low maintenance gravel

Perfect Weekend for Cycling

In Blog by Eric Benjamin2 Comments

Last weekend was a great one. Friday the temps were in the low 70s and even after a “cold front” moved through we still had temps in the 60’s on Saturday and Sunday. I haven’t been cycling as much as I want to lately and that was about to change.

I set out to go on my longest ride since surgery. I had a nice 80 mile route in mind, but I wasn’t so sure if I could handle that yet. I wasn’t going to stress it. I just wanted to get on the Fargo and ride at a leisurely pace. I wanted to get that feeling of adventure of a long bike ride again. No matter how far I went I knew that heading southwest of town would Feed My Monkey! I love those hills and low maintenance roads and I haven’t ridden out there since surgery – over six months ago!

I didn’t want to stress about anything. I slept in a bit, took Melissa to school and came home to eat a good breakfast and get the bike ready. I was stoked! It was warm enough for summer cycling gear. I got it on and got on the bike. Here I come Flint Hills!

There was warm with a brisk wind to keep me cool. The temperature was perfect!

fargo bicycle

 I headed under the bridge, over the big hill on Road D and out into the hills.

I wasn’t worried at all about my speed and therefore, my heart rate really wasn’t a concern either. I just wanted to ride, shoot some photos and enjoy the beautiful weather. The steel Fargo with 29er MTBK tires rode like a nimble Cadillac. I was enjoying life. I made all the climbs in an easy gear and focused more on my pedaling form than anything. I was getting in a good workout with the hilly route. I bombed down a rocky road like I love to do, except when my camera goes flying out of my feedbag and hits the rocks below. Crap! I left the opening a little loose and the big bumps launched the camera out of the bag. I was sure it was broken.

low maintenance gravel

 The rocky road

I picked up the camera and surprisingly everything looked OK. I carried on. I made it to Twin Towers Road and had to stop for a picture. I think I take a picture every time I’m on this road. I love the way the rolling hills disappear into the horizon. This is a great road to ride. I headed into the wind and rode those hills!

flint hills landscapes

Such a beautiful day. I decided to make the turn to shorten the ride. I was feeling tired and I would still get 50 miles with this short cut. I am finding that since surgery, I am drinking a lot of water. Like a weird amount. Maybe it’s just part of getting back into shape, I’m not sure. I felt good but got to the point where I was really hungry and none of my food sounded good.

flint hills landscape

 Curve on the Plains

fall landscapes

I rode through Olpe and thought making it home would be no problem at all. That was true at one time, but I was feeling quite tired. I was trying to keep the pedals spinning to make it home, but I was to the point where I wanted to get off the bike. My legs were feeling heavy. That was upsetting as I have yet to feel really strong on the bike. But then it all made sense. I got into town and passed the Hills Pet Food plant on the east side of town and it smelled delicious. Yeah, when dog food smells that delicious, I need to eat. I hadn’t eaten enough and I was low on fuel for the last 10 miles or so.

fall colors

Some of the last Fall colors

fall cold front

The cold front moved in and the wind I hoped would carry me back home disappeared. The “cold front” only took us into the 60’s. It was a beautiful weekend.

I decided to stop by the bike shop and grab some water before riding the rest of the way home. Good thing too. I got to check out a new Salsa Warbird that just got into Emporia. Congratulations to Shane on this one. It looks amazing, is super lightweight and had everyone in the shop pretty impressed, and maybe a little jealous.

salsa warbird

I made it 50 miles and was good and tired. That was a great ride. But wait there was more.

I decided to ride the Freedomfest Ride on Sunday. It’s a 35 mile ride on a nice hilly course through the Flint Hills. I wanted to push myself and see how well I could do. I rode with the High Gear Team for a few hundred yards and then never saw them again. No big surprise there. Then I rode with my friend Chris for a while, until he got a flat tire. Sorry Chris, but I had to keep pedaling. I wanted to get done as quickly as I could. I didn’t want my body to give out on me again. I was on my own. I saw someone in the distance and was trying to catch him for miles.

Finally, I caught and passed my friend John and then saw Matt on the side of the road taking a quick break. We ended up riding the rest of the way together. Most of the way back we had the wind at our back and we made really good time. Talking with Matt made the time and miles fly by. I was pushing it as hard as I could and was feeling pretty good. I was drinking grape Cytomax, which I find delicious, and “eating” Gu Roctane gels. It was working because I was feeling pretty good. I still didn’t feel strong but I was riding pretty fast, the weather was ridiculously beautiful and the course was a good one, as long as you like some hills.

Like I said, I felt pretty slow, especially riding into the wind,did pretty good on the second half but never felt strong. I am not back to 100% to say the least and I haven’t been riding as much as I was before surgery. That being said, when I looked at my stats I was surprised. My average HR was higher than I wanted it to be, but I was pushing it for 35 miles. It was 158, not 145, but also not too high. My average speed was 13.4 mph over the 35 miles. Not very fast, but when I started thinking about it, my average speed back when I was in shape and doing the DK200 and Gravel Worlds and such, I would usually average 13.3 mph or so. I was at 13.4 and I’m not even in shape yet. Hmm. Maybe, just maybe I may be at the front of the middle of the pack someday.

Feed Your Monkey!