Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Getting beat by the heat

Tuesday, June 19. Peebles, OH to Shawnee State Park, Ohio. 47 miles of riding in 5:41 hrs.

Wow, and I thought that I’d gotten my ass handed to me yesterday – today was 2x the fun!
Another early start this morning with Judy and I having discussed last night how to make this thing work (the trip) such that she isn’t just being a total sag support wench. Not good to ride all day and seeing Judy just roasting her fanny off in the car the whole time. So we came up with a couple ideas. One is that I leave first thing so she can run and do a workout at the local campsite, then I’d loop back and we’d leave, with me having kind of doubled my distance for that first morning segment. The other is for us to pull camp super early so I could get an early start and then an early finish so she could ride or run and workout at the end of the day. But yesterday was just hell for us both with the temps so bloody hot.
So the BT was very close to where we camped last night – Mineral Springs Campground – so I rode back into Pebbles to get the section that lays between the campground and Pebbles, and then I’d ride back a short-cut route from Pebbles back to camp. Got going at 7:30 AM while Judy did a run and workout at the campground. She cook breakfast when done with her workout and I’d eat when I got back from the first segment. Got it going and rode the route backwards to Pebbles. And damn was it hilly. Now I started out on this little one lane chip-seal road and then it changed to gravel for a really nice long run through Shawnee State Forest. Felt awesome to be riding this early, as I used to do on my solo trips – start early and beat the heat and then end early and do a siesta the rest of the day! Riding deep in the forest that early was a very nice, cool spin on gravel. Great sights and sounds.
Hit asphalt about half way in and then it was in the sun and on rollers in farm country for the rest of the way into Peebles. That section took me about 15+ miles. So I went back to the campground all on asphalt on non BT roads that cut nearly 8 miles off the going-out trip. By the time I’d gotten back to Judy and the camp the temp was in the low 80’s, and I already felt like I was getting zapped of energy. Slammed some French toast and an ice cold coke, and then we left, with Judy driving to our next meeting point, only about 10-15 miles away. Next section was about 50/50 gravel to pavement, with a few pretty stiff climbs on the way. Have to say that the gravel and asphalt climbs down here in Southern Ohio are just beasts. I’m using the middle and little cookie 9 times out of 10, and the little cookie half the time out of that. These pups are quad burners for sure.
The nice thing about this backroads stuff is that there is hardly any traffic. I mean I’m usually riding all by myself 80 percent of the time. Once in a while a car will go WAY around me, sometimes with a friendly wave. Very refreshing in that dept. Now what’s different on this trip from the rest, other than the gravel, trail, and backroads, is the dogs. Good God, I’ve had ten billion dogs chase me on this trip so far. Sometimes groups of 3-4 will run out at me. No problems thus far though. I just yell “NO” and they usually just stop dead in their tracks, or kind of peel off and go home. I’m to the point now where I don’t even care anymore. I just shrug them off or give them a dirty look. I think, way back around Ohiopyle it was, that I unclipped and nailed one right in the chops. It sounded like I kicked a slab of beef – just this “THOOOOOOOOP” sound and the dude was gone immediately. But lately I don’t even have to unclip. I just glare at them and then they don’t chase anymore.
So I met Judy at the second meeting area, and I’d kind of goofed up the directions so that she went a bit out of the way – and I’m like the navigator here!! We met at this little jcn in the middle of nowhere. By that time, around 11 AM it was bloody hot. I had stopped just shy of our meeting spot and took refuge under a picnic area at this little church. It was just scorching out. Anyway, got an ice cold coke and pushed on. Next meeting spot another 15 or so away. Got going and the route turned to gravel immediately. Next was a gravel climb that was just a total bitch, up and up and up, with 3-4 false flats and then more switchbacks. I was in the littlest cookie and doing about 3.2 mph up this thing, determined not to hoof it. Sweat was running down my brow, along the top of my nose, and then like a little waterfall, trickling off my nose down onto the bars. My hands were just totally soaked such that the handlebar grips were slippery and greasy feeling. Finally made it to the top and I was a soaking dripping blob of protoplasm.
