runs into Athens-Benton Rd.) This was actually a beautiful road and probably our most enjoyable stretch of the ride though it was somewhat rough and had a non-paved section that was about a mile in length.

It was time to eat something other than the energy bars so I did a food search on my GPS for a Subway, sure enough there was none in Benton, and little else to draw from. After checking the menu on the Sonic Drive In, we went next door to the Kangaroo gas station and bought four Krispy Kreeme donuts, crossed the road, sat on the court house steps and ate "lunch". It was beginning to feel more comfortable out with the temperature approaching 52°F.

With over 50 miles under our wheels for the day, we were feeling up to the task of finishing. We struck out towards Cleveland, crossing ridge after ridge, enjoying the remote roads we were fortunate to find. One that comes to mind is Chestuee Rd, near Hickory road, which has some farm bottom land and a couple of places where the water was just inches from the side of the road, beautiful and peaceful.

At the end of Benton Pike is the intersection of Waterlevel Hwy. We stopped at a U-haul rental store and sat on one of their car haulers for 15 minutes, discussing the next leg of the trip. We wanted to do a full century (100 miles) but the remaining road between us and home didn't have enough length. We talked about adding some distance by going further south and returning towards home but we were approaching some other time commitments so I decided to head straight home. (The Larry Schwartz Award calls for rides between 90 and 150, and I knew we'd get at least 90, so I was satisfied, having previously done 100+ mile rides I wasn't driven just to tack miles on to achieve the golden century)

My Father, who is approaching 77 years of age, still rides his bike regularly. We were going to pass by his house so I called to see if he wanted to finish the last 20 with us. He was excited to go so we made plans to meet him, and he even pulled for us a bit of the way. We went to see Freddy the mule feeding him some of the left over energy bars which he was grateful for, crossed a few more significant ridges bringing us within the Collegedale city limits, and the last slogging stair step 300' climb up to home.

We were tired, but the ride was fun and free of insurmountable difficulties, in a word successful.

Reviewing the ride I would have done this route in reverse, saving the long flat sections of the Ooltewah-Georgetown road for the end and climbing the continuous ridges that we saw towards the middle and end of the ride first while we were fresh. I would not want to ride this route from home with a significant source of wind coming from the South.

Also according to Motionbased the wind was coming from the WSW, it actually ranged from the N to WNW.

Ride Data:

Ride Summary :
Moving Time: 6:17:59
Distance: 93.70
Average: 14.9
Elevation Gain(ft): 7,377

Grimace or Grin 03-18

Well it was actually some of the former and a lot of the latter.

C & I met T.W. at the Village Market to go for 20. The weather was very windy, blowing hard from the south. The course was briefly discussed and it was decided that we would head south from Apison down Bill Jones, Left on London, continue on Keith and head back on Keith-Salem.

Not wanting to show my weakness I opted to let T lead out, and he did a marvelous job. Straight away I began wondering if I could maintain his pace setting, but the wind did it's job of tempering his speed and I just sat on appreciating the work being done for me. As we crested the rise past mt Vernon we looked ahead and saw 2 riders up and decided to give chase. For 3 miles we chased and closed the gap that had been almost a mile in length. Turning the corner onto Keith-Salem rd we realized an average speed of 18.5 mph, that was the grimace.

The grin began after we turned the corner and began to head North. The wind was blowing between 20 and 25mph with gusts going to 30. Already tired from the effort we cruised along recovering until we ascended the short steep climb on Salem Valey road just past the right hand turn from Keith-Salem.

Then the real fun began. For the next 6.7 miles we averaged over 26 MPH! completing the ride with my first +20 mph average for the year.

Thanks T & C for all the hard work, it was a fun ride.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Finally - Back to riding

Well, that's not exactly true because I have gotten a few rides in, but my work life is beginning to slow down a bit and this gives me more disposable time.

I spent 2 hours in the morning running around like a fool, chasing a Frisbee (The Ultimate Game), spent 3 hours chasing daffodils (didn't see many), and returned home just in time to get a 2 hour ride in.

I heard about the east ridge group ride, but I couldn't start with them so I tried to intersect their course. This is a difficult thing to do if you don't know where they were riding. So I cast about in different directions, getting about 17-18 miles in before I actually saw any of the riders.

I stopped back by the start area about 1 1/2 hours after they had left, the fast ones had returned, and talked to one of the riders. They had gone completely in a different direction than I had assumed.

Leaving that area I rode against the stream (trickle) of returning riders that had been dropped and left to fend for themselves, a number of which looked fairly tired.

From there I went to find one of my friends who is training for a Marathon on an 18 mile run. I pulled in to a church to get my water bottle filled up and saw him pass by. I spent about 15 minutes waiting for my wife who was in choir practice and then headed for home. I was sure I would see my runner buddy, and even went about 3 miles out of my way, but I never caught up to him. This might be an indication of my fitness level (can't even catch up with a guy who is running 18 miles).

Anyway, it was good to get out and ride 32 miles, the weather was good, the wind provided some good added resistance, in all a Great Ride!