Well I did it.  BRR that is...

I drove up to Perry on Saturday morning to do a solo BRR ride.  Original plan was for Beth, Val, Tara and I to carpool up and ride the BRR as a quartet.  Weather conditions with the windchill and recent snowfall had all of my other quartet members change their minds.  Oh well, I can sing solo - so why not ride solo?   The sun was shining and temperatures were not too bad as they settled around the teens to 20.  The wind however, was blowing from the northeast meaning one would need a nice wind protection layer of clothing to keep warm.

I parked the Element and unloaded the bike for the day - my Salsa Dos Niner with big Nobby Nics on there in case of any snow.  However, it was apparent they had a lot less snow in Perry than the 7 or so inches we got in Indianola.  Streets were dry and I would have to pay the price for the big nobs by dealing with the rolling resistance.  I was actually going to bring my JET 9, but on my dog walk in the morning with -4 windchill, the rear derailleur was frozen and not shifting (or the cable was frozen).  So I took the Bar Mitts off of the JET 9 and put them on the Dos Niner.  I thought about the Karate Monkey singlespeed, but figured I would be spun out all day so the Dos Niner was it because I don't have Bar Mitts for the road bike and with the windchill - I was going to need them.

Here's my ride all ready to go on the street where I snagged a parking spot not far from downtown...


The ride "officially" started at 10 a.m. and it was now about 11:15, but lots of people were still arriving and taking off.  And plenty were hanging around getting warmed up - as in starting the ride off with a brew in hand or a visit to one of the local bars that were all open and hopping for the event.  Not my style pre-ride,  so I hopped on the bike and off I went following the herd of riders out onto the highway.

Once we got to the edge of Perry I felt the force of the wind that was blowing in our faces.   I dialed back a gear or two and settled in for a Zone 2 pace I could maintain against this wind and with my big Nobby Nics sucking up the pavement.  My layered clothing consisted of wool long johns, a sportier pair of thinner long johns made by Under Armour over that, a thin pair of socks covered with a wool pair of socks, my long legged cylcing bibs, a pair of wind pants made by Columbia, my long sleeve wool shirt, my Bike Iowa coat and a Columbia wind shell over the coat.  I wore the light Pearl Izumi gloves since the Bar Mitts would keep me warm and there was no need for overkill on the hands, a thin balaclava and my Russian hat with the fur and flaps that connect under my chin.  I felt good and warm and the windshell was working its magic to keep me warm.  The heavy breathing on the hills was fogging up my Oakley's but nothing I couldn't deal with by moving them a tad off the bridge of my nose.   I think a pair of my ski goggles would have been the better choice.

I motored along at my chosen pace and was doing fine.  The usual crowd was stopped at the top of the first hill drinking and partying.  Lots of people pulled over along the route drinking a beer.  Brrr...is all I could think.  The final couple of miles into Rippey were a bit of a grind directly against the wind and the big knobs of my tires squirming around on the pock marked highway were not helping.  I could hear all the riders on the other side of the road who had already made the turn and were heading back talking about how easy it was to ride with the wind.  I couldn't wait as the effort was starting to tell and I was perspiring from the grinding work against the wind.  Finally, I made it into Rippey and enjoyed the fact there were cattle right next to the road within the city limits.   I was surprised it had taken 1 1/2 hours by my watch to get from my car in Perry to Rippey.  That's how strong that stinking wind was blowing and my Nobby Nics were slowing me down on the pavement.  I had figured it would be around 60 minutes give or take a few based on conditions.

I had several food stop options, but decided to stop at the Methodist Church fund raiser in Rippey for a baked potato, bottled water and an absolutely wonderful piece of pumpkin pie.  They had some nice pie choices, but that one stood out as the kind of fuel my body could take and appreciate for the return trip home.  I pretty much inhaled the potato and pie, used the restroom and headed right back out to the bike for the return trip.  I was nice and wet underneath my layers, but the layers were working their magic and I didn't feel cold at all.  Maybe my toes, so I threw some of the hand/foot warmers in my boots to keep the toes warm on the return trip.

I got to the edge of Rippey and felt the wind at my back.  It was literally a 4-5 cog (4-5 gear) difference for the same effort going in this direction compared to the other direction.  I saw all the people just arriving in Rippey grinding it out against the wind as I flew by and just smiled as they were about to make the turn and go with the wind.  What a difference!!!  The return trip was 30 minutes less thanks to the tailwind.  As is typical for the way my body works in endurance, everything kicked in for the final 45 minutes as I picked up the pace not really wanting to be riding too long.  I should mention, I was surprised by how many FAT Bikes were being used to do the ride.  I'm pretty sure I saw somewhere between 50 - 75 of them out on the highway.  Maybe even more, but my head was down grinding it out a lot of the time so I may have missed some.  I saw about a dozen tandems, quite a few recumbents, some singlespeeds and the usual fare one sees on RAGBRAI.  If it has wheels - you're good to go.

My left elbow has been experiencing tendonitis which started in the middle of last summer.  I've been working weekly on a program to fix that.  It's caused by the shoulder and I have been doing a lot of exercises on the core and my rotation in the shoulders with bands to improve my situation.  For the first time - I was not experiencing any problems at all in the left arm.  Wow!  Progress and good news for me as I will continue working on the shoulders to get rid of it completely. 

I rolled into Perry and headed directly to the Element to strip off the layered gear and get some dry clothes on for the drive home.  I was a wet, sweaty mess.  And Brrrrrrr.   Everybody was claiming this year was a "warm one".  Maybe compared to other years, but I was glad it wasn't any colder than it was.

The Bar Mitts were champs and the bike did fine.  I took another picture before loading it up to head home...


I was bushed!  The dog walk and warm-up, plus the BRR ride had me on the bike for 2:45 today.   I did another dog walk in the evening on the JET (was shifting fine in the warmer temps) to add another 15 minutes of bike time. That takes me over my planned week of 5 1/2 hours of endurance riding for the R & R week.  I mostly kept it in Zone 2 on the BRR ride, but there were some Zone 3 efforts as I refused to slow down on the hills.  I'll take tomorrow and Monday as rest days (maybe do a short recovery spin on Sunday to loosen up the legs).

Sorry the ladies bailed on me, but they would have been a bit miserable in that windchill.  It's fun to have done my first BRR ride.  Kudos to the folks from Perry and Rippey for hosting the event and providing a platform for a couple thousand nuts to be out and about in a winter RAGBRAI like experience.

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