As I sit writing this it's snowing like crazy here in Black River Falls. We probably have 3 inches on the ground and it looks like it's not going to let up for a while. This has been one crazy "spring". However, even with the protracted winter, there have been chances to get out on the bike. To this point I have just over 500 miles in for the year. I've also done both of my 100K permanent routes and have completed a 300K brevet (admittedly, that one required driving to Kansas City). In other words, the "spring" hasn't been a total loss.
As I said I drove to Kansas City for the April 5th 300K starting in Oak Grove, Missouri. I had made plans with my friend, Spencer, to come down and join him and his gang for this ride back in January. At that point I figured we would have a fairly normal spring and I would have plenty of base miles in to get through an early season 300K. OOPS! The week before the ride I waffled back and forth on whether it made sense to spend 8 hours each way to do a ride that I was in no way prepared for. In the end I decided to just and give it a shot. I figured that when I got dropped, I would just slog in by myself.
I arrived in Kansas City the night before the ride with a grand total of 260 miles for the season. Not exactly a large base for a 194 mile ride. Waking up the morning of the ride, the wind was immediately evident. Not breezes twinkling the leaves, but real wind. When I checked the Weather Channel the winds were listed at 20 mph at 5:30am. This was the kind of wind that was pushing shopping carts around the parking lot and knocking over bikes.
Nineteen riders lined up for the 6:00 am start. The ride was to ride generally east for 95ish miles and then return by the same course. On the way out the wind was mostly a cross wind. This was the kind of cross wind that made it hard to control the bike. I found it was nearly impossible to take a hand off the bars to eat or adjust clothing. I rode with Spencer across the Missouri River and out to the turnaround in Fayette, Missouri in reasonably good shape. As bad as the wind was on the way out, the main talk at the turnaround was about how hard the return trip was going to be. Spencer and I joined up with 4 other riders for the start back. As predicted the wind was a real force to be reckoned with. Crossing the 7 or 8 miles of the Missouri River floodplain, I really struggled to keep moving over 10 miles per hour. There were several stretches where I was topping out at a speedy 8 mph. At the controls, the local riders were trying to keep their spirits up with the encouraging news that the forecast called for the headwinds to drop to 18mph at 4pm or 5pm or was it 6pm. In any event, the winds did not really drop significantly until it got dark around 9pm. We did finally finish as a group of 6 at 11:02- for a 17 hour and 2 minute time. Thats a really slow 300K, but given the conditions and the lack of training, I was pretty satisfied.
On Saturday, April 13th, I decided to ride my Whitetail Wander 119K permanent. This ride is one of my favorites for a good, hard ride when time is limited. I waited until 11:30am to let things warm up a little bit. The temperatures never did get very warm. I think it was about 31 degrees when I started and got up to around 35 for a high. Throughout the day, I had periods of strong (not Missouri strong) headwinds, short sleet showers and the occasional snow flurries. Not exactly a great day to be out on a bike but I did get a decent workout in.
I ended up finishing the ride in 5 hours and 44 minutes. Thats a pretty slow time but it's still early.