Today was my local bike shop's 21st Spring 50 ride. Gorgeous day for it. Almost no wind to speak of, and the temperature in the morning was nice. In fact when I woke up it was still pretty cold, so I chose to wear my heavier wool socks instead of the new nylon ones. Sort of a mistake, but it didn't cause any problems.
Felt like a fish out of water again; I was easily the heaviest person there by 150 pounds again. You'd think I'd be used to that now, but I keep expecting one day, people my size are going to realise how awesome biking is and come to these things. I suppose I'm still very atypical. Regardless, I came there expecting to finish long behind everyone, so I set a different goal for myself. I wanted to hit 13mph average on a 50 mile ride. My previous best average on a 50 miler was 12.4mph, so 13mph should be a nice enough bump but also within the realm of realism. Over 100 people were there by my reckoning (I was the 95th to sign up). About half the people were doing the 25 mile version and the other half were doing the 50. Since I did my first 50 of the year last weekend I know I'm trained up to that level again, so I resolved to do the 50.
Ride started off well. Did 3 miles of slow warmup before everything began, didn't include that in the actual ride data though. Most people passed me easily enough, but I expected that. Slow and steady was my motto for the day. Surprisingly for the first 10 miles I was averaging over 15mph, even though we were going into the (very minor) headwind. I was with a group of 5 people at the very back of the ride, but unfortunately the other 4 decided to stop off in Akron at the 12 mile marker to take the 25 mile route. They all looked at me like I was crazy when I continued on the other way on the 50 mile route. I suddenly found myself alone.
Eventually I caught up to another group of 3 people, but they apparently decided that they made a mistake choosing 50 miles and turned back around the 14 mile mark, leaving me solo once again. I could see one more fellow about a half a mile in front of me, but I was never able to catch him and completely lost sight of him somewhere on Bunker Hill. I hadn't been paying attention to my speed but I was flying and didn't realise it. Around mile 30 I finally checked my GPS and it said I was averaging 14.6mph. That's clearly a record for 30 miles, I don't think I've ever averaged that much for that distance. Unfortunately that's about when the heat started becoming an issue, and my average dropped.
When I reached Strickler road in Clarence I finally pulled out my headphones and turned them on, trying to use music to set my cadence and keep my focused. A few people came up from behind me, which was confusing, but they explained that they had gotten lost and went an extra 2 miles. A bunch more came cycling by in little groups every few minutes or so until finally one lady decided to stick with me because she had no idea how to make it back.
Things started getting iffy near Main Street. The wind completely died and there was a long incline in the broad noon sun. I suddenly felt my skin boiling. It's funny how I spent the last 6 months cursing the wind in the winter and early spring, but at that moment I would have given anything to get a nice cool gust of wind. My water was reaching perilously low levels and all the ice had melted by this point. My thermometer was reporting 102 degrees, but it always reports a little high when it's in the sunlight. Speed was dropping like a rock, my average fell to 14.0 mph, but I was still very happy. Well maybe not totally. There was a point when I felt bad because I knew I was so far behind everyone, but I kept trying to tell myself that at this point last year, 8 miles was a tough bike ride... and I needed a break halfway through that! Today I had already gone 35 miles without a break, and I could finish the rest without needing to stop! So taken in that context, and given that I was a full 1mph above my target speed, I suddenly felt much happier.
Around mile 40, things started clicking again. I'm not sure what happened but I suddenly felt much better and started hitting 17-18mph for half mile intervals again. I finished the ride strong, and there were at least 2 people behind me that I could see. So whereas I figured I would be finishing last, I finished at least 3rd last!
When I got to the picnic area, I met up with the group of people who left me at 12 miles, and they said "We thought you were crazy, but you seemed to know what you were doing so we didn't try to chase you down and tell you that you were going the wrong way!". I couldn't argue with the crazy part.
Another man came up to me and remarked that he was amazed that I biked 25 miles. To which I replied "Oh, no, I did the 50!". His eyes literally bulged at that. I'm full of surprises.
So today was an amazing success for me. Demolished my goal by a whole 1mph and came in 15 minutes ahead of schedule. 3 hours 21 minutes moving time, 3 hours 23 minutes total time (traffic light stops only). 14.0 mph average speed, 29.1 mph max speed (Akron is fun... but only going north!), and another 3000 calories down the drain. Hopefully next year I'll be able to hit 15 or 16mph. Maybe one day, when I lose half this weight, I'll be able to do the 28mph that the people in the front can do. Until that day...
Here's the Garmin data. I'm on beta blockers, which is why my heart rate is about 30bpm lower than it normally would be (sadly, I am not superman!) http://connect.garmin.com/activity/180254968