The ride from south Sacramento to Folsom and back went great. Not only did I have an extremely enjoyable ride, but I definitely got a little training stimulus (judging from the slight ache in my legs the next morning) and learned a thing or to as well.
I got a nice, ease in introduction to the ride. After the 8 miles or so to get through down town and Old Sacramento to Discovery park, I initially settled into an easy 18mph pace. I probably had a decent tail wind for some of that (based in a large part to the head wind I had coming back. More on that in a minute) so that pace actually had me gliding on the slightest decline. As I approached a family on the trail, I quickly glanced over my left shoulder preparing to go around them. There was someone else right there, sitting on my wheel. No idea how long they had been there, but as I became aware of them I knew they were keeping up with me. I could hear the guy breathing.
Didn’t bother me any – I was riding at my pace anyhow. But, on a whim and after about 1-2 miles of dragging this guy along I decided on an experiment. I faded to the far right of the trail and slowed down. Sure enough, he pulled right around me. A couple of quick hard pushes and I was right off his wheel. He was pulling a harder pace than I had been – 21-23 mpg – so things sped up a little. This was the first time I’d really been on a wheel at any significant speed and it was great. I was actually gliding a significant amount of the time. We must have gone for another few miles at least with him in the front. Finally, some rolling hills and turns brought our speed down under 19, so I made my way around the front for my pull. Same thing again – couple of miles, started to feel heavy in the legs, faded back, he took the front again.
By this point we were traveling through a park. There was a little traffic – kids swerving around on the trail, and I had to grab the brakes. That, coupled with the fact that I was juggling my cell phone in one hand, lead to a pretty significant gap between myself and our mystery cyclist. I dropped down a gear and accelerated to catch up. I’d probably bridged about half of the gap when I started to feel it in the legs. I’m pretty sure I could have caught him, but I was only 30 miles or so into my planned 75, and was still in conservation mode. I had to back off and let him go. Felt a little guilty for not taking my fair share of the pulls but hey – hope you enjoyed your ride. I cruised the rest of the way to the Highway 50 / Folsom Blvd interchange solo.
From here things got a little more interesting for me. I’ve never ridden the trails bast this point. It gets really pretty along the river between highway 50 and Old Folsom. The trail gets nice and curvy, with some great short hills in there. Really pretty. I have to admit, though, this is one of those places that makes me selfishly wish this wasn’t a mixed use trail. Some of those descents down into sharp curves would be a blast down in the drops, but you never know what might be right around that sharp corner. Had to keep the speed in check to keep things safe.
I finally found my self at a dead end – the trail just turned to a dirt path. What the hell? Where was I? I looked around and noticed a large two story building that seemed somehow familiar. Looking at the top floor balcony I noticed 20 or so bikes hanging from hooks. Oh yea – this is Bicycles Plus. Now I know where I am.
But I was quickly confused again – probably just because I’m an “out of towner.” I knew where I wanted to go – Coffee Republic for lunch. Trouble was, I wasn’t sure of the best way to get there from where I was. I wandered around a bit and finally found myself on the newer bridge across the river. From here, I just had to manage the traffic and get myself to a position where I could make a left hand turn across a busy 4 land road. Done and done.
Coffee Republic is a great place to end (or in my case, take a short break from) a ride. I’ve seen a lot of postings from clubs using that as their meeting point, so I had the general impression that is was very bike friendly. Sure enough, as I pulled up there were at least 5 other cyclists already there. They’ve got a great covered patio area with lots of floor space, so you can drag your bike in right next to your table and not have to stress through the whole meal trying to keep an eye on your faithful steed.
The ride back was pretty much the same thing in reverse except for a could of “minor” changes:
- Strong headwind
- Less energy
- No one to share pulls with
Right around the 50 mile mark I seriously tanked. I could barely keep the bike moving. The wind was gusting against my chest, and with each gust I’d watch 5 mph fall from my speed. My legs were burning, my chest was heaving. This was my learning moment – I’d made a mistake. I’d stopped taking on carbs before I got to Folsom as lunch was planned. I also didn’t consume any more as I started riding out of Folsom. I’d forgotten that things like wheat bread and potato salad – while delicious – take some time to digest. I was seriously out of fuel.
Luckily this time I’d tried something different. I normally fill my bottles with just plain water, but this time I’d stocked up on Gatorade. I drank pretty much a full bottle between miles 50 and 55, and by mile 60 I was feeling strong and fit again. Still had the head wind to battle from time to time, but now it wasn’t completely in charge. I ended my ride on an up note, rolling into a friend’s house for dinner.
Mission accomplished! What did I learn? Well, consume enough carbs. Aside from that – riding a century? Totally within my range. A metric century? I’ll do those before breakfast. Double century? Well – ask me about that after next July!
P.S. I’ve added a map of this ride to the “Rides and Routes” page. You can also find it under ‘Pages’ on the right hand panel.