Wednesday, May 13, 2009

36 Miles in One Day!

The other day I was thinking about one of my first "long distance rides"
years ago and how things have changed since then. I thought I'd share
it with you because it still kind of cracks me up.

Back in 2003 Jenny's sister was in town and they decided to spend the
day in Seattle with the kids doing the tourist thing. Since Jenny
wanted to hang out with her sister I got the pass not to go with them.
With everyone gone I packed up my Costco mountain bike complete with
full knobby tires on the bike rack and headed to the centennial trail.
I think this bike weighed 3 times what my current bike weighs but it
sure was steady in wind storms. In the past I had ridden this trail on
family bike rides but the farthest we ever got was 3 or 4 miles up the
trail before heading back to the car. Of course back then I would pull
a bike trailer full of kids who didn't know how to ride a bike.

This time was going to be different though. There were no kids to pull
and no time constraints so I was going to find out just how long this
trail really was and where it ended up. I was totally prepared for
whatever would came my way because I packed a fanny pack chalk full of
one entire water bottle! Yep, that was it and away I went no spare
tube, pump, or food, I was ready to go.

As I rode along I was having a heck of a good time because I was heading
into the great unknown. This trail could have gone all the way to
Oregon for all I knew. As I was riding along I could see in my mirror
(it was a big fat bulky one) another rider who was slowly approaching
me. We were heading up a slight incline and no matter how hard I
pedaled he kept gaining on me. Eventually, he passed me and I shook my
head in disgust. How could a road bike pass me going up a hill? I was
on a mountain bike for heaven sakes shouldn't I be faster on hills? I'm
normally not much of a competitive guy but that day I found out that
getting passed brings out the competition in me. It was like someone
was challenging me to a dual or something.

I ended up making it to the end of the trail which happened to be in
Snohomish. As I looked at my speedometer it said 18 miles which was a
personal best and I still had to ride back to the car. I celebrated by
sitting down on a bench, digging in my fanny pack and drinking my one
bottle of water which of course I hadn't touched yet. After I polished
off the bottle of water I headed back feeling fully hydrated. On the
way back I spotted another cyclist up ahead of me and I was bound and
determined that I was going to pass him. I put my legs in overdrive and
spun those knobby tires as fast as they would go until I crept up and
slowly passed him. I have to admit I felt quite a sense of satisfaction
to have passed him even if it was really slow. What I didn't realize is
he would be following me for the rest of the way so if I didn't want him
passing me back I would have to maintain the same blazing speed. I'm
sure my blazing speed was all of 14 MPH but having never ridden that far
before and lugging a heavy mountain bike equipped with knobby tires I
was really hitting my personal red line for cycling.

There was no way I was going to be passed though so I pushed it for the
rest of the trip back to the car. As I arrived I couldn't believe I had
just ridden 36 miles. At the time it seemed like I had ridden the
equivalent of a marathon and as I hopped in the car I wondered what all
of the white powdery crystals were that were all over my face. They
even had a salty taste to them.

On the way home I picked up a salad at the store to eat for lunch
because since I had ridden so far I must have turned over a new healthy
guy leaf. When I got home I polished off the salad in no time flat and
then began to eat everything else in site that I could get my hands on.
I had a hunger that just wouldn't quit and to make matters worse I was
super thirsty. Wasn't one water bottle good enough for a 36 mile ride?

Over the years I've learned a lot about cycling that I didn't know then.
I still occasionally ride the centennial trail but that 36 miles doesn't
seem nearly long enough these days. I bring a lot more things with me
like a spare tube and I actually drink which I'm riding. I even
occasionally let people pass without it bothering me (occasionally).
Even though things are a little different today it's hard to match the
feeling of accomplishment I felt that day. 36 miles in one day!


jeff said...

We all had to start somewhere. I remember riding out and back on a trail that probably totalled 30 miles and feeling quite proud if I could ride at all the next day. Now I only feel that way in the spring, but it passes.

Jeff said...

I remember getting lost my first summer cycling and going 50 miles when I wanted to do 30 for the first time ever. (30 for the first time, not 50).

I drank two 32 oz gatorades when I got home and laid down with my feet up so the lactic acid could drain out of my legs.

Jenny-Jenny said...

False. The only person you didn't mind passing you was Greg Lemond. Remember the time we rode 20 miles in the San Juans and were just too beat up on to go at all the next day?

Linda said...

Oh boy, can I relate to this story. My first long ride was 25 miles and I don't remember if I had water or not. But when I came home I almost ate the carpet. It was the closest thing to my mouth when I walked in the door and fell to the floor.

Ohiorider said...

This is a great memory. I recall when I first started riding, the longest routes I would do were all under fifteen miles.

My first "real" long distance route was 40 miles, from our house in Vandalia OH. to a friends in Middletown Oh. I made it in about 4.5 hours and felt like I was on top of the world!

Exactly like you, I rode it on a Wal-Mart MTN bike that was already about 20 years old and weighed about a thousand pounds,(ironically I still have that bike, it's now my beater bike). I brought along one water bottle and halfway through the ride, I stopped at a McDonalds for lunch. Which in turn caused me to have to take several restroom breaks afterward. I too also wondered how other cyclist could achieve great speed and tried my best to do the same without success. Oh yeah, there was salt crystals all over me and a hunger that couldn't be stopped.

Mike J said...

I'm glad that you guys had similar experiences like I had with an incredible hunger after your rides. Thanks for the comments.

The Old Bag said...

I remember my first season back on the bicycle and how each new distance was such an accomplishment...and such a mental game! We were on a tour of OR and the day was slated for 80 miles (I'd gone 80 miles before) but as I watched the computer tic off several MORE miles I felt a certain sense of anxiety at never having gone that far...and being tired...and wondering how much to conserve.