One hundred fifty miles on a bike seems like a long way to go. Looking at a map, I guess it is pretty far, the equivalent of biking from Lebanon to Columbia.
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The first day, I didn’t really know what to expect, and I didn’t do a good job of keeping track of my pace. I met up with the rest of the people on the Local Harvest Team or as I thought about us, Team Carrot, in the morning. We stayed together through the first rest stop, but then through large crowds of people I pushed hard up a hill. That initial burst got me going at a new pace, and I drifted between trains of riders. The weather was gorgeous. Sunny, 60’s and then 70’s. Not too windy. By the end of the first day, fatigue had set in some. I just wanted to be through with the ride.
The second day was much better. I’d slept more and ate better than the previous couple of days, so it seemed like I had more energy. Also, I knew I could do it for sure now since I completed the first day. Due to crazy travel plans (I had to fly out to Santa Barbara that night) I started the ride without Team Carrot at 7:00 a.m. The sun rose over fields of corn, and trees rising in clumps among the low hills. It was peaceful and relaxed. This time I only stopped twice. Once for lunch at 9:30 and then a quick break twenty miles later. I finished the ride at 11:40 a.m. and had a pace of over 17 mph. Initially, it hurt to get back on the bike, but my legs loosened up and I was rolling. The only thing that was strange were the moments of extreme isolation. There’d be miles where I saw no one. Just the road beneath my tires, listening to the thrum of the rubber over concrete. Birds dotted wires like weary observers having better things to do. The horizon stretched out. Sometimes it felt claustrophobic as walls of corn pushed close to the road and the sun rose higher. Thoughts devolved into thinking of cadence, of keeping my legs moving. Then as if being disturbed from a revery, a group of cyclists would power by me. Sometimes I would push and ride with them for a bit, but then fall off, alone. The last stretch was full of hills. They flowed down and I sat tucked tight on the bike, flying across the surface, when they pushed back up, I’d try to power my way on, keeping the gears where they were to get maximum distance.
The finish felt great. It was still early in the day, not yet noon. I packed up my bike, folded up the tent, and stowed the rest of the gear. A few hours later I was on board a flight bound for L.A. I’ll do it again next year, and I think you should too.