I'm slowly but steadily recovering from my longest solo ride in a good while- since '99 in fact- with the 80-miler I put in today. It wasn't entirely solo, as I rode miles 25-45 with Lithodale during one of his "lunch time rides". The first portion involved city riding through Cherokee and the Beargrass Trail towards downtown and the bridge. I crossed that and took the Randolph/Lincoln/Providence route into New Albany. Dale was suited up and ready for action, so we immediately hit it onto E.Main/62/111, riding at a nice clip through New Albany before turning onto Budd Rd. I contend that there is no nicer riding road than Budd Rd. anywhere in the 'Ville area. Yes, it's tough for me b/c you're faced with three "mini-climbs", none too difficult, but all testing the legs on an otherwise flatish road that runs at the base of the knobs. Another reason is that it gives you a means to reach excellent climbing roads like Blunk Knob and Farnsley. Dave and I had savored Blunk in May; that ride introduced me to the blessings of SW Indiana. I dropped Dale off at the base of Farnsley and bade him good climbing and I continued beyond Horseshoe Casino and onto 111.
Stately farm house overlooking corn fields and Ohio River
The Ohio is just beyond the farm bank of trees
111 runs along the river for many miles, but I was only on this portion about 5 of them, until I came to my knob climb up Stoner Hill. As you can see above, this area enthusiastically uses that flood-fed silt land for corn, corn and more corn. Stoner Hill is listed on the LBC site as being .60m with an avg of 9.5%. It began ominously with huge wailing horn noises, which turned out to be those of an 18-wheeler coming down the hill. What he was doing there I have no earthly clue, but I'm glad I waited for him to come down before I did my own climb. I noticed riding with Dale that I didn't have the best of climbing legs today, so I put it in a very small gear and just chugged up. PaCkMaN also lists it as having a 15% portion, and maybe that's where I rested a moment. I didn't walk; I just let the heart rate slow down.
What I found challenging was that, also listed at only .6m, after the hill and a .1 descent, the road continues upward another couple contour lines before my next turn. Ugh! Along this portion, though, I passed my dream country house (of which I didn't take a pic. duh!) It was a brick and stone old farm house with a nice front porch and an excellent country flower garden to the side by the entrance. It also had a small barn near the side entrance, one which would be perfect to hold bikes. =) The ride from there to Elizabeth seemed uphill, but the terrain view doesn't support that. It was a nice collection of roads but I certainly needed the stop in Elizabeth, where I bought some Powerade (no Gatorade) and a package of King Dons. I'm sure it's against exercise nutritional theory, but the sugar and fat seem to do a good job refreshening me and they also don't give me any stomach issues. I passed though Elizabeth and passed behind Seven Springs Lake, a private lake with a "subdivision" community built around it. From the pic below you can see that it's numerous feet below stage, so I don't know how much fun boating would be. I linked up to Lottick's Corner, Black Creek and St. John's, roads Dave and I visited on the aforementioned trip. Throughout this portion of the ride I found very little tempo riding. I seem to keep diving from hilltop to creekbed, rushing descent and grinding climb. I dove (dived?) down a particularly quick, steep hill on Ball Diamond Rd., but again, ground out the climb on the far side. That put me more or less in Lanesville, a seemingly quaint little town that would be worth quick stop on another day. Because I'm relatively new to 3-4 hour rides, as opposed to 1-2hr ones, I'm still not practiced in the art of the stop. I tend to rush to get back on the road instead of relaxing a bit. Then, 2 miles down the road I'll think of some dumb reason to stop: fiddle with iPod, check brake pand, investigate mysterious ping, consolidate water bottles, etc. It seems smarter to just stop in town, visit the store, and do the fiddling all at once.
Typical SW Indiana road
Seven Springs Lake, not looking so hot. Notice the stranded boats near the dock with several feet of land between them and the water. I don't know why.
As you notice, I stopped taking pictures after Seven Springs Lake. I was getting tired and tired of the up-n-down. I saw on the map that I would end up on Corydon Ridge Rd. Sounds like a ride, a high spot. More grind. I was proud of myself, though. I didn't feel that good, but I just kept going. Once on Corydon Ridge, I finally found some rollers that you could build some tempo on. This road took me into Edwardsville, an area that I knew better. On the way I passed by Edwardsville Park, the site of Louisville's early 'cross races. Nathan from Clarksville Schwinn (he works for Zipp now) organized those early races. I raced one (two?) and helped marshal some others. Also, I knew heading into Edwardsville that it was down the longish 62 climb and into the river valley, and close to home.
After being detained at a mystery non-existant train on 62, I found New Albany's river road and rode into Clarksville for the bridge crossing. It would be my second-to-last "hill" and would put me to the end of this long day. At this point, around mile 70 I was whupped. I didn't have much left but just tried to make distance, coming straight up B'town at rush hour. Near home I saw that I would have a chance at topping 80m, so I took a left at St. Francis of Assisi to do an extra little neighborhood loop, using Seneca Gardens to do the same. I turned over 80 just a half-mile from the house. It was the longest solo ride I had undertaken since doing Louisville/Lexington back in 1999, that fateful spring when I lost practically 40lbs and muscled up with a heavy lifting regimen. I'm nowhere near that weight now, and I think it's holding my riding back. Lugging my girth up and down the rollers and knobs has me in a pattern where I'm building fitness and enjoying the bike, but I'll only do so well if I'm carting an extra small child around. Dave has lost 90, Dale 30 in the last year(s), using the bike to burn calories. I have as many miles as they, but the weight is still there. Calories in, Calories out. That said, I remember suffering immensly at the end of that 85miler in '99. I was tired today, but still able to push a gear and still able to function. It puts me closer to my goal of doing the 110 Family Camp Century solo the first week of September. I think I'll need 2 more good, long rides to make that happen so I can finish in one piece.