Hobgoblin has decided lately that he wants to ride super-long rides, as in really extra, super-duper long rides, as in training for races that are over 500 miles long. I don’t plan to be a part of any of this, but I’m up for some more reasonable distance challenges. So when Hobgoblin proposed that we get a group together to ride 150 miles on Labor Day, I agreed, albeit nervously. I rode 130 miles once, maybe seven years ago. I was in bad pain and crying by the end of that ride. In the years following, I’ve ridden 100 miles many times, usually a time or two each year, although this year I’d upped that to three times, with quite a few rides in the 70-90 range. I’m now at nearly 5,000 miles on the year. But still, 150 miles was something new.
So we got a group together and set out yesterday morning at 7:00. We left with eight people, although some were planning on cutting the ride short and doing 80-90 miles. We set out north, through the small city I live near and up into the countryside. I love riding north because the landscape there is beautiful in a way that’s different from the beauty of my area. I love the way that my area is densely wooded with little hills tightly packed together, so you feel hidden away, covered by the branches and leaves that form a canopy over the narrow roads. The landscape up north is much more open, with more farms and fields, so you can get a view of neighboring hills and low-lying mountains.
As we rode north we stopped at little villages to buy baked good, candy bars, and Gatorade to fuel us on our way. Eventually three of our group split off leaving us with five to head even further north, up into Massachusetts, to climb one of the nastiest hills you’ll ever meet. It’s one of those hills that just keeps going; you think you’ve reached the top, you go around a corner, and there is more hill waiting for you. This happens again and again. But we made it to the top and had a lovely downhill stretch to ride, and then we were heading back south again, back into Connecticut. We stopped four times total, at around mile 35, 68, 93, and 117.
And we made it back home again, after 8 hours and 14 minutes. I couldn’t believe how easy it felt — relatively speaking, of course, relative to how it could have felt. My legs started to protest during the last five miles, but I think that was at least partly psychological, as my legs knew they had a break coming very soon. My upper back and neck were sore, but the breaks we took helped; I took the opportunity to stretch and move as much as possible, and that made the pain go away, at least for a while.
It was a fast ride for me — just a touch under 18 mph. There is no way I could ride that fast on my own, but with some friends to draft on and to motivate me (and with good long sections of flat road), it was possible.
So today I’m not moving much. My legs aren’t sore, though, just tired. I don’t have plans to do the ride again right now, although I think it’s likely I’ll get talked into it before too long.