Tuesday, August 30, 2011

40 miles in 3:56

Have you ever eaten a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwhich while breathing through your mouth? I did, today. I'll explain in a minute.

First, I should report that it looks like I've beaten the 10mph jinx. I averaged better than 10 mph for 40 miles, today, pit stops included. I've never done that before.

Specifically, I started at 7:25 am, finished the first 20-mile loop at 9:20, took an 8-minute break, started the loop again at 9:28 and finished it at 11:21. That's 40 miles in three hours fifty-six minutes, break included. I haven't done the math, but since it's clearly better than 10 mph, I'm not going to bother.

Now for the peanut butter.

The plan was to start the second lap no more than two hours later than I had started the first. That would ensure that I only had to maintain the pace that I had set, in order to finish the 40 miles in 4 hours. If I could ride the first 20 miles in two hours including time spent resting, then I wouldn't have to ride any faster than that during the second 20 miles. But every minute I delayed starting the second lap would be a minute I would have to make up during the second lap. And I had just learned last Saturday that it's very hard to make up time.

Now, I had packed a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, that I was going to eat during the halfway break. But I hadn't planned on giving a video mini-interview while eating it.

You see, there was a photographer from the Oregonian waiting for me when I finished the first loop. He had originally planned to show up before I started the ride, but called me a little after 7 this morning to say he had been held up. So I agreed to meet him -- briefly -- during my rest break. So there he was, and I had to eat my sandwich because I needed fuel and I needed to get back on my bike in five minutes. But he asked me if I would say on camera why I had chosen the bicycle over some other form of exercise. I felt it would be rude to refuse him, so I agreed, and he promptly pointed out that I couldn't do it with my mouth full of food. So I put the sandwich aside and spoke some inane blather into his Iphone, but messed up so bad he asked if he could have a second take, so I complied. (More blather.) Anyway, I had only time for two bites of my sandwich. I put the remains back in the paper bag and stuffed it into my pocket and climbed on my bike. When I re-set my stopwatch and odometer to zero, it was 9:28. I was three minutes late. Three minutes to make up!

So that's how come I was eating a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich while breathing through my mouth, because several miles into my second lap, struggling to make up time, I recognized a sensation that I ascribed to low fuel. I had to eat! And I was breathing too hard to keep my mouth closed.

So there you have it.

The fueling was successful. A bite or two every two or three miles saw me through. Interestingly, my legs felt strongest about 25 to 30 miles into the ride. At around 35 miles, they were feeling tired. How much further I could have gone at that pace, I couldn't say. I'm sure there's better fuel out there than peanut-butter and jelly, too.

My knees felt good most of the way. But not my butt. For the final 10 miles, the saddle felt as though it was carved out of rock. (It actually is very well padded.) My next ride, Saturday, will find me wearing the chamois liners again. The last time I wore them, they were too hot, but the weather's changing.


  1. CONGRATULATIONS! You broke the 10mph barrier. It's always interesting fueling while riding. One handed (or riding with now hands) and eating the goodies from the rest stops.

    You need to take time out for your fans if you're going to get that team sponsorship!

  2. I read the article about you in The Oregonian this morning - wonderful story, great goal! Looking forward to following your progress and rooting you on.

    I set a somewhat similar goal for my upcoming birthday (49) in that I wanted to do something physically challenging, so I found a triathlon taking place on that weekend (October 30th) all the way in Tucson and signed up. It's a "tinfoilman" triathlon - swim half a mile, bike 12 miles, run 3-miles. I'm training now.

    Setting goals to keep us nimble takes some guts and determination. Keep up the good work - and on to that skiing trip!

  3. Thanks to you both for your comments. Leslie, I've bought a Camelback insulated bottle that I can drink out of with one hand, and I hope to get the cage for it mounted today, so I can use it tomorrow. Thanks for the tip! (And for everything else you've been doing for me!)

    Leslie, good luck on your triathlon. As for the "guts and determination," you may be young enough to benefit from that, but check out my "sheer terror" post to see where age has brought me to on that question. Don't be too much of a drill sergeant on yourself. And have fun!