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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Valley Rally - 62 Mile Tour

Post-OKC Memorial week has flown by and now I'm staring at Ironman Kansas 70.3 in exactly 5 weeks.  Five weeks until I get to wear that 70.3 label proudly and then hit the road to Colorado for some great bonding time with the family.  This year just keeps going by faster and faster.  Every time I look up, a new calendar month is staring me in the face and IM Louisville just keeps inching closer.  The good news is the training continues to progress and so far I've been able to keep minor aches and pains as minor aches and pains.  I have a few hot spots this week, so I'm going to take an extra rest day today and mend some of those wounds.  Besides, it's Mother's Day and I'm about to head out to go see my beloved Mom. 

On a whim, I signed up for a 62-mile bike tour being held this weekend and decided it would serve as my long ride for the weekend.  I was only scheduled to ride 3 hours, but I figured the extra mileage wouldn't kill me and having a supported ride was an extra bonus.  I registered for the Valley Rally that started in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, which is about an hour south of OKC.  The ride started in downtown Pauls Valley and proceeded south to the Arbuckle Mountains.  Yes, we do have some mountains in Oklahoma.  They are really glorified hills at this point, but geologists suggest they used to be big mountains in the early days of Earth.  The map profile of the ride looked like a good comparison for the IM Kansas 70.3 course so I thought it was a perfect opportunity to get in some rolling hills and ride in the heat.  Temperatures here in Oklahoma reached 95 degrees yesterday.  I figured getting out in the heat now will prove beneficial in the long run.  Let me tell you, 95 degrees feels HOT when it was 40s, rainy, and windy the weekend prior.  Welcome to Oklahoma weather.  As another added bonus, we fought a 15-20mph headwind the first half of the course as we headed mostly due south for the first half of the ride.  The plus-side was that we had the wind at our back for the majority of the ride home.  The highlight of the course for me was the climb to Falls Creek.  For those of you non-Okies, Falls Creek is a place in the Arbuckle's where the Southern Baptist Convention holds youth camps during the summer.  I went 3 times as a teenager and had an amazing time each year I went.  I hadn't been back in the area since I graduated high school so being able to ride into Falls Creek was a good blast from the past.  The Valley Rally actually had a cash prize for the King of the Mountain.  As part of the tour, we made a steep climb up the Falls Creek road to the highest point in the Arbuckles.  Needless to say I had no shot of getting the cash because there were several Garmin Junior Development cyclists on this ride.  I'm pretty sure they took home all the cash.  The climb did provide a good challenge and was by far the hardest I've worked on the bike in my short riding career.  My hips hurt, my legs were burning, sweat was pouring off of me, and I was cranking in my easiest gear possible.  I made it though.  It hurt, but I made it to the top to see the view of the Oklahoma landscape.  It was a fun challenge and provided a good early season test of the legs. 

Overall my ride was pretty sub-par.  I was pretty average going into the headwind and my rear-mounted water bottles popped out several times due to rough roads so I lost quite a bit of time turning around and picking up bottles along the way.  I now know not to use the rear bottle mounts unless absolutely necessary.  In one of my attempts to turn around to get my bottles I bit the dust after I hit a patch of gravel.  I walked away with a bloody knee, dropped my chain, and tore up my handlebar tape on the left side of my bike.  Luckily I wasn't going very fast when it happened.  I'll take the bike in at some point to get it re-taped, but for now I'll just ride with it as-is.

Here are some lessons learned from this weekend's ride:
- Honey Stinger Waffles are AMAZING
- Rear-mounted water bottles fly off often and lead to too many lost minutes
- Headwinds and hills are not a good mix
- Summer is going to kill me (or make me one tough dude)

I know I signed up for a hot, hilly Ironman so I'm going to complain about the heat as little as possible this summer.  I signed up for it so I just need to man up and face the facts.  I'm going to have to figure out a hydration solution.  I drank pretty much all day on the bike and still came off feeling like I needed to drink a lot more.  I do have concerns about my ability to stay hydrated in humid conditions.  I'm not a small guy.  I'm about 6'1" and 190 pounds.  I'm not one of your lean, mean triathletes that weigh 165lbs soaking wet.  I'll have to figure out a way to combat dehydration on race day.  I'll experiment as much as I can during training to hopefully avoid something disastrous on race day.  It is definitely a concern heading into summer though.  One positive note about yesterday's ride is that I really nailed my calorie intake.  I was more conscious of when and what I was putting in my body and think I may have found a mix that will work.  I felt pretty strong at the end of the ride so that was good news. 

I'm out of here for now.  I hope all of you had a good weekend of training.  It looks like I might get in my first open water swim of the year this coming week.  Hopefully the severe weather holds off and we can get in the lake.  Run happy friends!

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