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Shovelers Sink

Shovelers Sink

Did a very hot 26 mile ride today with the goal of reaching Pine Bluff. There isn't a reason for making this my destination except that it is a point pretty far south-west I haven't been. I have been wanting to explore more of what is west of Middleton in general and take on the more challenging hills in these locations. The temperature was awful—somewhere in the mid 80s with high humidity. It was not a pleasant or fast ride because of the heat, and one reason I choose only to do this loop and not something larger.

I found Garfoot and Observation Road is a really pretty ride, but once I reached Barlow Road the ride got difficult. Over 1.7 miles I would climb 512 feet and grades as steep as 21.2%. The worst section was a 216 climb over 2,600 feet and I had to use my highest gear to accomplish the climb. Even then I found I had to do some S-turns to relax a bit during the climb. It makes Hell Hill look like a speed bump. After the climb, I was completely saturated in sweat, but I had a nice view.

There was a brief stop in the town of Pine Bluff so I could eat a sandwich followed by a more or less uneventful ride back to Elmwood Park. In just under two hours wet mess but back home , and it was a good ride.

   Biked into downtown Madison for a yearly gathering they have, found I had absolutely no interest in it, and biked back home.  It was far too hot for a nice bike ride, but I got 15.6 miles in.  Afterward I went to the skating rink.  Last weeks I was quite impressed with how well I did skating.  This week not so much.  I got started a little latter, but still had 2 hours and 44 minutes of floor time.  I think the heat was too much for me.  My heart rate averaged 142 BPM (77.6%) which wasn't too much lower than last week.  But my maximum heart rate was only 176 BPM (96.2%), and I couldn't seem to keep my heart rate above 165 BPM at the beginning of the night, and could hardly get it to 160 BPM near the end.  The night only burned 1,886 Calories compared to last weeks 2,121—a 11% decrease .  I'm going to attribute the lack of performance to heat exhaustion.  Still, between the bike ride and skating I burned a total of 2,636 Calories for the day.  So I will have to try again next week.
   First week of classes complete.  I found I had to bring along extra food to make sure I keep from getting hungry during the day.  The last part of my day I will dedicate to homework, which is what I did today.  And not being fed is a good way not to concentrate on homework.  I am quite a fan of cashews and having a bag of them to munch on while I study seems to do the trick.  I have identified a nice spot in the library for doing homework.  It is quiet and has a fairly large desk I can spread out.  Not as good as my spot I use to work at U-Rock, but it should get the job done.
   On the way to Platteville is a large field of sunflowers, and I stopped to take some pictures.  Turns out I was not the only person who had this idea as there were 2 other photographers stopped at the same location.
   First day of class at UW Platteville.  The temperature was far too warm to be comfortable, and Wednesdays are my longest class days.  I had previously walked the campus to identify where each of my classrooms were located.  Aside from a last minute change to one of the locations I knew where I was going.  The first day of class is almost always focused on the syllabus—topics to be covered, assignment requirements, how work is assigned and how it is to be submitted.  I had tried to buy school supplies last week, but found everything completely picked over.  So I decided I will be taking notes exclusively on my laptop.  At school I found my SSH connection to the house worked just fine, so I saved my notes directly to my home computer.  It was a long day, but I should grow accustom to it as time goes on.
Steve Explores the German Chapel

