The one thing missing from my training so far has been the long ride. The most I've been able to get in so far this year has been around 40 miles. So the plan for today was to do 65 miles, covering my first metric century of the season. Pam from the JackRabbit group joined me since our training was canceled for the holiday weekend. We started downtown and rode 13 miles to the George Washington Bridge, some of it on the Hudson River Park path and in Central Park, the rest on the street. It was pretty slow due to traffic, but a good start to the ride.
From the bridge we rode through several New Jersey towns before re-entering New York and making our way to Nyack (thank God for GPS). This is a great ride on low-traffic roads with rolling hills. You can ride directly to Nyack up 9W, but it's only 18 miles from the GW Bridge. By the time we arrived in Nyack, we had already ridden 46 miles, which made the stop at the Runcible Spoon even more enjoyable than usual. I felt like I could have eaten everything in sight, but instead exercised a little control so I was sure to not leave my lunch behind on the challenging hills that were yet to come.
The Runcible stop is a combination of good and evil. It's a cozy little place peddling all sorts of great stuff you love to eat in the middle of a long ride and it's always filled with cyclists. You sit on a bench outside in the sun and you start to get relaxed, even a little tired. It's hard to get back on the bike. But I'm always glad I stopped when I hit the first hill out of town. In an earlier post, I wrote about the hill I fondly call "Humiliation Hill" due to how ridiculously slow I ride it. After hitting one earlier that made this one seem like a picnic, it actually wasn't so bad this time. Don't get me wrong, it's still miserable and long with seemingly no end in sight, but at least I didn't think I would pass out or start rolling backwards like I did about an hour earlier on the way into Nyack. That other hill was no hill. It was hell.
I rode my best yet today. I've never been one to push myself on the bike so today I really tried. After getting out of the city, I was able to maintain between 18-25 mph except for the hills. It doesn't matter how much progress I make, the hills always put me back in my place. But even so, I was able to really push the last 18 miles on the hilliest part of the ride and finish strong.
I spent the rest of the day trying to stay awake. In the hours following a long ride, I'm always ridiculously tired. It was too late to attempt to nap, I already stay up late enough and would have ended up well into the wee hours for sure. And I can't allow that since I have to get back to the pool in the morning to pick up where I left off last week.
Distance - 66.3 miles
Time - 4:31:00