Once on top there was a maze of gravel roads with the BT looking like it went in two different directions. Know I know that I had to take the Secondary route with white blazes because you cannot ride bike or horses in the Shawnee SP area. But both the directions that I saw were blue blazed. So I was looking at my map over and over, with sweat just dripping all the hell over the place. Rode one way for a half mile, then back, then another way for half a mile, then back, over and over. No luck. Ok, time to ask for directions. So I pulled down what looked like an old dirt farm road, rode up to the house and rang the doorbell, with sweat still just flowing off me like a candle next to a fire dripping wax and melting into a lump. No luck with two rings of the doorbell. Then I went to the back. Looking grim cuz there just weren’t any houses up there. Finally as I was getting ready to go, a guy came out, kind of looking at me like I was an alien – helmet on, in full lycra get-up.
Guy was super nice. He told me that the dirt road was actually the road I was looking for, and that it stayed on the ridge as dirt and gravel for about 10 miles. Warned me of just one possible F-up area where I’d need to go left at the T and then just stay “UP” on the ridge the rest of the way. Talked a bit about my goofy trip and then bid him a goodbye and off I went, riding down this pretty gnarly road. I couldn’t believe that it was actually township road. I mean it was just so primitive. This was very similar to the roads that I encounter up in the Black Forest of PA. Problem was that this thing just undulated like crazy, like a roller-coaster – in the middle of the blazing hot sun. About half way through I was just feeling like I was being cooked alive, working my butt off on the undulating gravel road and clicking gears so much that my right thumb was beginning to hurt from overuse.
Seemed like that bugger went on forever. I knew that I was starting to get to the end because there were now trailers and primitive houses up there, with dogs coming out the wazoo. I mean I went by places where I though the primary occupants were bloody dogs. Like a pack would come out chasing and barking. Finally descended down to Rt 125 to where I was to hook up with Judy. Met her this time at just this nothing of a jcn. She had pulled the van into a weeds berm and sitting in the van with the ac on and the windows rolled up, with her head resting on the steering wheel. Got in the back, got an ice cold coke and just climbing in, feeling like I was going to pass out. She cranked the AC and I just kind of sat there in silence, just to freaking hot and crushed to really say a lot.
By that time it was 1 PM, and the temp was 93. I wanted to do another 2 hrs, but quite honestly I was a bit tentative of that feeling so damned queasy. Sat for another 10 min chugging water in the AC. Jude suggested that I bag it for the day, and at first I was not into that especially since we have been so behind schedule lately from all the berminator riding of the past two weeks. I had wanted to at least average 60/day with the addition of asphalt riding, but man, today I was just rocked. She was right. I pulled the helmet off and said “ok, I’m done.” We took it another 7 miles down the road to Shawnee SP and got a campsite in the shade. On the ride there my legs were like quivering and beginning to lock up in cramps.
Got a site and then drove down another 14 miles to Portsmouth to shop and hit a Subway. I knocked down a foot and a half of the Seafood Sensation sub, and downed at LEAST a gallon of water between the time I stopped and the Subway. Even on the bike I was emptying my bottles, but to no avail. Tell you what, I mean even with the addition of some pavement – and today it was about 60+% of gravel – I cannot average 10 mph. This terrain down here on the tiny little roads is just brutal. Oh well, that’s what I signed up for!!
Got back to the campground and we hit the lake water to cool off. Right not its still in the 90’s, but we’re totally shaded and I’m sitting here in the front seat nice and comfortable. Judy is doing to wash at the campground laundry mat. Got some beer and wine at Krogers in addition to some barbecued chicken and fresh veggies for dinner.
There is zero phone service or wiff up here. I did manage to do some work on my phone while in Portsmouth, but on the drive back to the northwest I could watch my bars and G’s just go down and down and down to nothing.  So get used to some of these posts being a day or two late. Tomorrow could be the same. Now we’re going to shoot for a super early start tomorrow due to the forecast of a 95-degree day. As an athlete my undoing has always been the heat. My best performances were always in cool weather. Heat…I’m toast!! I’d like to get going at like 6 or 6:30 and be finished by noon or one. Then we can find a place and do some riding together in the evening so Judy can get in some activity. We’ll see. Late……..Pete

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