Once again, today was supposed to be one of my “Short Days,” but I decided to shake things up just a bit: instead of riding the usual 17-mile trek from my house through Saguaro National Park and home again, I doubled my ride around the park, which yielded a 26-mile ride.
The days have been growing shorter as we head into Fall and Winter, and sunset is getting a little earlier each day. A few weeks ago sunset was around 7:30pm, but I checked earlier today and saw that sunset was going to be at 7:08pm. With that in mind, I did some quick math: if I assumed that it takes me 20 minutes to the park and 20 minutes to return home, and it takes 40 minutes for each loop around the park, that means that it should take about two hours to complete the ride. (In all actuality, it takes me less time for each phase of the ride, but I like to add a little buffer in case of weather.)
With that in mind, I knew that I needed to head out as close to 5pm as possible, but I needed to lock up our puppy before I left and she was being uncooperative, so that delayed my start time until quarter after the hour.
I decided that some music would be nice for today’s ride, so I loaded NeedToBreathe’s Studio Album Collection onto my cell phone, and I had that playing throughout the journey. (No earbuds, though - I only used the phone’s speaker.)
I was also wearing my new riding jersey today, which I bought a few days ago. I’m liking it a lot, and it has lots of great artwork that reminds me of my years in the Pacific Northwest.
The day was predominantly overcast, which made it seem like the sun was already setting by the time that I arrived at the park. Nevertheless, I started with earnest, and I managed to complete my first loop around the park in 36 seconds less than my previous personal best. (It’s the little victories that make your day.) I felt like I was riding a little slower my second time around the park, and I was certainly climbing the “Widow Maker” hill a little slower than my first loop. But somehow I made back for lost time, because my GPS showed that it took me just over 34 minutes to complete each loop around the park, with an average of a little over 14mph for both loops.
I have to admit, riding around the park a second time is difficult, because I’m pretty tired after my first loop. At times I have to rely on some old Army training psychology for perseverance; sometimes you just have to tuck your head down and push on. It also helps that the park is a one-way street: once I’ve started my second loop, I’m committed to completing the course.
The sun was visibly racing toward the far horizon as I completed my second loop around the park and started my 4.5-mile trek homeward, so I made sure to turn on all of my lights to avoid being hit by a car. (Today’s motorists are inattentive enough as it is.) I expected the second loop around the park to extend my ride to 25 miles, but for some reason my GPS indicated that I had ridden a little over 26 miles. I have no idea how that happened, but I won’t argue with it.
- Distance: 26.1 miles
- Start Time: 5:16pm
- Duration: 1:44:35
- Average Speed: 15.0 mph
- Peak Speed: 32.4 mph
- Altitude Gain: 2,020 feet
- Calories Burned: 1,498 kcal
- Starting Temp: 85 degrees
- Ending Temp: 84 degrees
Quick Algebra Pop Quiz: The loop around Saguaro National Park is 8 miles. I passed a guy running in the opposite direction at the 6-mile mark on my first loop around the park, and I passed him again at the 3.5-mile mark on my second loop. If I was averaging 14mph around the park, what was the runner’s average mph around the park? ;-)