How I Biked 167 Miles in One Week and You Can, Too

Does 167 miles seem like a long distance to ride your bicycle in a week? If not, and you can easily rattle off that distance in a single day, then this post (and blog) will probably bore you. Good on you! Thanks for stopping by and not being all judgy. (Like Rootchopper, currently doing 300+ miles per week on his big ass No Name Tour.) Does 167 miles in a week seem impossible? Well, if so, this may also not be for you. Of course you’re welcome to come along for the virtual ride.

But what if you’re in between those extremes and have ridden 100 miles in a week before? Maybe you’re thinking, “Hmm, if this middle-aged fathlete (who isn’t the typical skinny cyclist stereotype) can put up some pretty big numbers, then I wonder if I can, too?” Well, this is for you.

Stage 1: Don’t Plan It, Go With the Flow

It wasn’t the plan. It helps that I’m currently not employed. But I’ve done this distance before with a job, so it’s not a good excuse. Monday, I biked a couple of miles to get to an appointment but hopped on a bus since it began to rain. I then biked the last mile. Afterward, I came home, which was about six miles. I was having sinuses and allergies so took a nap. Later, I went on another few errands adding up to a total of 17 for the day. No big deal. I also did my walk and yoga as I do every day, of course.

Tuesday, I had more errands, and I added some extra miles coming back. That was 11, starting around 11 am. And yes, there was a nap, most days there is one when I’ve not slept enough, and moreso when it’s allergy time. It was discount day at the nearby movie house, and being “without portfolio” as per the yooze (usual), I treated myself to a matinee of Anna, the new, cool action spy thriller from Luc Besson.

After being pleasantly entertained by former Russian model Sasha Luss, who kicked ass in the title role, I came back home, just a mile or so. After dinner I got the itch and felt I had the legs to do another 11, which ended around 11. Boom! That made 23 for the day and 40 for the week. I am not as fast as I used to be, so I just did my pace. It was at this point I figured I might see how long a mini-streak averaging 20-mile days I could put together.

My Strava Training Log for June 24-30, 2019

Stage 2: Know Your Limits, Then Push Them

Pacing is key. If you’re a racer, you go all out. If you’re long-distance, you hold some powder dry, keep some fuel in reserve. If you’re a commuter and kind of a long distance rider(ish), you kind of do both in mellower fashion. You must also pay attention to eating food, drinking water, sleeping (and napping if you need to and can). Riding a week without a rest day isn’t even recommended. When you have to go places, don’t have a car (or chauffeured limousine), don’t take the slow-ass bus unless you have to, you bike. Sometimes that means daily. However you do it, rest up.

The old A Dude Abikes, pre-2015, would only ride his bike when necessary. After I Just Passed 20,000 Miles Bicycling in 4.5 Years, the 2019 version of A Dude rides as much as possible, and then some. Even when it’s not a good idea. But he (I) generally tends to space it out. Until I don’t. Like Wednesday. I imagine I was laying about dealing with allergies, sinus and general malaise, enjoying my freedom, as impoverished as it is. So after another siesta, it was time to put money in the calorie meter.

For this ride, I felt good. Maybe the antihistamines, nasal spray and assorted herbal concoctions were working. I upped my speed a bit, but again kept to a pace that was slightly uncomfortable but still doable. Like maybe 75% of what I could do if zombies or dogs or Republicans were chasing me. Or zombie Republican dogs. They’re the worst! Seriously, though, I kept my legs spinning in a low gear. I stuck to a route I use alot that’s mostly flat. I gauged my effort. I took a break or two.

I also made sure to keep drinking water, water with hydration tab in it (I use Nuun brand, usually) and a few snacks. For this distance, I could have just had a big dinner and wait til I’m done, but I had some citrus chews with electrolytes as well as a protein bar. Not too much, but nothing leads to bonking, and that’s no good, because you’ll fall over, or crash. So 20 miles at 12 miles per hour was a really good effort for me in my current condition.

The different total mileage includes 13 miles of walking

Phase 3: Prioritize the Goal but Don’t Get Attached to It

After biking over 60 miles in three days, I felt I had some momentum going. The streak was firmly established, and quitting, while certainly an option, seemed silly. So I took it day by day, ride by ride, but I also know my own sports psychology. Someone once told me they didn’t think I couldn’t do a 100 miles in one day after the organized ride was delayed due to fog. That alone was fuel for the engine, and I did 50 miles in the organized part and then 57 on my own. Nobody puts A Dude in a corner!

That’s all to say that if your mind and body (and heart) are all united, they can do more than you think. But unless you’re a pro athlete or have a major competition or race coming up, it’s fine to let go of arbitrary goals. Numbers are just that, and who really cares, anyway? If you are trying to impress your bros or a babe or dude, rather than challenge yourself, you are probably hurting yourself in more ways than one. And yes, there’s lots that can be said about consistency, fitness, diet, training, etc. But you also want to “Live to ride another day,” Sam says.

For the week’s worth of my rides, with fun titles and more pictures, see this link to my Strava activities. (If you’re on Strava, please follow me there!)

Yours truly looking serious nearing the end of my 43-miler

The rest of the week was more errands combined with longer rides to get up to 20. By Saturday, I had racked up 124 miles. I thought I might just do 16. But in the back of my mind, I thought if I could reach 140, I could make it to 150. And then I had the thought, “Hell, what if I doubled 20 and made it 40?” Round numbers motivate me. Sunday evening, I headed out.

I had decided I would accept the invitation of a cyclist I ran into at the grocery store. I arrived at Social Cycling Austin’s “Bike Curious” ride, which was nearby and pretty chill. It mostly circled around my neighborhood, and while chatting with the others, I didn’t even fell like I was riding. That was 12 miles. At the end, the leader said she was riding downtown, and I asked if I could join her. Another eight, for 20 total.

After parting ways, I still had gas in the the tank, and I chose the long way home. I could have bailed at any time. A street light wasn’t in my favor, so I went left, away from home instead of right, toward it. I pushed whatever complaints my legs were raising to the back of my mind. I guess I was using Jens Voight’s “Shut up legs!” motto. Finally reaching 43 miles, I had amassed my fifth best week ever.

Squirrel in canoe

There you have it. And no, I didn’t touch my bike on Monday. I coudn’t even bear to look at dear Sophie, the Fairdale Weekender Archer I won in a raffle. Because that photos of me is a little serious, I’ll end with something silly, and perhaps the best thing I have seen on a bike in a very long time: a taxidermy squirrel paddling a tiny canoe. Someone had left it out on their curb. I did not take her/him home, but I did take this photo. Priceless! Keep Austin Weird, baby! Proving once again that going out on your bicycle is totally worth it!

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