I met up with John and Pat at the Riverfront Park fountain last Friday morning with the intent to get in a long semi-rural loop that John refers to as the Temple Road loop. I was running a little bit late as I had to avoid the Hatch Road resurfacing project in front of our house and head down Perry instead, but everything worked out and I made it down to Riverfront Park without too much delay. I was hoping that John would have his new red Rawlins ride ready to roll, but alas it wasn’t quite ready for our morning jaunt. This was also the first time I had met Pat in the flesh and after exchanging pleasantries we all got moving again pretty quickly.
I fell in behind John and Pat and we cruised east on the Centennial Trail at a pleasant clip. It was nice to get in some relatively flat and familiar riding in and it was interesting to see how low the Spokane River is now compared to where it was this Spring when we had the heavy flooding. Once we got to the Pasadena Park area we left the Centennial trail and made our way up to Lehman hill. This was new territory for me and I didn't full comprehend how tough of a hill it actually is. <img class="alignnone" title="Lehman Hill" src="http://img.skitch.com/20080819-n2h3b6er85mh2hbtfr1hsqkpgr.jpg" alt="" width="400" height="460" /> Feeling nice and warmed up I decided to attack it pretty hard. In retrospect a mistake as that 120m (400 ft) climb is one that will rip your still beating heart from your chest and show it to you if you aren't careful. as I stood and rowed on my handlebars I knew I was going anaerobic because my arms started feeling pretty heavy and it was all down hill from there. At a certain point I had to back way off and hit the granny gear. I fizzled out to a crawl and John and Pat both passed me as they maintained the sensible speed and cadence they had begun the hill with. <img class="alignnone" title="John and Pat post Lehman Hill" src="http://img.skitch.com/20080819-rxbsqgg7ufqsfbrp8g1jq7j59x.jpg" alt="" width="400" height="300" /> We paused to recover at the top of Lehman and my throat and lungs were seriously burning after that monster. I even dry heaved a couple times (totally normal for me after I exert myself to the point of significant oxygen debt) and thankfully there wasn't much of anything in my stomach to come up anyway. Unfortunately Pat had to go into work at that point (I think) so we had to part ways. As John <a href="http://cyclingspokane.blogspot.com/2008/08/friday-run-around.html">said in his recap</a> it was very sporting of him to do the hill with us. I hope we can get together for another ride sometime in the near future. John and I resumed our ride at more of a recovery pace and I tried to get my lungs and throat in order again. Water helped some, but I was feeling pretty raw and scratchy for a while there. It didn't help that we were riding through a windy and dusty prairie. Although breathing wasn't super comfortable until a little bit later my body and legs bounced back pretty quickly and I had no problems pressing on. By the time we got to the Forker road hill I was actually feeling pretty good all around again. <img class="alignnone" title="Forker Road" src="http://img.skitch.com/20080819-c5gxrbs7hcqyf2qm67j1wmsxht.jpg" alt="" width="400" height="300" /> We stopped to refill our water bottles at the fire station where Forker curves to the east. I actually still had quite a bit of water left in my second bottle, but it was good to get some nice fresh cold water again. It was such a hot day that the water in our bottles heated up pretty quickly. Once we got going again John offered the option of shortening things up and heading back on what I think was Morrison, but I was feeling good and pretty well recovered from Lehman so I definitely wanted to continue with the original plan. Temple Road is actually a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde road. On the one hand it is a nice long dirt/gravel ascent and we had a pleasant ride spinning up it. It was steep and slippery at times, but I stayed in my middle chain ring without any problems and we took it at a comfortable conversational pace. On the other hand things started to get interesting when we reached the summit and began descending back towards Newman Lake. At that point Temple Road becomes a challenging series of washed out and rutted descents interspersed with a few stretches of decent roadway. Potentially fun, but fairly risky if you're inexperienced like me. John is a pretty good off pavement rider and quickly surged ahead down Temple despite the uneven and eroded conditions. It's pretty steep in places and I was riding both brakes continuously most of the way. I definitely have no off road descending ability right now. I tried to ride with a little more aggressiveness and confidence, but I just don't have enough downhill technical experience yet. Part way down the road I lost sight of John around a bend just as I caught my front tire in a deep rut. I tipped over to my left as the front wheel twisted and partly slid off my bike and onto my left shoulder. My shoulder was slightly scraped and bruised along with my knee and elbow, but wasn't too bad. Unfortunately during my fall I also tweaked the soft tissue in the left side of my rib cage pretty good and I have a feeling that's going to continue to bother me for a few weeks. Although I personally managed to escape any serious ride ending damage during my crash I was worried about my bike so I quickly got it upright