“Nothing travels faster than the speed of light, with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws.”
– Douglas Adams
The month of February marks the first full month since I made the decision to really pursue a multi-day trip. Biking to meet my wife for lunch in late January, I began to ruminate about a potential 800-mile trip to my home town of Kennedy, NY, from our current home in Iowa City, IA, and went from considering it to putting forth a viable game plan within the next 36 hours.
In those first few hours after presenting the idea to my wife, I had mapped out a potential route, including all rest stops and possible sleep stops, while she worked diligently to set up this blog and a social media presence on Twitter and Instagram.
The end goal, in addition to this long ride, is to gain enough traction through these mediums to eventually attract a charitable sponsor. If not for this ride, then another long ride in the near future.
I also began to tentatively plan and think about what type of training would be necessary to accomplish this endeavor. The first thing I began to do in the last two weeks of January was extend my normal 3-mile commute into a 9-mile short version and 14-mile long version, committing to bike six days a week, even with the temperatures dropping below 10 and 20 degrees when leaving at 6:30 in the morning. Training doesn’t stop just because you’re cold. I became smarter about the cold weather gear I used and–aside from my water bottle–was able to stay comfortable, despite the dipping temperatures. And by comfortable I mean still cold and sometimes numb, but when you saddle up on a 11 degree day, that is what will happen, regardless of what you wear.
The second thing I did was begin to implement back-to-back rides. For the long trip, it will likely require about five days of cycling of over 150 miles each day. I know that I can do 150 miles; I have done that several times before. What I do not know is if I can wake up the next day, saddle up, and do another 150 miles again and again and again.
The first weekend of this new arrangement was a 40-mile ride Saturday and 28-mile ride Sunday, which should have been 20, but the weather and–for once, helpful–wind turned it into an impromptu interval training. The next weekend I extended the mile totals between 45-50 on day 1 and 25-30 on day 2 (ended at 47 and 31, respectively). This trend will continue throughout the training schedule until I am up to a 100-mile trip on Saturday by May. After that milestone, I will leave the 100-mile Saturdays the same and continue to increase the Sunday miles until I hit a century ride on each day.
The third thing I did was begin to put more focus on stretching. I try to stretch for 20 minutes or more each night. I think this should be helpful in keeping my legs and body fresh, which again, will be important for multiple day rides. I pretty much hate stretching with every fiber of my being and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia episodes are the only thing that makes it tolerable.
In total, I managed to get over 600 miles for the month of February, finishing with 621 in total. For some perspective, since keeping track of my miles on Strava and MapMyRide going back to 2012, this 28 days of cycling is my 4th highest mileage total for any month. My current highs are 654 miles in May of 2015, 729 miles in August of 2015 (that month included my longest ride to date, which I’ll post about in the coming weeks), and 736 in May of 2016.
For some more context, my previous February mile totals (not including indoor training rides) are as follows: 2012 – 44.86, 2013 – 38.44 , 2014 – 94.44, 2015 – 109, 2016 – 33. In my defense of 2016, I did injure my shoulder at the very end of January that year.
Nevertheless, my training thus far appears to be going very well. The good thing is if I stay on track, each week should yield more miles than the last as long as I maintain my daily commute trips during the 4 days prior to weekend training rides up near 100 miles (which I did the last two weeks in February).
My main goal for March is to increase weekly mileage totals each week. As the figure below from Strava depicts, I have done that through the month of February.
I should be doing more core exercises, so there’s my second goal for March. I hate doing any exercise that isn’t biking, walking, or racquetball, but I need to pay more attention to this because my neck, back, and shoulders will also give out during this multi-day ride if I do not spend time strengthening those areas