Sunday, August 12, 2007

75 Miles

Yep. Here are some highlights.

Park, unload, extra food. I carry two water bottles.

Mile 9: The trail gets rough around mile 9. I slow my spin and feel myself tense up.

Mile 10: Tiny Town A. There's a trail head here, a waterfountain, and a latrine. Also a little store where you can get food or drink. I refill my first water bottle, and use the latrine. In the Bardiac rating system, this latrine gets an A+; there's almost no odor; the floor's relatively clean, and bonus! there's toilet paper! Flies are minimal.

Mile 17: I pass through Tiny Town B. There's a building with a coke sign, but it looks like it's been closed for at least 20 years. A guy's mowing in one area, and later, a woman is hanging laundry. That's going to smell good when it dries!

Mile 22+/-: Road splits. I take the road better paved, which promises 7 miles of smooth biking happiness to Small Town C. Along in here, I break out a food bar thing and eat some. I quickly realize that I'm not really good at chewing and riding a bike. When I ride, I tend to breath through my mouth, and I just can't do that and chew.

Mile 30: I ride through Small Town C to find a gas station that's open so I can get some "rehydration drink." I lean the bike against the outside wall and walk in, and there's one of my students from last year in charge of the cash register. I get a Gatorade and stand in the coolness and chat.

She's excited to be coming back to school, and tells me about the classes she'll be taking this coming semester. She tells me about the difficulty she had adjusting her first semester, and how she hit her stride during the second semester. We talk a bit about dorms and the fun of classes. I use the bathroom and refill my water bottle (with permission, of course). My student wishes me a good ride, and I invite her to come drop by when the term begins again.

There's a state/highway patrol guy and a county sheriff guy. At least I can be pretty sure I'm not going to get busted for speeding on my bike.

Mile 37: I'm back to the road split; this time, I take the other choice, belying Robert Frost's assertion. But then, neither of these trails seems less traveled.

Mile 39: I cross the most impressive bridge of the ride; it's an old trestle bridge, maybe a quarter mile across. I love riding across bridges on my bike. I'm not sure why, but it makes me smile.

After the bridge, the trail is packed dirt. I've ridden this trail a couple times now, and I'm less charmed each time. I can feel my wrists, arms, and shoulders working hard to handle the bumpiness. I keep moving my hands around, though I like the drops best, I rotate on the hoods and on the top bar, so that my wrists don't hurt.

Mile 44: I reach Small Town D, and ride up the hill, hoping my favorite malt place is open. It's not, so I go to another little diner. There are maybe five tables here, and when I walk in, they're all occupied. A senior-looking guy smiles at one of the tables, and I ask if he minds if I share. He doesn't, so I order my grilled cheese sandwich and malt, and sit. We chat about the town, and he tells me about working at a lumbermill in the area. We talk about how the trees have changed around here, the bike trail, the pleasure of being outside on a nice day. The women making food and taking care of the counter tease him about keeping in line, and one of them sits with us and chats. He's clearly well-liked here. He stands up and goes to the counter, and one of the women tells me he's bought me lunch. I thank him, and he sits down to chat some more.

I ask about the other place, and hear that the owner's having some arcane sounding health problems. I wish her well.

My grilled cheese is yummy, and the malt hits the spot, and it's relaxing and pleasant to sit in the cool and chat for a bit. I thank him again for my lunch, and for sharing his table; we shake hands he says he hopes I have a good ride and that we meet again. And I'm off. (I take yet another latrine break at the trail head, and yet again, the latrine earns an A+ rating. And, again, I refill the water bottle.)

Mile 49: Back to the bridge. Swimmers look like they're getting ready to jump off the bridge and into the water. Hmmm. That seems like a bad idea. I hope it's really deep down there!

I'm really glad to be off the packed dirt trail and back on the roughened asphalt.

Mile 53: The trail takes me along the side of a river, maybe 15 feet up and off, with a lot of trees and brush between the trail and the river. At this area, the river is wide and seems very smooth and slow. That may be deceptive. The opposite shore is gravelly, shallowly sloped, and clear of vegetation for a long way off the water from where the water usually is.

As I'm riding, I notice (through the brush) a big and very dark thing near the shore across the river; on second glance, I notice there's white on top. I stop, turn and go look, and indeed, it's a Bald Eagle, either standing in the shallow water, or on something in the water. I can't tell from where I was. It's so quiet, just the ripples of the river and the occasional rustling of leaves on the trees.

