Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Experiencing life mile by mile.

If you don't know, I like to ride my bike (really? wow, I would have never guessed by reading your blog JD!). I decided at the beginning of 2008 that I would re-set my odometer at the beginning of each year and track my mileage for the year. While the year is not yet over, I thought I would make a few notes about my recent riding schedule.

It started on Sunday (the 20th) with the Heritage Park WBL rides put together by Jim Cunningham. It was a fun ride that took us on a tour of roads out towards Enoree, SC. We started with a big group of maybe 50 or more.

The group trimmed down a bit after the one sprint zone that was called out. It was really fun, but I simply sat in the back and held on for dear life! Scott took the sprint after we blasted down the road at speeds over 35mph. I love that stuff.

As I said, a small group of people took off from this point. We headed down the road a ways and took a small break at a store. It was obvious that there was a faster group and a slower group. Jim split these two groups - one to go 70 miles and the other to go closer to 55.

I stuck with the 70 mile group and we rode into the increasingly strong headwinds. The group was down to about 15 or so hardcore individuals and we worked a pace line as we knocked out the miles. Technically, we only got something just over 68 miles.

Monday was another great day to be on the bike. I met up with a couple of my Greenville Spinner's Racing team-mates for a tour of Pickens County. We started from Chris' place in the north Main Area of Greenville. He took us on some great backroads that I had no clue even existed. He really knows his way around the area.

We made a stop at Tim's place to see the destruction - oops I mean construction going on at his ranch. He lives out near Pickens (the town of) and near Hwy 8. We took Hwy 8 up through Pumpkintown and across Hwy 11 at Aunt Sues. We looped around on Table Rock Road then started back towards Greenville. It was a really great tour, but after Sunday's ride, I was feeling it at the end of this ride. We arrived back at Chez Chris with just over 69 miles showing on my tripmeter.

I took Tuesday as a non-biking day and instead went to the gym for a core workout. I'm really trying to do better with some strength training. My biggest difficulty is forcing myself to be inside when I'd rather be outside - yes, even in the cold weather. Nothing is as nice as getting a good workout in the great outdoors - biking, running, hiking - you name it. I'd rather be doing it outside than inside a gym. Although I do have to admit, the scenery inside a gym isn't all bad.

Today, I decided to meet up again with my team-mates for another ride. Again, we left from Chris' place. We rode out past Tigerville in loop that took us again on roads that I had not seen before. We passed on climbing Callahan Mountain. In part because it was pretty cold up there in those hills! There was still a bunch of snow on the ground and along the sides of the road. We could really feel the temperature drop as we passed through Tigerville.

Our Total today came in at just about 56.5 miles. That puts me at about 193 miles for the four days. We have another ride scheduled for Saturday (hoping the weather is good), and I'll probably do some easy riding tomorrow before the weather turns. No matter what, I'll have over 200 miles for the week.

What's that mean for me on the year? Well, my odometer passed 4600 miles as we traveled along the swamp rabbit trail near Furman this afternoon. I don't think I'm going to be riding enough over the next week to hit the 5000 mile mark, but hey, I feel pretty good about 4600 (it will go a little higher - maybe 4800 - I'll post up the total when I know I've finished riding for the year).

Why do I feel good about it? Well, on the 3rd of Januray, 2009, I did the Spinner's 'First Fifty' - a ride put together by the Spinner's Touring Coordinators. When I started that ride, I had not (ever) ridden a bicycle more than 50 miles. I think my longest rides were in the 40s up to that point.

How far one can come in the course of a year. My next big event was the assault on Mt. Mitchell. That was my first century and it included over 11,000 ft of elevation gain. I spent a lot of time on my bike throughout the summer - lots of riding at Donaldson, weekend rides and the fun times riding from the Oakview school on Thursday nights. Not a lot of long distance rides, maybe some half centuries or metric centuries along the way.

In July of this year, I made the commitment to ride in support of the Challenge to Conquer Cancer. That was truly an incredible experience. I won't ever forget the times we had and the (many) emotions we shared on that journey. We rode A LOT of miles in preparation for the trip to Austin. We did several centuries during that training and our Polka Dot team managed to do consecutive centuries in our last two shifts. Pretty good for a kid (yeah - I'm still a big kid) who had never done a half century only 11 months before.

Over the miles I've met a lot of really good people here in the Upstate and surrounding area. We've experienced some really great times. Many of those experiences stretching over the many miles we've traveled together.

Merry Christmas my friends. May 2010 see us experiencing many more miles and good times together.

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