Cool July Cycling

In Blog by Eric Benjamin Comments

This summer has given us some of the weirdest weather I can remember. Tornado sirens stopped blaring about 20 minutes ago. July is usually hot and humid with tornado season behind us. We have had so much rain and cool weather it has made riding both hard to do and nice when the roads are dry and the temperatures are low.

I rode out in the hills south of Emporia yesterday. It was a nice 45 mile ride. I rode on some of the DK200 roads and it started to get a little sloppy. I rerouted on the way home so I wouldn’t have to tackle the impassable dirt roads this year’s DK200 participants had to struggle through. No need for me to put my bicycle components in jeopardy.
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I looked out the window and saw sunny skies. I applied sunscreen and headed out protected from the rays. But the further I pedaled from Emporia the darker the skies became. I asked the clouds to hang on to their water until I was finished. It wasn’t supposed to rain but even the weather gurus have been fooled many times this summer.  Gravel Grinding-002

The cloudy skies may have looked threatening, but they are great for pictures. We may not have mountains, but the Midwest does have some beautiful skies over our miles of gravel.  Gravel Grinding-003

Seems like I could have left the sunscreen in the tube. The clouds grew thick and the wind began to pick up, blowing from the east. “It makes for a good workout,” I told myself in my attempt to stay positive. Any day on the bike is a good day. Gravel Grinding-004

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Click here to purchase fine art products of this beautiful rolling gravel road

I turned with the wind and felt like superman on a bike. Riding with the wind was pretty awesome, especially since the temperatures where low. But it looked like the cows were going to block the road as I headed towards the DK200 course. I was dodging cow patties as I yelled, in my best cowboy voice, “Yaaa Yaaa, git, git,” or something like that to get the cows out-of-the-way. They listened and ran as if I was going to turn them into hamburgers or something. And when one takes off, they rest of them run mindlessly for the hills. Cyclists have to be cautious and make sure the cows don’t decide to run into the road.  Gravel Grinding-005

I headed north towards Emporia and the skies broke up a bit and the sun began to peek out again. Seems like Emporia was the bright spot in the Flint Hills that day. I rode Twin Towers Road away from the towers as the east wind picked up and the sun heated up the gravel a bit. It was quite pleasant and I tried to keep my legs pushing as to not get in hours of junk miles. I am trying to make sure my time on the bike is spent pushing just a little harder each time so I am making gains and not just having a fun ride through the hills. There is nothing wrong with a fun ride, but my motivation lies on next year’s DK200 and maybe some other races too.
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I went through some sticky sections of road and thankfully everything was rideable on the fat tires of the Beargrease.   Gravel Grinding-008

A huge tree sits in the plowed field on the way back to EmporiaGravel Grinding-009The corn looks good. The first couple rows are shaped by the Kansas wind.

After 45 miles I averaged 13.7 mph with a decent, but not terrible, amount of wind. But my average HR was only 139 bpm which tells me I could have pushed a little harder. I want it to be 140 to 145 bpm. But honestly my legs weren’t feeling stronger than I pushed. Sometimes this gets me down, but considering my averages on the CX bike before surgery were always around 13.3 mph, this is still better than I was when I was in shape back then. I still have room to grow. I don’t feel like I am in great shape yet. This is good. And I feel the ride still today, so I know I did some good work on the legs.

I have a new wheelset ordered for the Beargrease. I am going a little taller and lighter on the wheels and a little thinner on the tires. I’ll share details soon enough. I am pretty excited about it. This challenge of getting my body back in DK200 shape has me pretty stoked. What goals are you setting?

Feed Your Monkey!
Eric