Saturdays are one of my normal long rides, and in keeping with that tradition I rode 63.3 miles, or 101.9 kilometers. This was my second or third time riding more than 60 miles within the past year, although I was in better shape on this ride than my last. That being said, today's ride was a little slower than normal for me; my average mph and cadence were both less than normal, although I'm not sure why.
I had planned on riding a double pass around the Pistol Hill Road loop, which would give me somewhere over 50 miles, but here's the way that everything actually panned out: I completed my first pass around the loop, and I made my obligatory stop and the hydration station near the entrance to Saguaro National Park. (By this time I had ridden a little over 27 miles.) While I was refilling my water bottles, I was contemplating whether I should ride the 8-mile loop around the park after my second pass of the Pistol Hill Road loop, but I hate doing that because my legs are pretty tired after 45 or 50 miles and I don't like facing the big hill on the back side of the park when I'm in that condition. Then I had an epiphany: "Why don't I ride around the park now and then make my second pass around the Pistol Hill Road loop?" This seemed like a good idea, and I was in considerably better condition for the park loop, but the long 7-mile ride to the summit on Pistol Hill Road was a pain.
Riding around Saguaro National Park
The temperature was pretty nice for today's ride. I have done several rides in 100F+ temperatures, so it was nice to have a ride that stayed around the mid-80s. That being said, for some inexplicable reason the temperature spiked all the way to 98.6 while I was riding around Saguaro National Park, which made the loop a little miserable at times. However, the temperature dropped back down to 90 degrees by the time I left the park.
"Javelina Rocks" – Not the scene of the famous Star Trek
Gorn battle, but it would be a good substitute.
Something weird happened on my way around the Saguaro National Park loop – I inhaled a bug. That might seem kind of funny in hindsight, but believe me – it was no fun at the time. I was coughing violently for at least a mile, and at several random intervals my condition triggered my gag reflex and I thought that I was going to choke. The thought running through my mind at the time was, "Oh great – I'm in the middle of nowhere and there's no one to do the Heimlich Maneuver for me." Eventually I simply screamed at the top of my lungs for several seconds and that seemed to clear my airway, but that was a terrible experience which I hope not to repeat.
My feet have really been hurting on my long rides, right around the ball of each foot. I have long known that switching to cleats instead of using toe clips would help alleviate that problem, but today perfectly illustrated why. Sometime around the 20-mile point my feet began to hurt – as they normally do – but as I thought about where they were hurting exactly and how they were bending on the pedals it dawned on me that the toe clips were forcing my feet to bend in a way that was unnatural, so I flipped both pedals over and rode the next 40 miles with relatively little pain. (The toe clips will be gone soon.)
Panorama from the high point on Pistol Hill Road.
Today was also an eye-opener with regard to keeping my electrolytes in balance and my energy up. I carb-loaded before the ride on ¾ of a waffle, and I carried plenty of Gatorade & PowerAde as well as several packets of Gu for the ride. It is suggested that cyclists ingest a packet of Gu about every 45 minutes or so, although I usually don't that often. I had a packet around the 15-mile mark, and another around the 27-mile mark, but sometime around the 42-mile mark I realized that my body had already burned off everything that I had consumed that day and my strength was starting to fade. I quickly downed another packet of Gu, and within a mile or so I had recovered.
On a related note, I weighed myself right before I started the ride and immediately after I returned, and despite consuming ¾ of a gallon of water during today's ride, I lost three pounds by the time I was done. (Of course, I put on at least a pound or two after I got home and drank another quart of Gatorade.)
One final thought – I was wearing another new Microsoft cycling jersey today. I felt a little conspicuous while wearing this particular shirt, as though Microsoft was some sort of corporate sponsor for me. (That being said, Microsoft actually bought the bicycle that I was riding as part of their "Stay Fit" program, so I guess they kind of are a sponsor.)
- Primary Statistics:
- Start Time: 10:24am
- Distance: 63.3 miles
- Duration: 4:38:16
- Calories Burned: 2,079 kcal
- Altitude Gain: 2,786 feet
- Average Speed: 13.6 mph
- Peak Speed: 29.5 mph
- Minimum: 80.6 F
- Average: 88.4 F
- Maximum: 98.6 F
- Heart Rate:
- Average: 143 bpm
- Maximum: 167 bpm