Pie Ride

June 9, 2001

Janesville, WI

58.5 miles

Bicycle:  Fuji Newest

Ride Info: Janesville Morning Rotary

The combination of my disappointing form in the Trek 100 and the so-high-the-scale-must-be-broken weigh-in three days later  led me to decide to ride more organized rides like I did last year. I checked out Mike Bentley's site and saw an interestingly named event scheduled for Saturday, the Pie Ride in Janesville, Wiscowsin. A click to the sponsor's site, the Janesville Morning Rotary (" Not Just for Breakfast..." ), was even more promising. First of all, they had an awesome logo that I thought would look great on a T-shirt. It was called the Pie Ride because each finisher got  a pie (okay, so I didn't need one of those). To top it off, it was 100K instead of 100 miles, enough to get a solid workout but not the all-day affair of a century ride. I was not ready for back-to-back centuries!

I slept nearly twice as long as last week (over 4.5 hours!) and got up early to drive to Janesville. I decided to mix things up a bit. For starters, I took my Fuji Newest road bike. While it had covered 500 miles on the trainer, its road mileage amounted to 20, just one ride. Ditto for the Speedplay clipless pedals. This was a risk because in the past, my feet got sore after about 90 minutes with the clipless pedals. I also decided to try out a somewhat radical saddle recommended by an ultracyclist I met at the Iowa brevet. I hadn't ridden the saddle more than ten miles or so on the trainer before.

The first few miles after the group start were filled with second-guessing my equipment choices, especially the bike. My hands were already feeling uncomfortable in the more aggressive riding position. And I recalled something in  Bicycling  magazine a while ago that basically said, " Fat guys shouldn't ride road bikes" (and I was lighter back then when I read it). My pace was fairly brisk, but it felt good.

The director had described the route as pancake-flat. By the first rest stop, it was obvious that his definition of pancake-flat and a Chicagoan's definition were quite different. The hills weren't bad, though, just enough to get the blood pumping/lungs gasping. The stops were well-stocked with water, All Sport, bananas, oranges, chocolate chip cookies and brownies. And the guys at the last stop were drinking Manhattans, but I don't think they were sharing with the riders (at another stop they were drinking beer at 9:30 AM). Right after that rest stop, I found myself alongside a big guy riding a Cannondale touring bike. His name was Dave, too, and he asked if I minded riding together a bit. Although I never ride with anyone, I thought, sure, why not? At least it would get me outside of my head and talking to someone.

Wouldn't you know it, we had a great time and rode together the whole way. And I must have righted a lot of those wrongs from the Trek 100 because I felt really good. A little tired now and then, but never worn out, and when we came to the bigger hills near the end, I was out of the saddle and charging up them. We rode side by side a lot and talked. But near the end when we turned into a headwind and Dave said, " Uh-oh, I don't know if I can take this," I did a major pull for a couple miles. I kept thinking I was going too fast, but every time I glanced back, he was on my wheel. When we came to a stoplight, Dave said, " You're da man!"

Dave said he was going a lot faster than he normally would, and it was a pretty good pace for me, too. We helped each other a lot, even though we didn't draft much. The last few miles were on a really nice asphalt path that is part of the Ice Age Trail. As we approached the finish line, I said, " I hope we're not going to get lemon meringue pies in the face!" As it turned out, Dave crossed the line a few feet in front of me. For some reason they were passing out the pies right at the finish  line, handing them to the riders as they went past. Dave took his pie and somehow swerved to hit a nearby folding chair with his bike. It made a lot of noise, but he stayed on the bike and more importantly, he didn't drop the pie! How's that for bike handling skills?! I slowed down a little more before I took my pie!

This was the first year of the Pie Ride, but it didn't show. Everything was well organized, except maybe the pie-at-the-line thing. At one of the rest stops, the director was saying that they had budgeted to buy the pies, but then Piggly Wiggly said they would donate them. He also said they were expecting 100 riders, but they had 350! For that reason, they ran out of T-shirts, but they took down my name & address to send me one.  Everyone was friendly, the food was good, the route was very good (smooth roads, nice hills), and my wife and I enjoyed the apple pie when I got home!

The ride ended up being a bit short of 100K, and there was a time when that would have bothered me. Not anymore--I had a good time, and a few extra miles wouldn't have made much difference. Totals... 58.5 miles in 3:42 for a 15.8 mph average, close to my best centuries (albeit over a shorter distance)  and much, much better than the 14.0 average I had slogged through in the Trek 100. As for equipment, the road bike became more fun as I got used to it. I mostly used the tops and the hoods, just like I would use the H-bars on my Bike Friday. I used the drops on long descents for an aero tuck, but not much more than that. While I had a little trouble getting my cleats on the pedals, at least I didn't forget to pull them out before a stop. My feet didn't get sore, and my hands weren't too sore, either. As for the saddle, well, I wasn't sure. It definitely avoided any pain, pressure, grinding, etc. of certain parts, but it was a little too stiff and wide, which made the point where my legs meet my butt a little sore. I think the design might work better for someone who sits lower, but I put the seat a little higher to spare my knees. Overall, I was quite pleased with my ride, and I felt like I was  starting to get some of that form back.

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