“You live and learn. At any rate, you live.”
– Douglas Adams
This weekend marked a slight change in the regular biking plans. Instead of making some random circuitous route, I went one direction(ish) and then drove home. Saturday’s ride was designed for this purpose because my wife wanted to go shopping in Marion, IA. However, Marion is only 30ish miles away from Iowa City, so I had to take a more roundabout route to get my mile total up close to 90.
Fortuitously, the wind blazed through at 18 mph from the southwest and Marion is north of Iowa City. Un-fortuitously (defortuitously?), in order to make the distance, I had to go farther North and East and then head Southwest.
That wind was quite challenging, especially when I was going East and dealing with the crosswind. I had a road with no shoulder and a lip between the edge of the road and the gravel side, which means that if, hypothetically speaking, the wind pushes you off the road, you’ll most likely hit the lip with your tire, which will likely lock your tire parallel with the lip while you continue going left. All of this could spell a wipeout. Hypothetically, this totally happened minus the wipeout. No idea why i did not wipe out, but I don’t plan on trying it again to test the probability.
The wind here, as I have maybe mentioned in nearly every weekend post, is just so incredible. I flew down Route 1 and the ride was going great. Then the inevitable turn against the wind and my time and speed plummeted.
However, that wind though. That changed what I wanted to do on Sunday’s ride. Instead of finding some route to mitigate the wind by trying to only go against the wind for a few miles, I stared at Google Maps and asked the wife if she would be open to picking me up again.
So I ended up heading South for 40 miles and did a back-and-forth stretch East and West for 10 miles to get up to the 50-mile total before meeting my wife and driving home. With 15 mph winds from the northwest, the ride went very well and I posted my fastest speed and time this season for a long ride.
Now, some would say I took the easy way out and they would be right, but they also most likely did not bike 50 miles on Sunday to top off a 210+ mile week.
It reminds me of the story of Amanda Coker. When trying to sign up for an April mile challenge, I came across the leaderboard on Strava and wanted to see how I was fairing in comparison to real bikers. Staring at me at the top of the screen was Amanda Coker who had an incredible mile total for it just being 10 days into April. A quick Google search showed that she was not only attempting to break the Highest Annual Mileage Record (HAM’R), but had already broken the record with a month left in the calendar year to pad her stats. Furthermore, she is someone doing this challenge just a few years removed from major injuries after suffering a collision with a car.
Now, notice I am attempting to compare taking a 50-mile ride to someone who probably averages 230 miles A DAY. The comparison is this: When reading up on Amanda’s story, the comments section was rife with people stating that her record didn’t matter because of how she was doing it. Amanda bikes the same route every day, going around Flatwoods Park in Tampa, FL. See, by doing the same route, which is relatively flat, means that Amanda “isn’t really earning the record.” This complaint is almost certainly coming from people who have a bike with an enormous gel saddle that they use to bike around the block six times a year.
By stating that this incredible feat Amanda has done–and is still doing–is invalidated because she is not doing it the same way as Tom Goodwin did in 1939 is absurd for so many reasons. For one, just getting on the bike 365 straight days is a feat for most. Biking 200 miles ONCE in a year is a feat for an even smaller percentage. To average 230 miles a day, EVERY DAY for a YEAR is incredible. I wouldn’t care if she was doing this on a stationary bike. If I were attempting this, I could maybe MAYBE do two days in a row and then I might die.
The second absurdity is assuming that if anyone who does not do the rides the way Goodwin did means the record doesn’t count. I do not know Amanda at all nor do I know Kurt Searvogel, who held the record for only 15 months before Amanda broke it, but I think they would both agree with me that attempting to break the record in the exact same conditions that Tom Goodwin had to deal with when setting the record is unnecessary. This is especially true because in order for any record breaking to occur, we would need to recreate the conditions of World War II in London riding 200+ miles a day on a vegetarian diet and working off government rations . What Goodwin did is incredible and will always be remembered for standing as long as it did in the year it was completed. But that should in no way diminish was Searvogel accomplished last year and what Amanda has accomplished this year.
The connection I am trying to make between them and me is that I am not sure taking the “easy way out” by biking with the wind on Sunday means that I somehow cheated the system. If that’s cheating then sign me up for another because the ride felt great. It was thoroughly enjoyable and not having to think “Alright, only six more miles of pedaling in this direction” was a welcome change.
For Saturday’s ride, I started the morning with cereal and some yogurt about an hour and a half before leaving.
Other notable things from Saturday’s ride included not bringing enough food. This ride was a good reminder to overpack slightly and to replenish my backup food stash that I usually have throughout my backpack pockets and saddle bag. I added a new food to the bike trip in the form of GU energy gel. Most of these have caffeine so I avoided those flavors and stuck with the Strawberry Banana flavor. This gel is by far the best that I have tried. Other gels are too goopy or liquidy and get downright gross when they warm up. GU gels, however, have a great consistency and taste great no matter what temperature they are. On long trips, I tend to freeze these packs overnight so they stay cold for a few miles of the trip.
I also added in some beef jerky. Beef jerky is such a good snack for me while biking. The saltiness of it can taste so amazing at certain points during a ride.
One issue with not having enough food is that once we got to the restaurant, I fell into the trap of overeating. I ordered an appetizer and a meal and then ate the majority of my wife’s meal. I wouldn’t eat the rest of the day, but I still didn’t feel great come bedtime.
The other issue was dry mouth for the majority of the trip. I believe this to be due to the constant wind and probably even the high temps that I’m still getting used to this year but the effect is just constantly feeling thirsty. I did bring enough fluid to get me through the trip but I never felt fully satiated.
Another factor to my dry mouth may have been this interesting thing my hydration bladder has begun doing. As soon as I pop out the valve to take a swig of water, the fluid comes rushing out and does not stop until I close the valve again. That would be mostly fine as long as the valve closed easily, which it doesn’t.
Overall, Saturday was fun with a chance to hang out with the wife and have some lunch before driving home. We left the restaurant just as the scattered thunderstorms rolled in, so that was nice as well.
For Sunday’s ride, I had a sausage and eggs before leaving and ate my usual contingent of granola bars throughout the ride in 10-mile increments. The wife and I drove awhile before stopping to get her some food and I attempted not to overeat, but did have a gratuitous amount of chocolate milk, a piece of fried chicken, and a granola bar for lunch. I did not eat dinner and instead opted to snack on nuts throughout the evening and had a piece of sweet potato pie after a 4-mile walk.
My body felt good throughout the weekend except for my bum. I hope to have a remedy for that starting next week (more on that in a future post). Everything else was the normal level of aching.
Next week will be a bit of a hiatus as I will be out of town Wednesday to Sunday attending the “Sex Differences: From Neuroscience to the Clinic & Beyond” Symposium at American University in Washington, DC, and the March for Science directly following. I plan to pick back up the following weekend with a 95-mile ride and a 50-mile ride. We are very close to hitting that 100-mile mark.
One other issue with the rides this weekend was the reintroduction of my least favorite tree, the classic Pyrus calleryana. Not everyone is susceptible to these trees, but those that are will know the unique olfactory horror that accompanies these trees flowering in the springtime. Unfortunately, the road heading up to my house has one beautiful noxious Pyrus calleryana on it so this will be my life until the end of summer.