A week ago an email alerting me to a new post from Steve Jones showed up in my in-box. I had to chuckle a bit because the topic was one, Goal Progress, that I had seriously thought about writing about for last week’s blog. But I decided to write about teaching instead and put off a post on goals. There was a reason for that. I thought it would make a better post for this week.
There are some goals I’m fairly public about. I’ve started to write about my yearly goals and my results at the start and end of each year. But often I have more private goals. These are usually of a more personal nature. This post is about one such goal.
My Biking History
Ever since I got my first 10 speed, on I think my 10th birthday, I’ve loved to bike. Learning to read gave me intellectual freedom, but learning to bike gave me physical freedom. Growing up in a small town meant that to go any place interesting, biking was often the fastest and easiest way to do so. I could cover miles in fairly short order. Before I knew it, I was biking everywhere.
In high school, in the spring sports season I continued my relationship with the outdoors with the Outdoor Experience (OE) program. Part of that time was spent biking. I quickly upgraded my original 10 speed to one I bought from my original OE coach, Ben Kaghan. It was a beautiful Italian bike I continued to ride through high school and college until I was in a serious accident with it where I ended up going head over the handle bars and destroying the front forks. Twice in high school, as part of the OE program I managed to get in a Century ride, once my freshman year and once my senior year. They were nice bookmarks to my high school experience. Surprisingly to me, my senior year ride was a bit tougher, I think the route selection was a bit worse and we ended up with more hills.
For college graduation, I received a beautiful Trek 520 from my mom. I continued to ride, though not as much as I’d like. But several times, in September or October, I would ride to an annual event that my college outing club hosted known as “Fall Lake George”. This was an IOCA event where as many as a dozen colleges would canoe, sail, swim (yes a few have over the years) or powerboat to Turtle Island and camp for the weekend. I’d send my gear up in another vehicle and arrange for a car-ride back. Depending on factors this was generally about a 65-70 mile ride. The last time I did this was in 2015, the day before my father died. For various reasons, including changing college policies which have resulted in cancellations of this event, I haven’t done it since.
That said, most years I’ve routinely gotten in at least a few rides over 30 miles, with a few 50 mile rides snuck in there. But the elusive 100 miles had not been accomplished.
Due in part to COVID and wanting to get out more, and long stretches of good weather, I’ve found myself riding more this year than any year in memory. As of this morning my mileage for the year is over 1200 miles in the saddle. That was sort of a personal goal I had set for myself without publicizing it.
But there was one more goal. One I finally managed to realize this past weekend: the Century ride. I had actually already accomplished 2 half-Century rides this year which I had felt good about, including one with some significant altitude gain. So I felt good about my chances. But I still wasn’t 100% sure.
Near Lake George is an amusement park, The Great Escape. My entire family has season passes and while I enjoy a day or two there, the rest of the family loves it there. My original goal was bike there, join them for a ride or two, and then bike home. And if I felt my legs weren’t up to it, toss the bike on the back of my wife’s car and ride home with them. Alas, due to Covid-19, The Great Escape has not been open at all this year.
But, I still sort of wanted a bail-out option. So I came up with a back-up plan. Right across from The Great Escape is a really incredible ice-cream place known as Martha’s Dandee Creme, which is a traditional stop for the family after a day at The Great Escape. So, about a month ago, I figured, if the weather worked, this past Labor Day weekend would be a good weekend to attempt my ride. And I’ve got to say the weather was nearly perfect for it. Not to warm nor too cold (though the first few miles from the house which was mostly downhill so I had lots of wind, but little muscle action, and still early in the morning were noticeably chilly.)
So at 7:45 AM I set out. The first 2-3 miles are basically coasting downhill from my house to the Hudson River and then the next 5 or so are avoiding potholes and city traffic as I make my way north to the first river crossing.
I find that on longer rides, after about 2 hours, I need generally need some sort of refueling stop. Fortunately, in my area there’s lots of Stewart’s Shops. It’s generally easy to plan a break around them and I did.
At this point I was more than half-way to my turn-around point, which was actually at about 55 miles, not 50. Once I had taken care used the facilities and refueled, I was back into the saddle for another stint. This was a shorter stint, but finally I would be gaining some altitude. Up until now the ride was basically along the Hudson, but in about 15 miles, I’d pass through Fort Edward and Hudson Falls where the river turns west and I would have to do some, albeit minor hill-climbing.
My original goal had been to hit Martha’s by 12:30 PM. I had given myself lots of time because I had no idea how fast or slow I’d be. Well at this point I texted my wife to say that my new goal was now Noon.
I beat even that goal and that included a stop to make sure I hadn’t missed a turn.
One of the peculiarities I’ve found with endurance events like this is that my appetite essentially disappears. I knew I needed calories and as such ordered a soda, some chicken fingers and fries. The soda I had no problem drinking. Of the 5 chicken fingers, I managed to down 2 and of the fries, not even 1/2 of them. I saved the rest for my family.
Once they showed up, we ordered ice cream. I mean, what’s the point of biking to an ice cream place if you don’t get ice cream?
Finally it was time to get back in the saddle and head southbound. I felt strong about it, but wasn’t sure about the wind and all. And the wind at spots was definitely a factor and it definitely slowed me down.
I made it. There was just one problem. As I had mentioned, my turnaround point was about 55 miles from my house. This meant I was still over 10 miles from home. I made a quick pit stop just south of here (again at a Stewart’s) and then raced home. Honestly, the about 2 miles near the house was the worst, not because of the distance per se, but because I finally had to regain all the altitude I had lost from my house to the Hudson 9 hours previous.
But I pulled into my driveway right before 5:00 PM.
I had, for the first time in 35 years, finally completed another Century ride. Actually a bit more than a Century ride. Goal accomplished.
- 9:44 Door to door including stops
- 111.6 miles covered
- Crossing the Hudson, 4 times
- Altitude changes: 515->13 feet and then slowly back up to 476 feet. And then all that in reverse
- 1 Stewart’s Chocolate Milk consumed
- 1 Stewart’s large brownie devoured
- 2 chicken fingers digested
- Some french fries eaten
- 1 small (which is actually quite large at Martha’s) salted-caramel soft-serve cream in a cone ingested
- 7:16:12 actual riding time
- 29.20 top speed on some random hill.
- 15.3 mph average speed overall (down from 16.3 mph turn around and 15.8 at 100 mile mark, the hills at home and city traffic killed me)
So, the first question that comes to mind, “would I have written this blog post had I failed to achieve my private goal or always kept the failure private?” – Good question. I think it depends on the reason for the failure.
“How did you feel the next day?” – Honestly? Pretty good. Other than my knees, I find if I’m in shape, long rides like this don’t really leave me overly sore the next day. And taking doses of ibuprofen definitely helps with the knees and more.
And of course, “Would you do it again?” – Well I probably won’t wait another 35 years. We’ll see what happens next year or the year after that.
“What other private goals do you have?” – That would be telling! 🙂
Seriously, it was a great time for me, I’m SO glad I did it and am feeling great. Not to bad for someone my age in a year of Covid.