I couldn't remember how far Blair was from Ft. Calhoun, but a friendly sign let me know only 9 miles. Good enough. Then I started thinking, if I'm keeping a 20mph average (which I wasn't anyway but dreaming I was) that would only give me maybe 3 hours for the ride. Oh well, I could always tack on that jolly cimb just North of Blair.
That 9 miles started to wear on me. So by the time I got to the official turn around spot of the ride, I was ready to head home anyway. My route home was hwy 133. I hadn't been on this road for quite some time and the last time was probably on an un-busy weekend morning. At this point, it was 5:30pm and all the live-in-Blair-work-in-Omaha crowd was all coming at me. Since there were few cars going my direction to disrupt the air being pushed by the oncoming cars, I got a slight headwind. This, along with the mighty hills of hwy 133 plus the fact that I was running out of steam, really took it's toll on me. By the time I was to the Keystone trailhead, I was more cooked than when I had gone on tough group rides. I guess shooting for the 20mph average on a solo ride was not the wisest choice.
What I had forgotten about training was the hurty leg period. This is the time of year where the meat of training begins. After you've taken some time off of the intensity of the racing season, you've maybe picked up some cross training, and ride when the weather permits over the winter. If you can stand to labor through hours in the gym of weight training and hop on the trainer consistently for 3-hour rides to nowhere, you'll be way ahead of everyone else. Then, from late February to early April you're cramming all the toughest rides in that you can so you'll be ready for the race season. This includes centuries done with fast guys to work on sustained hard efforts, really intense intervals to open up your high-end aerobic system, and the start of racing if it's around. This is the hurty leg period. You're always tired, on the verge of getting sick, and your legs are in a constant state of soreness - hurty legs.
The problem is, I'm at that point right now, and I have quite a few months to go for the next road race season, unless I want to hop into some cross races. Which is entirely possible with my new all-rounder bike. But, we'll see about that.