Wednesday, December 16, 2009

December 2009


The R-12 Award is earned by riding a 200km (or longer) randonneuring event in each of 12 consecutive months. The counting sequence can commence during any month of the year but must continue uninterrupted for another 11 months.

Tools of the trade: A downloaded copy of the route cue sheet, morning coffee, and all the nutritional stuff to make this dream come true: Hammer HEED, Hammer Perpetuem, Hammer Gel, insulated bottles and enough flasks to feed a hard riding cyclist (or me as the case may be). I only have two insulated bottles, but my plan is to keep the regular bottle in the back pocket of my jacket along with two "hot hands" heat pads to keep it from freezing. That way I should have a liquid source of hydration and will be able to limit the time spent building a fire and thawing snow for water to drink. I will keep two flasks of nutrition (one Hammer Gel, one Hammer Pertpetuem) on the bike in holsters so that I can grab them easily with a gloved hand, and rotate them with flasks in my jersey pocket under my jacket. I'm assuming that they will stay thawed by my body heat. We'll see. The next 8 or 9 hours will tell whether or not I'm right.
The bank thermometer in Marion as I leave shows only 26 degrees. I was hoping for a warmer start. The forecast is for steadily falling temperatures until about 11:00 then warming slightly. I would have liked for it to have been 40 or 50 at the start. That seems like a better number to fall from. The wind is blowing hard out of the Northwest 12-15 mph. That plus my forward movement will create quite a wind chill. Oh well, here goes....

This is the Grassy General Store on Grassy road at Route 148. This is my first stop. In the store was a construction worker, a rather rough looking fellow, who commented on the weather I would be riding in today. He said, "At least you have a good day for it, it could be 100 degrees out there!" I suppose that when you work construction, you can always dress for the cold, but the heat is a real problem. And the second picture is my lucky nickel. I found it in the parking lot. I have decided to carry it on every RUSA ride that I do until I DNF (did not finish) a ride. At that time, I will tape the nickel to the emotional baggage that quitting or failing inevitably brings, and throw it all into the Lake of Egypt. Then start again.
This bull attracted my attention because of the curls in the hair on his forehead. The picture doesn't really show it that well. I laughed out loud when I saw them. He looked like an old bull who was trying to hide his age with a perm. He wasn't pleased when I laughed. I was glad there was a fence between us.

There may be ice in my beard, but there's a smile on my face. It's been a cold start so far, and I'm hoping for the warming that the sunshine and the afternoon will bring. For now, I'm in good spirits and looking forward to the ride today. I also now know why Santa's cheeks are so rosy. I always thought it was high blood pressure from being so fat. Turns out it all that riding in an "open sleigh".

Tow's station in Murphsbory is your one stop shop for used tires. You can also get gas, diesel, storage sheds, and carports. In the same building is one of the most surprising collection of yardsale junk available. Fortunately, Curt, the owner/proprietor was willing to sign my brevet card. However, it took some charming to talk him into coming outside and taking my picture. Not only was it cold, he felt silly. Men need to learn how not to take themselves so seriously.
This is the worst part of the trip. For the next 18 miles the route heads north. The wind has been more or less a headwind up until now, but it will be my biggest enemy for the next hour and a half. There is nothing to block it on this stretch. It will be all farmlands, flat roads (no coasting), and wind. The only thing to do is to pedal. My formula will be 1: shift to an easier gear 2: get down in the drops of the handlebars 3: keep a high cadence with smooth pressure on the pedals 4: stand periodically to relieve my back and change the muscles I'm using 5: go back to number one - rinse and repeat. And most of all, think about something besides quitting.
TK Mart in Duquion. This is the farthest we will be from home today. And it is only 33 miles away. That's the biggest problem with a loop, you're never far from home and the temptation to quit is always whispering in your ear. This store, like many in Southern Illlinois is run by Indians. Not native Americans, but Indians. The gentleman in the store was quite willing to sign my brevet card, but as I was leaving he asked, "Excuse me, but how old are you?" I had to laugh out loud. I couldn't decide if he thought I should be old enough to know better than to ride on a cold December day, or if he thought that perhaps I was so old that dementia had set in. "Only 50." I replied as I moved back out and continued the R-12 chase.
The intersection of E. Park and Route 148. More or less the half-way point. Unfortunately, I feel more than half-done. Nothing to do but keep riding. I also realized that I had lost my sense of humor somewhere. I know I had it back in Duquoin, but I can't find it now. I don't have time to go back and look for it. Maybe I've just misplaced it in one of my jersey pockets.
Rend City road. Yea. This may not look like much to you, but at this intersection, the road turns south. After fighting the wind to our northernmost position, and having it as a cross wind all the way here, we're finally turning south for a while. (Although it will be a relief, it will only last for a couple of miles then we'll go west into Thompsonville. But for a while, the noise in my ears is gone!)
At Benton I decided to stop and get some hot water. It's not a control stop for the ride but my insulated bottles, which had performed well all day, had slowly allowed my hydration rations to turn to slush. It was getting difficult to drink. I had to squeeze the bottles with both hands (leaving no hands for the handlebars), and if I drank too quickly, I got "brain freeze". I mixed a large cup of hot water into both insulated bottles, topped them off with HEED and moved toward Thompsonville. A few miles later, I need to pee again (surprising how the cold makes that happen). You think I would have thought of that in Benton (my mother's voice in my head said so), but I didn't. Now I needed a stretch of road with no traffic. My survival theory is this: if you're ever in a survival situation, and there's no one around, but you need help, just stop and pee. It's amazing how much traffic you can generate by just that one act. Oh yea, I found my sense of humor. It wasn't lost just frozen and it has thawed a little.
A little after 3:30 I wearily return home to a hero's welcome. (The hero's welcome was along the lines of, "Hurry up and get in, it's freezing out there and you're letting the cold in!"

You'll notice the lack of pictures after Benton. It was just too cold to stop and unglove. Every time I took a glove off, my hands got cold, and the insulating properties of my gloves kept the cold in as well as they had previously kept the heat in. The bank thermometer was only showing 28 degrees as I came into town. So much for warming up.

And if you read the first post, you'll know that the 12 rides of 200 kilometers or more have to be 12 consecutive months. That means next month we'll do it again. Yea!