Sunday, December 23, 2007

Tour de Madeira 2007 report

So, as I mentioned earlier this week, weather conditions were looking good for an attempt at Tour de Madeira 2007 this weekend. It did rain a bit Friday but not too badly, and so I decided to take a shot on Saturday. I was somewhat worried about the roads still being wet but I went for it anyways.

I'm not sure what was going on but it seemed like there was nothing but problems in the morning as I was trying to get things ready. First, I forgot to bring my route map home from work. That wasn't too much of a problem since I had it on my laptop and I had it pretty much memorized anyways. Then as I was looking for my sweatpants, I couldn't find them. So that necessitated a trip to Meijer beforehand.

So we dropped off my bike at our new house (which is very close to the starting line), and then drove down to the end-line, where I dropped off my car (so I'd have it at the end so I could drive back home rather than riding). The plan was then to head to Meijer and then drop me back off at the starting line so I could start the Tour. But then I realized I had forgotten something at the house, so we had to drive back home to get that. But now, as I write this recap, I forgot what I forgot!??

So then we headed to Meijer. Did some grocery buying, and I bought some sweatpants to wear. I changed in and was getting ready to start the tour when.... I realized I had forgotten my bike helmet. So we had to go BACK home, get that, then go BACK to drop me off. All in all, it was a frustrating morning for all involved. Luckily there were no other riders I had to coordinate with :-).

But the frustrations were not over yet! I got out of the car, started getting my bike and such ready, and realized that my high-class Walkman (© 1979) was not working. I don't need no steenkin iPods! I had planned on listening to the UC bowl game while I rode (the illustrious " Bowl", but alas it was not meant to be. So I gave that to my support crew to fix, and I'd pick it up at my pit stop at the 1/2 way mark.

So they headed back home and after setting things in order, I headed over to the starting line. By now, my pre-race frustrations have to be done, right? Nope. The optimal starting line for the TdeM is on Kenwood Road at the south city line. Which happens to be on a pretty nice uphill incline. So it's kind of hard to get started. Especially given that the shoulders were kind of wet and muddy, due to the aforementioned previous day's rain. So you might ask "Well, why don't you just start further down the road to get your momentum, and then just start the clock when you cross the city line marker?" A good thought, but further south the road just gets even MORE hilly. Here's the topo map of the starting line, if you'd like to check it out.

Anyways, I kept trying to get started, and I kept not being able to get enough momentum, so I kept walking it a little further till I could turn off on to Kenwood Hills Drive where it is a bit more level. Oh, did I mention that Kenwood Road is a pretty busy road and so I had to deal with traffic as I was flailing about? Ah okay then. I was also in too high of a gear which I'm sure contributed to the problem, but I couldn't change gears because I couldn't get enough momentum to move the sprockets... Then when I finally did make it over to Kenwood Hills (pretty much walking my bike there, which is allowed per the ground rules), as I got going on the bike, I almost fell off. At that point I decided "Screw this - I'm starting over". Another nice fringe benefit of "racing" with yourself - you get to decide when you start :-)

So I got into my lowest gear, went back to the starting line, and what do you know? It was a lot easier to pedal! Imagine that! :-) And actually that was by far the hardest section of the Tour. The actual riding was fine and I didn't have any messups on the route itself. So if everything going wrong in the pregame setup was the price I had to pay for nothing going wrong on the Tour itself, I guess that's worth it. I'll give you a brief recap, though it was pretty uneventful.

The first section on this route is the Kenwood Road section, from the city line up to Euclid, with all the subdivisions and cul-de-sacs off of Kenwood (there are 13, of various lengths). I think this section has some of the trickiest topography, because most of these subdivisions are right on the edge of the hill that separates Madeira from the "valley" where Cincinnati itself sits. So you go down this cul-de-sac street, which drops off down the side of the hill at the end. You get a nice ride down, but you can't enjoy it too much because you have to ride the brakes to be able to stop and turn around. And then you're stuck at the bottom of a hill having to power yourself up the hill from a dead stop. At least I remembered to get into low gear as I rode down! On this stretch of the TdeM alone, this scenario happens on Mapleridge, Oakvista, Vistaridge, Windsong, Lakota, Foxdale, and Cherokee). As I got to the corner of Euclid and Kenwood roads (conveniently catching the green light!), I snapped a time - 11.9 miles at 57:33.53 (12.4 mph).

