Friday Group Ride #274

Friday Group Ride #274

We rolled out in a drizzle that soon became a downpour, except that downpours tend to be short-lived. Three hours later with the road flooded in spots, the deluge continued. We were wet through and still had 70 miles in front of us. This turned out to be a blessing for me. In heat, I dehydrate quickly, no matter how much liquid of certifiable nutritional chemistry I pour down my neck. The cold rain kept me in the game. I didn’t say anything to my companions, but I hoped it wouldn’t end.

I was in over my head, honestly. Brad just finished a cross country bike race a few weeks ago, averaging 176 miles a day. Matt is the holder of a number of long-distance cycling records and in the middle of training for a 1000k brevet. The other Matt is closer to my equal, but he was riding to my end point, 125 miles out, and then turning around to ride home. My longest ride in 2015 has been 70 miles.

I had no business being on the front, and if my ego forced me there in the opening three hours of action, it was only stupidity that drew me to the sharp end thereafter. In my head I heard a voice, “just hang on/just hang on/just hang on,” so I just hung on, even when I was foolishly burning matches on slow, steady climbs with my companions strung out on my wheel.

One way I can tell how I’m doing on a long ride is by whether or not I can smile. Around 75 miles, I stopped smiling of my own volition. At 100, I stopped being able to force myself to smile.

We stopped at a cafe about 15 miles short of my final stopping point, and I felt alright, almost triumphant. I’d come through. I’d make it, but then standing in line holding a muffin and a banana and straining my eyes to see the coffee menu I felt a wave of nausea sweep over me. I swallowed hard and stumbled forward to the register, ordered a smoothie and a cold brew and paid for my stuff. Then I handed it all to Brad and went outside in the hope that I’d be able to hold down the current contents of my stomach.

You can’t underestimate the value and saving grace of a picnic table and a shade umbrella in a moment like that. Actuaries have broken pencil tips trying to calculate the sums.

The blood returned to my head and the palliative effects of calorie and caffeine quickly took hold. I regained the ability to smile, which was good because Matty deserved a cheerful send off for the return trip. I got a text 8 hours later that he’d arrived safely home again, 210 miles in 16 hours.

I swung my leg back over the top tube and continued on to the beach house, only to arrive a couple hours before my wife and kids. This is what happens when you ride with people who are faster than you are. I had to tippy-tap around the corner in my bike shoes to a local surf shop to buy shorts, a t-shirt and some flip-flops. I showered and dressed in the new clothes and began working my way through every bit of food and drink I could find, so as not to be completely useless when the family showed up. This was my longest ride of the year, 125 miles in 8 hours.

This week’s Group Ride asks, what was your longest ride of the year like? How far? How’d you do? Is it still in front of you? Are you training, or like me, just hoping your background fitness will carry you through?

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  1. Jay

    My longest planned ride has yet to happen, but it is tentatively taking place on October 4th. My longest to date this year is 50 miles, otherwise it is usually just a lot of rides between 20 and 35 miles.

  2. Bryan Lewis

    You rock! 125 miles is my longest ride ever, and it took me 10 hours. You should be all set for D2R2!

  3. GT

    After being one of only 9 people worldwide to rack up all of Strava’s monthly long distance rides last year, this year I’ve taken it easy, with my longest ride being just 100.8kms.

  4. Miles Archer

    I have no goal, no training target this year. Work has kind of gotten in the way from building up the miles. Many years I have a century planned early in the summer that motivates me to get fit and ride some longer distances. Alas, not this year. Longest ride was around 40 miles. I ride a couple or three hours on Sunday mornings, so this is no epic journey. For me, the question isn’t how many miles – I can do miles – it’s how many vertical feet. That kicks my larded ass.

  5. Lou

    My longest ride will be a 20 miler next weekend. I had one hip replacement in February and the other in May, so for me this will be a big accomplishment and I am looking forward to the ride AND being back in the saddle with some of my favorite people!

  6. Pat O'Brien

    Forty two miles is the longest so far. Like Jay, we ride often but mostly 12 to 16 on the trail, and 18 to 20 on the road.

  7. Aar

    With a new job pushing my knee replacement to November, my longest ride of the year is a measly 26 miles. That one left me with a severe limp for about three weeks. So, most of my rides these days are of the 30 minute, easy and flat variety. Planning a ~40 miles per day end-to-end riding of the Blue Ridge Parkway to get my fitness back in the spring

  8. Tod

    Most rides are 25 – 35 miles. My longest this year was 101 miles in July with another century scheduled for September and another in October. I always find it strange that the last 20 miles are longer than the first 80, but I keep coming back for more!

  9. winky

    Just did R.A.M.R.O.D. Around 250km for the day around Mt Rainier. Hot and just a bit hilly. Highly recommended, though. Spectacular scenery and generally great roads. Thanks to the organising club and a bunch of great volunteers. This is certainly my long ride for this season.

  10. Conrad

    Way to sneak that long ride in! That is how I have to do it. My last big one was San Diego to Palm Springs. Sister lives in San Diego and we rented a house to hang out in Palm Springs. They drove, I rode. Roughly 175 miles. Surprisingly pain free and the descent of the Palms to Pines highway into San Diego is one of the top 3 best descents I have done. The route that Google maps gave me was spot on. I had a cocktail immediately handed to me upon arrival. Doesn’t get much better than that!

  11. Andrew

    I’ve done a bunch of 100+ mile rides this summer, some on gravel, but the 3 Pistes Sportive in the Scottish highlands was the hardest, with the worst weather and the most awful hills. Hell of a good time though!!

  12. Peter

    Longest so far is 70. Longest “fast” one has been 45. I just don’t have the endurance in me at the moment, but it sure as hell feels exhilarating when I get those rides finished. Hoping to build up to more distance and better speed as the season goes on.

