I started riding my bicycle again in 2007. It had been so long since I rode regularly that my children wondered aloud about my ability to ride a bike. I have since ridden them into the ground on numerous occasions. I set my sights early on repeating the Hilly Hundred, which I rode regularly when I was in my teens. It turns out that the 2007 ride was the 40th anniversary ride. The last one I had ridden was the 10th anniversary ride. Finishing the Hilly was easier than I had expected it to be, so the next year I decided to take on a century (100 miles). I carefully selected a mostly flat ride in Battle Creek, the Cereal City Century, in September.
I managed to weasel out of it in 2008, then again in 2009, and for a third time last year. I figured out that my difficulty came from starting the Cross Country season in July. Once I’m running daily with my student athletes, my cycling mileage goes way down so that by September, I don’t feel confident that I can handle the century. This year I knew that I needed a ride earlier in the year. I found one, but it had a catch. Instead of just a 100 mile ride, the ride that fit my schedule best was the Ride Across Indiana (RAIN). This is a 160 mile trip from Terre Haute to Richmond. I paid my registration right away — I’m too cheap to let that money go to waste — and started training.
I must admit that I’ve done better with my training regimen than would be normal for me, except that I kept putting off that 100 mile day in my training. Finally, last Sunday, I set out at 7:00 AM in hopes of completing a solo, unsupported 100 mile ride thru Hendricks, Boone, Hamilton, and Marion counties. My plan was to be back home by 1:15 so I could shower and get to my brother’s house for an Independence Day celebration.
I did it! I finished only two minutes slower than my projected time. Not bad for 100 miles. And then I showered and we made it to my brother’s house by 2:00. That’s when my age came calling. When I did rides like this 30 years ago, I did them faster and then I went about my life just the same. On Sunday, I spent the afternoon in a strange sort of funk. I wasn’t exhausted and I wasn’t sore (except for my butt which gave up at 85 miles). No, I just was there.
My legs felt heavy. My mind couldn’t hang onto a thought long enough to process it. Everything was just a little bit out of sync. I was … OLD.