The Popcorn Ride was the second event that I had really wanted to do. Mostly for the super sweet jersey. Also, it's really pretty out that way. Today it finally arrived.
My plan was to do all three loops and then ride home to make it my first century. Unfortunately, the weather had other plans. I hope this does not become a pattern. So far every time I've planned to do a century, it has been ridiculously hot and humid. Maybe in the next couple of months, when the fall weather settles in, I'll just up and go spontaneously on a 100-miler. Take that, weather. (Please don't be 95* until November and suddenly be in the 30s just because I wrote that. Sorry, Btowners, in advance if that happens.)
So I got up and had the oatmeal with PB and banana and gathered my stuff and Seth and I headed to the Harrodsburg Community Center. While I was getting checked in, our friend Laurence showed up. I didn't know she planned to do the Popcorn Ride! So I convinced her to let me ride with her (i.e. I asked if she wanted to ride together) and waited on her to get checked in. In the meantime, I put on my sweet new jersey (more important than my cycling shoes, according to the photo!).
Soon we were headed out to do Loop #1 the Dam Delight.
I was pretty impressed with the route choices. While in the Goat Ride they mapped out the most brutal hills possible (Boltinghouse, anyone?), there were many times today that I would see a big hill looming in the distance, only to turn right before it. We also went down some big hills we normally go up (Victor Pike), which was just crazy! And a nice change. I normally don't really mind climbing, except for super steep hills which kill me, but with the ridiculous weather today (seriously it was like 98* with really high humidity; heat index over 100*), not going uphill was really nice.
Anyway, Laurence and I set out and I was going at a snail's pace. I just could not convince my legs to go faster. I could tell Laurence wanted to go at a faster pace, so I told her she didn't have to wait on me and hopefully I would wake up eventually. She dropped me pretty fast and I was on my own. But then I could stop at my leisure to take pictures. I really wanted to make this a touring ride compared to the faster rides I've been doing with the OWLS.
I saw a couple of hot air balloons as I set out, but they were too far away to get a good picture. It was a beautiful morning to be in the sky with all the pinky and purpley clouds and bright orange sun. I watched them as I made my way to the quarry on Victor Pike where I stopped for some pictures.
I continued on and crossed 37 and went through the little town of Smithville, again missing the bigger hills that direction. They were having their Saturday morning Farmer's Market. I thought about stopping, but decided against it. As I got closer to Lake Monroe, I got to ride by the big fancy houses out that way. There really are some beautiful homes around here. I eventually made it to the Dam. I had never ridden on the Lake Monroe dam before, so this was extra exciting.
I don't look excited, but I was. :)
I turned before going up that hill in the last picture! But this time, I was greeted with an even bigger hill on Valley Mission. I think it was the hardest hill today. I saw lots of people going the other direction and started wondering if I had somehow managed to go the wrong way. I think I decided that those people just knew better than me. :)
I rode through some farmland and was soon back at the Community Center in Harrodsburg. I did the, according to my cycle computer, 28.5 miles at a 12.8 mph average pace. I was a little disappointed that I was going so slow. I mean, I had wanted to take it slower, but not that slow! But, I decided that I was happy just to be riding my bike at all.
As I filled my water bottles and had a banana, in walked Laurence! I thought maybe she had gone nuts and already completed two loops, but turns out she had missed a turn (from Victor onto Fluck Mill) and did some "bonus" miles. She did some refueling and we decided to head out for Loop #3 The Popcorn Trail together.
I maintained my slow speed and Laurence dropped me pretty fast again. I just don't do heat and especially humidity so well. So, I was on my own again.
As I was riding through this farmland, I saw lots of cows. Pretty soon I started to notice that the cows were smarter than me. They were all hanging out in little streams and watering holes to keep cool. I almost missed about thirty of them because all you could see were their heads poking up out of the water. The only reason I saw them at all is because the young cows were all standing around the water, presumably too short to be in it. Either that or it was adult swim time.
I see cows all the time and I love riding through the farmland. I don't know why I never seem to take a picture of them. Probably because I'm too busy talking to them. I really liked this loop though. It reminded me of cycling in Wisconsin, except the roads in Wisconsin are better, more smooth.
I made it to the town of Popcorn, and stopped to take a picture of its landmark.
While I was stopped at the church, another popcorner passed me and I decided to hop on and follow her for a while. She was a great carrot! I never got very close to her, but kept her in my sight, which was good enough for me. We went roughly the same speed and she helped keep me on track and not give in to being wimpy. I wish I could have talked to her, because I feel like I would have liked to ride with her if she lived near here. Here's a picture of my carrot as we rode by a cemetery.
Soon, I was back at the community center again, with a mileage total for the day of ~53 miles and an average speed of 13.4 mph. No real hills and a good carrot helped me a lot!
The plan, as mentioned, was to do all three loops. I was going to do the first two loops and my friends Brett and Anne were going to join me for the third loop. Anne is visiting from Colorado and had rented a bike from Revolution Bike and Bean for the occasion, since I had convinced Brett that this ride would be so awesome. They (and Laurence, that speedy minx) were waiting for me at the community center and we were only slightly behind schedule (due to me being slow). I ate a little bit of food and had a Coke and Brett, Anne, and I set out to do Loop #2 the Injun Joe loop. (I have no idea where this racist moniker comes from.)
We headed out, taking it really slow. I snapped a picture of Brett and Anne.
Anne had just a little trouble with her rental bike as we started out. The shifting was making a funny noise and the chain was rubbing a bit. Then her chain fell off as we started to go up a little hill. We got it on and Brett and Anne looked at me as I looked at this barely-a-hill and asked me if I was sure I wanted to do the loop. Apparently I looked dead. I was starting to feel that doing this loop was a bad idea, even though it was the easiest and, we were told, most shaded route of the day. I think my body had just had enough sun and heat and humidity and I was beat. I had wanted to stick to the plan, after all I had convinced them to do this in the first place, but Brett told me he would feel better if I didn't do it than to do it for their sake against better judgement. So, two miles in, I called Seth to come pick me up, and I turned around and headed back.
I really think that was the wisest decision. It was better to quit while I was ahead. I had done pretty well staying hydrated and eating something (mostly pink lemonade Honey Stinger chews) every so often, but in the end, it just was not the day for a century ride for me. And I'm okay with that. I had a great time. I feel bad about abandoning Brett and Anne, but I'm pretty sure they're not making voodoo dolls and cursing me as I type this.
In the end, I did 57.404 miles in 4:26:24 for a 12.9 mph average. And I got two completion coins to add to my collection.