A century and a half

Hobgoblin has decided lately that he wants to ride super-long rides, as in really extra, super-duper long rides, as in training for races that are over 500 miles long. I don’t plan to be a part of any of this, but I’m up for some more reasonable distance challenges. So when Hobgoblin proposed that we get a group together to ride 150 miles on Labor Day, I agreed, albeit nervously. I rode 130 miles once, maybe seven years ago. I was in bad pain and crying by the end of that ride. In the years following, I’ve ridden 100 miles many times, usually a time or two each year, although this year I’d upped that to three times, with quite a few rides in the 70-90 range. I’m now at nearly 5,000 miles on the year. But still, 150 miles was something new.

So we got a group together and set out yesterday morning at 7:00. We left with eight people, although some were planning on cutting the ride short and doing 80-90 miles. We set out north, through the small city I live near and up into the countryside. I love riding north because the landscape there is beautiful in a way that’s different from the beauty of my area. I love the way that my area is densely wooded with little hills tightly packed together, so you feel hidden away, covered by the branches and leaves that form a canopy over the narrow roads. The landscape up north is much more open, with more farms and fields, so you can get a view of neighboring hills and low-lying mountains.

As we rode north we stopped at little villages to buy baked good, candy bars, and Gatorade to fuel us on our way. Eventually three of our group split off leaving us with five to head even further north, up into Massachusetts, to climb one of the nastiest hills you’ll ever meet. It’s one of those hills that just keeps going; you think you’ve reached the top, you go around a corner, and there is more hill waiting for you. This happens again and again. But we made it to the top and had a lovely downhill stretch to ride, and then we were heading back south again, back into Connecticut. We stopped four times total, at around mile 35, 68, 93, and 117.

And we made it back home again, after 8 hours and 14 minutes. I couldn’t believe how easy it felt — relatively speaking, of course, relative to how it could have felt. My legs started to protest during the last five miles, but I think that was at least partly psychological, as my legs knew they had a break coming very soon. My upper back and neck were sore, but the breaks we took helped; I took the opportunity to stretch and move as much as possible, and that made the pain go away, at least for a while.

It was a fast ride for me — just a touch under 18 mph. There is no way I could ride that fast on my own, but with some friends to draft on and to motivate me (and with good long sections of flat road), it was possible.

So today I’m not moving much. My legs aren’t sore, though, just tired. I don’t have plans to do the ride again right now, although I think it’s likely I’ll get talked into it before too long.

16 Comments

Filed under Cycling

16 responses to “A century and a half

  1. Wow – hugely impressive, Dorothy! And I’m so delighted that it was a real pleasure, too.

  2. Rhian

    Respect! I am really impressed – I think I’m doing well when we do 20-30 miles.

  3. You are crazy impressive and should be proud of yourself! I just can’t imagine traveling that kind of distance on a bike, and certainly not in one day!

  4. Wow–that’s almost an entire shift at work with practically non stop riding–very impressive! It sounds like a nice ride, though, with the scenery. Do you ride the entire distance and then drive back or turn around at a halfway point?

  5. Congratulations. It is always nice when a long ride goes smoothly and can be enjoyed.

    Last night I was invited to ride on the F-1 track in Suzuka. The event will be October 24th. This has me realizing I have only been on my bike one time since my PT stopped. It is not a competitive event so I don’t have to be super fast, but I find I’m a lot more comfortable if I’m in shape.

    I hope you have more chances for some long enjoyable rides.

  6. bardiac

    Wow, amazing! Glad to hear it went well :)

  7. Wow Dorothy! Good show! And what a testament to your increased fitness since the time your tried 130 miles. Are you sure you won’t work toward one of those 500 mile rides? ;)

  8. verbivore

    Very impressive! I’m glad you enjoyed it as well, because that is what really counts. And your description of the countryside made me want to lace up my running shoes and sample the view on foot – I’m a terrible biker.

  9. Good for you! I know one should “never say ‘never,'” but I am quite sure I could never ride 150 miles, especially with that killer hill. You and Hobs should come down here next August and ride in this http://dreamrideprojects.org/BicyclingEvents.html.

  10. I mean the Nightmare Tour, not the measly Dream Rider Tour.

  11. Sounds amazing and congrats on completing it with such panache! Just sorry I missed out. This time….

  12. That is quite an accomplishment, as it will be to keep Hobs from talking you into the 500 mile ride. We all know how great you are at withstanding peer pressure! ;-)

    You’ve definitely earned a long day of reading and relaxing on the couch.

  13. Litlove — thank you! It really was a lot of fun, which is kind of hard to believe, even for me!

    Rhian — well, 20-30 miles is great! I’m happy when I can ride that too :)

    Steph — I worked up to it, believe me! I wouldn’t have been able to believe it 10 or 12 years ago.

    Danielle — we did a loop. The crazy hill I described was kind of at the halfway point. It was a pretty narrow loop — the way up wasn’t that far from the way down — but it was different enough to keep it interesting.

    Bikkuri — I know what you mean about being more comfortable when you’re in shape — I can ride when I’m not in excellent shape, but it’s not nearly as much fun.

    Bardiac — thank you!

    Stefanie — I know! What a difference. I think it’s helped that I’ve been working on upper body strength, so my neck and arms don’t get as tired as they used to. I don’t know about the 500 miles, though — a multi-day ride with limited sleep sounds awful. I need my sleep!

    Verbivore — it would be beautiful country to run through; in fact, we saw tons of runners while we were out. You can’t cover quite as many miles that way, though!

    Emily B. — I’m sure you could ride the 150 miles, but the real question is whether you would want to. I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t! Thanks for the link — that ride sounds like a lot of fun.

    Suitcase — next time! Because there will probably be a next time, even if it needs to be next year (for that long at least).

    Debby — yes, I’m terrible with the peer pressure! But long rides that require getting little sleep are definitely not my thing, and I think Hobgoblin will need my support, so I think I have a good excuse :)

  14. verbivore

    No, I suppose you can’t cover 150 miles in one day on foot…my cousin-in-law is a fan of the 100K race, which he does every year. That’s a lot of ground in one day.

  15. So impressed. Are you sure you’re not going to try any super long rides if that felt easyish?

  16. Verbivore — 100K? That’s a ton! That seems so much harder to me than 150 miles on the bike :)

    Jodie — well, we’ll see … they require so much time — for the ride itself, but even more for the training. But who knows?

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