And then the eagle takes off, and thwath, thwath, thwath, I can actually hear his wings beating as he flaps from across the river. I'm awed. He lands a little bit further along the river, in the shallows. The eagle alone is worth the price of admission.

I'm really feeling tired in the arms and wrists; I'm glad the eagle gave me an excuse to take a short break.

Mile 63: Back at Tiny Town A; I stop at the trail head and chat with a couple people there. A ranger comes by, and we chat about wildlife we've seen. I tell him about the eagle.

Yet another latrine break. And water refill.

I thank the ranger for taking care of us folks on the trail, and he tells me it's a fun job. Smiles and waves, and I'm off again.

Mile 64: Back on the smooth trail. My speed picks up a tad; my arms and shoulders relax. This feels so much better!

Mile 73: I'm back to the car. I stop and drink some of the icy chocolate soy milk I've got in a small cooler. There's still ice, small pieces, which come out with the chocolatey goodness and feel incredibly cold and good.

I get back on the bike and ride into town for a mile, and then back, so that I'll actually do a whole 75 miles.

What did I learn? 75 miles is a long way. I think I can do 100, but it's going to be long!

I was on the bike for about 5 and 1/2 hours, not counting the rest and eating stops. Another 25 miles would add at probably two full hours.

I've really begun to hate the rough part of the trail. If I do 100 miles, I'm thinking I'll either ride on some roads, or ride the first ten miles to Tiny Town A and back five times, and just do it. That would be boring, but 7-8 hours on a bike isn't going to be a thrill around here anyway. The advantage of the trail is that I'd have food/water or whatever available easily, either at the little store, trailhead, or my car. And the trail is pretty flat compared to most roads, so much easier. But I'm thinking that would be a whole lot easier on the arms and wrists.

I need to carry some ointment to add midway or something. I'm a bit chaffed (but not badly, thank goodness!).


  1. Wow, I'm so impressed with your progress! Yesterday we did 33 miles, and I was pretty wiped out. I can't believe you did all of that in 5 hours, because I think it took us about 4 to do the 33. My bike is absurdly slow, though. It has a heavy steel frame.

    I think the adrenaline will keep me good for the 55 mile tour we're doing in Sept. Maybe you should come out for it, and you can do the New York City Century too (though in your case you can do the whole century)! If you register by the 18th, you still get a relatively cheaper rate.

  2. I am very very impressed!

  3. Anonymous8:26 AM

    Let me join the echo in here! Wow! Impressed! I *might* be able to bike the 1-mile to my office...under duress. (I walk.)

  4. Brilliant, B. You're kicking my biking ass!

    As for ointment: I strongly recommend packing a stick of Body Glide. My lower body always thanks me later.

  5. That's great! You're totally ready to do a century -- 75 miles is about the longest training ride I do before attempting 100.

  6. Geez: and I can't even make myself go into the gym for half an hour at a time! I'm in awe.

    And it sounds like it was a lovely ride, for the most part.

  7. Let me join the queues to shower kudos your way! I'll look forward to hearing about your upcoming century!

  8. Congratulations, Bardiac!

    This post almost made me want to fill the flat tire my bike has had for two years.

  9. Hey, congratulations! 75 miles is a long, long way, and it sounds like you made pretty good time!

    I'm a bad bike owner. I didn't even take my bike with me to Field Town, although now I'm starting to regret it (my brother's borrowing it for the year). Poor, neglected bike!

  10. I'm in awe of how great you're doing with the cycling. Go you! :)

  11. Ianqui, OMG, that would be so fun! The good old boys take off from classes to hunt deer; I wonder what the dean would say if I took off to go on a bike ride?

    My bike is so light and such a beautiful machine that I'm just amazed every time I ride. New bike in your future?

    K8, thanks :)

    Theodora, I bet you could bike! (Unless there's a nasty hill?)

    Amanda, Thanks for the Body Glide suggestion. I got some, and I'll try it out for real tomorrow.

    Dorothy W, I'm glad to hear that from someone who's done a century. You give me hope!

    Ancrene, Thanks. Biking is WAY more fun than a gym for me. Besides, where I live, I can't see the air, so that helps me want to be outside and all.

    Artemis, Thanks :)

    Heo, Want to borrow my bike pump? C'mon, it's FUN!

    JB, Thanks :) When I lived in a really rural area, the thought of biking was scary. :( No trails or anything.

    MWWAK, Thanks :)