Long Times in the Saddle

My first century ride is just 9 days away! Today I spent some time calming my inner neurotic by thoroughly going over all the official info and maps, and making lists of what I still need to buy, pack, and do before we get in the car next Friday.

ImageBecause of that, and because I completed my last ‘long’ training ride (76% of the miles I’ll be doing on March 2), I’m feeling pretty ready.

On Superbowl Sunday, my partner in crime and I set out from my place in mid-town LA, biked out to El Monte, and then continued our ride down to Disneyland for a total of a little over 60 miles.

ImageIn general, my partner’s a much faster rider than me, but she recently got a new bike seat that messed with her comfort, so we took a lot of breaks. Still, it was my longest ride to date and I seriously felt that I’d earned the beer and lobster nachos I indulged in when I got to California Adventure.

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The real reason I do endurance sports.

Two weeks later, it was time for The Big One: 80 miles. I planned a 40-mile out and back route that had me going from home to Sunset Beach, along the southern part of the LA River bike path and then some coastal paths and surface streets. My ride partner wasn’t available, but my husband accompanied me for the first part, which was greatly appreciated, as this ride didn’t go very smoothly.

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Firstly, I kind of hate riding on the street in urban areas. The incessant stopping, starting, waiting at red lights, having to check to make sure you’re going the right way, etc. — I find all of it really annoying. Give me a bike path and let me go, any day. But I had to GET to the path, and I wanted to log 80 miles, so my husband navigated us the first 11 miles, to the path’s entrance. Great… except it took over an hour. Ugh.

On the LA River path, I was golden, all the way to Long Beach. I took a little break in a park, had a Clif Bar, enjoyed the view of the Queen Mary… not bad.

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Then I tried to continue on my planned route, with no success at all. Couldn’t figure out where I was supposed to go, kinda went in circles for 10-15 minutes before saying “screw it” and deciding to just ride back and forth on the path as much as I needed to to hit 80 miles, and have Alex pick me up when I was done. I’d ridden more than 30 miles, had almost 50 left to go, and couldn’t bear the idea of trying to pick my way through unfamiliar streets. Ok. Good plan. On my way again…

…until about mile 44 when I bonked.

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 I felt like crap, but I wasn’t going to let it stop me. I found a Subway, ate a sandwich, took a rest, filled up my Camelbak with ice and water from the soda fountain, and soldiered on. It was not what I’d call “fun,” but I gritted my teeth and got through the remaining 35+ miles.

I was beyond grateful to Alex for picking me up when I finally finished. After a shower and a massage, I felt pretty much human again. And so glad to be done!

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6 thoughts on “Long Times in the Saddle

  1. You’ve already gone on a 60 mile ride, so 80 should not be any problem. Best tip: don’t ride the day before the “big one” and get a good night’s sleep. Since you have bonked once before you need to pay attention to your carb intake! You should probably plan on consuming 250 to 300 calories an hour — it’s no time to experiment with new gels, so use something you like. I prefer a combination of “Bonk Breakers” and “Honey Stinger Energy Gels”. Also, don’t allow yourself to get dehydrated — once your fluids get low you are toast!

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