“A sign said, ‘Do not allow your dog to chase, injure, or worry wildlife.’ How is a dog going to ‘worry’ wildlife? Run up to a bird: ‘Hey, I think you’ve got something on your beak. It could be a tumor.’”
– Andy Kindler
Saturday’s ride marked the first time I have seen the sun on a long ride for what feels like a month and a half. I went the same way as last Sunday’s ride with a slight change to simultaneously increase the total distance and avoid any and all dirt roads. I read an article about how Europeans bike on cobblestone with some tips and tricks and another article highlighting one rider’s 3 minute and 49 second mile on cobblestone with a 20% incline. Not me, not ever. Articles like that are great to keep one in a constant state of remembering just how amateur they are at this biking thing. Moral of the story: I was very focused on not getting dirt roaded for 10 miles like last Sunday.
This ride was an important milestone ride because it’s the halfway mark of the distance I will need to go on a daily basis for the long ride. In other words, on Saturday, I completed one tenth of the distance I will need to cover over five days.
This ride was notable for a few reasons. First, I tried to push myself a bit more than I have thus far to keep the pace up. I think this will be very important for the long ride in terms of training and in terms of performance during that trip. I think there’s also a psychological component to this. When you are cruising comfortably, the speedometer reading relatively high, it’s a great feeling. When you can’t get any speed and you’re pushing and nothing is happening, it’s spirit crushing. Getting my speed up and more consistent will allow me to complete the trip faster and feel better while doing it. In fact, this trip was nearly identical in route to last Sunday’s trip, but my moving speed was almost a mile per hour faster on average. This may be chalked up to the lack of dirt roads and not biking 40 miles the day before, but even then, a mile per hour average increase is pretty good.
As a disclaimer, just using speed as a measure of effort and efficiency is not very accurate, but it’s a fun number to look at.
Second, all of the pushing the pace led to an interesting feeling around mile 60. I felt very thirsty even though I drank over three liters of water on the ride. I had dry lips and a bit of cotton mouth. I am not sure why that happened. This thirst feeling was combined with a feeling of tired that resulted in a bit more pedal coast rather than a constant pace. Pedal coast in this context means you pedal a few strokes, then pop out of the saddle and coast, catching your breath. The technique is terrible for pace, but great for getting through some of those miles at the end of the ride.
Third, more dog attacks. I already discussed my utter disdain for the species in another post so I won’t delve into it here, but one of them came from nowhere and I only noticed it when it was almost at my leg and barked. Luckily, no car was coming because I swerved at the abruptness of the beast giving chase.
In terms of food, I started the day with a new peanut butter pancake recipe along with some bacon and orange juice. While on the bike, eating was nearly identical as last Sunday with an intermittent smoothie and granola bars or App Trail Cookies.
After the ride, I went for a 5-mile walk to work and then the grocery store to keep the legs a bit loose with a look towards the 45-mile Sunday ride.
Sunday started with an overcast sky much more like every day in March had been. The rain would hold off only until about five miles away from home.
As I made my way down towards Route 6, I saw another biker fiddling with his tire on the side of the bike trail. I did a U-turn to see if he needed any assistance and he used my CO2 cartridge to top off his tire. He offered to pay me back for the spent cartridge but I refused. One thing I appreciate about biking is the sense of camaraderie that is found; a wave or head nod as you pedal past on the opposite side of the street. I think nearly every time I have stopped on the side of the road or bike trail, not one biker hasn’t stopped or at least slowed to ask if everything was OK.
About ten miles in on Sunday, I felt a slight twinge in my left calf. Nothing serious, but again, the same trouble spot acting up again, which is worrisome because it means all of my attempts to fix it have not worked. For that reason, the ride went a bit slower than expected as I played it safe for the rest of the trip.
The calf scare combined with the general tiredness on this Sunday ride resulted in a few moments of riding in doubt. A lot of questions went through my mind about whether or not this long trip was possible. I thought about how if it does not go well, if I am not able to do it, it might mean I am never able to do it. If everything goes according to plan, I will have spent just over half a year getting ready for this particular trip. If that amount of time is not sufficient, then I do not think such trips are possible for me moving forward. Those are thoughts best left at the bottom of the hill, though.