Friday, December 19, 2014

83.3 miles

In some ways, my bicycling ability has plateaued. I've already done a 100K (three, actually), and it's not that I CAN'T do anything longer than that; it's just that doing anything longer than that would just take a really long time, and I'd rather not spend an entire Saturday away from my family. But if I have an extra vacation day to use, I COULD take the day off from work, and ride my bike for 7 hours or so. That's what I did yesterday: drove east of Raleigh, then got on my bike and rode from 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM. Total distance: 83.3 miles.


(This isn't why I took this picture, but yes, I did use that toilet.)

Most bike rides are fun for the first 40 miles or so. Then, muscles and things start to hurt, and it becomes not fun. Between that and the time factor, I keep most my rides at 40 miles or less. But, sometimes it's fun to push my limits.

...although if I really wanted to push my limits, I would have driven west to (somewhat) mountainous Stokes County and ridden this 45-mile route that I plotted a while back, but have never gotten around to doing, because despite the shorter distance, it's still a huge time commitment: 1.5 hours of driving each way on top of ~4 hours of bicycling. But rather than go to the mountains, I decided I'd rather just post a large mileage number. ("I rode my bike 83 miles" sounds more impressive than "I rode my bike 45 miles in the mountains", right?) So I drove east of Raleigh, parked the car, and then headed for the relatively flat terrain of Nash County.

So...do I think I could do 100 miles? Probably, but it wouldn't be fun. Simple math, really: if the first 40 miles of a bike ride are fun, then the last 60 miles of a 100-miler would not be fun. Plus, completing a 100 miler would take me even longer than this ride did. I think I'd have to do it in Spring or Summer when we have more daylight. But then, it'll also be warmer, which in some ways is worse for long bike rides because it means I have to pack more water. (Water is heavy.) I could do a supported 100-miler, but the kind of people who do supported 100-milers are much faster than I am. Or, I could plan a route such that there's a water fountain at the halfway point or something, but what if I get there and find that the water fountain is broken? (Water fountains, or "bubblers" as they call them in Wisconsin, aren't the most reliable things out there.) If I couldn't refill my water halfway through, then to complete a 100-miler in mild-to-warm weather, I'd have to bring at least a gallon of water with me. (That's not an exaggeration: I consumed about 3 quarts of fluids during the 83 miler, and I still felt dehydrated afterwards. On a warmer day, surely I would have needed to drink even more.) Suffice to say there are some logistical challenges to doing a century, and so I don't know if I'll try one next year or not. Maybe it'll depend on how much vacation time I have to spare.

Bicycling Trip in Asia update: I haven't added yesterday's distance yet, but my fictional bicycle ride across Asia, which started in Singapore 19 months ago, is now only a few weeks away from New Delhi. The last 7 months have been spent in India, and the last 2 months have been spent in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. At 462 miles, Uttar Pradesh is the longest state (or province or region or whatever) on the entire 10,064-mile Singapore-to-Gibraltar route. Also, at a population of ~200 million, it's also more populous than any other country (excluding India of course) on the Singapore-to-Gibraltar route. I wonder how bicycling-friendly the roads of Uttar Pradesh are?

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