The weekend started off right. I took my wife out to see Pitch Perfect 2 and then we went to dinner. After dinner we headed home and I packed up for Saturday.
Jay, Lisa and I met at the Kal-Haven trail head in Kalamazoo. We were set up for 70ish miles of rail trail going from Kalamazoo to South Haven and back. We were ready to rock...and off we went. It was chilly. Like....in the 40's chilly. I didn't have a base layer and poor Lisa didn't have her regular shoes, just her riding sandals. Needless to say, I was a little chilly for the first part of the ride.
Jay was setting the pace....and it was rough. I knew going in that I wanted to do a tough ride to test endurance and my Infinite custom blend. This was the perfect place.....5 hours of flat hard riding. The worst part of this ride...is knowing that you are going to be pedaling for 71 miles. We were trucking.....Gobles, Bloomingdale....town after town just ticking by. Then you start to notice that the lake is getting close. Lake Michigan for those of you that don't know. We arrived in South Haven 2 hours and 3 minutes after we left Kalamazoo. 34 miles.....17 mph. I barely average that on the road...so thankfully Jay was there to pull Lisa and I along. It was by far the fastest I have ever made it to South Haven. We rode to North Shore and took the pic above. Refilled the water bottles at the trailhead and off we went back to Kalamazoo.
The return trip is never as fast.....because it is uphill the whole way. I say that jokingly, but it really is. The problem is that you have to pedal the whole way....no recovery. With 30 miles to go....you are still confident. I was holding onto Jay's wheel for all I was worth. Lisa was tucked in right behind me. We were good. 25 miles to go....that was over. I couldn't hold his wheel anymore. Jay would gap and drop back....gap and drop back. We were holding on for dear life and failing. Eventually Lisa started to tire and commanded me to continue on without her. She knew my purpose on this ride, and she didn't want to be the reason I slowed down. It didn't matter. We regrouped in Bloomingdale with about 17 to go. Jay was waiting in Gobles for us and I was just plugging away. Jay eventually caught back up to me again and we ticked away the miles. Finally we reached the final climb to the Kalamazoo trail head and I caught a glimpse of the parking lot. Don't. 71.2 miles with an average speed of 15.3mph overall. My fastest previous ride was 14mph....so a dramatic difference in speed.
Sunday I helped my lovely wife take pictures all day for the dance studio. Then we headed over to visit with some friends. Got home late and packed up for Monday. Jay, Dan, Jimmy and I were headed to Owasippe to meet with Bob and some of the Team Troll group.
We got to Owasippe just before 9am and the rain was holding off. It was very grey and overcast, but only sprinkles on the way in. We spent a lot of time last year in this area when taking Megan to Blue Lake, but never had a chance to ride last year. Because the trail in in a boy scout camp they close it while the scouts are there. So we took the day we had to get a ride in.
Bob, Scott, and Marc met us at the trailhead and off the 6 of us went. The outer loop is 13 miles. There are some of the toughest and longest climbs I have ever experienced on a bike. Like....long....nasty....grinding...steep....awful....climbs. But the downhills.....damn. Fast. Mostly flow. Awesome.
|One of the 2 Bridge Crossings on the Short Loop|
We all headed out for the first loop. The group quickly segmented, but I stayed with the leaders. The pace was tough....but I was using this ride as a major training ride too. After all, Lumberjack is only a month away. We got back to the trailhead and a few guys bailed out. Not an easy trail by any means...and I know exactly how they felt. 2 years ago I felt like I was going to die when riding here.
So, the four remaining headed out for another lap. There is a cut-off just over 7 miles in...take the long way and it is 13 miles total....take the short way and it is about 9 miles total. Since we hit the long loop we wanted to see what was on the short loop. 2 bridge crossings...over NASTY water. Stink. Just go...ride straight across like you are riding trail and you have no issues. You look at the water....you ass is walking home because you are not getting into any car I own smelling like that. lol. I thought that...and Jay said that on our last lap. We got back to the trailhead and Jay and I talked over another loop. We played it by ear and said we would decide at the turnoff which way we were taking. After 71 miles on Saturday I opted for the short loop. Jay thankfully agreed and we hung a left onto the shorter loop. Jay was giving me words of encouragement on the climbs. It was like I had my own personal team manager screaming in my ear while riding the tour...ALLEZ ALLEZ, VENTE VENTE VENTE. We got back to the car and had just over 30 miles of hilly single track. Legs torched.
Lumberjack is a month away. I am feeling better all the time on the bike. The longer rides are working and as nervous as I am about 100 miles in the dirt....I am confident as well. It won't be easy, but I will do my best...and hope for the best. Today the legs felt pretty good, for the most part. I would expect nothing less with the hard rides we did this weekend. 100+ miles in 2 rides. Solid training. Thanks to everyone for the company and the nudge when I needed it.
We have Zacks graduation party this weekend on Saturday. Hope to get out for a long ride Sunday and just keep piling up the miles. I am nearly to my mileage total from last year. I expect to surpass it in June....probably on the Lumberjack ride. Thanks for reading.