Tim named yesterday’s RCCS ride “Holland Frozen Hell“. We expected cold and snow. We were not disappointed.
We had a good turnout. A total of seven of us arrived in Holland IN for the ride start. With the snow on the ground, mountain bikes were pretty much required. I don’t own a mountain bike, so the LHT had to fill that duty. I had the studded tires on which worked great on the icy patches near the beginning of the ride.
The route was beautiful. The terrain was lovely. The road surfaces were horrid. Once we got away from town, none of the roads had been plowed at all. The snow was pushed down “two-track” style by car tires.
We headed west out of town. We kept a reasonable pace, and I felt strong. I almost felt confident due to the amount of ice, and my studded tires. As the roads got more snow-covered, it got a little tougher, but I kept a reasonable pace. After just over four miles, the route headed north.
At about mile 13, my speed dropped considerably, and I knew I was struggling. It took too much effort to push through the snow. My brakes were caked with snow and nearly non-functional. The studded tires had little traction on loose snow.
Also along here somewhere, the five faster riders left Tim and I behind. Tim and I decided to cut the Winslow portion of the route off and take a shorter route. We headed south on CR 650E where the others went north. This was probably a mistake. I could have used some real food, and a chance to warm up.
This way also took us directly through Ferdinand State Forest, which had the worst road surface we saw. Looking at the GPS logs, my top speed through that stretch was in the single-digits.
We continued on. I sometimes stopped to walk the bike when I just couldn’t get traction. I was completely out of energy.
We finally made it to SR64. The road was clear, and I wanted to take it as far as possible toward Holland. Tim was thinking a little clearer, and didn’t like the 55 mph speed limit, high-traffic highway, and directed us on SR257 instead, which wasn’t as clear, but had little traffic. After some distance on SR257, the other five riders came up behind us.
We rode together to the tiny town of Stendal and regroup and took a few photos. I was done. I wasn’t going any farther. There was an (out of business) general store with a bench out front. Despite the cold temperatures, I sat on the bench and announced that I couldn’t ride anymore. They tried to convince me to continue to avoid getting too cold, but I was adamant.
After only 34.5 miles, I had bailed on the ride. I was disgusted with myself. Maybe I was coming down sick (that’s actually possible, had a rough day today). Maybe I just had the wrong bike for the ride (that certainly contributed). Maybe I was just having an off day (like the spin class I ditched after 10 minutes). Maybe I’ve been training too hard for the triathlon and wore myself out.
I’m still glad I rode. The scenery was beautiful. I managed to dress well for the temperatures. I even survived sitting on that stupid bench with only a small amount of shivering.