Sunday, January 16, 2011

Last and Longest - KC Wraps Up His Rando Year!

KC Heck completed his first R-12 in December, capping off a 4000km rando year.  Here's KC finishing his February, 2010 200k:

My adventure for the last Permanent of the year (Windsor Wanderer) started off even before I threw a leg over the saddle. The temperature on the thermometer read 30 degrees, certainly cold, but not freezing. (Technically yes, but not for cyclists going for the R-12 award.) So I decided to apply some embrocation. For those of you that don’t know what embrocation is, think of Ben Gay on steroids. It heats up muscles for cold riding conditions. While driving to the start of the ride, the embrocation started to work. As I drove on, the warming sensation started to turn into a searing flesh, Oh My God; I’m on fire sensation. I had to open the window, not to cool myself off, but to relieve my ears from the high-pitched screams, which was piercing my brain.

I pulled into the Conoco gas station, and ran to the restroom carrying a spare t-shirt. The clerk must have thought I was running into the restroom for a completely different reason. Once inside I ripped off my winter tights and proceeded to wipe off the excess embrocation with the t-shirt. Slowly the pain started to go away. Did I mention that while I applied the embrocation, my shorts weren’t on? I must have gotten some of the cream on the padded inside area as I pulled on the shorts. Needless to say I had to wipe off other areas as well. Note to self, "Don’t do that again!!"

Finally by 8 AM, I was on the road. When I reached Hwy. 42, I was warmed up nicely. I was glad to see a few other cyclists on the road as I made the left turn heading north. Of course they all seemed to be commuters, only riding for a few miles. I still had 127 miles to go.

Climbing out of Erie heading east, the traffic that was present early, disappeared. The vista started to open up before me as the suburban sprawl gave way to open fields. I always like this section of the ride; it always makes me feel like the ride was really underway. Everything seemed right with the world until…Wind. I had to put on my outer Gore-Tex jacket to stop myself from shivering right off the road into a ditch. At least the wind was blowing from my left, so I was able to maintain around 15 to 16 mile per hour.

Riding along the I-76 Frontage Rd., I neared Hudson and the first checkpoint. Along the way I encountered two charging dogs. I guess the "Fierce Dogs," which use to appear on older cue sheets, were back. As they started to close in on me, they weren’t slowing down. Quickly thinking, I pulled out my full-length bike pump, started growling, and swinging chaotically. I must have really created a scary scene, because the dogs stopped dead in their tracks. I might have pulled my pump out too forcefully, as I found out later in the day.

Checkpoint # 1: a quick re-fill and out-fill. By this time it was a little past 10, and my nose was bombarded by the most wonderful smell so far, fresh pizza. Especially compared to my Hammer liquid nutrition, which didn’t even come close. Back on the road and the promise of more wind.

At first it wasn’t too bad, but I was traveling west on Hwy. 52 and Wind(sor) was approximately 43 miles to the north. The wind was mostly out of the north. So turning north on to Rd. 41 was brutal. I started to average between 8 and 11 mph. When an eighteen-wheeler traveling past at 60 miles and hour does nothing to disrupt the airflow, you know it’s windy. By the time I got to Platteville 19.6 miles away, two hours had passed.

Time to pop some Ibuprofen. Apparently I’ve been having some knee problems lately, and this was an attempt to stave off the inevitable. Get card signed, get some hydration, and get to the bathroom. Say a prayer for the wind gods to die down, and off I was again.

The wind was still bad and by the time I got to the area just short of US 34, I knew that this was going to be a long long day. When I finally reached the crest of the area I like to call the Greeley Plateau, (you can see for miles upon miles in all directions) US-34 intersection, I looked forward to the descent into Windsor. I was not to be rewarded. The road must have been gravel sealed (chipped sealed), not too long ago. In an effort to stay out of the gravel, I winded up riding closer to the edge of the road than I would have liked to. Thorns were now on my mind, and because of the wind, I had to pedal fairly hard. I was all over the road. And you guessed it; I got a thorn on my tire at the bottom of the descent.

I found a nice grassy area on the west side of the road. It was near a development, and I proceeded to change my front tire. Within a few minutes a car pulled over and offered to help. I thank them but said that I was all right. Tire changed; back on the rim; and time to pump. Nothing… so I pumped faster. Again nothing…I pumped faster still. That’s when the nipple broke off, rendering the tube useless forever. S…O…B…Okay, take off tire again, and repair the holey one. Problem was I couldn’t get the pump to well…pump. Finally, after about 30 minutes, I was able to get just enough air in the tire to find the hole. But now what? Now I regretted telling that car I was okay. I kept trying to work the pump, and then it came apart in two pieces. AHHHHH!! It occurred to me that I was slowly running out of time to reach the next checkpoint in Windsor.

