I rode my bike for half a century (50 miles) on a recent sunny Sunday, the details of which you can see on Strava. Especially if you’re the sort who needs some proof. Or just don’t believe that guy who’s in the same decade of years as miles, with an extra amount of weight, can do that. Although it was challenging given my condition(s), it wasn’t so brutal that I was wrecked the next three days. It’s no work of art (well, the Strava map kinda is), but this snippet of dialog from Seinfeld sums it up well:
Lois: Have you designed any buildings in New York? George Costanza: Have you seen the new addition to the Guggenheim? Lois: You did that? George Costanza: Yep. And it didn't take very long either.
OK, it’s not a spoiler to point out that Costanza didn’t actually lift a finger. I however, lifted my legs and put them back down repeatedly. While I admit that four and a half hours is kind of long, I clocked in at 11.1 miles per hour. That may not seem like much, but it’s one mph faster than my usual 10 mph (sometimes I’m even slower when I’m especially tired). The first 13 miles were with Rhodney, who is shall we say more senior and a more recreational rider. But as we learned (and I reminded you in my last post about my activity statistics from Q3 (third quarter), I’m going for distance, not going for speed. (Quoting the band Cake is bittersweet since I gave up flour and thus cake 1/1/2018.) Still, for this fathlete, it was a pleasant surprise to find my metaphorical longer distance “bicycling legs” down there…. in my actual legs.
I wasn’t even really trying to go that far — at first — it just worked out that way. The relaxing first part served as a warm-up and more of a social ride. Traveling the upper half of the Southern Walnut Creek Trail was a bit of a revelation to my friend Rhodney, who had not been there in a while and needed a little encouragement to get up the hilly section. I was glad to oblige, and he helped me just as much as I helped him. Biking alone is fine most of the time, but sometimes having a friend along is also good, in different ways. If some socializing requires sacrificing some speed, so be it. It’s still a pandemic, and I tend to avoid people like the plague. Yuk yuk yuk.
We reached the end of the trail and returned, climbing up the short but kinda steep hill to the YMCA. After a little gabbing, we parted ways, leaving Rhodney at his faded old but well-kept camper van in the parking lot. I decided I would tackle the lower half of the trail in a similar, out and back fashion. That completed, I headed toward home, in case there wasn’t anymore gas in the proverbial tank. When I got there, I swapped out my day hat for night, refilled the water bottles and empty the bladder, I discovered that my legs were still there and wanting to do more.
Usually I don’t care for out-and-back rides, because they don’t show up on a map as nicely. It looks like half the ride. Oh well, it makes for a nice map image.
Now dark, and cool, it was still shorts and no jacket weather. So I headed without thinking much about a route. The main advantages of OAB rides are that you don’t have to think too much about where you’re going (well a little bit), and also you know the condition of the road already, so coming back is a bit safer (maybe). They also make sure you’re going to make a certain goal, because you have to get home. Cycling on sort of auto-pilot, the familiar roads took me to the northern section of Shoal Creek Boulevard and beyond. When I hit the right distance, I turned around and retraced my steps, or rather pedal strokes. I’d underestimated by a couple of miles, so tooled around near home until I got to the big Five-Oh. Mission accomplished, and then some.
As with any longer workout, of course one needs to keep eating food and drinking water. Whatever your body tolerates. With urban cycling sometimes finding a place to drain the bladder is challenging, but a lot of places were still open on a Sunday evening. I also know some spots behind bushes or trees and porta-potties and tend to refill water at convenience stores (gas stations) as well as get a treat. I like those pink peanut patties. Loaded with several kinds of sugar, but offset by the protein, they’re a nice if not the healthiest of pick-me-ups. Often they are stale and fairly crunchy. It’s an old-timey Southern snack, and the taste buds want what they want. Sometimes I’ll splurge on some Gatorade or some chicken on a stick. Hey, don’t judge me. Fifty miles is a long way and one works up quite a hefty appetite.
Of course I was tired after but none too worse for wear. the human body is a mysterious thing. Who knows why it works well some days and not so well the next. Food, sleep, cycles of the moon, what kind of day you’ve had, and so on. A big round number like 50 does boost the confidence. It wasn’t for my ego gratification, though, it was to get ready for my birthday ride. I’d managed a 35-miler recently (technically 40 in one day) and was trying to work my way up to 40, then 45. But I ran out of time to allow for tapering the miles before the big event. To paraphrase Prince, “It was Sunday night, and I was feeling all right, I said, legs, do you have enough gas? Oh yasss!” On that note, I think I’ll conclude. As long as that note is not a B flat!
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