Long ride: 25% of the (shortest) distance

Feb 13, 03:10 PM

Today’s long ride was just over 50 km: 51.14 km, or 31.78 miles, to be exact. That’s a quarter of the shortest brevet distance (200 km). It was also my first ride outdoors since the first week of December, which was preternaturally mild, and my longest ride since the 42-mile loop to Conway last Veterans’ Day.

Old stomping grounds

I took a familiar route, through North Amherst and Leverett Center, then down to Montague Center, past the Book Mill, and back along Meadow and Falls Roads. I extended the ride a little at the end to make sure of hitting 50 km, since my cyclocomputer was not working for half a mile or so after stopping for a red light. (Note to self: consider replacing the wireless computer with a wired one.) I track my rides on MapMyRide.com, and I’ve put a map there if anyone is interested in the details.

The ride had a total climb of about 1050 feet, mostly in the first third or so. It soon became clear that the way I’ve been training on the rollers has really not prepared me for climbing. Other than that, though, it was a nice ride, and I finished with the feeling that I was ready to stop but that I still had reserves I could tap.

Staying warm and more or less dry

The outdoor temperature was just above freezing, and the wind was blowing around 5-10 mph from the northwest with occasional gusts. I started out with the following gear:

  • bike undershorts with a gel chamois
  • Smartwool base layer (top and bottom)
  • tights with a light fleece lining, held up by red LL Bean suspenders
  • wool jersey with a zip turtleneck
  • lightweight waterproof jacket
  • Smartwool socks
  • cross training shoes (I use platform pedals with PowerGrips)
  • neoprene shoe covers
  • full-finger mesh/leather gloves
  • polypropylene glove liners, worn over cycling gloves
  • Gore-tex balaclava (I didn’t wear the mouth and nose cover)
  • helmet (helmet cover stayed in the saddlebag)

The shoe covers came off after about 7 miles, since my feet were getting warm and sweaty. The Smartwool socks kept my toes toasty for most of the ride, despite the damp, though I would have put the shoe covers back on around mile 27 had I been planning to keep going for another half hour.

I probably could have ditched one of the wool top layers; they were getting rather damp toward the end. A higher-tech, breathable jacket would also have helped. Still, I was pleased with my overall comfort level. The temperature was about 15 degrees F lower than on any of my previous long rides, and I arrived home with just a few cool spots here and there.

Still, I hope it warms up soon!

Brian W. Ogilvie

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