Or am I just over the hill?
After I got off work at noon, I checked several weather maps and decided to chance a 60-mile ride. It had poured rain all morning but was slowing down and it looked as though I could ride out of most of it if I went north.
So I went north.
Up into Pennsylvania. It gives me such a charge to cross the state line and ride in another state. Makes me feel like I've really done something. If you have a travel atlas, you can go to the Maryland page, find Garrett County in the far northwest corner, that triangle-shaped panhandle that should be part of West Virginia; find Deep Creek Lake, just to the south of center; start at Deep Creek Lake State Park (shaded green); go northeast to Bittinger, north on Rte. 495 to Grantsville, north into Pennsylvania on Rte. 219, through Salisbury and Boynton to Meyersdale, turn around, back down 219 to Rte. 40, which very closely follows the MD/PA state line going west till 219 turns south, through Accident (yes, Accident), through McHenry, and back down to Deep Creek Lake State Park (shaded green.)
Or just take my word for it. It's not like it shows elevation changes or anything.
After I turned around at Meyersdale, PA, at the 30-mile point on my bike computer, I started thinking about all the hills I'd have to ride, that I'm so painfully familiar with from last year's training, if I retraced my route back. And I wondered, if I didn't take the county backroads, if I took the state road (Rte. 40, which actually is interstate but 2-lane) instead, my return trip would still have hills, but the road would be smoother, and straighter, and the hills would be less steep (although longer, to accomplish "less steep.") So I decided to go that way.
Ouch. I'm not sure that was the better way to go. For one thing, it added 7 miles to my return trip. For another, long hills meant.... long climbs. But the road was straighter. And smoother. Better surface. Bike rolled more easily. No potholes or gravel wash-outs from the rain.
A trade-off? I'm not sure. I was singing "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" to tick off the miles. Each mile down was another bottle of beer taken down and passed around. Somehow it made the miles go faster. I was in the granny gears most of the time. Something was hurting in my knee on my downstroke. How to make this a prayer? God bless the people who made this nice smooth road, and everyone who helped... the ones who drove the trucks, the ones who mixed the asphalt, the ones who ran the steam rollers, the flag-people, the people who mined the stone, all their husbands and wives, the people in the stores where they bought their clothes, and in the factories where their clothes were made, and where their equipment was made, and those involved in producing the fuel for their vehicles, and in bringing their food to their table, including the farmers who grew it and the stores that sold it.... 16 bottles of beer on the wall, 16 bottles of beer. Except I could see I was going to have more than 16 miles to go.... I was still 3, maybe 4 miles from our son's house, and it's 19.5 miles from there to our campground. Oh, geez, if I had known how much longer this route is.... but the road is smooth. And a mile before our son's house, I've got a 3-MILE downhill. That's the 1000 feet I just rode up, except on the way up, it would go up for a mile, then down half a mile, then up, then down, so it was like 3 steps forward and 2 steps back till I got to the top of the elevation.
The 3-mile downhill was heaven. God bless whoever planned this 3-mile 7% grade for me to go flying down. I didn't stop at our son's house... I'd have called it a day and begged a ride home. So I just flew on by. After the bottom, there were more hills, but nothing as long as what I'd been grinding up for the past hour.
I lost track of how many bottles of beer. Knowing at our son's house that it was 19.5 more miles messed my math all up.
Ended up being 67.6 miles. Average pace (including 37mph on the 3-mile downhill and 30-32 on some shorter ones) was 12.0 mph. On the way up the mountain I saw mostly 4-6mph. For an hour.
Next week I'm going to visit Nancy and we're going biking in the FLATLANDS!!!! We're hoping for a 70-miler, and I've just done that in the friggin' Himalayans, so I ought to be all set.
I wonder what hurts in my knee.
Oh.... I only went through one rain shower, right after the 30-mile turnaround. But the roads were wet and I looked like I'd been mountain biking, I had so much dirt, grit and mud on my legs.
I went through a half-gallon of Gatorade, a full cup of trail mix, half a gel-flask of honey, 8 oz of yogurt (in a mustard squeeze-bottle), and 40 oz of water. And a number of salt capsules. And 2 Excedrin.
I was just glad I didn't have another 45 miles to ride and then a marathon to run after that.
But we won't think about that. Got 4 and 1/2 months before I "have" to do that. And it won't be in the friggin' Himalayans.
I'm going to bed now....