Thursday, December 11, 2008

Solid investment

Date: Dec. 11
Mileage: 64.4
December mileage: 264.2

I rode hard for five and a half hours today. Started in the late morning, finished after dark, got rained on, slushed on, fought a cold wind and finally some real snow. All in all, a good training ride. The plan is to ride at least seven hours tomorrow, also at a motivated pace.

I'm excited for tomorrow's longish ride, but wow, I feel pretty wiped out for having only put in five hours and change and a measly 64 miles. Every winter when I really start investing in these long rides, I always come away disappointed in my mileage. I can't help it. I worked really hard and rode mostly pavement and, huh, can't even average 12 mph? It was easy to maintain 17 with the mountain bike in the summer. But it's amazing - slap some aggressive studded tires on a bike, ride in the road shoulders where the surface is mostly covered in soft snow and slush, and fight the wind and slush shower just to keep your body temperature near normal, and suddenly cycling becomes a lot more work for less payoff. So I have to remind myself to stop looking at the raw numbers and focus on how I feel immediately afterward: Pleasantly tired, a little hazy, and completely content. Perfect.

And if I spend enough time out on a bike, even on a marginal day like today, I always see some intriguing things:

I was pushing my bike into the Dredge Lake area in a fruitless search for hard-packed trails when I came across two state troopers who had been lurking in the woods. One was wearing a bullet-proof vest and carrying a huge rifle. The other didn't have a weapon in his hand, and eyed me suspiciously. My immediate thought was that they were hunting a rogue bear. But then I remembered that state troopers don't hunt bears. Wildlife officers hunt bears. State troopers hunt people. I lingered several seconds, worried or maybe hopeful that some "Cops"-type perp was going to burst out of the forest shadows, clad only in socks and briefs, and lunge at me before the troopers tackled him. But that never happened. The troopers just slunk back into the woods and I was left wondering what they could have possibly been looking for. I even checked the police report and didn't see anything related, so I may never know.

The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful. I started to notice the sky clearing as I moved north, which always perks me up.

One of my favorite benefits of winter (and, oh yes, winter has many benefits) is the extended sunsets. For more than 10 miles I watched the sky cast varying shades of pink and orange light on the snow-covered trees, the sea water and the glistening, icy road. Gorgeous.

I raced the last few miles before twilight in an effort to reach an opening in the trees in time to witness the moment the blazing orange light of the sun finally slipped below the horizon. I just missed it, and I only made it as far as the obstructed view. Still, the sight of blue sky made me happy. I think it bodes well for tomorrow's seven hours.


  1. Don't be too disappointed with the mileage. If I lived in those conditions you'd find me riding the rollers inside my house.

  2. Careful not to overdo it. If you feel like crap tomorrow you may want to take an easy day or a day off.

    Over training makes your slower, rest makes your faster.

  3. I hear you on the slow mountain bike treking this time of the year. I plug the time into my logs, then the mileage, hit the pace calculator, and have a good laugh!

    It took me almost 2 1/2 hours to cover 26 miles?????

    Better than a trainer and rollers by all means!

    Have a great weekend and those are some beautiful pictures!

  4. Great pics.....did you ever think about going into the computer wallpaper business?

    Have fun on the 7 hour ride:-)

  5. Humm, 64 miles hun? I haven't been on my bike since Holloween for 10 miles. I guess I'm just doing it wrong, great shots of the horzion.

    Ride on and Ride hard. Someone's gotta do it cause I sure aint.

  6. i miss your daily temps with your mileage. it's motivational for me as i ride through the Connecticut winter.
    God is good

  7. Don't pay attention to the mileage, just pay attention to the time you put in.

    And as mentioned above, be careful not to overtrain. When someone truly overtrains they will see the signs of it very soon. Heart rate that spikes and won't come back down is one sign.

    You don't want to overtrain because the only real way to fix that is to lay off the training for a substantial period, thereby throwing event plans out the window.

    Train hard. Rest and recover harder. That will make you stronger!

    One chapter or maybe two to go in your book. Won't get to it tonight though as there is a posse of us going for a winter bike camping excursion here in Mpls! Cheers!

  8. I can't imagine anyone eyeing you suspiciously Jill. You just don't look that dangerous. :-) I wonder if there was some beaver poaching going on? I know with the mess they've been making of the trails and with all the times I've gotten desperately lost in the woods trying to find a way around the flooded areas, I'M pretty much ready to turn one or two into a sofa throw.

  9. Jill,

    Seven hours on a bike! Now, I love mountain biking, but the longest I've ridden is four hours. This leads me to another question:

    Do you get bored? What do you do to keep it interesting?

  10. Do "measly" and "64 miles" every belong in the same sentence? My max so far is a little over 20 miles. I guess everything is relative.


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