Monday, August 20, 2012

Fourteen hours on a bike

     172 miles...finally. For 14 1/2 hours I pedaled my way through the middle of Ohio. From the edge of the North American Interior Plains to the transitional rolling foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.I don't imagine that the effort expended will match even the easiest day on the AML 400 or the TD, but it is noteworthy and tells me I am on the right track. For a route that allows me to start and finish in my driveway there is a decent amount of forest, or otherwise unimproved, road. I estimate about 32 miles worth. Again, it doesn't really come close to what I'll see on the TD, but the hours are starting to get close anyhow.
     The trails I used this past weekend take on a different aspect once I crossed Route 62 near Brinkhaven. A remnant of my childhood, the rundown barn with a faded Mail Pouch ad, is the true demarcation point for the trail's transition to Amish country. The tracks left by my Hutchinsons were quickly erased in the wake of so many horse and buggy passings. When I rolled back through five hours later, all remnants of my ride out were wiped clean. It is truly something special and different. The pace of life feels natural, not rushed. I begin to understand how the things I own really own me. I am very happy to have found the trail from Danville to Glenmont. It was certainly the best part of the ride.
     If I thought there was a big Amish population surrounding Danville, I was absolutely blown away by the vibrant social life in and around the Holmes County Trail I picked up in Killbuck. For fifteen miles the Holmes County Trail winds from Killbuck to Fredericksburg going through Millersburg and Holmesville. It is a multi-use paved trail with enough traffic around the Millersburg area to rival the car traffic on the surrounding roads. The ubiquitous Walmart wasn't more than 100 feet from the trail as I passed through the Millersburg Business District.
     Personally, the truly remarkable thing about all of this is that I covered 102 miles before I had the first hint of a problem. All of my senses were tuned outward soaking up the experience. Usually I'm fighting hand numbness (fixed with Ergon grips), very painful right little toe (fixed with lambswool and some rest apparently), sore back (functional strength training), and a sore butt. That last one bedeviled me for quite a while until I had an epiphany. I sweat a lot and my shorts get wet, not just damp. I recently tried chamois cream but it didn't seem to do much after the first couple of hours. Enter Gold Bond Powder. I've used it for the past decade in my shoes and sometimes after a shower but never during the ride. What a difference! Even after the entire 172 miles, I could have easily ridden 100 more miles in the saddle.
     Unfortunately I did have a problem beginning at the 102-mile mark and it persisted for the next 78 miles. The top and inside part of my right knee started registering an ever-increasing level of pain. No amount of shifting or changing positions provided more than very temporary relief. The only thing I could do was stop, rest, and stretch. Of course, I did this because I've ridden long enough to know that you don't mess around with knee soreness. I admit to being a little baffled as to the cause since nothing on the bike had changed since my last 100+-mile ride. Failing anything else, I have to consider the pedals as the culprit. They are a used pair of Time ATACs. Yes, they are very stable and durable. However, they have a very wide connection point and I find my cleat sliding to the far outside edge of the pedal. The position is so far from normal that my Sidi Dominators warp if I try to move my foot back to level. I am going to try the Shimano PD-M540s and hope for better results.

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