After beating my body up yesterday, I got up before dawn in crisp 58 degree air to ride the Indian Head (a.k.a. Southern Maryland) 100. Indian Head is a town that time has passed by. It would be nice if this ride did something for the town’s economy but, from what I could tell, the town has no economy. I should look up why this place is called Indian Head but I am too lazy. Regardless it’s a better name than Dead Strip Mall Village.
I started a little after 7 am which is appalling given the fact that this is a holiday (Labor Day). I didn’t see anyone I knew. Most people I know had the good common sense to be asleep. I wore a vest and arm warmers for the first 18 miles. The cold air also made my asthma kick in so at the first rest stop I took a couple hits of albuterol. I ain’t messing with lung problems anymore this year, thank you very much.
I was riding Deets, my Surly Cross Check. After the first year of fiddling with the set up, I have this bike dialed in perfectly. I was zipping along at 14 miles per hour. (For me with knobby tires, this is zipping.)
For the entire ride I kept my cellphone stashed. No tweets. One picture with a camera. Just me paying attention to my body. I tried to keep my respiratory rate stable. Except for a few nasty hills, I succeeded. I also focused on keeping my pedaling efficient. Don’t mash, spin with even pressure on the pedals all the way around. It occurred to me that paying close attention to my breathing and to specific parts of my body mechanics is rolling meditation. Every so often I had to double check to make sure I hadn’t missed a turn.
One thing that kept me from getting too zoned out was the fact that my bashed up left knee, arm, and shoulder were aching on and off. It’s going to take a few days to get them back to normal. One thing that didn’t hurt at all was my back. This never happens. Deets is definitely dialed in.
The first 40 miles were low effort. At one point we rode on a road with fresh pavement and rolling hills. Zoom down one, tucking for maximum speed at minimum effort, then take the next uphill with only a few pedal rotations. I love hill hopping. I thought of @BobbiShafoe who hill hopped the Backroads metric century we did a few years ago.
There are several abrupt climbs on this ride. At one point we were making our way up a hill when the road turned to the left. Just before the turn someone had painter the word “HILL” on the road. We made the turn and there was steepage. About a dozen cyclists had dismounted and were walking. Not. Gonna. Happen. I dropped into my lowest gear and went at it. Pedaling to the rest stop at the top was sweet. This old man on a cross bike with knobby tires and no granny gear felt like feeding quiche to all the walkers. That would be mean. Anyway I didn’t have any quiche so I grabbed a snack and pedaled on.
This section of Charles County Maryland has some truly beautiful country roads. I do have two complaints. Some of the prettiest roads, country lanes almost, are paved with chip seal. It’s cheaper than asphalt but it’s much less smooth. The other complaint is the depressing rural poverty. We were 35 miles from DC and I saw people living in dilapidated mobile homes with portapotties in the yard. Many of the single family houses lacked paint. It’s like an economic black hole.
My measured breathing and pedaling paid off during the second 50 miles. I did lose a little speed but that may be attributed to the temperatures rising into the high 80s. Riders were cramping up all over the place. I drank energy drink at rest stops and lots of water. I knew that near the 90 mile mark was Rose Hill. This one nearly did me in the first time I rode it a decade ago. I was shocked that I rode up it today with no problem, even without a granny gear. Go Deets.
The last ten miles were a breeze. At mile 93-ish we turned onto the Indian Head Rail Trail. In past, shorter Indian Head rides, I have found this to be frustrating. It’s a false flat. It looks flat but gradually rises. When you are tired and hot and want the ride to end, a false flat can really mess with your head. It didn’t bother me at all today. In fact, I was surprised to see the end of the trail.
I rolled into the finish at 98.5 miles. I would suspect that my odometer was off but I overheard some other riders saying the same thing. We call it 100, okay?
So it’s on to three bike commutes, a night baseball game (or two?), and Saturday’s 50 States Ride. Can’t wait.