Lessons Learned from 70 Miles

Church at Bethesda, TN

Last Friday, I did a solo 70 mile route in preparation for May’s TOSRV 2017. If you’re interested in the route, here is the link: Eagleville 70.

Temperature was around 70 and wind was from the south-southeast at 13-15 mph. Since this would be my longest ride to date, I knew it would be a good evaluation of my training.

The Plan

Phase I was designed to be the toughest: big climbs and 30 miles into the wind. I created the course to include convenient stores should I need supplies, and as you can tell by the pictures, I took some photo breaks.

Phase II started at the Eagleville convenient store (34 mile mark) where I’d refuel then let the wind push me home. I hoped to average 17 MPH when all was said and done. 18 would have been stellar!

Phase I

Riggs, TN rest

Since my goal was completing 70 miles and not setting PR’s, I kept a comfortable pace and was pleased with my early performance, especially into the wind. Because I’ve been cramping at the end of longer rides, despite attempts to stay hydrated, I incorporated photo stops to refuel. Time would tell if this would pay off or not. Around mile marker 29, my neck was so stiff and tight that I had to stop. Rather fitting it was an old graveyard! Another reason for this solo ride was to test my mindset. This leg of the course was on unfamiliar roads, and since I don’t have a Garmin, I found myself wondering, “Am I going the right way?” I was, and I knew I was (I’d studied Google Earth & memorized the route) but these head games still nagged me. When the roads became hillier than expected, and my neck issues weren’t improving, I found my confidence under attack. I persevered, but looking back, I’d give myself a B- in the “strong mind” category.


Phase II

Eagleville convenient store

I rolled into Eagleville (34 miles), relieved to be on familiar roads, and grabbed Gatorade to refill my water bottles along with another sports drink (I can’t remember the brand but it contained coconut water and was really good!) Overall, I felt good…except for my neck; it was still bothering me. I stretched it out as best I could but didn’t want to stay off the bike for too long so I hopped back on and headed out.


As expected, the wind was a big help, but as I turned onto Highway 99, it became a stiff crosswind. I was thankful I’d  substituted my Zipp front wheel (which acts like a sail in wind) with my regular wheel; I had much more bike control.

Around Rockvale (39 miles) I noticed my phone battery was really low. Reluctantly I stopped and switched Strava to a mode I thought would save battery life. Once home, I learned my tactic had worked but had also stopped Strava from recording any data. I was disappointed, to say the least.

Once I turned south for the bulk of the miles home, the wind was my ally. My final convenient store was at mile 54 but because I was feeling strong and had plenty of Gatorade, I skipped it and went for a good finish.

Once I entered the 60 mile zone, minor cramps hit sporadically on my inner right leg. I drank more Gatorade and hoped I could stave them off until I got home. I was making really good time and turned onto the leg that headed back into the wind only to find the road blocked by police & fire trucks; a home had caught fire. I backtracked (psychologically defeating and added some miles) and made my way around the blocked road, all the while battling cramps, which were becoming more frequent.

By mile 65, I drained the last of my Gatorade, pushed through the winds and spun up the gradual climbs for home. But the cramps were there to stay and my neck was killing me; I knew I was on borrowed time.

I focused on using my left leg over my right, to avoid my leg cramping, and found standing on the pedals alleviated some neck pain. I ground out the final miles and finished with about 73 miles at 16.7 MPH average.


All-in-all, I was very pleased with my ride, especially battling those stiff winds. Moving forward, here’s what I need to do:

  • Cardio: I’m in good shape; keep on the training plan.
  • Power: Still weak on big climbs; start working on high-intensity training.
  • Cramps: I HATE this part of getting old! Purchase electrolyte pills to see if they help.
  • Neck: Still an issue even after visiting my chiropractor. Will continue to stretch/exercise.
  • Strava: make sure I have it set correctly, Maybe call one of the young Cat riders to help!!







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