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Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling Do you enjoy centuries, double centuries, brevets, randonnees, and 24-hour time trials? Share ride reports, and exchange training, equipment, and nutrition information specific to long distance cycling. This isn't for tours, this is for endurance events cycling

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Old 03-26-07, 10:47 PM   #1
SesameCrunch
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Why do you do it?

I like cycling as much as the next person on these forums. I have 4 bikes, do my share of perusing bike sites and catalogs. I tinker and fuss with my bikes, they sleep in the house, not the garage. I look forward to my rides. I love the feeling of the wind and the sound of the derailleurs humming.

I am getting ready for a double century in May and my wife asked me a question to which I have no answer: WHY?

Why do you do these long distance, endurance rides? Why isn't 3 or 4 hours on a bike enough? That's what most sporting events run - football, baseball, golf, tennis. What is it about cycling that would compel otherwise reasonably sane people to want to spend 6 or 12 or 24 hours non-stop on a napkin-sized saddle? I honestly don't even know the answer to that question for myself.

Why do you do it?
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Old 03-26-07, 11:09 PM   #2
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I do it .....

-- because of the challenge ... it's easy to do 3-4 hours, it's more of a challenge to spend a day or 3.5 days on the saddle.

-- because it gives me a chance to push my limits both physically and mentally ... most people never reach their limits, and I don't think I've reached mine yet either ... I'm still pushing.

-- because it reduces life down to the basics ... the "rat race" and "keeping up with the Jones'" and all the modern technology which has pervaded our lives don't matter out there ... instead it all comes down to basic bodily functions - finding enough to eat, finding a spot to relieve ourselves, and getting enough sleep to keep moving ... and keeping our very simple transportational method (our bicycles) functioning. The idea of being out in the middle of nowhere with so little to help me out is exhilarating. It's refreshingly primative.

-- because I'm one of the few women in the sport ... it's not something everyone is doing ... it's different.

-- because I get to see the world ... a local or semi-local brevet allows me to travel all sorts of roads I might not normally travel and to explore the province in which I currently live ... more distant randonnees and 24-hour races give me the opportunity to travel around the world. Without randonneuring I might never have gone to Europe, Australia, and eastern USA.

-- because the randonneuring crowd is a great bunch of people! I always look forward to getting together with various ones at the various events.

-- because it seems to take me 120 km just to warm up ... once I'm warmed up, I might as well keep riding!
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Old 03-27-07, 12:08 AM   #3
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I do long rides (for me, long means 70+ miles or 7000+ vertical feet) because a long day in the saddle is a great way to spend the day. It's fun and it's relaxing, and it keeps my mind off of my work. Long hilly rides are fun. Good hilly century routes are a real treat.
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Old 03-27-07, 04:30 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SesameCrunch
Why do you do these long distance, endurance rides?
the long part (this overlaps with touring) --

* because there's an ineffable joy in travelling through the world on your own power with all five of your senses exposed. it's like going on a long walk through your neighborhood or city, but with a bike you can cover more territory, and you can make it a long ramble through your county or state.

* because there's always one more view from one more hill that needs to be savored or one more blank on the map that needs to be filled in.

the endurance part (this probably overlaps with racing and shorter rides) --

* because my body gets into very frank discussions with my head about what it needs and how it's functioning as I push myself harder. I rediscover my body on every ride that tests my limits, and I find that discovery to be endlessly fascinating.

* because setting challenges for one's life keeps you young.

* because even the DNFs and failures can be enjoyed in hindsight if you learned something about yourself through the experience.

the group part (which you didn't ask for, but plays a significant role for me) --

* because some of the nicest people that I've ever met have been on brevets and charity centuries. It's a wild cast of kind and crazy badasses who are drawn to this sort of thing. Even if we don't turn into BestFriendsForever, just meeting them makes my life feel richer.
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Old 03-27-07, 05:19 AM   #5
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It's the buzz. The endorphins that are released from endurance exercise create a feeling that's not un-like a buzz from drugs and alcohol. Someone who gets high on a regular basis is always trying to find ways to get higher, for a longer period of time. No one likes to come down. In the same way that an experienced "hard partier" will try to stay high for as long as possible before coming down, a long distance cyclist wants to keep going for as long as possible.
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Old 03-27-07, 06:42 AM   #6
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What is it about cycling that would compel otherwise reasonably sane people to want to spend 6 or 12 or 24 hours non-stop on a napkin-sized saddle?
There was a time when it seemed like I did feel like riding endlessly. And on many occasions I would take off during the day and not come back until several days later.

