The other day I was thinking about one of my first "long distance rides" years ago and how things have changed since then. I thought I' d share it with you because it still kind of cracks me up.
Back in 2003 Jenny' s sister was in town and they decided to spend the day in Seattle with the kids doing the tourist thing. Since Jenny wanted to hang out with her sister I got the pass not to go with them. With everyone gone I packed up my Costco mountain bike complete with full knobby tires on the bike rack and headed to the centennial trail. I think this bike weighed 3 times what my current bike weighs but it sure was steady in wind storms. In the past I had ridden this trail on family bike rides but the farthest we ever got was 3 or 4 miles up the trail before heading back to the car. Of course back then I would pull a bike trailer full of kids who didn' t know how to ride a bike.
This time was going to be different though. There were no kids to pull and no time constraints so I was going to find out just how long this trail really was and where it ended up. I was totally prepared for whatever would came my way because I packed a fanny pack chalk full of one entire water bottle! Yep, that was it and away I went no spare tube, pump, or food, I was ready to go.
As I rode along I was having a heck of a good time because I was heading into the great unknown. This trail could have gone all the way to Oregon for all I knew. As I was riding along I could see in my mirror (it was a big fat bulky one) another rider who was slowly approaching me. We were heading up a slight incline and no matter how hard I pedaled he kept gaining on me. Eventually, he passed me and I shook my head in disgust. How could a road bike pass me going up a hill? I was on a mountain bike for heaven sakes shouldn' t I be faster on hills? I' m normally not much of a competitive guy but that day I found out that getting passed brings out the competition in me. It was like someone was challenging me to a dual or something.
I ended up making it to the end of the trail which happened to be in Snohomish. As I looked at my speedometer it said 18 miles which was a personal best and I still had to ride back to the car. I celebrated by sitting down on a bench, digging in my fanny pack and drinking my one bottle of water which of course I hadn' t touched yet. After I polished off the bottle of water I headed back feeling fully hydrated. On the way back I spotted another cyclist up ahead of me and I was bound and determined that I was going to pass him. I put my legs in overdrive and spun those knobby tires as fast as they would go until I crept up and slowly passed him. I have to admit I felt quite a sense of satisfaction to have passed him even if it was really slow. What I didn' t realize is he would be following me for the rest of the way so if I didn' t want him passing me back I would have to maintain the same blazing speed. I' m sure my blazing speed was all of 14 MPH but having never ridden that far before and lugging a heavy mountain bike equipped with knobby tires I was really hitting my personal red line for cycling.
There was no way I was going to be passed though so I pushed it for the rest of the trip back to the car. As I arrived I couldn' t believe I had just ridden 36 miles. At the time it seemed like I had ridden the equivalent of a marathon and as I hopped in the car I wondered what all of the white powdery crystals were that were all over my face. They even had a salty taste to them.
On the way home I picked up a salad at the store to eat for lunch because since I had ridden so far I must have turned over a new healthy guy leaf. When I got home I polished off the salad in no time flat and then began to eat everything else in site that I could get my hands on. I had a hunger that just wouldn' t quit and to make matters worse I was super thirsty. Wasn' t one water bottle good enough for a 36 mile ride?
Over the years I' ve learned a lot about cycling that I didn' t know then. I still occasionally ride the centennial trail but that 36 miles doesn' t seem nearly long enough these days. I bring a lot more things with me like a spare tube and I actually drink which I' m riding. I even occasionally let people pass without it bothering me (occasionally). Even though things are a little different today it' s hard to match the feeling of accomplishment I felt that day. 36 miles in one day!