The friday before when it rained I had really wanted to get in some base miles, so instead I did that on this ride. The goal was to ride up the hill in Leesburg up to the Rt. 9/Rt. 7 intersection. I figured it was going to be about a 60 mile ride, so I was determined to get my first Metric Century in this day. A metric century is a 100 kilometer ride, which would be a good building block for extending my endurance, and it would be a fun ride on my new bike, to really get used to being on it for a long time.
I made sure to take along some calories for this ride. I included a couple GU energy gels, a Powerbar triple bar, and a Belly Timber Bar I had picked up at REI. Put some Skratch Labs hydration mix in my water bottles, and headed out a little later than I had wanted, but one must spend time with ones family.
The W&OD trail was lightly trafficed, even though the day was pretty nice, it was still slightly chilly.
I had decided to work on a nutrition plan of 100 calories per 500 spent. This way I wouldn’t eat back all the energy I was working off, as I’m still trying to lose weight. So at about 40 minutes in, I popped a gel while riding.
By the time I got out across Rt 28 towards Ashburn, my heels were really starting to hurt. Not sure if it’s something with the carbon fiber stiff road shoes, or my form isn’t right, but my heels really get to hurting me. By the time I got to Carolina Brothers BBQ, I was ready for a break.
Luckily I chatted up a guy who had passed me earlier on a Trek Speed Concept bike (with CycleOps PowerTap wheels) and he told me that he had the same problems, but he solved that with simple $2 heel inserts from Payless shoes.
I also took this time to eat the powerbar, instead of walking into Carolina Brothers and getting some BBQ. I figured I could do that on the way home if I felt like it.
Getting back on the trail, I prepared for the unknown; I had previously only ridden as far as Claiborne Parkway, so the rest of the ride was new ground to me. There are some narrow cement bridges over a couple of revines that came close to being scarry; the kind that you ride down the middle of just for fear of falling a couple hundred feet to the stream below.
There’s also a quarry out along the route that has a portalet that trail users can take a nature break; I thought that was really thoughtful of them.
Part of dealing with a long ride, is that it’s a long ride. I know that seems somewhat obvious, but your mind starts thinking about finishing, when you’re not even a quarter of the way there yet. Every difficulty is magnified as you spend minutes over analyzing and arguing with yourself about stopping and turning around. My heels hurt as stated above, so I kept an inner dialogue about turning around. I did stop a second time to massage them and my toes out of numbness.
Once you cross Rt 7 just outside of Leesburg, comes the foot of the climb. On Strava, it looks like a really steep climb, until you realize that the rest of the ride is pretty much within 50-60 feet of itself, and the climb is a 2% grade over 6 miles, so by the time I got to the last 100 meters of a little windy bits, I was disappointed because I thought it ended too quickly.
I stopped to snap a picture, and then headed home. Back down to Leesburg was a breeze, and I was getting a nice lead out from a guy who kept going just too fast for me to pass. The water fountain right off Harrison St in Leesburg wasn’t working, so I sucked down the last of my water and hoped that would be enough to get me to Carolina Brothers.
But this was not to be. Seems Carolina Brothers closes after 5pm on Sundays. So I then had to keep going to rest stop by Smith Switch road, which has a set of portalets, and running water in the water fountain. Took some time to massage the heels again, warm up the toes, refill my water bottles, and talk to someone who was on the last 50k of his 200k that day. Redondoneers… crazy 🙂
At this time I was racing the sunset, as it was getting low behind me. I tried my best to put the hammer down getting into Herndon, but found myself without enough energy, so I stopped by Green Lizard bike shop, right off the trail in Herndon. Stopped in, got a cappuchino and a bonk breaker bar (since they didn’t have any pastries; it was late in the day), talked with the owners a bit, drooled over the bikes there, and finally headed for home.
I made it home just as the sun was setting, tired, but satisfied. I realized that I need to pack a bit more in the way of energy with me, and that I can’t sacrifice my legs for weight loss if I expect them to get me home in time.