Every bike rider has an epic ride story. Whether it is the story of how you conquered deadmans hill on your dragster when you were 9 or how you beat the Fat Cyclist with one leg. For some people, like The Amazing Shrinking Man, given their background it’s epic that they can ride at all. Many ride because it’s part of a sport they participate in like Tom-Tri. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Then there’s the just plain silly – take this geography teacher from England for example: he’s cycling from Siberia down east Asia, around Australia, over the sub-continent, across north Africa and finally home to England… a total of 40,000km (25,000mi). His plan is likely to take 3 years to compete. That’s 40km (25mi) per day. No big deal until you look at where he’s riding. Siberia, China, Africa, Papua New Guinea. If you haven’t heard of Papua New Guinea here’s all you need to know – it is home to the Kokoda Trail of WWII infamy. It’s also where the wild man from Borneo goes on holiday.
Me, I’ve had my fair share of epic rides. Some I’ve already written about. Some more will come with time. But this week is becoming what I would consider epic, in the context of my current form.
Thursday last week I was at the LBS to get some new handlebar tape for the road bike. At 110 kilograms (242lb) I lean pretty heavy on the bars and therefore the tape wears out. Fast. While talking I mentioned to the owner that my weight loss had tapered off quite badly.
His suggested remedy – shock the system. He said to my face “go and do 5 hours just to kick start yourself”. The man’s a triathlete so I would ordinarily take his advice with a grain of salt, but I had noticed a photograph on the shop wall showing him crossing the finish line of the Hawaiian Ironman IN DAYLIGHT. As luck would have it, I didn’t have any concrete plans for the next day, so I arrived at his shop at 2pm with over 3 hours in the saddle and another 45 minutes to get home. Then he pours forth the following gem, “I meant up your duration by 20-30%”.
Here’s the kicker. Of the 72 rides up to that point this year, 62 of them have been less than 2 hours. But it was too late, I rode 122km (75mi) in 3hr 57m for an average of 30.9kph (19.2mph). That was Friday.
Yesterday everything felt a little bit stiff and sore, except the bits that felt tender. So I swapped the pedals onto the fixie and rolled out for what I was planning on being a gentle hour. I got home in 1hr 50m with 50km (30mi) behind me for an average of 27.1kph (16.8mph). There were some new aches, but quite a bit of relief from the previous days damage.
Today (that’s Sunday, for those of you whose clocks are set on American time instead of proper time) there was an admirable plan. There was a long group ride going from the LBS. A loop that would total around 140km (87mi). I had no aspirations of staying with them because there’s a sharp climb less than 15km (9mi) from the start. If I survived that, there was a 10km (6mi) @ 7-9% that arrived at around kilometre 40 (25mi). My plan was to leave about an hour after them, ride down the flat side of the loop, turn at about 50km (30mi) and then wait for them to roll over the top of me on the return leg.
110kg (242lb) me cruising at 37kph (23mph), 5 of them (all riding Cervelo P3’s) swapping off at over 50kph (31mph). It was a beautiful plan. Except I never saw them. I left home 10 minutes late but that just means they would have caught me closer to home. Unless they had a series of punctures or a fall – I guess I’ll find out on Monday.
All I know is that today I did a solo 94km (58mi) in bang on 3 hours. That’s 31.3kph (19.4mph). I’m not too upset with that, or the 3 day total of 266km (165mi) And with 2 more days of flexible timetable I may yet bust out another pair of 100km (60mi) days. My legs feel better now, 2 hours after today’s ride, than they have in the last 72 hours. I may have found my new self just waiting to be awoken by a decent sized ride.
This week was 18 points, but for some reason a 0.6kg (1.3lb) gain. I’m putting it down to muscle growth from the increased mileage, and waiting to see it all dissolve over the next 2-3 weeks.