I put the pump back together as best I could, and tried it some more. I was still around 7 miles from Windsor and if I had to walk that, game over and no 4000K for the year. So I prayed, well more like pleaded, and cursed and tried to work the problem. After an hour on the grassy knoll I gave up. I put the tire back on the bike and ran down the road. It should be noted that running in cycling shoes pushing a bike was neither easy nor particularly fun. I only had one hope left.

A car pulled off to the side of the road, and my prayers were answered. Laurie Brethauer, a cyclist, was driving the car, and she offered to help. Laurie said that she did not have a pump with her, but she offered to drive me somewhere. I had to explain my situation to her concerning my ride. Without hesitation she offered to drive me to her house, which was just a few miles away. She said that I could pump up my tire, and then she could bring me back. I was very, very gratefully. I quickly took off my front wheel, and placed the bike in her back seat.

While en-route she phoned her husband, who was home, and had him bring out the pump, thus saving time. When we got there I quickly filled my tire. Laurie also gave me her bike pump, in case of another flat. She even filled up my water bottles when I wasn’t looking. Because of her generosity, I had a chance of completing the ride.

She drove me back to the spot where I was picked up. With the tire mended, I was back on the road with 45 minutes and 7 miles to Windsor. This part of the ride was kind of a blur, with my head low (for aerodynamic purposes).

Finally arriving at Windsor, I got my card signed, and re-filled my Hammer solution mix. I still had 50 miles to go, but the need for worrying about cut off times diminished. It was going to be a long ride in the dark. Because of the hard riding since the flat, I was in need of more Ibuprofen. So two more pills, and back on the road.

The sun was mostly behind the increasing cloud cover, so the temperature that had been okay for most of the day started to seep in to my bones. Climbing out of Windsor brought back a little heat, but for the rest of the ride, cold became a constant companion. I was looking forward to a nice tail wind all the way to Hwy. 52. Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be. The wind had changed direction and was now blowing out of the east southeast. It was going to be a long, long day.

Crossing US-34 again, it was already time to put on the lights. After all I shouldn’t be so surprised: it was the shortest day of the year. About this time my knee was hurting, and would continue to do so for the remainder of the ride. Well…only when I pedaled.

Finally after three years of being a member of RUSA, I got my full moon night ride. As an added bonus, later that night sometime after 11 PM it was going to be a full lunar eclipse. By then I hoped to be finished.

Traveling along the frontage road, I hit my low point. Cold, wind, dark, knee pain, hungry, and to top it off, my right contact which had been pissing me off all day, really started to bother me. I had to ride with one eye closed at times. But I remembered I was having fun, albeit in a strange way for most people to understand. I kept telling myself 4000K, 4000K, my last day.

I needed to stop, and the truck stop at Hwy. 52, was my oasis. More water, a power bar, and the last of my mix would keep me going to the end. By this time it was sometime between 7 and 8, and the clerk noting my attire, wondered if I was really on a bike. I told him that I was. He seemed impressed, as did a young woman purchasing a drink. She overheard our conversation and said that she didn’t even want to walk the distance from here to her car to get a drink. I figured I would have some fun with this. I told her, “If you think that is bad, I’ve been on my bike since 8 AM this morning, and I still have about 19 more miles to ride, for a total of 130 miles for the day.”

You could say I left her speechless. Okay enough of a good time. Time to make some miles. I still wasn’t out of the woods yet. I had enough time, but if I had any other type of mechanical, it would be close. Before I knew it, I had to make another pit stop. The damp coldness sometimes makes me do that. So I had to stop two more times, once at the Erie Mall, aka the Erie Conoco station, and again at 7-11. Not wanting to cool down, I quickly went inside and came back out.

Downtown Louisville was a very welcome site. All the Holiday lights were up. If worst came to worst, and I had a problem I knew that I could walk to the finish and still make the cut off time. Luckily that did not happen. I pulled into the start/finish, Conoco station. Thirteen hours had transpired since I was last here. Goal accomplished, 2000K more than last year!!! This has been by far my longest 210K yet. By comparison, last week I rode the Platteville Poke-Along 200K in 9 hours. Next year do I hear 5000K calling my name? I should probable get a new pump first.

- KC


  1. Great report, KC, and congrats on finishing a very tough ride, and an impressive year's total.
    Good luck in 2011 and earning your 5000k medal.

  2. Jeff and I are very impressed!!! We miss you guys a lot!!! Hope to see you and talk to you soon. All our love

    Melissa and Jeff