kansas is not flat, hills

Big Weekend Ride

In Blog by Eric Benjamin1 Comment

It was time to go off route and ride a little farther. Since surgery my longest ride has been 35 miles. I have been feeling strong so I planned to ride into Chase County, hit one of my favorite roads with lots of rollers and ride around Kahola Lake before heading back to Emporia. It would be a little 46 mile ride and would add more hills than I have ridden in quite awhile. I was looking forward to it.

I checked the weather as the heat really makes me feel like Superman with a kryptonite necklace since surgery. I hope I fully recovery and can pedal all day in 100 degrees again, but only time will tell. Anyway, the trusty internet weather report let me know that at 11:00 it should be getting into the low 80’s and the high later in the day would be in the 100’s. I planned to get out by 7:00am and be back by around 11:00. Eighty degrees is beautiful! I was ready for a nice morning ride.

I was pedaling out of the driveway at 7:30, a little later than I wanted to but not bad. It was cool but very humid outside. I wasn’t out to push it too hard I just wanted to keep my heart rate around 145-150ish and get over the 40 mile mark. It was a little breezy but not too bad for the flat lands of Kansas. I was trying Gu’s Roctane ultra endurance drink for the day to see how I liked it. I had some leftover from the DK200 activities. I have already determined that Gu Chomps and gels work well for me, so I wanted to try their drink too.

I turned north onto Road V, one of my favorites, some 15 miles in and headed with the wind towards Kahola Lake. Soon I saw those rollers I loved so well.

kansas is not flat, hills

Some nice Kansas gravel rollers

As I said before, it was humid. I was riding with the wind and there was not even a hint of a cloud in the big blue sky. The temperature was warming up pretty fast. I knew my heart rate would naturally go above my ideal range on the hills and that was OK, but I watched it closely. It only becomes a worry if my HR goes high and I can’t get it back into range by lessening my effort. Then I would have to find some shade (good luck) and call for a ride. No need to stress the body out this soon. I say that, but I am stubborn and absolutely despise making the call of shame for a ride home.

I’d like to write a colorful piece using flowery language describing how I rode the rollers in the picture above feeling strong as a horse pedaling up each climb and triumphantly cresting each hill feeling stronger than the one before. But each one of those hills kicked my ass more than the one before it. And it felt like it was at least 80 degrees already.

Well some days on the bike you feel like Ironman and sometimes not so much. There’s a lot of variables to take into account from the amount of sleep you’ve had to what you’ve been eating to the weather. One of them was the new Gu Roctane drink I was trying out. I tried it once before and on that ride I felt a little nauseous. I thought maybe it was just me. I usually give things two tries before making up my mind. My mind was made up. I had to force myself to continue drinking the sweet mixture. And it was getting hot out.

I made it over those rollers but I did not feel strong. I knew I had one more big set of rollers and the big hill leading out of the Kahola Valley yet to ride. I was not about to walk them. I got up to the next big set of rollers and stopped for a snack and a picture. It’s hard to tell in this shot, but the last hill in this set of rollers is pretty steep. It always slows me down, but I can ride up it pretty hard. This time I planned to just spin up the hill at whatever pace would be just under heart explosion.

flint hills rollers

I absolutely love this road.

This road has a lot of loose rock, grass growing in it and big rollers. I like to bomb down it and attack the hills. The bombing down part I took care of pretty well but my attack up the hills resembled Rocky when Adrian didn’t support him in Rocky III. In other words, pathetic. I had to shift to first gear to make it up the last hill, but I made it. It was hot and that drink reminded me of Kool-Aid in a gross, sugary way.

I made it over those hills, rode around the lake and looked towards the big hill leading out of Kahola Lake. I had to shift it into first gear again (I usually don’t even use the small ring on the front of my cross bike) and spin up the hill. I made it without giving up as a truck passed me. I got over the hill and the truck was pulled over. It was Tim,  my good friend from high school. We chatted a bit. He said something about being surprised that I was out there riding by myself. I thought about that for a second or two. Hey my doc said my heart looked as good as anybody’s. I just needed to get into shape again. I wasn’t worried about keeling over dead. Anyway, I guess I just thought it was humorous. I feel like I’m just riding my bike, but to others I look pretty hard core. I’ll take it because if you happened to see the picture of me from the early 90’s that just showed up on Facebook, you’d realize I have never been one that would have the term hard core attached to me. Unless you said something like, “Dude his hair is hard core.” I mean I rocked that 80’s do.

My heart rate went up as did the temperature. In fact it felt like it was in the 90’s already. I watched my HR as I rode the flats. It was higher than I would like, so I dropped down my effort and figured I would just spin all the way home. It was around 18 miles from the lake back to town. It was a long, hot ride as I drank my sweet mixture to stay hydrated. I felt tired overall. I was kind of bummed out about that. But things continue to progress, just not at the rate I would like. I am looking forward to riding centuries again. I am hoping that will happen before the end of the year. We shall see.

When I got into town it was about 11:30. The sign at the Flint Hills Technical College read 100 degrees. No wonder. Dang internet weather.

On another note, I have not been posting too much these days as I have been preparing for the Flint Hills Photocycling Tour which starts TOMORROW! I am excited. It is going to be nice and cool outside and we have a pretty small group coming in for me to test my new classes on. It’s going to be a lot of fun! I will have a report on it next week!

Feed Your Monkey!