28 February 2012

63!

Taken with SmugShot on my iPhone

With this month's forecasts and what was supposed to be a week in Utah (cut short by back-to-back blizzards), I wasn't sure I could pull off a 60-mile day in February.

Saturday the skies accommodated and the wind cranked up the difficulty level.

I'd wanted to attempt commuting to work Wednesday, the warmest day so far this year, but we'd had snow almost every other day for three weeks straight, and The Lizard worried I might encounter too much ice and snow in the dark to achieve it safely. As it turned out, we had 50-mile-per-hour-or-better winds that day. I wouldn't have made it home. I would have been forced to call The Lizard to rescue me.

Another eight inches fell Thursday.

Saturday's ride began to reconnoiter if the bike path would have been safe (no) and if it would offer one more chance before the end of the month (not likely). Although some portions of the most popular portions of the bike path had been plowed, ice abounded, and the heating element on the newest bridge doesn't appear to be working at all! (There is no heating element; apparently the city didn't want to damage the beautiful wood beneath all that snow, so the path was plowed up to both sides of the bridge, but the bridge was an obstacle course young riders couldn't resist navigating.)

Taken with SmugShot on my iPhone

Saturday's ride was nearly cut short after I rounded a corner and went down hard on a slab of ice coating the entire sidewalk from end to end at mile 18. My hip was angry with me for the next four or five miles, and The Lizard had to readjust my caddywompus seat before we could continue on.

If you must ride, and you must ride in the wind, you might as well ride a 10-mile S-curve if you can to break up the degrading, demoralizing and depressing effects of the wind. If we'd chosen to stay on the bike path, we'd have faced 30 miles of helpful and speed-inducing tailwinds, then 30 solid miles of 30-mile-per-hour wind and stronger gusts. Not a fun trip.

By opting for four repeats of the bicycle-friendly S-curve road instead, we survived abbreviated sections of effortless tailwinds, crosswinds, brutal headwinds, crosswinds and fun tailwinds, then suffocating headwinds, crosswinds, sweet tailwinds, crosswinds and mind-numbing tailwinds on the reverse. I kept chanting, "Wind makes us tough. Wind makes us tough. Wind makes us tough." to maintain determination and high spirits.

At mile 52, all we had to do was get back home. We'd have about two miles of ticklish tailwinds and about nine miles of uphill headwinds as bad as they get. The last few miles were doozies, but I knew I had it. I knew I'd done it. Sometimes the wind held me to 4.7 miles per hour, but I was never tempted to give up, and if someone had offered a ride, I would have graciously turned them down (after excitedly explaining why this wind-pummeling ride had to continue). I even stood on the pedals the final two short but nasty climbs, one of which occurred exactly as my odometer turned 60.

This caps a full year of 60-mile days. I've completed at least one 60-mile day every month for 12 months straight, first time ever, and likely last time. Some clubs do a century ride (100 miles in a day) every month, but there are not many riders in Colorado willing to do that in winter. (Last I heard, one guy in Loveland has a multi-year century-a-month streak; he is much younger than me.) A year's worth of 60-mile days may not seem like much of an accomplishment to seasoned distance riders. For this 52-year-old latecomer, slow pedaler and victim of emergency back surgery, however, this is one of the biggest and best physical accomplishments of my life. (Giving birth would have been the biggest, but I never got to do that.) How many others this age can say they've done this while longing for the next opportunity to get back on the bike? :)

Taken with SmugShot on my iPhone

Stopping for a photo at the end of the first icky climb gave my knees a chance to recover so I could tackle the final climb in style, then round up the mileage once we reached home sweet home. 63 miles. In a day. In February. In Colorado. Yuppers, I did it!

Homemade chicken noodle soup (previously made) and a hot mineral bath served as appropriate badges of honor.

Taken with SmugShot on my iPhone

8 comments :

  1. Way to Go! and I love the soup and soak at the end. What a great way to reward yourself for a great day.

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  2. You are one tough woman. You Go Girl. You are an inspiration to the rest of us......Opal

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  3. Yeah! Good Job, Snowcatcher!

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  4. You are a bit of a marvel. Don't I recall that you have no cartilage in one knee? You give me inspiration that I will not have to have knee replacement surgery some day!

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  5. Yippee! Well done! My best is 37 miles in one day - and that was only once! I'm also 7 years younger than you. I'm really impressed with your achievement.

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  6. Bring on the epsom salts! Dang, you're good. (I'm happily jealous.)

    This is so fantastic, Deb. What an accomplishment - especially with all that snow and ice about. I'm terrified of icy roads and wouldn't think of venturing out on one. You are truly intrepid.

    P.S. Doesn't it feel good to get out of the saddle and climb in style? (At least for short bursts.)

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  7. Congratulations! What a nice smile! Brazilian kisses...

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  8. Woo hoo!!! That's a long ride for the conditions around here right now. Wowsers!!!!!

    Determination can take you a long way... and you are a great example of that concept.

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