Steve Explores the German Chapel

   The second longest single session bike ride I've ever done today at 43.74 miles.  This is just shy of my record of 43.84 miles I did back in July of 2006.  That ride was actually quite uncomfortable, but this ride was much better.
   The first leg of my trip took me to Cross Plains using Airport Road.  I had biked Airport Road as far as Rocky Dells Road in the past and decided I would use this route to get to Cross Plains rather than the slightly longer route that uses Schneider Road and County P.  The traffic along Airport Road is heavier than Schneider Road, but not as bad as some road I bike along.  Once in Cross Plains I used County Road KP to work north-west to Black Earth.  This town had been on my list for a long time.  Unfortunately all the restaurants in the downtown area are closed and the buildings for sale.  I knew this, but it would have made a nice rest stop as this is about the 15 mile mark.
   From Black Earth my path became more challenging.  I followed Turkey Road, working my way north-east.  This is a set of twisting roads up and down hills.  I found a spot more challenging than Hell Hill.  A section of Turkey Road just before Lily Vallery Road and Blackberry Road has a 270 foot hill climb with an average 9.4% grade and a maximum of 21.5%.  Once you get to the top, you go right back down again.  Then a second hill, this one 134 feet at up to 10.3%.  After 15 miles already, the climbs were just more road and I took my time, listened to my book, and peddled along.  Turkey Road turns into Spring Valley Road, then Schuman Road, and then connects with County K.  This goes north and highway 19, which is right next to Indian Lake County Park. 
   Before I left for my ride, I talked to Steve and asked if he wanted to meet me at Indian Lake to do a little hiking.  There is an old German Chapel on top the hill, and I thought Steve would appreciate some German heritage.  So we hiked up to see it.  After the hike and lunch it was time to get back on the road.  I was feeling pretty good and decided I would extend the trip to again go into Waunakee before turning south and heading home. 
   I clocked each leg of the trip independently.  The first 25.5 miles (an hour and 55 minutes) I held an average of 144 BPM (78.7%) with a peak of 167 BPM (91.2%).  This part of the trip had most of the hill climbs.  Steve is not as accustom to hiking as I am, so the hike I averaged 106 BPM (57.9%) which is not much more than my standing heart rate.  The leg going to Waunakee, 9.1 miles, I actually held a higher average at 149 BPM (81.4%) with a peak of 162 BPM (88.5%).  At this point I had a tailwind.  While that should have increased my speed (which it did) it should have done nothing for my overall heart rate.  From Waunakee back to Elmwood Park (8.39 miles) I averaged 142 BPM (77.6%) with a peak of 160 BPM (87.3%).  I was clearly getting tired by this point.  The trip clocked in at 4 hours, and 45 minutes.


   Decided to bike to a near by store and get school supplies.  Then I saw the huge line of people who had the same idea and biked back home.
   Met up with Jenny for dinner this evening and found Pumpkin Cheesecake was back in season.  I hadn't biked enough to justify having a piece, but figured if I did my quick 12 mile loop I could burn enough calories to cover it.  So once back home I sprinted my typical Airport-Ashton loop.  I was till a little sore from the heavy skating session I did the night before, but was surprised when I clocked 47 minutes, 38 seconds for the 12.18 mile loop.  That means I averaged 15.34 MPH.  This is a new personal record, and I wasn't even trying that hard.  Despite not pushing hard, my heart rate averaged 162 BPM (88.5%) and maxed at 175 BPM (95.6%).  I rarely get better rates for this ride.


   Went skating in Watertown with Liz this evening.  I haven't skated a full 3 hour session in a long, long time but decided I would do it tonight.  I used my heart rate monitor once before skating and found I kept a pretty high rate until I took a spill on a wet floor.  The Watertown rink is in much better shape and is probably the best kept floor I've ever skated.  The finish on the floor is setup for inline racing and really grabs one's skates.  While this might require a little extra torque, it prevents sliding.  Skating fast is mostly taking corners, and not sliding is really important if you want to keep speeds high.  I knew already my speeds at this rink were significantly higher, but how much so, and how this translated into my heart rate I couldn't say.  I still have no idea how fast I skate, but I did learn my heart rate.
   My average heart rate for the entire 3 hour session (2 hours, 50 minutes of measured time actually) was 148 BPM (80% of my maximum).  However, this includes the times I was not even skating.  On the floor my heart rate was pretty much always above 155 BPM (84.7%) and when I was actually skating at my regular speed I was over 165 BPM (90%), usually between 165 and 178 BPM (90-97%).  For one song (about 3 minutes) I just wanted to push myself and held a heart rate of 180 BPM (>98%), topping out at 183 BPM (100%) for part of that time.  What interesting is the perceived effort.  While pushing myself, I clearly felt like I was pushing hard.  But most of the time, with my heart rate at 90%, it didn't feel like I was really doing a lot of work.  Skating is so second nature that I didn't know it was as much physical effort as it is.  However that may have something to do with 20 years of practice.
   The session also explained why I ended up gaining weight.  I use to skate 3 hours every weekend.  This session my heart rate monitor estimated I burned 2,121 calories.  I stopped skating regularly when I started working in Cedar Rapids, as the rink there was too slick to attempt fast skating.  The sedentary nature of my job, no exercise, and decreasing metabolism with age all contributed to weight gain.  Skating, it would seem, is a necessary part of keeping weight under control.
   While I was able to skate the entire 3 hour session, it came at a price.  I no longer have the callus I use to have, and I have myself 3 blisters.  I use to never get blisters and it has been more than 10 years since I've had any from skating.  They will strengthen up I'm sure, but it shows I gave skating up for too long.
   Pictured is Liz, my skating partner in crime, at coffee after skating.