I got up today with the intention of riding 50 miles, and I’m happy to say that I stuck to that plan. For the most part, anyway. My chosen route was to ride the 15 miles or so from my house to Colossal Caves, then backtrack 10 miles to the entrance of Saguaro National Park, then 10 miles back to Colossal Caves, and then 15 miles home. All of those distances were only estimates, though – my actual number of miles ridden for the day was 53, so I exceeded my goal by a few miles. (And that’s okay by me.)
I set my alarm for 8am this morning, with every intention of heading out for my ride by 8:30am. However, when I woke up I discovered that Kathleen was making waffles and bacon, so we had a leisurely breakfast together as we chatted about our respective weeks. As a result, I didn’t get on the road until sometime around 9:30am, but quality time with my spouse is worth more than a silly bike ride – so my delay was worth every minute.
I chose to ride 50 miles because it works out nicely riding to Colossal Caves and back a couple times; there are a lot of hills, so it keeps me working the whole time. But I wanted to ride at least 43 miles today because that would help me hit the century mark (100 miles) for the week. That being said, going past my goal is not bad, either. And with that in mind, I logged 110 miles on the bicycle this week – with nearly 6,200 calories burned.
The ride was mostly uneventful, although I saw two distracted drivers swerve off the road ahead of me. Had they lost their concentration when they were speeding past me… well, let’s just be thankful that the worst-case scenario was averted.
A few weeks ago I rode a metric century (100km), although I did just about everything wrong for that ride: I stayed up all night the night before (so I had been up for 24 hours when I began the ride), I barely consumed 200 calories worth of food before heading out, and I ate nothing during the 4.5-hour ride. As someone from a local bike shop commented, “You’re the guy we’re going to find lying by the road some day.” With that in mind, it was better to have had a real breakfast before heading out today, and I made sure to down a package of Gu at the 15-mile, 26-mile, and 37-mile points. I drank several liters of water and Gatorade during today’s ride, yet I still managed to lose a little over a pound of weight during the endeavor.
I had one intentional stop during the ride; I pulled into the hydration station at Saguaro National Park near the mid-point of my ride in order to refill all of my water bottles. I met another cyclist while I was there; she had just completed her loop around the park and was headed home shortly. (She was recovering from a recent illness, and she was lamenting the fact that she had to pull off the road near the middle of the "Widow Maker" hill on the back part of the ride. As someone who hates that hill, she truly had my sympathy.)
That being said, I also had one unintentional stop during the ride - as I was just starting up the long, 5-mile hill on the last leg of my route to Colossal Caves, I somehow managed to drop my water bottle. As a result, I brought the bike to a quick halt, and I nearly fell over since my shoes were immobilized in toe clips. But I managed to get one foot out before I hit the ground, and I laid the bike on its side while I ran back for my bottle. Once I had that safely stowed, I climbed back on my bike and I began the laborious process of riding uphill. (Although I was upset with myself for having lost all of my forward momentum when I stopped.)
I saw two good-sized tarantulas on the road, and I managed to miss both of them. (Good thing, too – I am sure that tarantula guts are no fun to clean off.) I saw lots of hawks in flight, which was better than the usual gaggle of turkey vultures who follow me when I'm riding at mid-day in 100+ temperatures. (Seriously - I am followed by vultures a lot when it's really hot. I wonder if they know something I don't?)
For the future, I’m looking into making a small change to this ride: instead of riding all the way to Colossal Caves on Old Spanish Trail, I can turn off onto Pistol Hill Road (I love the name!) about a mile before the caves, then turn onto Camino Loma Alta, which will take me back to Old Spanish Trail. This adds a few miles to the ride, and it cuts out the barely-maintained last mile to the caves (which hurts to ride). I seem to be the only cyclist who is riding all the way to the caves, so I’m pretty sure that all of the other cyclists are using this alternate route. If I combine that route with my current plan of riding twice to the caves, I might be able to extend the ride to 60 miles.
- Distance: 53.0 miles
- Start Time: 9:28am
- Duration: 3:44:57
- Average Speed: 14.1 mph
- Peak Speed: 31.3 mph
- Altitude Gain: 2,932 feet
- Calories Burned: 2,956 kcal
- Starting Temp: 82 degrees
- Ending Temp: 94 degrees
8/17/2104 Update: I was on the verge of falling asleep as I wrote this blog, which is unlike me; I usually head off to bed around 2am every day, so it was extremely atypical for me to be that tired so early. Nevertheless, I climbed into bed after publishing the original blog, and I slept for 11 hours, which is also not my normal behavior. I must be getting older. ;-]