On Friday I decided to celebrate the last day of unemployment with a pretty good distance bike ride. Near my house every September there is a century ride with several lesser distances as well including a 31, 48 and 65 mile routes. The roads are permanently marked with the guide markers and the routes, especially the 31 mile route, are very popular as a standard weekend ride. I decided I would go out on the 31 mile ride for this ride and maybe toss in some additional distance. Because I started from my house instead of the Budweiser plant I knew it would only be about twenty miles.
Riding any of the roads from my house always poses tons of challenging climbs and this ride was no different. For the first fifteen miles I slogged along, pushing myself up every climb and careening as fast as possible down the other side. Some of the climbs were harder, but I managed to make it up each one. When I hit the split that would separate the 31 mile route from the longer distances I decided at the last minute to follow the forty eight mile route. With my subtractions I was looking at 38 miles instead of 20 miles.
One of my concerns was the severity of the climbs on this unknown section. Initially all felt too good, the roads were slightly rolling hills with very minor ups and downs. I was really enjoying turning the pedal and getting some speed and distance. Then the steep climbs started back up, some worse than the 31 mile course. I pushed on,taking frequent breaks every ten miles or so. After 24 miles in the saddle and legs growing sorer with even more climbing I needed an off the saddle break.
When I first started cycling last year I had a very low endurance threshold, the point where the act of pushing the bike and myself up and down hills becomes extremely difficult. This threshold indicates the point where its no longer challenging climbing up hills but where it is a dire struggle, when the legs ache and mental fortitude takes over to replace raw strength. Since then I have pushed this threshold to around 24-25 miles. Riding past this point is what makes me tougher and stronger both mentally and physically. Once I hit this point though I start taking more frequent brakes as its the distance that is important.
At mile 24 I was surrounded by pastures and fields. I had not seen a subdivision or home for miles. I stopped to take a rest and my recruiter who got me my new job called to make sure I was good for Monday. I answered the call moving around to keep my legs from getting cold. After I hung up with him, my brother called and I talked to him for a minute. I was needing a decent rest as I was at that endurance tipping point. While I was talking to him, in the middle of nowhere I suddenly heard the sounds of an ice cream truck, but could not see it. It made no sense as there were no subdivision and the only living things in the area were cattle and weeds. My brother told me to get back to riding and to take some food as he thought I was getting leery. I hung up the phone and then I saw it, an ice cream truck blaring out its tune zooming towards me over the hill, I was not fatigue starving mad!!! I realized I had no money and felt bummed, but it would not have mattered, the ice cream truck was going too fast. I sipped my sports drink, took a gel and moved on, I had more miles to go.
I pushed on and finished the rest of the ride with very dead legs and a big grin on my face as I had fought for every mile and had truly earned the distance. It took three long hours to finish those 38 miles but I got the distance in and completed a very challenging ride. Of course, I still could not explain the ice cream truck and its blaring music… was it trying to solicit money from the cows? You see the oddest things sometimes when out on a ride…. Til next time.
- What is up with this creepy ice cream truck? (ask.metafilter.com)
- My first “century” (therubberhitstheroad.wordpress.com)