  13. Mike

    44.5 a couple weeks ago. I recently read that you should be training at 60% of your long distance goal. Normal for me is about 25 or so and I was beat at the end of this one. No real goals, other than “farther”.

  14. Phaedrus

    Each year there is an Edwardsville Illinois epic invite only ride on April 20th. It’s in memory of the organizers mother. It’s always 157 miles. I got the impression, that he went for a ride the day she passed, and it ended at 157 miles. I’ve never heard the full list of details. It all seems quite personal, so I just ride.
    This year it rained, got cold, and then rained harder. There was gravel, pot holes full of water, and wind. My fingers got stiff with cold and I couldn’t open my snacks without help. There were 11 flat tires between 12 guys (0 for me). Most of the time, I felt pretty miserable, but as we rolled back into town, I felt as if I’d accomplished something great. In all the cold, wind, and rain, we didn’t talk, but there was a bonding experience that hours of deep communication couldn’t have produced. It was terribly hard, but rich with a sense of community and accomplishment. I’ll do it again next year, even if the conditions are worse.

  15. gregc

    Longest ride this year was a solo 140 miles in just over 8 hrs. I try to do at least one long ride a year, usually a one way that coincides with some method for convenient return. I’m pretty picky about the conditions. No headwinds, temps between 60 and 85, mostly flat though this one did have one 2400 ft climb for some diversity. I sort of equate using a long ride the same way you might dump cache, sites visited, recycle bin and scan disk on your PC. Everything runs a bit smoother and faster afterwards.

  16. Denis

    First year of long rides for me, having finally joined a group of friends that do charity rides. First century ever was in Chelan WA with a heap of climbing and one very long, very steep and very hot canyon climb. Another century 2 weeks ago (mostly flat!) and then a 60 miler yesterday that cooked me more than the fist century. Awesome fun all around with great people. Feeling stronger than I did racing 25+ years ago!

  17. David B

    I did the 100 mile version of the Lost-and-Found ride two months ago, and then got too busy rebuilding chunks of the house. It was excellent again except for that four mile bit of horrible washboard descent (it includes 80-some miles of sierra fire road).

  18. 8xlaxx

    54 miles to Purcellville and back on the W&OD trail. My quad cramped when I was loading up the vehicle to leave and I dropped my Lazer helmet cracking it. I’ll remember this ride. Thanks for the blog!

  19. Kurti_sc

    On road 102. Off road 34. Most of my rides have been 30-60 solo efforts on the road. I am looking forward to the 6 Gap century in Sep. and the Hincapie Fondo in Oct. those will be my longest group rides.

    1. Author

      @johnny nj – I happen to know that you put up a big ride this summer. Why don’t you tell the kids about it?

    2. johnny nj

      First, I misquoted Bergermeister Meisterberger. It was the other two guys that said that. Second, yes Mr. Robot I did have a big ride this summer from High Point, NJ to Cape May, NJ. 240 miles over two consecutive days. As a ham and egger cyclist, I was tired when I arrived at the Cape May Lighthouse and quite thirsty. I did the ride solo and found maybe most difficult part was being stuck in my own head for long long chunks of time. Lots of crazy time. Nonetheless, for those that don’t know the Dirty Jerz, the route from HP to CM (detailed on the NJ Dep’t of Transport website) provides some amazingly surprising scenery and you all should take that ride someday.

  20. Peter Leach

    Sadly, my on going saga with a very slow to heal broken femur has meant that my longest ride for 2015 = 0km.
    That said, I did manage a couple of short sessions on the trainer in between surgery to implant a plate to support the break and more recent surgery to replace that plate with a bigger, stronger version after it fractured too.
    But, distance = 0km.
    Hopefully, I will start back on the trainer in three to four weeks, then on the road four to six weeks after that. If I get to keep that schedule, then my long distance target for 2015 will be 100km. And if I make that, then I might be able to do my usual Tour Down Under Community Challenge and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Ride in early 2016 after all 🙂

  21. Peter Kelley

    Met up with an old racing pal last Sunday and was talked into joining the weekly Arc en Ciel Team ride. Did I mention that I haven’t raced since 1999? I was the only dude on the ride without a US Cycling license and 20+ races under his belt this year. 91 miles and 5 hours later, his wife made me the best grilled ham and cheese sandwich I’ve ever had. I didn’t take a lot of pulls (ok, I took 1) but I didn’t get dropped either.

  22. Cyril

    85 miles, Brewster to P-Town and back this past Saturday with a hung over wife in tow. We ride it every weekend weather permitting. We always meet some characters along the way.

  23. Brian

    To date it is 109. It was on day 2 of a 3 day, 300 mile ride for the Make-A-Wish foundation of Michigan. I was with THE best group. Held their line and pace (21-24) and didn’t mind my short 1 mile pulls. Great conversation and smiled the entire time. All 109 beautiful miles. We finished with beer and pizza and a renewed sense of friendship. Possibly my best ride YTD.

  24. Tom in Albany

    My longest, planned ride of the year will be 100 Miles of Nowhere. Up to now, I think my longest ride has been 30 miles. It’s been a seriously low-volume year for me. I’m going to have to rely on muscle memory and frequent fuel-ups!

  25. Hans M. Ruppenthal

    My longest ride this year, and every year for that matter, was 185 miles. Every summer, mid summer, with plenty of daylight, I tackle the C & O Canal Towpath from Cumberland Maryland to Georgetown Washington D.C. I rode a cross bike this year and rode with a team mate. Very muddy the whole way from the wet spring and early summer we had. About 16 hours elapsed time and 14.5 hours ride time. Really cool stuff! Fourth time I have completed it in 5 attempts.

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