Both goals, I am happy to say, were accomplished — and then some. Around mile 20 I deviated from the original plan because there was some kind of ugly traffic thing going on on Brownsboro Road. The detour bought me about 6.5 extra miles, about 86 extra feet of climbing, and a significantly more scenic ride than I had originally planned.
I also learned a few good lessons on this trip:
- Yes, adjusting your saddle height does help.
- Bar ends or drops would also help.
- Cue sheets are handy when you're in a spot you don't know terribly well, but nothing beats knowing an area well enough to take a detour when you encounter a traffic SNAFU.
- Riding on skinny two-lane roads (that is, one lane in each direction) is not as scary as I thought it would be. In fact, on this ride, it wasn't scary at all, even when I was climbing (and climbing, and climbing) on a couple of long, curvy hills.
- I'm a better climber than I thought, and spinning beats mashing hands down. Err ... feet down?
- Installing a second water bottle cage is a very, very good idea. (That way you can cart home the Gatorade that proves undrinkably gross after 49 miles of riding without jettisoning your initial water bottle, reconfiguring your seatpost or bar bags, or riding the rest of the way one-handed.)
- On a 52-mile ride, I go through a ton of water. I refilled my water bottle about three times. It's a 24-oz bottle, so that makes 96 ounces of water for the ride, and that's not counting the thirty-seven (one lemonade, 36 water -- okay, that might be a slight exaggeration) refills when I stopped for lunch. I also bought a Gatorade around mile 49.5, but found it too sticky-sweet to drink, so I used it to top off my water for the trip home. When I got home, I froze the rest.
- The nearest Penn Station has a 'buy one sub, get a small sub free' deal on Tuesday nights. This is much more relevant to cycling than it might appear. After all, cyclists have to eat a lot O:).
- Sunglasses are not optional on long, sunny rides. I bought a pair on the return leg of my trip, when things started getting a little intense, and wore them on my 'recovery' (by which I mean 'tooling around the city, shopping, and goofing off') ride yesterday, and also on the way in this morning.
- If you find yourself thinking, "You know, I'm pretty sure I've gone farther than I meant to," you may well be right.
- Forgetting to purchase and/or apply sunscreen is a terrible idea when you're going to be riding in the blazing sun for several hours, even if you don't normally burn.
- If all else fails, aloe vera gel is a beautiful thing. Especially when stored in the freezer.
Suffice it to say, I bought some SPF 70 sunblock yesterday. Fortunately, I don't burn badly even when I do burn, and only my arms burned. Apparently, my legs are so amazingly white as to reflect the rays of the sun, thereby preventing leg burns. I hope I didn't blind any drivers.
I also saw tons and tons of other cyclists on this ride. At around mile 32, a roadie pulled up beside me in passing and said, "Man, this wind isn't friendly, is it?"
I said, "Oh, no!" He was very right. And I was very much wishing I had drops, or at least bar ends, or even aerobars, to make getting out of it easier.
Well, it's meetin' time. Gotta go -- get out there and enjoy the ride!
Edit: I think I have finally found a way to describe gearing that will make sense to almost anyone who has ever ridden a geared bike. From now on, instead of saying "lower," "higher," "stiffer," "lighter," "easier," or "harder," I'm going to say "spinnier" and "mashier." That way there will be absolutely no question as to what exactly I'm trying to say :)
Thus, I spent most of Saturday's ride riding the spinnier gears on my big ring, which is, I suppose, mashier by far than riding the spinniest gears on my granny ring (I made judicious use of the 2nd cog-granny ring combo on a couple of long climbs), but for my purposes was basically pretty spinny.