again and started checking things out. The first problem I discovered was that my chain had somehow become wedged outside my biggest ring and shifting the front derailleur didn't help much. It took me a good couple minutes to get that issue resolved. Then I discovered my rear wheel still didn't want to turn because it was rubbing on the brake pads. After a few more minutes of fiddling with the brakes I realized the rear wheel merely needed to be reseated in the rear dropouts and from that point it spun freely again. I didn't notice it at the time, but I think I also ripped off my cheap tail light during the crash, luckily I had a superior replacement waiting at home that I picked up at the recent bike swap meet. <img class="alignnone" title="John Resting" src="http://img.skitch.com/20080819-dah2ffjqwpdt71b6iwgsw2f6ux.jpg" alt="" width="400" height="300" /> I hopped on my bike and finally caught up to John at this relatively benign looking section of Temple road and explained what had happened. Oddly enough, I never took any pictures of the challenging parts of the descent, needless to say this portion was very much a brief oasis and in no way reflects the state of the rest of the road. We started up again and John quickly zipped ahead as I gingerly worked my way down. I lost sight of him for a little while and then suddenly when he did come into view I realized he had just had a crash of his own and was getting up off his back. He indicated that he was okay when I yelled down to him and I decided to walk my bike down the rest of that particular stretch. The road finally started to improve shortly after that point and aside from some loose gravel right at the end of Temple things remained uneventful. Newman Lake Drive, the road immediately after Temple, was a fun winding stretch of pavement and it was nice to be able to get up to speed again in the 27-28 km/h range as we meander around the east side of the lake. It was starting to feel warmer, but not yet as hot as I thought it would be. Eventually we reached Starr Rd and took that all the way down to a convenience store at Trent. We took another break there and I downed a 32 oz. Gatorade and filled up a water bottle with ice while John fueled up on a donut and popsicle. I called Mary to check in and let her know that we were about to head back towards Spokane and were probably at least two hours away. At that point I was about 60 km into my ride and I knew it was around 30 km back to Gonzaga- with at least 10 km from work to home I knew another metric century was going to be in the cards for the day. John took the lead heading west on Trent and I got off to a little bit a slow start because of traffic at the light. I quickly got up to speed in the 27 km/h range again, but I didn't gain much ground on John until he slowed up and waited for me. We decided to head down Harvard road to get back to the Centennial Trail and that ended up being a good choice. Riding back on the Centennial Trail was pretty uneventful. John set a good pace and I did my best to stay pretty close to him. It still didn't feel as hot as I thought would be at that time of day and I felt good, but the heat and riding were gradually taking their toll. We saw lots of swimmers in the river and John observed that that was what we should be doing. Once we got to Mission John let me know that he was going to take it all the way to REI so that he could pick up the bottom bracket he needed for his new bike. Initially I intended to follow him, but after getting stuck behind several cars and sitting in the heat of the Hamilton intersection waiting for the light to finally change I decided I could use a quick pit stop at work (it was only two blocks away after all). Once the light changed I crossed Hamilton and gestured my intentions to John who had pulled over on the far side to wait for me. It was kind of a lame way to say goodbye on my part after a good ride but John seemed to understand. Stopping by work to fill up on water and clean up a bit ended up being the right choice. I still felt good and I wasn't dreading the climb back up the South Hill like I have on similar long rides in the past, but I was more tired than I realized and the temperatures were finally maxing out in the mid 90s. I caught up on a few work related topics with my friend and co-worker Dan since I had been on vacation all week, and then I headed back out to tackle the final 12 km home. I ended up heading up Jefferson and Adams and then cutting over to Arthur via 25th to maximize my shade opportunities. I felt good spinning up to 25th in my lowest gear, but once I turned onto 25th I realized I was completely drained and 15 km/h was about all I could muster in the heat. I was able to pick things up a little bit on Arthur and Perry between 29th and home, but I wasn't able to get back up to the 20 km/h speed that I normally feel like I can maintain forever. Despite my slow pace, I made it home without further problems and was quite relieved to get out of the heat and get some good food and a cold Coke Zero. According to my computer I ended up riding just under 103 km for the day at an average pace of 21.3 km/h. Between the heat, climbing and Temple Road descent this was by far the most challenging metric century I've done to date, but I had a great time and was really happy with how well my body held up to everything I subjected it to. Hopefully I can get in a few more metric century plus rides like this one before the end of October.