Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cycling Madera

This past weekend I traveled to my parents' house in Madera, CA to attend a dinner where my brother would be accepting an award. So, of course, I took my bike. I mean, Madera is in the San Joaquin Valley, which means flat. Lots of flat. Lots of flat in the country with very little in the way of stop signs. I don't get lots of that at home so, of course, I took my bike.

First up on Saturday morning is a trip to Chowchilla. I did some research and found a donut shop near the turnaround point. I woke up to ugly clouds and a chance of rain but the temperature was not cold so I packed the usual and a rain jacket in my jersey pocket and off I went. Routes don't get much simpler than this:

In short, ride down Howard Road until you get to Road 16. Make a right and don't stop until you get to Chowchilla. There are good shoulders for almost the whole way and these are country roads that are not heavily travelled, so when cars and semis pass you, they are able to give you plenty of room. I was not able to go as fast as I had hoped (there was an ever-so-slight incline) but I was able to keep my cadence in the 80-range and if that meant I had to do it in a lower gear, so be it. This was my first long, flat ride with few stops so keeping the motor spinning for over an hour straight was something new.

I made it to Chowchilla and Good Time Donuts was just where Google said it would be (gotta love Street View). I ordered a huge apple fritter (didn't finish) with a hot chocolate and sat down for a restful fuel break. After that, back on the bike for the trip home. This time I would be heading down the ever-so-slight decline (about 1 mph faster, it turned out). I did encounter a couple of loose dogs but, thankfully, they just wanted to pace me while barking.

This trip ended up being 46.39 miles and took 2:49:51. 16.2 mph and 79 rpm on the way out, 17.1 mph and 80 rpm on the way back. I can live with that. A good trip, though I was a bit sore in the saddle by the end. The thing with that is, it doesn't get better by the next day.

Because of the soreness (and, frankly, fatigue), I lowered my sights for Sunday (I'll save that ride for my next trip up) and set out on a 32 mile route suggested by my father.

It's possible my father is trying to kill me.

If you're familiar with the area, I took the 145 out to the 41. What should have been a beautiful ride out towards the foothills turned into a white knuckle-fest because the shoulder of the road disappeared. This meant I was riding on or just to the left of the while line of a two-lane, full-speed highway. Wonderful. I got to experience something completely new: riding in the lane as cars coming the other way pass the cars in front of them. Yes, they pull into my lane, and speed towards me. I don't really have time to stare at them because I have to focus on the white line so I stay on it. Do not take the 145 out to the 41. I know people ride out to Millerton Lake, which was just seven miles further from my turnaround point, but I can't imagine they took the route I did. Bad, scary ride.

An interesting observation about fatigue. On Saturday I was able to take a nap between my ride and the dinner. On Sunday I was not able to so I sat like a zombie in my parents' house. I was able to observe my energy level go down, down, down, then slowly come back up a few hours later. I had my usual recovery chocolate milks and a big breakfast after Sunday's ride so I don't know how much more I could have eaten to keep from having an energy crash. I'm thinking that maybe on these rides lasting longer than two hours I need to take a gel every 30 minutes instead of every 45. With the e-Gels I use that comes out to be 300 cal/hour. I will have to experiment with that.

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