How I biked 3061 miles (so far) this year.
Sunday, November 08, 2009
I started in March. Here in Minnesota, biking outside in March is a challenge. But my friend Mike had talked me into signing up for the Minnesota Ironman on April 26. (This is a 30, 66 or 100 mile ride. It's called the Ironman because of how hard it is to get training miles in due to winter, weather, or days that are still short.) So after a winter in which I gained 20 pounds, I had to get out early to get back in shape.
In March I biked 102 miles. Total miles for the year: 102
In April, training began in earnest. I'd never biked with Mike before, and he had invited other friends to do the Ironman with us. I did not want to embarrass myself, or hold the other riders back. On April 26, the temperature was approximately 40, the wind was blowing at 30 mph, it was raining. I was riding with someone I had not met before, and could not catch my breath on the up hills, and he kept talking. So I focused on asking him questions, so that I did not have to talk and could focus on breathing (and thinking of more questions.) At the first rest stop he said, "Those hills didn't seem to bother you, you were talking biking up them." (My strategy had worked.) But then it really started to rain, the wind was no longer at our backs, it felt like sleet as the rain hit my face. By mile 40, I could not feel my fingers when I tried to shift gears and could not tell if my feet were on the pedals because they too were numb. I said to myself, "This is not safe." At the second rest stop, some people were wrapped in blankets, shivering from hypothermia. At that point I abandoned the ride. My friend Mike made it to Mile 66. Another friend made it to mile 100 and emailed, "It's a fine line between macho and stupid." We later learned it was rated one of the 3 worst Minnesota Ironman rides.
In April I biked 346 miles. Total miles for the year: 448
With the Ironman out of the way, I began to lose my focus. I had signed up for an organized ride in SD in August, but that seemed a long ways away. I had a training conference out of town during the month, and my daughter came home for a visit. Each of these events provided an excuse to avoid riding.
In May I biked 266.6 miles. Total miles for the year: 714.6
June was worse than May. I had lost momentum. My Dad had surgery. Two reunions (a family and a school) and both took up valuable weekend riding hours. I just could not force myself out to ride. Looking back I think of the long days, and how I wasted those hours.
In June I biked 80.5 miles. Total miles for the year: 795.1
On July 3, I biked 21 miles after more than a week of not riding at all. And that day marked a turning point. The Tour of Saints (a 50 mile organized ride) was scheduled for the 12th, and I knew I had to get moving. I had invited my friend Mike to ride, and knew I was not in shape to keep up. I was correct. Mike had to wait for me on hills, though he didn't complain, I knew he was doing so. The weather was beautiful, but the ride was hard. From July 3 forward, I missed only 4 days of riding in the month.
In July I biked 542 miles. Total miles for the year: 1337.1
As I got in shape, biking became a joy again. It was not exercise, and I just wanted to get out and bike further every day. My organized ride in the Black Hills was mid-August, and though I was in better shape, I was scared to death of the inclines. It is a big difference between the rolling hills of Central Minnesota and biking up to Mount Rushmore. And then, about a week before my trip, I rode again with Mike. And this time he told me twice, "You are really strong." I cannot describe how good that made me feel, and how it increased my confidence for the upcoming ride. And that ride was wonderful. I biked up to Mount Rushmore and then biked on up another mountain, and looked back down on Mount Rushmore. I did not walk, I biked up and sailed down every mile. Then, when I got back, I biked 100 miles in one day. In August, I missed 7 days of riding, mostly travel days.
In August, I biked 676 miles. Total miles for the year: 2013.1
September began with another hundred mile ride, a week after the first. I rode two 50 mile organized rides. The weather was beautiful and I was loving to ride. The days were getting shorter, but the days were beautiful, and I was still able to get in miles after work. By the end of the month, my total miles for the year equaled 2623.5. All of a sudden 3,000 miles was in sight. I had my goal for the year.
In September, I rode 610.4 miles. Total miles for the year: 2623.5
While September was beautiful, October was cold and rainy. The days were getting short, and either I had to take afternoons off from work, or hope for a less wet weekend day to fit in a ride. In total, I could only ride 13 days. But the last of those days, was with my nephew Liam, who had become a cheerleader and motivator in my quest for 3,000. He asked me every time he saw me, how close I was. He understood what an accomplishment it was for me to reach 3000 and he had already begun the calculations to figure out if I could do 4000 next year.
In October I rode 330.2 miles. Total miles for the year: 2953.7.
I rode 25 miles on November 1, and then on November 6, again riding with Liam, I rode 22 miles. As we reached the end of our ride, he yelled to others on the trail. "She just completed 3000 miles for the season!"
In November to date, 107.1 miles. Total miles for the year: 3061.3
Reflecting back, thanks are due to my friend Mike for motivating me at the start, and getting me back on track in the middle of the summer. Thanks also to my nephew Liam who made achieving the 3,000 a true celebration.
Liam is right, there is room for additional miles next summer. #1 Keep the weight off this winter. I lost the 20 pounds I had gained, plus another 5. I will have a faster start next spring if I'm not carrying that weight again. #2 Keep short term goals in sight to keep motivated--and don't waste the long day months of June, July and August. #3 Ride with Mike and Liam.