Friday, March 30, 2012

A Missouri Weekend of Riding - Springfield 200k + Boltons 115k

 From northern Arkansas to the nearest brevet activity is a bit over one-hundred miles.  With a perfect weather forecast for the entire weekend, and a 200k brevet on the schedule, I felt a strong urge to make the trip.  When I got word that a small group would be riding a 115k permanent the day after the brevet I made plans to be there for both events.

Saturday -The Springfield 200k

I'd actually ridden this route as a permanent for my February R-12 ride.  With the exception of a different start/finish, and turn-around control, the majority of the course is the same as Rt 66 & Cooky's Pie, which I rode solo last month. (see February blog report).  On this occasion there were 12 other riders at the start.  About half the group were from a local racing club.  They were training for an attempt at a four hour century.  At the starting signal they were off like a shot.  Knowing better than to go out fast I started out alone at the very back.  After two miles I passed four riders.  Then, I came across Jamie who was dropped by the fast group.  We rode together through the hilly first section to the control in Miller.  Although, I kept my time at the control short Jamie took even less time.  I walked out of the market to see him riding up the road.  I was able to see him up ahead for most of the way to the turnaround control.  With this being a pretty flat section we both faced headwinds.  It was too bad we were riding alone at the same pace.  A few miles out of Golden City I saw the fast group, already on the return.  They were in a tight pack and moving quickly.  I thought I might re-group with Jamie in Golden City for the ride back.  But, a navigation error in the small town caused me to lose about five minutes.  As I approached the market he was already on his way out.  With a tailwind on the return I didn't expect to catch him.  With only 70 gear inches to work with I would not have the same advantage.
The day had warmed to about 80 degrees.  I removed my arm and knee warmers and left the control for the ride back.  Unbelievably, I made the same navigation error on the return through Golden City.  Another bonus mile.  I finally found my way out of town on highway 37.  The wind advantage was immediately noticeable.  Even better on the "A" Highway going south.  Looking at the time, I calculated that another sub nine-hour finish was possible today.  With that as motivation I used as much of the wind assist as my gearing would allow.  Certainly, I was making better time than on the way outbound.  A few hills arise just before the control in Miller.  I arrive there as the only rider.  Jamie was already through.

Taking no more time than what it takes to refill a water bottle I am on my way.  The final section features some substantial rollers.  Using the Electronic Cue Sheet (see Epilogue in previous blog post) my navigation through a sequence of Farm Roads goes flawlessly, as does the Historic Route 66 section.  At mile 107, I turn onto Farm Road 156 which is a seven mile stretch of steep rollers.  I remember it as being the most tiring succession of hills on the course.  Once again it meets my expectations, although the tailwind helped some.  The remaining Farm Roads which bring me into the city of Springfield are considerably less daunting.  Soon enough I am back at the Fire Station where the ride began.  Ralph is there to sign me in.  My time is 8:44, another fixed gear personal best.

 Sunday - Bolton's 115k Permanent
A good name for a bike club
 Feeling somewhat beat up from the effort of the previous day I arise early and work through a one-half hour yoga routine in my hotel room.  The stiffness of my leg muscles is greatly reduced after the session.  I ride the 3.5 miles to the start, at a Fast & Friendly convenience store.  Shortly before the scheduled 7:30am start my three riding companions arrive.  Ralph and Dan I've ridden with before.  I meet Tammy for the first time.  All the riders are experienced, but Tammy and I are new to the route.  The group departs on time for the first 19 mile segment to Fair Grove.  There are a few medium sized climbs and a couple of big descents.  It occurred to me that I would be climbing those descents later on the return.  Once at Fair Grove we took a short break at the convenience market, then departed for the next section to Willard.
Ralph works his way through rolling terrain
Control coming up
 The next segment is on the Trans America Bicycle Trail.  Ralph commented how difficult some of the hills are for the loaded touring bikes that frequent these roads.  I was thinking they were not so easy for a fixed gear either.  There were no turns until we reached the highway just a little more than 1/2 mile from the control.  It was basically a 15 mile roller coaster ride to the turn-around point.  The thought of returning via the same route was a bit daunting.
Ralph, Tammy and Dan at Bolton's General Store
 The control was a quaint gas station and general store.  They requested we sign their log book reserved for cyclists.   We took a nice break to rest our legs.  After the rest we somewhat reluctantly resumed riding heading back over the same terrain.  The back side of the hills were somewhat easier than in the other direction.  We arrived back in Fair Grove in good time.  I discuss keeping the control stop quick with the hope to finish the ride in under six hours.  The group was agreeable and we are off on the final leg.  Even the big hills didn't feel too hard after all the prior climbing.  We were able to maintain a steady pace over the final 19 miles to the finish.  We clocked in at 5 hours 55 minutes.  A new course record.


Traveling to events out of the home area has advantages.  RUSA recently announced the American Explorer Award recognizing members who have completed brevets and permanents, of at least 200 kilometers in length, in 10 or more states.  Thirty-two RUSA members immediately qualified upon announcement of the award.  Yours truly with a total of 16 states.  It was an unexpected bonus to receive this award.  Since it didn't previously exist it wasn't one I was chasing.  Hats off to the volunteers at RUSA for coming up with another imaginative incentive. 

With the season at hand this is the time I settle on my goals for the year.  My primary focus is on the Ultimate Randonneur Award and the Mondial Award.  A single SR series will cinch the first of the two.  To accomplish the latter I will need to accumulate 11,000 total RUSA kilometers by December 31.  My year to date total is 2464. I believe both goals are manageable, however with the unpredictability of life nothing is a sure thing.

1 comment:

  1. A Fixie personal best one day followed by a setting a course record the next! Great job!