Saturday, July 30, 2011

Recumbent Ride

July 23, 2011

For days after my big hike in the Shawnee Forest my legs were incredibly sore.  My bike riding keeps me very fit cardio-wise but I was not prepared in the least for the type of exertion I encountered during during that 8 mile jaunt.  By the end of the week I was feeling good and was once again itching to get out for a bike ride.  

I decided I would head straight west from town and ride 20 miles before turning back.  I loaded my bladder with ice cubes and water placed it in the seat bag.  The relentless heat wave was into its second week and again I took off on my next adventure in humid 90 degree temperatures.  I often wonder how endurance athletes managed to stay properly hydrated back in the days before wonderful invention of the Camelback.  On hot days I routinely consume the entire 70 ounces that my pack holds.  I suppose I should pick up a 100 ounce bag for my longer days out.

The 20 mile turn around point put me at a rural crossroads with a small pizza joint on one corner.  That is the green and white storefront in the photograph.  By this time of the afternoon storm clouds were gathering from the intense heat and I could hear rumbles of thunder even though the sun was still shining.  After a short break I got back at the controls of my recumbent cycling machine and pointed myself to the east.  

For the next 8 miles I cruised across the flat agricultural lands and watched a huge dark gray storm cloud ahead of me.  The storm was moving from the south to the north and I was hoping it would slide on by but I kept encountering the big fat raindrops that often precede a deluge.  The drops would taper off and stop altogether then resume.  Finally the heavens opened up with a massive downpour complete with vertical lightning bolts and thunder crashes.  I kept cranking the pedals and the rain actually felt great but after a mile the precipitation was falling so hard that visibility or lack of it was beginning to be a problem.  One of the few downsides to riding a recumbent is riding in heavy rain. On an upright bike one can lower their head and only look up briefly to maintain course.  This works very well if you have a helmet with a visor like on a mountain bike helmet.  Unfortunately on the recumbent my face was looking directly into the  storm and I could not lower my head even if I did have a visor.  I suppose if I was wearing goggles I could have kept going.

Luck was on my side and I spotted an old one room brick school house along my route that offered a bit of shelter.  I rode out  the rest of the storm with a piece of farm equipment stored in the school house.  Being out on the flatlands during a thunderstorm always makes me nervous so I was thankful to at have a least half a roof over my head.    

Through the hole in the far wall cornstalks are visible bending violently in the wind.

These one room schoolhouses are all over the surrounding countryside.  Many are decaying like this one but others have been preserved and turned into homes with additional structure added by the owners.  It is amazing to think that at one time in the not too distant past this was the institution of primary education in rural America.  Each township had it's own schoolhouse because of course with no cars or school buses the classroom had to be accessible to all children.  

After the storm passed I got back on the road and finished up the last 10 miles of my ride watching the lightning show to my left as the storm receded to the north.  I noticed on my cycle-computer that the temperature had gone from 91 degrees before the storm to 72 degrees.  Nearly a 20 degree difference.

Out and Back

Bike:  HP Velotechnik Street Machine
Ride Time:  2:32:24
Distance:  40.00 miles
Average Speed:  15.7 mph
Max Speed:  28.00 mph

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