Then it was on to the far west side of Madeira. Nothing eventful there, though I was able to ride up Ken Arbre back to the intersection of Euclid, something that I had to walk last time. I caught the light at Kenwood *again* which surprised me since a) it turned green long before I got there and b) it's a pretty short green light. As I went through, I wondered if somehow I was setting off some sort of sensor but it was messing up because it was expecting something travelling at car speed. Probably not but it was weird because I specifically remember the same thing (the light lasting MUCH more than I was expecting it to) happening last year. Took care of the Pineneedle subdivision, then a few of the streets of the older subdivision (Summit / Fowler / Maple), then it was out on Dawson, back on Shawnee Run, then up Camargo into the downtown area. I was feeling pretty good still as I knocked out the Sellman park streets and then back up Camargo to Longfield and then around Maxfield to the pit stop at home (25.5 mile mark). Got there at 2:07:16 (12.1 mph). Took a quick break there where I refueled with some bread and water and such. Unfortunately I did not remember to press the lap button on my stopwatch until I was already on the road (at Sycamorehill Lane and yes Sycamorehill is one word). I will estimate a break of 9:20.

Since I was at about the halfway point, I knew that if I wanted to stick to my goal of only taking 2 breaks on the tour, I'd want to take my last one at about the 38 mile mark, and also knew that I'd want to put it off as long as I felt I could. The 3rd quartile of my route began as I wound through the NE section of Madeira then over through the Mingos and the Timberlanes, and up Hosbrook and over to the Lancewood subdivision. I was still feeling pretty good.

As I got back over to Buckeye Crescent I spied another point of interest - a Ron Paul sign! I had already passed the one at my house, and I would later spy a Ron Paul bumper sticker on a car parked on Miami. I saw no other political candidate sign (not counting a few leftover bumper stickers for Bush or Kerry). And since I visited EVERY house in Madeira, I can state with certainty that Ron Paul has a 100% lead in political signs in Madeira :-)

I ended up taking my 2nd and final break over on Berwood, which was at the 39.2 mile and 3:27:14 marks (11.3 mph including break time). Break lasted only 3:36, but was very refreshing. The last section of the route was pretty uneventful though I was definitely tired. I did have to walk up Indian Trail again (2nd and final walk section - I also walked up part of S Mingo). I really wanted to walk up Miami in the section between Camargo going up to Shawnee Run, but since Miami is such a major road, I didn't really feel like I could, and I knew that if I did it on the sidewalk it wouldn't count, so I manned it up. I thought I'd have to walk up Burman Meadow (nothing like a steep climb at the 49 mile mark) but I made it up.

Final total was 51.0 miles and a total time (including breaks) of 4:35:53 (11.1 mph). I continued down Camargo for the final 8/10 of a mile or so to my car and then sat down. Why didn't I get into my car? Oh well of course I had realized at my final break, as I was trying to run through things to make sure that I had everything covered, that I didn't have my car key. So I had to call Carolyn to come pick me up. Which she did because she's awesome, even though I had deserted her all day :-)

Fun time and it always feels good to set a NEW. WORLD. RECORD! :-)


Anonymous said...

Just read your blog - I guesss that was my sign you saw!!


dan said...

Behold...the power of the Internet... :-)

annahannah said...

what a problem-filled tour! congratulations

Anonymous said...

Great tour report. Your pre-ride antics reminds me that "when everything is going right, something is wrong". Any significance to the fact that you picked the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, for your long ride? (Actually, I'm not sure if the solstice was on th 21st or 22nd). Congratulations on the new record. Your support crew should get a medal as well.
On that same day, up here on the "north coast" it was 47 degrees, and I was out bicycling also, but did only 10 miles. I started later in the day, and finished just after the 5:02 sunset, with the moon rising in the east.
Maybe next year I should come south, and combine my 55 mile birthday bicycle ride with a Tour De Madiera.
Dad G.