Forty-one. That's the long route I laid out this past week. It's also the longest ride I've completed in the past two decades. In fact, it's 14 miles longer than my next longest ride (in recent history).
So, there was some amount of pain involved when I hit the 41 mile mark, this morning, knowing there was another 17 miles until the end of my ride. For the record, most of that pain was in my butt. And we're talking big "monkey butt," as Roman Mica likes to call it. And the way my hinder felt after the ride, Baboon Butt might be more appropriate.
The training goal for the day was 58 miles, as determined by the distance from home to my office and back. It might be sick to bike to work on a vacation day, but the route is convenient, and it gave me the opportunity to show of The Pol-R Express to a few co-workers. At the beginning of the ride, 58 didn't seem like too big a number.
The ride out was great. There was absolutely no wind, and the trip is just a bit more downhill than up. My average pace for the first 29 miles was exactly 20 mph. That isn't up to Tour de France standards, but I was happy with it.
The ride back was also pretty nice. Well, except for the more uphill than down part. And the headwind that had developed. Luckily, it was only a slight breeze. The challenging part was when I hit the 41 mile point, and started considering the 17 miles that remained.
The number of times I have biked over 50 miles can easily be counted on two hands. And the second hand will still have plenty of fingers left over for other tasks. I did a century when I was a teenager. I biked to and from our church's tree farm (which may actually be just under 50 miles, I don't remember). And I lost my mind and wound up biking nearly 80 miles on my own, with no water bottle, on my Huffy Strider, wearing a football half-shirt. That one left some interesting sunburns.
So, here it is, 20 years later, and I'm doing another long ride. I'm better prepared, with water bottles, energy bars and gels, a helmet, and a shirt that covers ALL of my back. I have spare tires, CO2 and pump, and a cell phone, if all else fails. Even so, the idea of having another 17 miles to go was mind numbing. And yes, Roman, there is a numb monkey butt, too.
But I long ago learned to stuff gremlins where they belong. In this instance, I rolled them under the wheels of The Pol-R Express. And I just kept spinning, just kept spinning... Even if spinning sometimes required me to shift into some way low gears.
And I made it home with no big issues. Tired legs and one major sore butt, yes. But I'm sure I could have gone another bunch of miles if needed. The overall average pace was 18.7 mph. That says volumes for how challenging I found the return trip.
But challenge is what this is all about. If it were truly easy, it's quite likely that I wouldn't be doing it. That it is extremely difficult, often appearing nearly impossible is what draws people to triathlon. If we have to deal with a bit of monkey butt along the way, so be it.