Sunday, August 24, 2014

62 Milestones

I've written before about my cycling history. I've been a serious cyclist since about 1994, starting with mountain biking and then switching to almost exclusive road biking around 2000. My seriousness increased through the oughts to the point where every year I would build up to a 200-mile one day ride (Seattle to Portland) and a 150-mile ride around Mt. Rainier (RAMROD). I would also ride in a 150-mile Bike MS ride every September that was a fundraiser for Multiple Sclerosis care and research.

I started commuting by bike a majority of the time in 2005. Given all that, I was generally in very good physical condition.

I fantasized that I would keep riding at a diminished level right through cancer treatment.

No way.

If you read along here during that period, you know I spent a good deal of time curled up in a recliner just waiting to emerge from the other end of the tunnel of shit. I wasn't even going out for a walk around the block.

Then through recovery I still felt pretty weak. It wasn't until April - eight months after treatment ended - that I felt strong enough to ride my bike to work again. I've slowly increased that since then and am now bike commuting almost every day.

But those ten months off the bike, plus the big weight loss during treatment, did a real number on my conditioning and strength. During my commutes this summer I have felt a lot weaker than in the past.

The main way to remedy that is to ride more miles.

My new employer makes several successful drugs for MS, and there is a company cycling team that participates in several Bike MS events in New England. That was the impetus and opportunity I needed. Last week I made a last-minute decision to ride the 60-mile route at the Bike MS: New Hampshire Seacoast Escape. I figured that since it followed the coast of Great Bay for the entire route it couldn't be too hilly.

I was a little nervous that I wouldn't make it. My commute is only 9 miles each way and I didn't know how much endurance I would have.

Well, the answer is: plenty.

I ended the ride with 62.5 miles on my bike computer. Not only did I have no problem completing the ride, but I felt fine afterward and had no soreness or fatigue. I remarked to Wonderful Wife later in the day that I felt less tired than I do on a normal Saturday afternoon!

The route was very picturesque. Some of it was on busy roads, but the portions on back roads were quiet and pleasant. From about mile 40-50 the route was along the sea shore near Rye Harbor State Park. That portion had beautiful smooth road, a nice shoulder, little traffic, a beautiful view of the ocean and even a tailwind. It reminded me of my favorite cycling experiences of the past.

It's very gratifying to be back on the road to cycling strength. The summer is the always the peak of conditioning, so my goal now is to maintain what I've got and, starting next spring, try to approach my past level of fitness.

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