I often get asked how I trained for this bike adventure. I cycled 6927 miles in 2016 before the first pedal stroke of the trip. I cycled in the rain and snow, heat and cold. I cycled short and long distances, the longest being 132 miles on 7/11. I cycled every hard hill anyone told me about from Skyline Drive (3 times) to Mt. Weather (just once) to Sunny Ridge Road to the hardest rides with the most elevation gain in the most unfamiliar places. I also went up and down the Washington and Old Dominion Trail more times than I want to count. I cycled on a stationary bike some, too.
How do I get ready for a particular day’s ride? I read the description of the route. For today, “The first 15 miles … include a few impressive climbs and descents through state parks.” I look at the elevation profile. After all that training and my track record on Yarnell Pass, Mingus Mountain, the switchbacks from Oak Creek Canyon up to Flagstaff, Wolf Creek Pass, La Veta Pass, and Cuchara Pass, I still fret over the spiky places like the one at about Mile 15 on today’s ride.
You can preview the route in a car. You can ride it on a bike. Nothing but the actual experience can prepare you for the actual experience, and even that cannot prepare you completely.
- Your fitness on the day of the actual ride may be better or worse than the training ride.
- The weather may be different.
- The traffic will be different.
- The condition of the road may be different (for example, there may be road construction and grooved pavement).
- Your mental state may be more clear or more muddled, more in neutral or more panicked.
You can also choose NOT to look at an elevation profile and just take the road as it comes. That was Brenda’s style on the Ride to Awareness last fall.
This is a video of my actual ride today on that spiky place. It got as steep as 11%. I had to breathe deeply at times. I sweated a little. I knew I was going to do it because I had to for my goal, but I still worried about it.
After the “hill,” I got to Nashville IN where Gonzo at Hesitation Point Bicycles fixed my helmet and gave my bike a good lookover. He is the fifth bike mechanic to work on my bike since I started. He is part of the RAAM “family” that connects all across the RAAM route. Given the gorgeous day, Gonzo then played hookie from work and rode with me for about five miles.
I used to teach math to children. I loved presenting a child with multiple perspectives so she could choose one or more that would help her understand and tackle a math problem. I often think of cycling as problem solving. Gonzo found a broken plastic wire in my helmet and fixed it in a most creative way. Thank you, Gonzo!
Start location: Bloomington IN
End location: Greensburg IN (Yes, that is a tree growing out of the clock tower.)
Distance: 64.8 miles
Cumulative distance: 2369.7 miles
Elevation gain: 1781.5 feet
Strava track: https://www.strava.com/activities/736619971