Day’s Verse:
Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God.
1 Peter 1:18

I’ve just had two separate people recommend George R.R. Martin’s series A Song of Ice and Fire. It’s yet another unfinished series (Wheel of Time comes to mind; I’m waiting for the last book to come out before tackling that again), but I’ve heard good reviews from readers I respect, so I’ll have to check that out. Expect me to report back on that at some point here.

So yesterday I did my first day of more than 90 miles biking. I rode 3 miles to mom and dad’s house. Dad and I drove to Marymoor Park for RTS #8 (about 78 miles) and I rode my bike home from Marymoor (about 10 miles). We started together, but this ride was very difficult for me. My legs felt sore and tired from the very start, like I’d just done a hard workout recently. I hadn’t — on Thursday I rode did a 25-mile hilly test ride on the Amira, and that’s it — but I certainly earned every mile. The ride started with some hills and rolling hills for the first 25 or so miles that did a good job splitting the group up. I worked hard, but didn’t push real hard up the hills because I wanted to be able to finish the ride.

I also didn’t have the drive to force myself to hang with the fastest group. Whenever a group starts to pull away, there’s a moment where I have to decide whether it’s worth putting on that burst of speed to try to stay with them, or whether to just let them go and ride on my own. Yesterday I watched them slowly recede ahead of me and felt zero urge to keep up. My legs were burning already.

As a result, I rolled into the first rest stop a little bit behind the main front group. However, I was ready to go sooner than most of the other people, and since we didn’t have a ride leader, I just announced that I was leaving and rode off. Each ride I pre-load the route into my GPS and hope that it works. This time it did, so I was able to navigate without following anybody. It didn’t take long for the very fast people to catch up with me — and then, for whatever reason, they stayed behind me the entire length of Paradise Lake Road. We were heading towards Maltby, and I struggle going that direction. The rolling hills killed me. Yet they stayed behind me, so I had to push to maintain a good pace. Finally we reached a light and I looked back and there were all the fast people. I was deeply intimidated and, when the light changed, signaled almost immediately to let people go ahead of me. All told I led for, I don’t know, maybe 3 miles. I felt deeply uncomfortable (not to mention physically overextended) the entire time.

The fast group didn’t just pass me; they dropped me like a hot potato. I was OK with that. I found another RTS rider who was going about my speed and willing to pull as long as I could give him directions. We rode together for quite a few miles, to the next rest stop, and then again later when we both fell behind the fast group again. In Snohomish we pulled in before the fast group left, but just long enough to refill bottles, scarf some food, and jump back in the saddle. To that point I’d averaged 16.6 mph.

The ride flattened out from Snohomish through to Ames Lake Rd., and the fast group picked up the pace. I stayed with them for a while, and eventually fell behind, along with a couple other guys. The smaller group I rode with was slower than the fast people but still kept up a good pace. I think we averaged about 20 mph together. The group varied some, and we stopped once in Duvall to refill bottles again; at that point, I was in the bathroom when the fast group left, and I was happy to let ’em go. When we hit Ames Lake Rd. and then Union Hill Rd. I pulled away from the guy I was riding with thanks to my light weight. I’m fairly good at riding up long hills, thanks to having very little extra mass to haul, and even at the end of this ride, that proved true.

I actually felt quite cheerful riding up Union Hill. Against all odds, the sun was out, I was alone, there was no traffic, and I knew I’d make it. Overall I averaged 17.5 mph on the ride, ending at Marymoor.

I rode home from Marymoor on surface roads, avoiding the solarphilic crowds on the Sammamish River Trail, and that meant a bit of extra hill climbing. I slowly dragged myself up the hill and it felt so good to ride down it. The entire ride it felt like I simply couldn’t push any harder than I already was, and yet several times I managed to push harder anyway. I finished with a feeling of accomplishment, having worked really hard and done pretty darn well.

Best of all was getting off my bike at home, receiving my hard-won glass of chocolate milk, and sitting still. I left the house at 7:30 am. It was 2:45 pm when I arrived back home. I’d spent 5 hours and 8 minutes riding and a couple hours in transit or stopped at rest stops. I spent the afternoon eating, then hanging out with Rachel and eating her food. Today it’s rainy and I’m resting and eating. Speaking of that, I think it’s about time to eat again.

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