Monday, December 29, 2008
Thousand Mile Ride
I rode a bicycle over a thousand miles this year. Not all at once and not all in the same place or even on the same bicycle, but it all adds up to over a thousand miles. I went on the ride that put me over the top yesterday afternoon. The winds were blustery and the roads still damp, but the weather was warm and I had been waiting a month for the right day to roll the odometer before 2008 was history.
Now a thousand miles probably counts as a slow week or two for Lance Armstrong (and speaking of Lance, he managed to knock-up his 26-year old girlfriend despite his much publicized testicular cancer. Even his swimmers are aggressively athletic), but it is quite a feat for me. While that averages out to less than twenty miles a week, it actually requires me to ride three or four times a week when the weather is nice.
I have been keeping meticulously anally-retentive (is that hyphenated?) records of my rides for four years now. Actually, they went back further than that, but I lost the first year’s records in a tragic hard-drive crash just before I rode the Seagull Century in 2004. I log the date, route description, total distance, total time, and time it took me to ride the first 2.5 miles. Two and a half miles is an odd little building block of my riding habits. If I keep a 15 mile per hour pace, it takes exactly ten minutes to ride 2.5 miles, which also equates to one mile ever four minutes. So if I’m bored with the scenery, I’ll try to calculate in my head how fast I have to ride for the next mile or two to get back on the target pace. I know, I am such a geek.
A thousand miles is more than I had ridden in the previous three years combined. I credit two factors: I managed to stay injury and accident free for twelve consecutive months. Since 2004 I have had a broken ankle, a torn ACL, and one smashed bicycle helmet. I also no longer have a dog to walk every morning which gives me a lot more free time for going on a quick spin on sunny summer mornings before work. I’d trade half those miles for having my dog back, but I try not to think that much about him because it still hurts.
I have standard routes that I ride around Howard County that take me through or past either Patapsco State Park, Dorsey Hall, downtown Ellicott City (my favorite) or Clarksville. Those names probably don’t mean anything to anyone not familiar with Hoco, but that’s how I roll, literally.
I also achieved a milestone that had eluded me the past few years, which is riding up Ilchester Hill. Going up from the Patapsco River, Ilchester Road climbs four hundred feet in less than a mile. A sign going the other way warns of an 18% grade. While I know of much better cyclists than myself that can loop that a couple of times, just getting up it once without keeling over is accomplishment enough for me. It took my second attempt this year to conquer it, but what a feeling of satisfaction mixed with exhaustion it is to make it all the way up.
But what I really enjoy are rides in new and unfamiliar places. This year I’ve taken bike rides in the San Jose valley, up and down Cape Cod, and across the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a lot of fun and a great way to see places up close and personal.
I don’t know what is in store for next year, but I’d like to ride another thousand miles. The forecast for Thursday is cold but sunny. It’s never too early to get a good start on the year.
BlatantCommentWhoring™: Where should I go cycling in the coming year?