Sunday, February 7, 2010

February 200K - Check.

Friends, meet Zeke. He's my commuter bike. I'll be taking him today because of the road surfaces. A week ago, I saw on the 10 day forecast that Saturday February 6th would be sunny and 46 degrees. I immediately called my boss and took a vacation day. It would be a really good day to ride. Then the forecast began changing. And each day the forecast got a little worse. It still remained uncertain up to last night whether or not I could take Black Beauty my road bike. I agonized all night...

{Agonized? Don't you think that's a little strong?}
[Hey, this is my blog. Go back to your room.]

Sorry, that's one of my personalities. He's moderate, sensible Miles. The one who is always criticizing my behavior and especially my word choice as being too extreme. My wife, and most of my friends like him better than me. Too bad, I'm the REAL Miles.

{Real Miles, Smeal Miles. Agonized IS too extreme. How about "deliberated"? I deliberated all night...}
[I would use that if I had deliberated. But I didn't. I agonized. Now go back to your room. I'll call you if I ever get a job in the diplomatic corps.]

Where was I? Oh. I agonized all night about which bike to take. Zeke is great for commuting. Especially in the winter. He has 26 X 2.125 tires which have a moderately aggressive tread and two rows of steel studs. However, all that safety comes at a cost. He's slow and I have to work harder pedaling.

In fact, the longest ride I've ever taken him on is about 60 miles. This will be more than twice that. If the roads are clear enough, I'd rather ride Black Beauty. Her tires are only 23mm wide and smooth for fast rolling. Jim Rasor said this would be a Magic Snow. But 126 miles on slippery surfaces would be too much for Black Beauty. She's a little skittish when the road surface is poor.

Zeke is my "any road" bike. Better safe than sorry. I just hope I don't poop out before we get done.

First Control Stop. Huck's on DeYoung Street in Marion Illinois. Only 126 more miles to go.

At the junk store across the street from Huck's, Emmett Kelly sums up my feelings this morning. Starting a long ride on a cold dark day is always harder than drinking the recovery drink at home afterwards.

29 degrees isn't too bad for a February morning. Perhaps it might warm up when the sun is out. Either way, I'm riding. There's a recovery drink waiting at home for me, and in just 9 hours or so, I'll be enjoying it.

Helen's Restaurant at the junction of Route 37 and Grassy Road is a good place to meet with family and friends. However if you want to smoke, bring a coat.

At each Control Stop I have to get a receipt to show proof of passage. I had no idea that the store clerk would have to go to such great lengths to accomplish this. I hope this doesn't mess up his end of day bookkeeping.

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep." Robert Burns

This poem was the inspiration I used in choosing a name for myself.

Jim Rasor said last night on the Channel 3 weather report that the snow would be a "Magic Snow". He defined that as a snow that only collects on the grassy areas but not on the roads.

Magic Snow my big aunt fanny.

This isn't the worst stretch I've come across. I was too busy keeping upright on Zeke to take a picture of that section.

Zeke and I are in Carbondale. And he is proud of himself. The roads getting here have been snow and ice covered and he never lost his footing. (For which I am grateful.) Notice the toe strap connecting his down tube to his front wheel. That's my "anti-theft device". Not wanting to carry a cable and lock, I choose this method when I won't be off the bike for long, and will have it in sight most of the time.

That's not a shadow behind that tree. That's the lee side of the tree. The snow "shadow" gives you an idea of the wind direction and speed. (It's NNW at 11-15 mph sustained with gusts 17-20 mph) And we're now heading straight into it. For the next 18 miles, we'll be going north into that wind, and there will be nothing to break it for us. It's now, down shift and think about that recovery drink waiting for us at home.

Calendar shot. Next year, I plan to make a calendar for my friends and family using 12 of the pictures I've taken this year. If I don't use 12 pictures of myself (and I probably will), this will be my February picture. Pretty, huh?

I've been waiting for that stop sign up ahead for about 70 miles. That is Rend City road. There we'll turn south, finally.

Until now we've been heading northwest, north, or east. And the wind has been our enemy. At that turn we'll shout "Satan, get thee behind me!" Yea.

When I write the name of this Control Stop down, I always get it wrong. I always write "Pankey's Service Center". I don't know why. So if you ride my ride and I give you a cue sheet and brevet card which lists "Pankey's Service Center" as the Control Stop in Thompsonville, ignore my mental lapse, and look for "Payne's Service Center" on Route 34 instead.

No, this is not another calendar shot. Look at that little patch of blue in the sky. I've been waiting on that all day. Maybe it will grow.

These must be markings left by some aboriginal North Americans.

{Hey, why don't you let me handle this one?}
[I thought I told you to go to your room?]
{Yea, yea. But the last time you brought this subject up, you made everyone mad. Why not let me try one time. I know how to say it without throwing hand grenades into the crowd.}
[All right, smarty-pants. Go ahead.]

This is the reasonable, sensible Miles.

[I resent that!]

These marks are called Dan Henry's. They are used by cycling organizations to indicate the route cyclists should take when they are riding their Century or other organized ride. Unfortunately, they last long past the ride. And they are unsightly. It's not as if roads belong to no one, they belong to all of us and it's up to all of us to preserve them for the next ones to come along.

Just as we all agree that cyclists shouldn't throw their Clif Bar wrappers along the road, perhaps we could all agree that they shouldn't spray paint the roads as well. The organizations which put on these rides go to great lengths to produce maps and route or cue sheets for the riders. Why not expect riders to use them? Perhaps that would enhance the experience of the ride. Not only would the riders enjoy the distance and scenery, but they could also fine tune their navigation skills at the same time.

[All right. Back to your room.]

This is the REAL Miles. If you must spray paint on concrete - start with your driveway. See how that will look next year.

I've been waiting for this turn for a long time. The cue sheet says "mile 117.52 right on Market street". Yea. Just about another 8 miles and I'll get that recovery drink I've also been waiting for.

Nearly back to Marion, the roads are lined with fans to cheer me on. "Allez!" "Allez!" (Go! Go!) they shout.

Actually this is Mike McKee and his daughter. And they did come to cheer me on. On his way to SIU this morning, Mike drove the route near DuQuoin, estimating my arrival time at the check point there, in order to check on me. He found me stopped to eat a fig bar just at the town limits. Then, he came to Marion after the SIU event to cheer me on. He's more than just a cycling friend. He's a real friend.

Except for the daylight, this looks suspiciously like the earlier one. I'd say there wasn't much movement in the temperature today. I know I grew tired of being a little cold all day. Come on Spring.

February 200K - Check.

Home again, home again, jiggity jig. One ride closer to the R-12 Award. Now for that recovery drink I've been waiting for.