Combo Platter

Distance: 46.2 mi.

Time: 2:26:33

Avg. speed: 18.9 mph

Weather: 58-64º, 85-65% humidity, wind N7-NE9, partly cloudy

9 days into July and I've ridden (excepting indoor trainer sessions) only 3 days. This month is starting to look a lot like June was.

Today's ride was one I'd wanted to do for some time, combining one of my hillier routes with the rollery one that runs through Littleton, Carlisle and Concord. This gives me some good climbing with quite a few good miles after to cruise at a fast clip.

I woke at 4 a.m. this morning, an hour before my alarm was set to go off and quickly checked my email from bed (iPod Touch, oh so handy for such things) to see if Pattie D had responded to my query about riding together this morning. Nothing. I made a quick pit-stop and climbed back into bed. An hour later my alarm went off and I simply turned it off, rolled over and went back to sleep. Oops.

I managed to drag myself out of bed at six, put on water for tea, chowed a bowl of Cheerios and tried to wake up a bit before gearing up to ride. I just didn't feel quite right. Not logy, which I actually define as meaning "not sick, but not right." Just off a bit. The tea didn't perk me up much either.

Wife and daughter prepped for their day, I saw them off and slouched my way back upstairs to dress for the ride, careful not to be seduced by the unmade and possibly still-warm bed luring me back. It was in the low 50's out, so I put on a medium thickness base layer AND my arm warmers but decided to skip the tights.

At eight-thirty or so, I was finally on the bike, doing my warm up laps around the neighborhood accompanied by the occasional shiver as the cool air passed over my legs. At the end of lap three, I reset my cyclocomputer and got things under way.

I hit my first waypoint (Red Acre & S. Acton Roads) in almost exactly 12 minutes, so despite how I was feeling, performance was good. I blasted up that short, steep bit of Taylor Road without complaint as well and followed that with a 6' 15" ascent of Stow Road. I was very glad to be on the bike but didn't like the "meh" feeling that was coming along for the ride.

Prospect Hill Road didn't cause me any problems and at that point, the sun was out and it was nice to sneak some peeks to my left of the terrific vista you get from up there. The climb up Rte. 111 back into Harvard Center slowed me down to a crawl as it usually does but I hit the "111" sign in 1:00:01, so I was still keeping a good pace.

Up Oak Hill Road (very steep) from Harvard Center and across Pinnacle then down Old Littleton/Oak Hill into a moderate headwind that kept me from hitting the speeds I am used to on that descent. At the bottom, I seriously considered just doing the rest of the "5 climb" route, which would have got me home an hour sooner but managed gut it out and turn left towards Littleton Station, thus committing to the plan to combine the two routes.

Into Littleton Center I went, downing a Gu Gel at the light where 2A crosses 119 then passing Kimball's Farm and turning right on Rte. 225. It seemed like the wind was determined to stay in my face (checking weather.com later confirmed it clocked around from N to NE) so I stayed as aero as I could, hoping to have it at my back in Concord. I hit 38 mph on the stretch between Rte. 27 and Carlisle Center.

I kept a respectable 22 mph most of the way down into Concord Center along Concord St./Lowell Road, passing only two other cyclist going the other way. I stopped for a quick water refill at the fountain in Concord Center where I said good morning to a trio of riders meeting there to start their ride. Turns out their route overlapped mine for a couple of miles and so I rode along with them until they swung south towards Sudbury while I continued into West Concord.

This last four mile stretch is particularly rollery, and when I am tired, it can really be a drag. But somehow, I was able to plug along and push myself beyond my loginess the rest of the way home.

I'm glad I finally combined these two routes, the mix is good and I desperately needed more middle distance routes in my quiver. I got a good sense of satisfaction from the fact that my performance exceeded how I felt about the ride along the way - mental toughness is sometimes hard to work on when you are on a solo ride.

No comments: