Training Journal

June 7th, 2008

Today was my worst ride yet. I just had my bike tuned up and fitted and also had a new, more comfortable saddle on it and the first 20 miles felt great. When I got to 311 and where I was supposed to make the loop I passed Mt. Tabor which had turned into Newport once I hit Roanoke County. My legs got cold after I called my dad up to have him look up and see if Newport is where I was supposed to go. To compliment my problems, I passed a gas station and thought about filling up my camelbak but passed because I still had some water in it and in my water bottles. This proved to be the worst mistake ever as I ran out of water somewhere between mile 30 and 33. I was now riding through 93 degree heat with no water and still 15 miles to go. I ended up becoming very dehydrated to the point where I was feel nauseas and couldn't cycle more than a mile at a time without needing to stop. Then right as I was about to start my final big ascent my rear tire went flat. Trying to change a flat tire when you are severly dehydrated is not an easy task. Once I made it to the top of the hill, I finally had to stop at a random house and ask for water. I continued riding knowing I still had 5 miles to go, quickly chugged down both my water bottles and still felt sick just hoping I could make it home. I thought about calling someone and having them pick me up but I wanted to continue on. Once I finally got home I chugged down some more water and felt pretty bad for most of the night. I've had questions about whether or not to take my camelbak across the country with me, but now I feel like it is better to take it because I never want to feel that dehydrated again.

May 26th, 2008

May 22nd, 2008

May 20th, 2008

The computer I have on my bike uses GPS and allows me to post just about every imaginal statistic from my ride online. You can now follow me through some of my training and my whole journey this summer. Below is the link for my first ride with it.

April 18th, 2008

After riding with us on Wednesday, Jimmy rode with Vince and me again today.  Vince looked up a route from one of the cycling club website and said we needed to take Mt. Tabor Road.  I was the only one familiar with this road because when I was pledging Pi Kapp 5 years ago I had to go out there to a brother’s house for an interview.  I was quite surprised on just how beautiful this ride was going to turn out to be.  We started off going up North Main and what I still haven’t learned yet is to pace myself.  North main had a long slightly uphill part to it and I was leading.  The speed limit on North Main is 35 mph so cars are flying by and I am peddling pretty hard and tired myself out fairly quickly.  Once we got passed all the traffic and onto Mt. Tabor where there was hardly any traffic things changed.  Mt. Tabor is full of rolling hills and is truly the path less taken as there were not many cars out at all.  Today reached about 85 degrees but we missed a lot of that as we started riding after our classes at 5:30.  We didn’t really have a set route planned, just to go as far as we wanted on Mt. Tabor until we decided to turn back.  Once again, none of us had computers so we don’t really know how long the ride was mileage wise, but we rode for about an hour and a half.  After going down a huuuge hill, Vince yelled back to me basically that we are going to be screwed going back up that which we all thought would be true.  Shortly thereafter, Vince’s chain popped off and Jimmy and I stopped to wait for him to fix it and catch up.  After he caught up we checked the time and decided it was probably going to take us a good while to get back up that hill so we turned around.  Once we got back to the long winding hill we all put our bikes in the lowest gear and went to work and as it turned out it wasn’t nearly as bad as we thought.  All of us stopped at the top of and were sort of taken back by how easy (compared to how hard we thought it was going to be) it was.  We ended up getting back to North Main in what seemed like a lot shorter time then it took for us to get out to where we were on Mt. Tabor and the ride ended shortly thereafter.  After saying good bye to Jimmy and Vince when they went back to the house, I continued on to the Hockey house to visit the boys and Brynn and Emily as they had been outside with a slip n’ slide all day.  I showed up in my spandex and were handed a few jokes.  Austin then tried to get on my bike and as soon as he did he reacted in his exuberant manner to how hard the seat was and cracked some more jokes.  Today was a great ride and was the first time I really wanted to go on a ride.  I sat in studio most of the day waiting to get on my bike which is a great sign as I previously only had that feeling with hockey. 

April 16th, 2008

Today is the first anniversary of the shootings at Virginia Tech and after the morning ceremony a bunch of us had decided to get out of town and away from the media.  The day before we had sent out a bunch of emails seeing who wanted to go for a ride and today we were rolling deep with 7 of us going.  Danny, Vince, Sean Anger, Gerry Hudak, Jimmy Vaeth, and Brett Sherfy who is on the VT cycling team.  Sean is doing Gear Up Florida this summer which is another even that Pi Kapp offers and is a smaller version of the Journey of hope where members spend 2 weeks cycling across the state of Florida.  Gerry is also planning on doing this in 2009 while Brett has already been accepted to Journey of Hope for 2009 and Sean and Jimmy are planning on doing JOH 2009.  We started off from the Pi Kapp house again on our way down to the river.  I originally thought this would be the route I took on my first ride…instead it was the route I dreaded in my first ride.  Luckily we only took the long hill down and not back up.  We took a much more scenic and pothole filled route through back road on the way back to school. 

We started off heading down Prices Fork much like the last time and then took a right down towards the river.  This road was a lot of fun, mostly downhill with 1 or 2 long uphill stretches.  I had to stop once on one of the uphill stretches because my tire pump had come loose and was rubbing against the crankset.  This gave me time to wait for Sean and Gerry who were pulling up the rear.  Gerry doesn’t have clip pedals and it showed.  But we all stayed together and keep on going.  Downhill again my bike was very fast and we reached the river in fairly decent time.  It was a beautiful day and many people had decided to get away from Blacksburg and come down to the river.  We passed the tubing place which isn’t open this time of season and stopped just a little farther down and hung out for 15 minutes or so and just shot the breeze. 

The road we came back on was often filled with gravel and potholes but a very scenic back road speckled with ranch houses every now and then and little churches.  This is the side of Blacksburg that not a lot of people actually see but is great when the weather is nice.  Sherfy was leading the way as I’m assuming he has taken this route before.  I had no idea where we were up until just the end of the trip where we passed the pond where we play pond hockey at during the winter.  It was a great ride, kept us out of Blacksburg and the media and allowed a bunch of us to hang out just like we had done shortly after the shootings.  I worked on getting used to my gearing again and switching gears before actually starting the climb up a hill.  I am still impressed with just how fast my bike is.  It really makes downhill a lot of fun and flats a nice calming ride.  The ride ended up taking 3 hours and was roughly 30 miles or so.  None of us had a computer or the ones who did, there computers weren’t working, but Sherfy said it was roughly 30 miles.  All in all one of the best way to make use of the down time between ceremonies.

April 3rd, 2008

Today was the first time that I have taken my bike outside and rode it for an extended period of time and all I can say is wow.  On the way over to the Pi Kapp house to meet up with Vince, Danny, and Matt, I could feel a little burn in my legs as I switched through the gears to feel them out and thought to myself quickly what did I just get myself into?  I have been having these thoughts for a while.  Even when I first decided to apply to the Journey of Hope, I knew that if I sat around and thought about it for a while I would talk myself out of it.  Say this is my last summer before I get a job, I should spend it with my friends, the 3 or 4 weddings I am missing this summer, oh how much fun those would be, etc. etc. etc.  I knew I had to apply quickly and commit myself to the point of no return so I couldn’t talk myself out of it.  The Journey of Hope has been something that whenever I joined Pi Kappa Phi I always wanted to do.  I remember telling my dad at a parents weekend when one of my brothers who was doing it that summer got up and talked in front of all the families, that I wanted to do that.  He replied you don’t have the money to take off a summer to do that.  I responded that I didn’t care; I was going to do it at some point, somehow.  Every now and then I think to myself how much work I still need to put into this.  The time commitment is already huge with architecture and trying to graduate.  The easiest part so far was actually raising my goal of $6,000 and actually surpassing that already by over a grand.  I really do appreciate everyone’s support and hope you all know there is no way I would be able to do this without all of you. 

As we started out from the Pi Kapp house, the wind felt good.  Before today I had been riding my bike on a trainer since hockey season ended.  I started off riding for only a half an hour, then moved up to 45 minutes, and now ride roughly an hour and a half every other day.  I would usually ride while watching some of the TV shows that I had missed during the week and recorded or while watching ESPN.  I would normally end the ride with my legs feeling a little spent and my clothes completely covered in sweat.  It’s not a bad early morning workout at all although it has cut into my studio time on some days.  Today though my clothes weren’t that sweaty I figure because of the wind, but my legs were completely spent.  I kept thinking to myself my legs are going to be really sore tomorrow.  We had decided to go down to the New River which if you have ever gone tubing on the New River you know the hill that is downhill for about 5 miles and I was thinking to myself this is going to be painful.  Luckily for me, that is not the road we took.  We rode out on Prices fork and right around Blacksburg Middle School, Matt who was behind me called to me but I didn’t hear what he said and responded what?  When I couldn’t make out what he said again I just figured it was something meaningless like him telling me how much he liked my ass in spandex which he did later on in the ride.  As we rode farther Vince yelled back at me asking if we still had Schmidt, which we didn’t.  Danny, Vince and Me turned around and it turns out he was yelling at me to tell me he had just blown his tire.  Opps, haha.  This was the first time I had watched a tire tube being changed and after about 15 minutes of watching Danny repair Matt’s tire with a tube Vince gave him we were back on the road.  We continued riding with Danny being the more experienced rider in front, followed by Vince, Me, and Matt pulling up the rear.  Whenever we would start to go down the slight hills I would have to break to stay behind Vince while he was still pedaling downhill.  I realized what Andy Crooks of NYC Velo, where I bought my bike, meant when he said this bike was fast.  This bike was really fast.  So fast that I found myself often not having to pedal downhill while the other would be and I was still making up ground on them or having to break to keep from running into them.  In fact going down one of the hills I was going so fast that I decided to pass Vince and then Danny which probably wasn’t the best idea since going down this hill I knew this was the fun part and that going uphill would be a pain.  Once we did start going uphill again I accidentally unclipped from my pedals and drove my foot into the ground basically forcing me to a complete stop. The three other guys continued past me and I let the huge group of cars behind us pass before I got back in the saddle.  I think part of the reason I unclipped is because I wasn’t in the right gear which is what a big part of this trip consisted of.  I constantly was switching through gears trying to figure out how they felt, which ones to use in which situations, etc.  I caught up with the guys again as they had stopped at a gas station toward the top of the hill and we realized we only had 15 more minutes or so to go before we would have to turn around to make it back to school before it got dark.  At this point we had been on the road for an hour.  Danny went in to the gas station and asked the attendant how to get to the river and she responded what are you boys doing down at the river at this time of year to which he responded, I just want to see it, haha.  As we proceeded we ended up going downhill for about a mile to the bridge that went over the New River.  We stopped, Danny went to the bathroom in the woods, and we threw some water back and turned around basically saying this hill isn’t going to be fun.  Vince who is also doing the Journey of Hope but has the south route keeps telling me to have fun with the Rocky Mountains to which I tell him have fun with your 120 degree heat through Texas, Alabama, and Mississippi.  Going back up this hill wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, I put myself in a low gear and just kept pedaling.  I was behind Danny and tried to focus on how fast he was spinning his legs to try and match my gearing to that.  We reached the top, took a small breather, I filled my camelback up with another water bottle and we continued.  The hill that killed me was the one I passed Vince and Danny on going down.  I had to stop because my quads were hurting so much as Vince and Matt passed me and I told them it might take me a little while to get up this.   Once I started again, my legs felt better but quickly tired out again.  I stopped once more to rest them a little then continued on and met up with the guys at the top.  The rest of the ride back to Tech went rather smoothly as I found myself feeling that it went a lot quicker on the way back then it did on the way to the river.   One would think it would be the other way around considering we would be more tired and had the 2 big hills to go back up on the way back.  But that was not the case.  As we made our way back to campus I said bye to the guys as they were going back to the Pi Kapp house and I went back to my apartment.   As soon as I got back to my place and got off the bike I knew my legs were done.  I took a nice long shower immediately, and after I got out I just wanted to take another shower.  I made a big pasta dinner which didn’t fill me up and I was hungry for most of the rest of the night.  But I can say my first ride outside was a good one.  While a little painful, it gives me hope for this summer and a little more confidence that I can do this.





© Copyright Ryan Cole 2008