Yesterday was a good day for biking in South Carolina so I figured I should not pass up the opportunity. I headed out to Fort Jackson where I have biked (and consistently gotten lost) a few times before. My workout was supposed to be 30 mins easy, a 30 min TT (time trial), 20 mins easy. I knew the base well enough to know that if I went in the main entrance, rode past and checked the big map, turned there and did the loop backwards, it would put me on the backside of the base for the TT. That meant that I would have reasonably easy hills for the first part to warm up, then climb the monsters during the TT, and have rollers for the final part. The time trial would not be fast but my handy dandy GPS/HRM would allow my coach to make allowances for elevation and it was really more about my heart rate anyhow. The back part of the loop was also nearly devoid of traffic and easily had 30 mins worth of riding without any stop signs (you have to come to a complete stop, clip out and put a foot down... base rules. When there is that much heavy artillery nearby, one is inclined to comply.) GOOD PLAN.
What actually happened....
I rode into the base, took the wrong road past the guard shack, missed the map and proceeded to take a two-hour tour of every part of the base but the road I intended to ride. My first wrong turn sent up a monster hill five minutes into my ride. I was not yet warmed up and could feel the lactic acid burn immediately. I tried to ride it as slow as I could without losing so much momentum that I ended up on foot. Then I rode through some areas that had all kinds of speed deterrents in the road and found my body position, speed and bike handling to be more reminiscent of mountain biking than time trialing. That led to several more monster hills (lactic heaven) and finally a guard shack exit... "Excuse me sirs, do you happen to have a map?"
I determined that it was three simple turns to get back on track. I was now 20 mins into the "easy" part of the ride which had alternated between virtually no elevation of heart rate and nearly blowing a vessel with very little in between.
I turned back, empowered by my map session and headed back towards the center of the base. It was then that I entered Escher-land. For the next forty minutes, every turn I made and every road I took ended up somewhere else... or back at this one corner that I think I passed four times. I began to feel like the roads were shifting, or a matter of perspective, like MC's famous illusions. Going back the way I came inevitably put me somewhere I'd never been and going away always brought me back to that corner. ARGHHH!!
So much for the TT.
I got back out into the more rural parts of the base by taking a road that I was familiar with. Except that the last time I rode it, the WHOLE thing was paved. I thought I had a stretch of good riding ahead of me, so I began to hammer a little. I crested a small hill at a pretty good clip and discovered no pavement, only sand and gravel on the other side. Did I mention that I was practicing my mountain bike skills? Fortunately, I was on the hoods and not the aero bars, so I managed to keep the rubber side down and turned back to Escher-ville. Finally (and I am really not sure how), I turned onto the one of the two roads I had been looking for.
Thrilled to finally have a stretch of good riding, I began to press myself. At that point, my body was feeling not just lactic acid but the fact that for all the rough riding, I had not been able to take my hands off the bike to drink. I was more than 1:20 into this ride and had consumed maybe a quarter of a bottle and no calories. OOPS.
Better luck next time.
Still, it was a beautiful day to ride.