Marathon Man

January 28, 2012

As previously mentioned, the first major milestone goal for most long-range cyclists is the half-century.  It’s likely that the first time I will achieve that particular goal will also be the completion of my first major trail ride, on the Prairie Spirit Trail.  However, today I accomplished a new first/best milestone: cycling the well-known marathon distance of 26.2 miles.

I actually biked a total of just under 27 miles.  The route was simplicity itself:  after a typical breakfast of Cheerios, water and my health-drink blend, I started out at 8:30 AM heading south on Highway 59.  I took this for roughly 12 miles, further than I’d previously ridden in one direction; turned down Douglas road (a pebbly, gravelly road typical of that area of Kansas, and where two dogs briefly gave chase) for maybe .75 miles to meet up with my beloved Prairie Spirit Trail, then took that back to Ottawa.

After arriving back in my neck of the woods, I passed my house, continuing to the start of the trail, breaking off to pass my local park, up a back road, where after a period I turned back east to meet up again with Highway 59.  Taking this back south for a couple miles put me back contentedly home.

The ride was very much a tale of two halves:  the first on the highway – social (traffic was light, but more than when I bike at 8 PM), open, enjoying the scenery; the second was on the trail coming back – solitary, more introspective, able to relax a bit more, with less to see as much of the trail is lined with (leafless, in winter) trees.   I was very fond of this double-sided approach to a long ride, and looking forward to doing it again.

Other than the above image (captured this plane flying overhead at about 20 miles into the ride because  it reflected my soaring spirits) I didn’t get any pictures on this trip, but in future trips I’m going to pack (separately from my phone) a small digital camera to record visual reminders of the journey, interesting stuff, etc.  I had a FANTASTIC ride, and could have gone further still if I’d brought more fortifications (see a forthcoming post describing the approach to long-range cycling).

The 24.4-mile trip I took the other day started with the intention of covering a marathon distance, but my body was telling me it wasn’t ready.  I was very happy, satisfied, and content that I was able to do it – and then some – this morning.  The trip was also significant in that it’s the first time I’ve biked further than half the length of the PST.  It won’t be terribly long before I’m doing 4 times this distance  over two consecutive days.

With the full 26.9ish-mile ride taking place in one trip, this also represents a new single-ride and single-day record for me, beating my (recent) previous bests of 24.4 miles.

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