On Saturday morning, August 29, 2015, I got out of bed at 4AM and started the day. I needed to get ready for The Frank, a ride touted as “The hardest one day fully supported tour in Ohio…” The Frank had been on my list of things to do for a long time. Thankfully I’m an early riser, so waking up one hour earlier is not that bad. I went downstairs with Andrea and the dogs I fed the dogs and Andrea made me some breakfast. She makes some great protein pancakes that we have learned to cook up a few batches at a time. This helps us out a lot when it comes to getting up an extra hour early to go to an event, and early morning workouts. After a pot of coffee and some pancakes, I got dressed in my Army cycling shorts and the bike jersey I got from Ride Across Indiana (RAIN).
I made the trip from Tiffin, Ohio to Malabar Farm on the edge of the Mohican State Park in good time. I have made this trip a few times this year. This time I was by myself because I could not con any of my friends into a day of suffering, up and down the hills of Mohican. I have really started to like driving down to the area to train on hill days. I arrived at the about 6:45am, and there were only two other cars in the parking lot and the Race Director Car was in a different lot. It was a cool morning but not too chilly. I chatted with the rider that had arrived before I got there. His name was Scott; he seemed like a really nice guy. I have noticed over the years that most people who do these events are nice. I think mostly because when we get to an event we finally get to chat with people who like to do this stuff as much as we do and not just accept or put up with us and our events.
I got my bike out of the car and as I was putting it together and I managed to pull the guts out of the front valve stem when I took off the valve cap. Luckily, I had thrown my small vice grips in the truck of my car the night before because I was having issues with the rear bottle holder on my bike. Once I relaxed my nerves and caught my breath but it was an easy fix. I got the hydration loaded onto the bike and stuffed some gels and cliff bars into my jersey back pockets. I only had to wait and wait and wait for the ride to start now.
When ride time finally arrived, twenty or so riders started off from the parking lot. We started out going left which meant uphill from the beginning. I fell into the back of the pack, not because I do not like to pull, but because I was on my triathlon bike (time trail bike) (TT) and most “real” cyclist do not like a lot of us triathletes on our TT bikes. I do not blame them; the brakes and the position we normally ride our TT bikes in is not safe for pack riding. This is the reason I ride in the back at first, until they know they can trust me. I ride out on the cow horns so my hands are near my brakes.
The first 15 miles took us a little over 53 minutes and had us riding about average of 17 mph pushing almost 300 watt average. For people who have not ridden with a power meter or would like me to explain why this is important to know, when I ride in a flat area or rolling hills I can hold 21 mph at 205 watts average solo not in a pack. During a pack ride with wind block, I should be riding with 30 percent less effort than solo. This is why I always post watts whether it is average watts or normalized watts. I will write a blog soon with more information on riding with a power meter for everyone. I am not being smart, not everyone rides with power meters and some people who might not even ride maybe reading this. I am constantly explaining all these figures to my wife, who has yet to fully grasp what I am talking about.
The event organizers set up great water and food stops for us. The first one was at about 33 miles in and it was nice to replace the fluids in the one bottle I had been drinking out of. So far I had been holding my own with the pack, riding up and down the hills of Mohican. I got to the rest stop about two minutes after the main pack. The hills up to this point had been good hard climbs, but nothing that could not be ridden with some good push on the pedals.
I got back in the pack after everyone got a little food and drink. I did not eat anything and before the day was over I was wishing that I had. For the most part the roads are well maintained in the Mohican Area. I had ridden many of the roads with my friend Nathan Whitman and at the half ironman distance race earlier in the summer. Unfortunately, a week or two before this ride the state, county or townships (not sure who) decided that some of the roads needed to have a good fresh coat of chip and seal. If only the people who made these decisions were cyclists. Another thing to be aware of is that there are a lot of stop signs located at the bottom of hills. I suppose that’s life in hilly areas, but quite dangerous for cyclists. I over shot one this year and got lucky no cars were coming.
I rode hard up and down the hills, and it was really a nice day. I noticed about lunch time that the weather was starting to heat up a little. At mile 50 I got a little cramp in my right hamstring and I took two gels and washed them down with some fluids and the cramp went away. I had not been eating enough because I was afraid I would run out. When we got to mile 62, the ride team put out a deli spread of food with chips, cookies, ham, turkey, grapes, and bars. I knew then I should have eaten more gels and ate at the first stop because the ride crew was going to feed us all day.
I made a note to myself, eat and drink to keep the cramps at bay. The watts we were pushing were crazy. The whole day was push and push. It is a great ride, but one has to know that pushing hard is what the FRANK is all about.
I drank all my fluids on the bike between the 62 mile stop and the final stop at mile 82. There I shoved a banana down my throat; grabbed two bars, and took off again with Scott. It was just me and him now. I decided I would slow down and ride with him and climb the hills hard to get some training in. My Garmin went dead before the 82 mile mark. I got the final data from Scott. We rode 100 miles climbed 10,800 feet in 6 hours and 15 minutes. Over the first 70 miles, I averaged 270 watts, normalized power at 272, burned over 2950 calories, with a Training Stress Score of 248, and I still had 30 miles to go.
The FRANK ride is put on by a great group of people; they put right on the site that it is not for beginners. I say it is a great ride for people who want a challenge. I used it as a train up for Cedar Point Full distance triathlon. It is a nice ride to have on a bucket list. I am not sure if I will go back because I have a list of others to do, but I hope to do it at least once more maybe a few years from now. Maybe by then one of my friends or someone reading this now will want to give it a try.
My Garmin File: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/881689661
The website URL: https://bike-ohio.wildapricot.org/TheFrank