As regular readers know, I ride my bicycle nearly every day. Living in Chicago, a four season city, it is still possible to ride year ’round. It just takes a bit more planning, particularly in what you wear in cold weather. I don’t ride on icy or snowy roads.
Like a lot of regular riders, I log my miles. The League of Illinois Bicyclists has a website with a free mileage log. It is neat to watch the miles accumulate on it. Last year, I fell just short of 4800 miles, but that was the highest annual total I had achieved since retiring in 2000. Obviously, I couldn’t get any place close to that while working a full time job.
I am not sure why, but this year, I have just been driven (no pun intended) to ride every chance possible. As a result, I am well ahead of my progress at this time a year ago. Nonetheless, while I ride regularly, I very rarely log big rides. There is a simple explanation for this. I am aging and a ride takes a lot out of me. If I tried to accomplish the cyclist’s dream – The Century – 100 miles in a single day, I think it would take me at least a week to recover from it. Riding 15 to 20 miles a day gives me a bigger total for the week than doing a century and then laying off for a week. In addition, I never ride till my legs feel like they are falling off. I don’t want to get off the bike and not want to get back on. I do the show business thing and always leave ’em wanting a little more. That way the next day I am looking forward to riding again.
Several years ago I rode a metric century, that is 63 miles in one day. But, I was younger and I didn’t ride with my dog in the front basket as I do now. Last year my longest ride in a day was 51 miles. I accomplished that in two stages. I rode 32 miles in the morning and came back after lunch (and a rest) and did a further 19 miles.
In view of those facts, it is easy to understand that I had never ridden 200 miles in a single week. Until this week. I just finished totaling up my miles and was thrilled to see that I had ridden 243 miles last week. I had a number of two ride days to accomplish this.
I live in downtown Chicago and ride on the lakefront bike path. Normally, on the weekends there are a lot of tourists and it is difficult to ride after noon. I usually ride early on weekends and don’t get a second ride in. This weekend was slightly different. Lots of folks out enjoying the sunshine and pleasant temps. So, the lakefront was very populated.
I got lucky, though. There is a giant foodfest coming next week called the Taste of Chicago in which restaurants from all over the city have booths on the lakefront and folks come and have a great time sampling new dishes. In preparation for the ‘Taste’ the city had closed off Columbus Drive, a six lane street, in order to bring in all the equipment to build the food stands and also huge semitrailer trucks to supply the food.
I found a half mile section of Columbus Drive that was closed off, but mostly unoccupied by trucks or booths or anything. I was able to ride the length of the street over and over with no obstruction. It was wonderful. I felt like a kid with his hand in the cookie jar. No cars speeding by, no trucks and almost no pedestrians.
As I mentioned in my blog entry on cycling March13, I ride because I love the feeling of it. I truly feel like I am flying just above ground level. Not everyone who rides shares this emotion. A lot of my friends wouldn’t be interested in riding up and down a half mile stretch of empty street. They ride to see sights, etc. I don’t think there is a right or wrong here, just real different perceptions of the same activity. My way works for me.
I broke my weekly record and feel fantastic. In addition, I feel like I have gotten a handle on my weight control, too. As I wrote in Retraining Eating Habits on June 4 I dropped over 10 lbs since we started the blog and the reason was that I had upped my exercise and hadn’t upped my food consumption. I am happy to say that I haven’t lost any further weight despite the increased calorie burn from the big week of cycling. I am still at 154 lbs. Once the weather changes and I have to cut back on my rides with shorter days and unsafe weather conditions like snow and ice, I may have to re-retrain my eating, but I will cross that bridge when I come to it.