Dang, this turned out long. If you don't have time for "War and Peace", here's the "Green Eggs and Ham" version:
I am Jon, Jon I am. I rode 100.6 miles today, and ate some ham.
Want the details? Read on, McDuff...
This has been a terribly frustrating month for me. I got my second epidural shot, which didn't seem to do much good, work has been tense, and it has snowed on every weekend (nothing like they've gotten, back east, thank goodness) preventing me from getting my 100-mile ride in. I have an extra, since I did two of them in January, but February is a bit early to be dipping into reserves.
Today, the weather forecast called for temps in the high-40s, low-50s, and partly sunny skies. It also called for 15 to 20 mph winds from the south. So, I planned a ride, with most of the first half heading south, returning with a tailwind.
I started by riding over to the Cherry Creek Trail, and headed north to the upper end of the trail. The flagship REI store, there at the confluence of Cherry Creek and the South Platte, has a Starbucks in it (and I'm not too good to go to Starbucks, when it is the most convenient place). So, I stopped in for an Americano.
I sat at a table on the patio, comfortable enough in the morning sun, dressed for the cold, and drinking a nice hot cuppa.
As I was sitting there, a nice little English chap dropped by. I invited him to join me at my table.
So, he pulled up a chair and we passed the time of day as I sipped my coffee.. Eventually, he told me he had to fly, and off he went.
I posed my bike at the South wall of the REI, which is housed in an historic building which was once the power house for the Denver Tramway Streetcars.
For years, it was the home to the Forney Museum of Transportation, and not in very good shape. REI bought it, refurbished it, and made a really nice store of it, complete with exposed steel beams and 30-foot ceilings.
Apparently, there has been a bike-theft problem since the last time I was there. These signs were posted all over. I've never locked my bike there, and didn't today. So far, so good...
But, I couldn't spend all day there, so I turned my back on REI and headed south, into a stiff headwind.
I had sent Carol a text, earlier, asking her if she wanted to join me for part of the ride. I was going to be riding right past her neighborhood, to the southern terminus of the trail, then turning around and heading back. It would be a 30-mile ride for her. She said to check with her when I crossed Arapahoe Road, on Jordan. I told her I would.
As I rode south, the wind was pretty harsh. At one point a guy on a pretty nice Scott road bike passed me. I refrained from trying to chase him down (yeah, I do that, too), and watched him fade into the distance.
Eventually, as I was riding the trail along the base of the Cherry Creek Reservoir Dam, I saw a woman pull onto the trail from a spur which leads into a neighborhood on the other side of Highway 225. As she rode, I slowly caught up to her, so that we reached the intersection of the Dam Road and Peoria Street at the same time.
She crossed to the other side of the intersection, and headed down Peoria, as I crossed on the near side, and hit the bike trail to go into the park. At the end of that short trail, I pulled out onto the park road, only to see the gal coming down the hill toward me. She had entered the park through the main automobile entrance, for some reason.
Moments later, she caught and passed me, much like the guy on the Scott. So, I continued along at my pace, and waited for her to fade into the distance, as well. But...she didn't. she got about 15 yards in front of me and slowed to a pace that pretty well matched mine. Then, she did that thing that tells you what's going on: she checked over her shoulder two or three times to make sure I wasn't gaining on her. After she was satisfied that I would stay in my appropriate position, behind her, she settled in and rode along.
That's when I made my move and accelerated, pulling up behind her and sucking her wheel. I drafted her for about a half-mile before she looked over her shoulder again and jumped like she had touched a bare lamp cord, when she saw me sitting on her wheel. She accelerated for about a second-and-a-half, then settled down. Apparently, she didn't have the energy.
So, I drafted her around the park road, until we met up with the trail, once again. "Thanks for the pull!" I shouted as I turned south. "Have a great ride!"
A few minutes later, I was at Arapahoe, and I texted Carol the plan. She called me back and told me to swing by her house. She said she'd be ready to go, and would make me a sandwich, if I wanted. I told her I did, indeed, want a sandwich and that I'd see her soon.
After a ham sandwich and a couple of glasses of water, I was anxious to get back on the bike. So, we took off. I told Carol that I had read that the trail had finally been completed to Franktown, paved and continuous the whole way. She told me that she didn't think so.
She was right. This was the scene at Scott Road. This connected us to an actual dirt road, and then another muddy bit of trail back to the concrete path. All this to go around a field the farmer refuses to give access to. I guess he has his reasons, and probably, when this is dry, it's no problem. Today, it was a pain in the butt.
When they say "End of Trail", they aren't kidding.
Eventually, Carol told me to ride ahead at my pace, and she would go at her pace. The wind was getting to her. The plan was, I'd ride to the end of the trail, turn around and meet her as she was still riding toward it. Then, she would turn around and head home with me.
As I made one last turn on the trail, I looked back and saw Carol on the gravel road which connected the last two segments. I waved at her and went on. When I turned around and headed back, I kept waiting to meet her, but never did.
When I got back to the spot I had last seen her, I checked my phone. Sure enough, I had a missed call from Carol. I called her back and found out that she had missed the last section of trail, and continued on the gravel road.
Here, she is riding back to the spot where I had last seen her. The wind now at our backs, we made much better time on the way back to Carol's house. Once there, I ate an apple and another ham sandwich. Then I rode back south, since I needed another 15 or 16 miles to get my 100 in, by the time I got home. Having tasted the sweet nectar of the tailwind, I did not enjoy taking the bitter medicine of the headwind, again.
The Devil was truly in that headwind.
(Picture from the additional Southern miles.)
Seven miles south of the house, I reached Scott Road, the 70 mile mark, and turned back north. There was no way I was going to ride that mud, again.
Two hours and fifteen minutes later, I was back at the house. I made up a couple of miles by touring around the neighborhood a bit.
100.6 miles at a rolling average of 13.5 mph (actual average around 11 mph, with all of the stops), 9 hours away from the house. I don't hurry on these rides because they are just that; rides. I am not training for anything, nor am I trying for a personal record. I just like to ride.
Not as muddy as the last time I rode 100 miles, the XO-2 is still pretty grimy. Once again, the knobby tires earned their keep. And, I know that the trunk bag is the bike-component equivalent to a fanny pack, but it works for these rides. Function over form...
Three down, nine to go.