He Had to Call it “Hell”

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.

More on Tim’s blog and on the RCCS blog.

5 thoughts on “He Had to Call it “Hell””

  1. I’m really bummed I missed the ride. I would’ve loved to have been there. Sorry you had a rough time; frankly with the LHT, I’m not surprised. I’ve ridden mine in snow enough to know what you’re talking about. It just doesn’t cut it for snow deeper than an inch or two. 35 miles or so is pretty solid; I didn’t end up riding at all this weekend. Guess I needed a break. Don’t sweat running out of gas, it happens to all of us. It sounds to me like you rode well, overall, you just had a few elements conspiring against you.

  2. Love the ‘Stendal Store’ pic with the icicles. I swear I’m going through that town again this summer. Gotta. Hopefully Michael will be able to join this time. And, Dave, in hindsight I think you fought pretty courageously with the bike issues. No brakes and cutting deep into that snow makes for tough work.

  3. I can relate to the “when you’re done, you’re done” sentiment. There are all kinds of causes, and I hope this one is defeated quickly, my friend.

  4. I too once stalled on a ride – just no energy at all – its a horrible feeling to know you just don’t have anything in the reserve tank. I was trying to meet a ferry as well = nope! At first I thought it was the headwinds, but on further thought I tracked it down to my not having enough protein in my breakfast that day. I’ve learned to carry a hardboiled egg with me whenever I’m on longer rides, as a pickme up. And,I also learned not to underestimate the power of good old fashioned oatmeal !

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