Monday, July 30, 2007

Sometimes you just have to go for it

I came up with a million reasons why I couldn't or shouldn't or didn't need to do a 30 mile bike ride yesterday: I've been sick... I had to get back to fulfill another commitment...a 12 mile ride did me in earlier in the week and I'd never gone farther than that...that last 4 miles was going to be REALLY HARD... but in my heart I really wanted to try it, and when I got to the point when I had to decide: turn around and come back along the nice flat rail trail, for a total of 22 miles, or keep going on hills and main roads, for 30, I went for it, even though I'd just fallen and given myself a nice deep bruise on my calf, even though my shoulders and neck were already aching.

This was the Harlem Valley Rail Ride, an annual event sponsored by Bike New York and our local rail trail association. It started and ended in Milllerton, and depending on whether you chose the 22, 30, 55, 75 or 100 miles rides, you covered up to 3 states and at least 6 or 7 towns. (I learned, to my amazement, that the hundred-milers also got to do a time trial up Winchell Mountain - that is STEEP.)

The first part, along the rail trail, was pretty easy, though I was constantly annoyed by a little boy who was zooming all over the trail, stopping unexpectedly, racing other kids, and generally not following rules of the road. I had no idea who he belonged to and really wanted to give him a talking-to. But I decided not to let him ruin my day, and put on a burst of speed to leave him behind. The rail trail is a lovely ride - mostly shaded, and it goes past farm fields and lovely vistas of the Harlem valley. At the first rest top (10 miles in) I fell off my bike and got a nice ugly bruise - it cramped up at first (a charley horse, I guess) but I shook it off.

My nutrition plan, such as it was, was to drink Cytomax (I liked it - the cranberry grapefruit is tasty and sat well on my stomach) tons of water, have gu's that I brought and whatever I could scarf up at the rest stops. The first one offered bananas, accelerade (ICK!) cookies, and peanut butter sandwiches. I had a banana and cookie and threw a sandwich into the seatpack for later.)

The next section of trail, still flat, went all the way to the Wassaic train station, alongside the trains. For some reason at that point I thought I was the very last rider - it seemed most people at the rest stop were turning around, and I'd started late so most of the 30 milers and up had already passed. I got lost for a moment as I entered the village of Wassaic (after a brief but hair-raising moment along Route 22, the very large, very fast main road) but it's such a sweet little town, with adorable ramshackle country houses, meandering gardens, (I had my camera but almost never took it out, except for the rest stops) and winding roads, that I stopped worrying about anything. My legs felt strong, I wasn't getting too tired, and my arms and shoulders were holding up OK.

The road curved back north through the Oblong valley - there is no prettier landscape anywhere, I dare say. Rolling hills, ponds and streams, fields of corn and wildflowers - Every hundred feet was another perfect postcard view. I realized there were a lot of other bikers around after all - I was catching up to some, and the 50 milers were rejoining the group after an extra loop down to Kent. Most of the people who passed me were on sleek and skinny road bikes (I've been really wishing to get one to replace or add to my heavy clunky old Trek 830, which probably weighs 35 pounds).

I realized that with sufficient rest stops for refueling and stretching, I could keep going for the 3 or more hours it was going to take me. The longest I'd worked out since I started on this journey was the 2:10 of the Pawling tri - if I'm ever going to move up to the next level I'm going to have to know what it feels like to go for 4 hours.

At the second rest stop (at Troutbeck) I had more accelerade (yuck), a snickers energy bar (not bad) and some orange pieces. I'd gone through about 3 16-oz water bottles, and all my Cytomax, so took a port-a-potty break too. I knew the last bit would be the hardest as I was close to home and I knew these roads best. Up 343 to Sharon Valley, onto 361 and back to Millerton up that long, long, long hill. It seemed much longer when I'd already gone 25 miles, but there was never a point when my cardiovascular endurance failed me. I took happy note when I passed mile 26 - the Olympic bike distance! I took another break under a tree to stretch and massage my shoulders and wrists, and got myself to the finish line. My cateye says I averaged 10.8 mph - I'm pleased enough.

Back at the field, where a little festival was going on, I put my name down for a real massage, and two hours later finally got it - the first since I've started training and so very welcome. While I waited, I opened up my face painting booth - I'd done it last year (when I hadn't ridden) and painted many dozens of small children. But I didn't have many customers this time - a good thing too since it was hard to even lift my arm!

Today I'm tired and moderately achy - but my legs are fine (other than that nasty bruise - which I'm quite proud of - it feels like a badge of honor and an obstacle I'd been waiting to overcome.) I think the moral is: I do need a new bike if I'm going to ride longer distances, one that fits me a bit better. Time to start trolling eBay and the classifieds! Recommendations, anyone, for a good road bike?


Anonymous said...

what about Sandy Beach tri at Bantam Lake? this Friday Aug 3rd at 5pm - test out your new swimming skills

KrissyGo! said...

First of all...GREAT JOB on the ride and going for it!

Second...according to many sources (Triathlete mag, for one; my first tri coach, for another; countless cyberpeeps, for still more) the Trek 1000 is a good entry level bike that easily converts with the addition of aero bars. I have been riding this since I started and I have no complaints.

The most important thing, though, is FIT. I think this is the numero uno reason why I have no complaints. Except for my seat. Spring for a good seat.

LBTEPA said...

OMG, 30 miles, that' 50km!!! That's FAR!
What a lovely day and what a huge confidence booster. So when IS your next tri? You've got the bike sorted!

RUTH said...

30 MILES!!!! Wow Jenny you must be so pleased with yourself and deservedly so. I don't know how you managed to open the face painting booth after all that...I would have been straight to my bed!!! Sorry to hear you had the fall; hope you're feeling ok now.
Well done