It’s hard to not write about the elephant in the room when it’s far, Far FAR! bigger than that. Coronavirus is like sunlight, or water — except that it’s poisonous for many, and deadly for some. There are I’m sure much more eloquent attempts to explain and interpret what’s going on. After all, I’m just A Dude who rides a bicycle and blogs about it. My tiny corner of the internet is just one example of something a few humans think is kinda cool, or interesting, or important, but in reality is not. It’s frivolous, navel-gazing distraction.
And yet, we each do what we can to cope, to survive, and maybe again even to thrive. So I’m writing this blog. And it occurred to me that maybe I’ve learned a few lessons from biking 100-175 miles a week for 22 weeks in a row that might help me and you get through this. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. (I’m not really suggesting you do that; please don’t.)
Biking 25 miles in one day can be challenging or easy depending on your abilities and how you feel. Then there’s the weather like wind, rain, cold or heat to contend with. Traffic can be very scary even if you’re used to riding in it. Also important are the quintessential questions that come up riding a bike like: what to wear, what to eat, where to go? I must have figured all that out because I managed to make it another seven days in a row for the 10th week. This past week I totaled 175 miles, which is huge – 25 miles a day if you’re counting. Or a mile for every hour of the week (168) plus seven. So what follows are some thoughts on my pretty stupendous week (or stupid, depending how you look at it; maybe it’s a little of both.)
Not that beast. I mean beast mode. I’m not a believer in magical numbers (unless my lottery tickets finally pay off). It was my second longest month ever, after the 731 I did in April 2017 including 202 Miles in 2 Days for the MS 150. Given my lack of a day job at the moment, I made it my bidness (as some people actually pronounce “business” in Texas) to bike my butt off (it’s still there, though). And bidness is goooood! That’s because I averaged 150 miles per week. Well, I guess it’s volunteering if I’m not getting paid.
It’s surprising that I accomplished this since it takes me longer than it used to. I could blame Sophie, the 28-pound steel bike with nine gears I’m riding, or the prematurely colder, windy and wet weather, but I’m just not moving very fast these days. Some people I know rode Das Hugel, an unsanctioned sufferfest that’s over a century and 10,000 feet elevation (I wrote about it last year.) A Dude doth not Das Hugel. However, compared to everyone who’s home sitting on the couch, I’m friggin’ Speed Racer. So perhaps my efforts are inspirational to somebody out there reading this. You don’t have to believe me, let’s look at the Strava stats.
From the things that make you go mmmmmm department:
Mishap #1: Trash Cans, Trash Talk
Riding down a sidewalk of a busy four-lane road without bike
lanes, I swerve to avoid recycling bins, miscalculate, and Sophie the Fairdale’s
very wide handlebars catch them. I go
down like a Christian thrown into the gladiator ring trying to save the lion
with talk of Jesus. (Translation: Quickly.)
But unlike those unlucky folks, I bounced right back up, apparently
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.
Sophie Gets Me Compliments
“Dude! That’s a sweet bike you’ve got there,” says a random person on a bike every week or two at a stoplight or while I’m locking or unlocking my bike. They’re talking about Sophie the sea foam Fairdale Weekender Archer, my main squeeze these days. “Yeah, she is, thanks. I won her in a raffle from Bike Austin,” I counter.
“Really? Wow, that’s great!” they say. “I love that color too, it’s really pretty.” I reply, a skosh sardonically, “Yes, she’s pretty, just like me. And she was worth $850 new! Lucky me, right?” That’s usually the extent of it. Some car people talk about their cars in a similar fashion, but it doesn’t seem the same. Back when I had one, 14 years ago, I didn’t have such conversations. It wasn’t pretty, it just got me from point A to point B.
BENEFIT #1: For me, these little chats are specific to being out on a bike. It’s a small thing, but they brighten my day. (Sophie loves it too.)
If you ride your bicycle regularly, you may have noticed that lots of little stuff happens that probably doesn’t happen for people dependent on cars to get around. Sometimes it’s big stuff, like you: go on a long ride, compete in a race, get a new bike, set a personal best on that Strava segment. The little stuff that goes on, while not as headline-worthy, is just as interesting, to me at least. There is often more than meets the eye if one is willing to look deeper. Let’s take a look at four things that happened to A Dude and find out.