On Not Riding One Hundred Miles

(Reposted from Facebook)

Today I rode my bike 84.5 miles.  My spouse & I did a 72-mile ride with the cycling club, and we rode six miles to and from the terminus.

Among many cyclists, the century ride, or 100 miles, is a badge of honor.  It’s a BFD.  “Have you ever done a century?”  “Susie rode her first century!”  Hip hip…who cares?  Hey, I used to dream about doing a century ride.  And then I did RAGBRAI.  The last day of RAGBRAI 2011 was about 80 miles long, and then we had to ride five more miles to get to our %$#@! bus.  I realized then that 85 miles was a very honorable distance, and that I could live quite happily without ever riding longer than that.

The ride we did today was hard.  Was it hard the entire time?  No!  But it was long enough and had just enough hills to be a challenge.  When we showed up for the ride, Andy asked me which distance we were riding, and I felt very ambivalent!  Long, short…I didn’t know!  My rational mind told me my body could do the 72-miler, but my emotional side was not sure I felt like doing it.  I reached for the 72-mile sign-up sheet because I knew the people & figured I could keep up with them.  As we reached our first break after around 16 miles, I seriously considered ditching the ride, but I didn’t.  I spent a lot of the ride just concentrating on my breath, watching the road ahead of me, and brushing away all the thoughts going through my mind.

I saw some amazing things today.  Just ordinary nature things, but they still amazed me.  Mist over the bog and the river in the cool morning air.  Many, many red tail hawks, swooping down from telephone poles to catch prey in fields.  Morning glories growing with the soy beans.  Sunflowers shooting up out of the middle of corn fields.  A gathering of buzzards in a field, landing and flapping.  Six or eight deer crossing the road up ahead, and two more deer bounding through the corn field to our left.  It was the most beautiful day we have had in a very long time.

This ride took a little over eight hours, so it was a bit like going to work for the day, complete with lunch and a few shorter breaks.  I thought a lot about Grant Petersen’s philosophy, which is basically to keep cycling fun.  Petersen advocates for keeping our bike rides to three or four hours, and that sounds nice to me.  Spend half your day on the bike, and you’ll still have energy to do something else today.  After riding for eight hours, I am not sure I’ll do anything productive today.  Maybe I’ll sit in a chair and knit for a little while.  Margie gave me a good knitting idea at book club last night & I might have just enough energy to try it.

Next Saturday is our cycling club’s annual ride.  If I ride at all, I will probably choose a shorter distance, like the 33- or 47-mile options.  And I’ll keep doing my daily 4- and 6-mile commuter rides, at least until the weather turns cold and I start my winter walking.  Yet today during all my mental machinations about distance and speed and how my leg was starting to hurt and how tired I was and how angry I get when put in a position to keep up with others and what was the point of all this anyway, my spouse asked if he should send in the membership dues for the Iowa cycling club we rode with last year, meaning, “Should we start planning for RAGBRAI 2013?”  Oh, what the hell.  I’ll probably say yes.


4 thoughts on “On Not Riding One Hundred Miles

  1. DK Dana

    Iris, it is very nice to see that you are appreciating nature so much. I love that. It is almost like the daily bike riding and exercise you get from it is an adjunct to the bigger goal of enjoying your world.

    Now, that whole RAGBRAI thing, well, that’s just carazy!!! (You rock so hard!!)

  2. Cecily

    There’s something about the roundness of that 100 mile mark that makes it seem so alluring, so perfect. I’ve never come close to riding 100 miles/kilometers, but it looms just on the edge of my imagination.

    It’s a testament to your strength and smarts that you know when to say when. When something stops feeling like work and starts feeling like a chore, I think that’s our body’s clue that maybe we’re pushing ourselves for all the wrong reasons.

    1. Iris Murasaki Post author

      Cecily, after I wrote that post, like at least a few days after, I realized that 85 miles is, in fact, my physical limit at my current state of fitness. I.e., maybe my mental attitude masks some denial about my limitations. So, who know, maybe next year I’ll challenge myself to ride 100 miles…

  3. Pingback: About going faster/longer | the rubenesque cyclist

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