An Epic Ride
For me it was 104 miles from the outskirts of Boston, up to the peak of Mt. Wachusett (which is a ski area, by the way) and back. It was, by far, the toughest physical and mental thing I had ever endured. By the end of that day two folks were in the SAG and me and another were limping home with the sweep riders. It was an excellent ride and a good tale, but this is the story of Saturday’s ride, where I did considerably more than 104 miles.
Some of my friends here in Penang are just as crazy about riding as I am, and mapped out a route for 200k. The previous weekend we had done 100k and that was pretty tough, so this was really going to up the ante. I wasn’t too worried about being able to finish the ride, there are ways of getting home and I was feeling fresh having only ridden an hour in the previous two days. My 4 AM alarm came and I managed breakfast and a few sips of coffee before heading out the door to meet the group. Once off the ferry and onto the mainland the five of us headed north for about four hours.
In that time we stopped once for second breakfast, and to refill water bottles and there was a decent paceline going for a bit, but as expected it broke. Three were out front, then me, then one off the back. Mentally this was the toughest stretch. My emotions ranged from euphoria at finally able to do my own pace, to boredom because the road was flat and straight, to annoyance at my legs for not keeping pace and having to ride solo and finally anger at many things, but mostly at the constant headwind/crosswind that slowed me down. Not going to lie…there was some residual anger at my friend who had mapped the route. The time seemed to be going by quickly, but the miles weren’t. I was out in the middle of a stretch of road, with no one in sight and I often thought how satisfying it would be to hop off the bike and throw it somewhere, only so I could be done with riding, but I carried on.
Mercifully, we got to the turnaround point and everyone caught up. I believe my first word upon reaching my friends was “FOOD,” and, though I had been hoping for some destination at the end to see, I was really more excited about not being on my bike for a while, and eating lunch.
After eating and procrastinating the return trip, we headed back, taking a different route that would be less windy and less boring (win-win!) as well as easier for the SAG wagon to pick those of us up who needed a ride home. For a long, long time, I thought that would be me. When we got to the 160k mark (or 100 miles) I was actually feeling ok. My legs weren’t bothering me much, rather it was everything else, but I had come to accept the pain and just rode on. Our group of five dwindled to just two, with two in the SAG and the ringleader off the front doing a different route. For awhile we carried on at a decent clip, but eventually slowed down, until even shifting down for all of the red lights was a bother; it was easier to stand and power a high gear to get going again when the light turned green.
Though it took me awhile to get the math right, I realized the finish would come no sooner than 135 miles, so my ultimate goal was to beat my 104 mile record to at least do my longest ride. When 105 miles passed my goal changed to 115 miles, then 120 and when 125 miles came and went I knew I could finish the ride.
In the end, it was 138 miles in just under 9 hours (of riding time). The last few were solo, unable to keep my friend’s wheel, but I was so happy for the final climb to arrive: the overpass to the ferry.
I have a few things I’d like to share about recovering from such a hard effort, and they are:
- stairs were not invented by a cyclist;
- stairs, however, are better than ramps. Stairs involve brief moments of pain whereas ramps its constant;
- beer is good;
- ride the next day;
- sleep the day after that.