For the week leading up to this year’s Redbud Ride, cyclists were on edge: the weather forecasts ranged from light rain to severe thunderstorms, with low temperatures in the 40s and highs in the low 60s. Many riders chose not to even make the drive to London, Kentucky.
When I arrived on Friday night to pick up my ride packet, the organizers were providing up-to-date weather forecasts. Those, too, were fluid. For the most part, the forecast was for light rain in the morning, heavier rain later in the day, and severe thunderstorm risk from 2PM on up.
In the morning, the forecast had heavy rain for about an hour in the morning, but scattered thunderstorms in the afternoon. The leader of my cycling group decided not to go. “I don’t like to ride in rain.” Many riders opted to sit this out.
I decided to go for it. Organizers told us to leave early to get a head start on the storms, so we did.
This year, I registered for Ironman Lousville, an Ironman triathlon held in October. (In past years, it was held in August, but this year it will be in October.) My aim was to use the Kentucky Century Challenge rides–Redbud, Horsey Hundred, Preservation Pedal, and Hub City Tour–as training rides.
My goal for Redbud: finish comfortably and have energy in the tank for a small run afterwards.
The first stretch–18 miles–wasn’t that bad. Rain was light, and temperatures were cool, but it was bearable. My only problems: (a) my low gears were slipping on the steep climbs, and (b) my right cleat came loose due to a missing screw.
This would slow me down, but was more of a nuisance than anything else.
Pulling out of the rest stop at mile 18, the suck arrived: the rains became heavy and the temperature dropped like a brick. I was wearing a poncho, but it didn’t help much. My hands and feet went numb from the cold. My core was cold. I was cold, wet, and miserable.
When I pulled into the rest stop at mile 33, I saw a lot of riders dropping out. These were seasoned century riders–tougher than the average bear–deciding they’d had enough.
I took stock of my situation. Sure, I was cold. Sure, I was wet. Sure, the conditions were sucky. But I was a third of the way done.
While I was mildly concerned that I could develop hypothermia, I thought to myself, “I can do this two more times.”
I was even more determined to embrace the suck.
As I pulled out of the rest stop, I noticed the rain had begun to let up. The temperature was rising. This was bearable.
My only serious problems on the front 50: my front brake was catching the rim, which was slowing me down; my left cleat gave me no leverage on the hard uphills; and my low gears were failing on the steep hills. I had to walk my bike up Tussey Hill because I had no low gears.
Still, when I pulled into the halfway point at Letterbox Baptist Church, I felt pretty good. MrsLarijani fetched some food for me–some pizza, an energy bar, and some Gatorade–while I had the mechanic work on my bike. He fixed my brake problem, inflated my tires, and that gave me what I needed for an uneventful back 50.
Starting the back 50, I felt really good. The 27 miles to the next stop were mild rolling hills–the only difficulty being some tough headwinds–but it was a pleasant ride.
Pulling out of mile 77, my butt was sore, but my legs were good. That stretch to mile 86 was also very pleasant.
At mile 86, I downed some cookies and brownies, refilled my water bottles, and headed out to finish.
MrsLarijani caught up with me, driving the car, and was able to follow me in to the finish.
At the end, my neck was a little sore, as was my butt, but I had energy to do a run.
Only one problem: I had forgotten to pack my back brace!
In all, a decent ride. Road quality was bad in several areas, largely due to the winter conditions and the flooding. The rain on the front 50 made for some early challenges. Otherwise, it was a nice ride. The temperature was good, humidity wasn’t bad, and, with the exception of the headwinds, the back 50 was pretty easy.
In terms of Ironman preparation, my endurance level was where I was hoping it would be at this stage. I have my work cut out for me, but I’m not in a bad position at this point.
Next stop: Horsey Hundred.