Much like a marathon runner runs 26.2 miles, not 26 miles, I rode 373 miles this weekend. Not 360 miles, as I previously thought I was doing, but 373 miles! I did it with my supportive and strong friends Pat and Cecile, without them, I might still be out on the road. We completed the final brevette for qualifying for Paris brest Paris.
It is very interesting as the more miles we do, the more acclimated one becomes to being on a bike. When I was younger, about 8-10 years ago now, I would do many shorter rides, averaging at least 100-150 miles a week, usually more in the summer. All of that shorter riding fails in comparison to the mental and physical test these ultra distances put on you body. The amount of time you are sitting on the seat, just pedalling away, seems so ludicrous when you have not done anything like that before. The overall time this weekend on and off the bike to complete the route was 35 hours and 55 minutes. We stopped in Sommers Point, showered, and slept for 3 hours, and then were back on our bikes before sunrise.
The ride began at 4am from Hightstown, New Jersey, near Princeton. The route basically went south to the southern most points and then returned back up north. Saturday’s ride was surprisingly undifficult, I do not say easy as we did ride 240+ miles that day in the 90 degree heat, but it could have been worse. I was rather out of it by the time we rolled into the motel at 1am., from the heat, not eating anything of substance and the developing saddle sore.
We had first planned on sleeping until 5am and leave at 6am, but Pat couldn’t sleep and we were up around 4am and decided to leave at 5am. We felt bad that we had made plans to ride with some people that we previously rode in with, but there was no sense of wasting an hour just waiting for them.
Sunday was great, tailwind, overcast and the high temperature was in the 70s. Perfect relief from the previous day of hot sun, and headwinds. Towards the end of the ride, my body was really feeling the mileage under it, but with the help of the “carrot stick”-pat and cecile– I was able to ride it out.
I am left today with a real sense of accomplishment, and a better understanding of what my body can endure, and the fact that one can push themselves so much further than one might ever imagine. There were many times in my head I needed, not just wanted to stop, but I pushed on and was able to muster the strength from somewhere. I joked many times about finding my “third or fourth wind,” as on a long ride, you have your highs and lows, and you just keep on pedaling.
One side note- common inside joke amongst bike mechanics is JRA, Just Riding Along. It is a joke because so many customers come to the shop with some major basket case of a repair and claim that they were “just riding along. . .and then my bike wheel fell off. . .and then the tire exploded.” The JRA that happened this weekend was a little different. We were riding for about 2 hours on Sunday morning, after our little sleep, when we in encountered some fellow riders that were ahead of us, they were going the wrong way and we turned to look at our right, and there was smoke bellowing out of a house. One of the riders jumps off the bike and proceeds to bang on the door, then goes in to find an elderly man in there having trouble breathing. We call 911, but were not really able to give them an accurate address, as we had no real idea where we were other than what the Cue sheet said. Luckily, a volunteer fireman happen to be driving by and saw a pack of riders and then noticed the smoke coming out the house and came to assist. I even took part by helping, read=forcing, the elderly man to sit down, he kept on trying to go into the house. Once under control by the fireman, we get back on the road. There is a really strong possibility that if we were not just riding along, that it might have gone unnoticed and it would have had dire consequences. As parting words, the elderly man said he had never had anything like this happen before, I then responded ‘it has to happen once in your lifetime, good to get it out of the way.’