Now, I've come to appreciate just getting in a good day's work. Seems like 200 miles is just the right distance to challenge. I call 'em "sunrise-sundown rides." Just a good, hard day's worth of work.
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Old 03-27-07, 06:51 AM   #7
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Time away from the wife
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Old 03-27-07, 08:13 AM   #8
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control. It's one area in life where no one else influences outcome. Just you. Can't blame the boss or co-worker or bad customer. That self-responsibility is awesome.
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Old 03-27-07, 09:43 AM   #9
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it's the rush!
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Old 03-27-07, 09:57 AM   #10
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For me it's the time I get to spend with my wife. I'm lucky in the respect that my wife loves cycling as much or maybe even more than I do. She keeps signing us up for the damn mountain centuries though.....
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Old 03-27-07, 10:08 AM   #11
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Because I'm addicted...
And also, as Machka said, to see how far I can push my limits (or rather, for the moment, that I can still push my limits further and further...). If you stop at 200 km you'll never know that you can go further... Same for a lot of things in life...
Oh yeah, and also because it's very intense emotionnally. You can go from the most complete despair to total euphory.

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Old 03-27-07, 10:44 AM   #12
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Because suffering is good for the soul.
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Old 03-27-07, 01:14 PM   #13
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Because it makes me feel like I'm 12 years old, again, just out riding my bike for fun.

And because I want to know that I can do something hard. My uncle survived a Japanese POW camp, marching and building a railway to who-knows-where. Would I survive? Guess I still don't know, but surviving BMB sure tells me more about myself and my prospects than surviving another day at the office :-)
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Old 03-27-07, 03:49 PM   #14
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I do it for a lot of the reasons already posted and...that while riding I'm the only person I have to please.
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Old 03-27-07, 04:26 PM   #15
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Honestly, I think that humans -- or at least this one, anyway -- need some suffering in order to fully enjoy life. The high thread count sheets and top grade champagne lose their luster if they are all you ever know. But after a full day on the road, in the mountains, through the rain and wind and dust, even the slightest comforts seem like paradise.
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Old 03-27-07, 07:11 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Six jours
Honestly, I think that humans -- or at least this one, anyway -- need some suffering in order to fully enjoy life. The high thread count sheets and top grade champagne lose their luster if they are all you ever know. But after a full day on the road, in the mountains, through the rain and wind and dust, even the slightest comforts seem like paradise.

Well said...
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Old 03-27-07, 07:14 PM   #17
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Boy, I really appreciate the thoughtfulness of these responses. You guys/gals are very inspirational.

(well, may excepting the guy who says he rides to get away from his wife - not as inspirational )
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Old 03-27-07, 07:52 PM   #18
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Late reply, I guess...but I do it because it proves to me on a tangible level, that a bicycle can go very far. It's all dependent on the engine, of course, but it dispels the myth that a bike is unable to go farther than a mile or so around the block (a very irritating myth that I encounter from almost all of the non-cyclists around me). Plus, it's the feeling of accomplishment...wow, I actually managed to cover that many miles, all under my own power!
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Old 03-27-07, 08:20 PM   #19
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I just got back from riding 120 miles round trip for some good slices of pizza.
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Old 03-28-07, 10:16 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Machka
I do it .....

-- because of the challenge ... it's easy to do 3-4 hours, it's more of a challenge to spend a day or 3.5 days on the saddle.

-- because it gives me a chance to push my limits both physically and mentally ... most people never reach their limits, and I don't think I've reached mine yet either ... I'm still pushing.

-- because it reduces life down to the basics ... the "rat race" and "keeping up with the Jones'" and all the modern technology which has pervaded our lives don't matter out there ... instead it all comes down to basic bodily functions - finding enough to eat, finding a spot to relieve ourselves, and getting enough sleep to keep moving ... and keeping our very simple transportational method (our bicycles) functioning. The idea of being out in the middle of nowhere with so little to help me out is exhilarating. It's refreshingly primative.

-- because I'm one of the few women in the sport ... it's not something everyone is doing ... it's different.

-- because I get to see the world ... a local or semi-local brevet allows me to travel all sorts of roads I might not normally travel and to explore the province in which I currently live ... more distant randonnees and 24-hour races give me the opportunity to travel around the world. Without randonneuring I might never have gone to Europe, Australia, and eastern USA.

-- because the randonneuring crowd is a great bunch of people! I always look forward to getting together with various ones at the various events.

-- because it seems to take me 120 km just to warm up ... once I'm warmed up, I might as well keep riding!
Well said.

Great topic & fascinating replies. Thanks to all for sharing.
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Old 03-28-07, 12:41 PM   #21
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Started for fitness reasons at shorter distances and just gradually got longer and longer. Makes me feel like I'm 10 again and carefree without a worry in the world when I'm out there.
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Old 04-09-07, 06:00 PM   #22
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I do it because I can. Won't be able to do it forever, but I can now, so I will.
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Old 04-09-07, 06:13 PM   #23
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I like doing long distances because I'm not too fast on short distances.
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