Friday, May 18, 2012

Bike to Work Day

26 Miles

Today is bike to work day and after having a beautiful week of warmth and sunshine, I awoke to a wet, cold and dreary mess.  I am no 'fair weather rider' so the rain was no deterrent, especially on National Bike to Work Day.  However, dragging exhausted and no responsive butt out of bed from a restless night's sleep and try to pry my eyes open was another story.  It almost took a crow bar to do so.  The kids weren't moving either but after a lot of coercing I finally got the kids to school and packed all my gear for the day, including my bike shoes and clothes. 

Last week I offered to host a noon ride on Bike to Work Day to anyone interested.  I received no responses except from one of my firms principals, Mike, a lean, mean, Iron Man competing machine, and he wanted to do a ride to Pryor Creek and back, some 26 miles.  What on earth am I doing?  I offered so I just had to suck it up and endure the punishment.
By the time noon rolled around the rain had picked up, not quite pouring, but still coming down pretty consistently.  We took off down the road dodging traffic until we finally turned off on the Old Hardin Road.  From there it was climb, climb, climb until we reached the crest, some four or five miles away.  I really tired to keep up and pedaled hard as long as I could, but I am out of shape and definitely out of form.  Mike was patient and went at my pace while chatting it up for awhile.  We talked about his Iron Man and triathlon races.  I asked how long each leg of the Iron Man really was.  He said, "Let's put it this way.  Let's say you start at the office and swim to the intersection of King Ave. and 24th Street (2.4 miles), then pedal to Livingston, MT (100 miles) and then run a full marathon to Bozeman, MT (26.2 miles).  I don't even like to drive that route!  I am way out of my league here!  Eventually Mike decided to peel away and wait for me at the top.  I watched his lean, cut legs pumped like pistons in a super up engine as he quickly left me in the dust. 

Huffing and puffing, I finally made it to the top, an 800 foot climb behind me with a 600 foot descent in 3 miles waiting for me.  'Great, at least I can keep up on the descent,' I thought, but I was wrong there too.  Mike made me work to get down the hill.  We almost hit 40 MPH down the backside and  I pedaled like a mad man until I ran out of gears and could do nothing to increase my speed.  I again watched as Mike pulled away leaving me behind.

After reaching the bottom, we turned around to crank back up the same three miles that we near effortlessly cruised down in a matter of minutes.  Getting back up the hill wouldn't be so easy.  I kept him in my sights although I lagged behind.  After reaching the top, we started back down the hill towards Billings.  By now the rain had picked up even more and the wind had started to blow.  The rain was painful as it pelted out cold skin.  I was cold, wet, and becoming very hungry, but it was almost over, and I wasn't completely spent yet. 

Despite the cold and the rain, we had a good ride.  I was slow and struggled but am consoled by the fact that we climbed over 1,400 feet over the coarse of our ride.  I'm not sure what I was more greatful for, the warm shower in the basement or the microwave containing my hot serving of left over tater tot casserole.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Hill Climbing

33 Miles

 I went for a road ride yesterday to Pictograph Caves State Park.  It's a nice ride with about 400 feet of climb in about 3 miles going one direction and 1.5 miles in the other.  It would be kind of boring to watch me huffing and puffing as I muscle myself up the hills so I wasn't going to bring my helmet camera but then I thought it would be cool to record the down hill parts of the ride.  I was hoping to video myself going 45 miles per hour.  I just barely missed it on the way to Pictograph Caves but I nailed it on the way back.  I apologize for the video quality.  I'll work on aiming the camera a little better next time.  The mount position is fine for mountain biking because I'm sitting more upright but on a road bike I'm bent forward and facing further down.  I don't see as much of the scenery in that position either (especially when holding on for dear life at 40 mph).

Pictograph Cave
I believe this is called Ghost Cave
I hit the brakes too hard at the bottom of the hill and wore the tread off of an already distressed tire.  Atleast I already bought replacement tires.  I put them on today.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

In the brush

8 Miles

Sarah let me go for a bike ride this evening after work so I decided to bust out the mountain bike and make the best of the limited remaining light at Riverfront Park.  I donned my new mountain bike shorts that I picked up at the bike swap for a screaming deal.  I made it over to Riverfront with just an hour of daylight left.  My ride was fun but rather uneventful with the exception of brushing up a few deer.  The sun started setting and I was at the river bank near the entrance to the park.  Now, I should have just taken the main trail to the gate and gone home with plenty of time to bet home before dark.  I should have, but I didn't.  Instead I determined that I had enough time to work my way out of the park through the single track trails.  I took a trail along the bank that I'm fairly familiar with but haven't taken it since last year.  The flooding last summer has washed out part of the trail and new trail has been cut further inland.  Unfortunately, the trail has already been overgrown with dense, thorny brush.  I had to push the bike through in places, constantly getting caught up on the thorns and branches.  I should have turned around but the trail was pretty clear ahead of me.  I made it about 50 feet before the brush closed back in on me but I kept  going.  After doing this a couple times, I was determined to go forward rather than back track through the brush.  Finally, I came upon some fallen trees that I'd have to scramble over and then push through the brush, but this time there was no clearing ahead of me.  I decided I'd have to turn around if I had any chance of getting out before dark.  So back through the brush again.  Ugh!  I finally made it out of the brush and picked up another trail to get me out of the park.  I rolled into my backyard, scratched and bleeding, with only minutes to spare before dark.  Another good ride!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Rain, rain go away

24  Miles

I decided to go for a ride after work today.  I really needed it since I haven't really been in the saddle for weeks so I headed out despite the wind and rain.  I almost turned around after the first three miserable miles but I pushed through and eventually the rain and wind let up.  I decided to do the Hillcrest ride.  It was late evening by the time I got there and the deer were all out.  I must have seen three dozen of them.  As I was cruzing back down the hill, I turned the corner to find a large does standing in the road.  I grabbed the brakes and started yelling at the deer but the stupid thing would not budge.  I wasted all that momentum on that dumb animal.  It finally moved and I cautiously passed trying not to startle it back into my path.  I swear one of those dear are going to kill me some day!