this is going to be a challenge

The alarm went off at 4:25 am. I wanted to get something to eat and give it time to digest before my long bike ride. The plan was to be out the door by 5:30. The brown rice I was making took a little longer than expected (because no self respecting southerner makes instant brown rice). Nearly 45 minutes later, I finally ate. So instead of giving myself 45 minutes to digest, I only had 15 minutes. I’ve been pretty successful using brown rice for fuel on my long ride days. I haven’t tried it for swimming or jogging yet (I don’t usually eat before doing either). Being on a bike, your stomach is pretty still, but not so much for the other two.

I had a riding partner crazy enough to get up that early with me. We left about 5:45 am. That gave me another 15 minutes to digest, which I think I needed. The temp outside was supposed to hit the high 90′s later in the afternoon and that early in the morning it already felt in the 80′s.This was going to be a long ride…

The plan was to go 20 miles out and turn around. So off to Philly we went. Down the path, through Manyunk, down Kelly Drive, past center city and down to the south Philly sports complex. I’ve never gone there on a bike before, and Sunday morning would be the only time I’d ever do it again. The car traffic was non existent.  We were so close to the airport but couldn’t figure out how to get there easily and safely, so we started our trip home, coming up 20th St. Our first water bottle was finished at that point and we wanted to stop somewhere to get another one. I said ‘there’s a Dunkin Donuts at 20th and Chestnut, we can get one there’. He looked at me like: how would anyone know that? The things we remember….

The only way back to Conshy is through Manyunk. Manyunk has a bike race every year, and part of the course has the bikers going up 3/4 mile  hill known as the WALL. There was no way we were passing the WALL without going up it today. It’s pretty steep, until you get half way and turn the corner. Then it’s very steep. We made it to the top without rolling backwards somehow. The race has the bikers climbing that hill 9 times…. HMMM, I’ll wait for another day to attempt it a second time in a row.

Once we were at the top of the hill, we stayed up there coming home along Ridge Pike to get a change of scenery. Through Lafayette Hill into Plymouth you don’t realize the size of the hills when you are in a car, but on a bike, you become very aware of them. We made it home with a round trip total of 42 miles. We stopped to get a drink and a granola bar and I said “let’s keep going”. At which point I was only talking to myself because the 42 miles was enough for Don. I changed my shirt (which was soaked) and hit the path to Phoenixville.

I still felt pretty good, I had my water and an extra granola bar. The distance to Phoenixville is about eleven miles. when I hit mile 53 on my odometer, I knew I wanted to get to 100 miles for the day. That was a weird thought. I was just barely over 1/2 way and here I am, thinking I wanted to go 100 miles on one of the hottest days of the year. Here was my thinking:  I started at mile 42 from the house, I went 11 miles to Phoeinxville, if I turned around right then, I’d have done 64 miles (42 +22). So, every mile further than the 11 I’d just gone really counted as two miles because I’d retrace my steps and double the distance. When I hit mile 65 (23 miles from Conshy), I turned around and headed back. I was figuring I’d be at mile 88 when I hit Conshy. That’s 12 miles short of 100. My giant math problem continued. Every Thursday I do a minimum of 12 miles and it’s become relatively easy because I’m familiar with the distances on the path. I was confident that I could cover that distance and be close enough to home to craw back if I had to.

On the return trip, I stopped frequently for water. I drank more on those 23 miles than I had on the first 65. Mile 80 came and went with no problems. That was a mental barrier I had to overcome. The ride from Norristown to Conshy was relatively smooth. I was able to go as fast and pedal as hard as I did when the day started. I sailed passed the 88 mile mark, but at mile 93, it hit me. I only had 7 miles to go, and I actually thought for a moment that I wanted to stop there. I have no idea what the difference between 93 and 100 miles is, but 100 sure sounds a whole lot better. The moment of thought quickly vanished and since I was still able to balance myself on the bike, I pressed on. With six miles to go, I stopped at the Outbound Station to grab something to drink. Man, did I need that.

The final six miles were tough! I rode to the IKEA parking lot, going really slowly. The world was closing in on me like it had done every time I tried to go further than I ever have before. I remember it from when I did my first 25 miler, first 50 miler, first 80 miler and this was no different. I don’t think it was from a lack of fluid this time. I’m leaning toward a lack of fuel. Coming back from IKEA, the path was clear. When I finally got to Elm St, I felt hot. The slow 1/2 mile climb home was going to be a rough one. I chose to go up 4th Ave which was the least of all evils (hills). I couldn’t stop thinking how tough this is going to be in November.

When I saw 100.00 on the odometer, the last 6 miles became so worth it. I got back home, jumped in the shower then laid down. An hour later, I was ready for food! The rest of the day my body felt tingly from the waist up. It was mostly in my head. Sort of like a continuous dull shock. My tunnel vision went away and I slept well all night.

This event is going to be a challenge, but that is exactly what I signed up for.

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