Ride Notes for August 5th, 2014

Today was one of my "Short Days" for cycling - I've been trying to get into a regular riding schedule where I take it easy on Tuesdays and Thursdays and ride just 17 miles. (4.5 miles from my house out to Saguaro National Park, around the 8-mile loop, and 4.5 miles back home.) This has slowly become my "default ride," and I ride around the park often enough for the gate guards recognize me when I arrive. There were a few more cyclists on the road today, which was a nice change. Usually I seem to be riding alone, and that is due to the fact that I will start a ride when the temperature is well over 100 degrees, when most cyclists won't dare to ride. (Or maybe they're simply smart enough not to leave the house. Hmm.) That being said, the temperature was hovering around 100 degrees when I left home, so it was something of a surprise to see other cyclists on the road.

Today was my first day back on the bicycle after my 100K ride this past Saturday, which had depleted almost all of my energy for the rest of that day. With that in mind, I was a little nervous about how my legs would hold up during today's outing, and surprisingly I didn't seem to be suffering any lingering ill-effects from my self-imposed abuse the other day. That being said, as I was making my way around the park, I could tell that my pace was a little better than usual, so I decided to press a little harder when possible, and as a result I completed the 8-mile loop in 34:47, which beat my previous personal best by a little over 2 minutes. This also bumped me up to 4th place (out of 107 riders) on MapMyFitness for the Saguaro National Park loop. Of course, that statistic only accounts for the riders who bother to upload their times to MapMyFitness; I'm sure that there are plenty of better riders who don't upload their times. Still, it's nice to know that I'm riding faster than somebody, because I usually think that I'm riding pretty slowly as I slog my way up some of the bigger hills around the park.

But that being said, I always cycle around Saguaro National Park in the middle of my ride, whereas many cyclists drive to the park and simply ride around the 8-mile loop. I'd like to think that the people who are riding faster than me are also riding a few miles before and after their ride around the park, but I can never be sure. Still, my overall time for today's ride was 20 minutes faster than I did a month ago, so that's something for me to be happy about.

Ride Stats:

  • Distance: 17.0 miles
  • Duration: 1:10:30
  • Average Speed: 14.5 mph
  • Altitude Gain: 1,243 feet
  • Calories Burned: 964 kcal

Ride Notes for August 2nd, 2014

I rode a metric century (100 Km) today, although that wasn't my original intention. I had planned to ride 50 miles (twice from my house to Colossal Caves and back). That being said, when I looked at the weather reports yesterday, they all predicted that thunderstorms would descend on Tucson at 10am, which meant that I should leave the house around 6am in order to have plenty of time to complete the ride and get home. Anyone who is familiar with me knows how much I hate mornings, but I'm pretty good with late nights, so I hatched an odd plan - stay up all night, and then go on the ride. That probably wasn't the brightest idea, but it's what I decided to do.

I managed to get on the road by 6:15am, and by the time I had finished 50 miles several hours later, the storms hadn't started, and I hadn't reached the point of muscle failure, so I decided to tack another 10 miles onto the ride. Once again, this may not have been the brightest idea, but once I started around Saguaro National Park, I was committed to the endeavor. In the end, my cell phone died, which I used for a GPS, so I'm not exactly sure how many miles I went over 60, but I'm certain that I hit my 100 km goal. Just the same, when I finally arrived home after four-and-a-half hours of riding and no sleep in 26 hours or so, I was more exhausted than you can imagine. Even so, today's ride pales in comparison to my friends who just finished the RAMROD (Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day).

I usually ride in the afternoon and evenings when there are few cyclists on the road, so it was pretty cool to share the road with dozens of other riders. If I didn't hate mornings so much, I might actually enjoy riding at that time of day. Apparently I wasn't the only one making mutiple round-trips to Colossal Caves; a few of us passed each other a few times. (Note: some of the better riders are still passing me on the bigger hills, which reinforces my need to work on my climbing skills.)

There was one major annoyance on my first trip to Colossal Caves: bugs. Millions of them. No exaggeration - there were millions of bugs (which looked like flying ants) in huge swarms along the 10-mile trek from Saguaro National Park to Colossal Caves. They were hitting me everywhere: they stung as they hit the exposed skin on my arms and legs, they were sticking to my clothes, they kept hitting me in the face, etc. I could see that the bugs were affecting the other cyclists on the road based on their erratic swerving to avoid the bigger swarms. Thankfully the bugs were mostly gone by the time I started my second 20-mile run out to Colossal Caves, so the second trip was considerably better than the first.

Ride Stats:

  • Distance: 62.24 miles
  • Duration: 4:33:00
  • Average Speed: 16.7 mph
  • Calories Burned: 3684 kcal