Category Archives: Bike

My own Tour de france

Summer sports have been all up by alley these past few weeks: Olympic trials, Wimbledon, and now the Tour de France. As I start riding my bike more and more, and even the smallest of hills seem to slow me down and mess with my confidence, I think of those bike riders in France. How on Earth they ride up mountains and go 100+ miles everyday for 3 weeks is beyond me, but it makes my rides seem like child’s play.

MapMyRide set up a bike challenge this month “Le Tour 2012 Challenge”, during the same time period as the Tour de France. You can select your distance to aim for – 100, 544, 1087 or the full 2173 miles. I went with 100 miles, which seemed doable in 23 days, right? That’s less than 5 miles a day, definitely attainable!

And then all the 100+ degree weather came, and even biking first thing in the morning is brutal. For the most part, I’d rather be biking than walking, jogging or running in this heat. The breeze keeps you (somewhat?) cool, and it’s not until you stop riding that you realize you’re completely soaked with sweat.

Here’s where I stand so far in the challenge. Not as far as I hoped to be at this point, but I think/hope I can make up for it.

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Not completely terrible, but I only have 2 weeks left to go 65+ miles.

Thankfully, mother nature is helping me out this week. Check out the upcoming weather forecast for Chapel Hill – I don’t even know how awesome a week in the 80s will feel!

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Assuming there won’t really be storms every single day, this could be great!

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heavy breathing

This Monday, I had the day off from school, although we had a take-home midterm exam to complete, so it wasn’t really a day of rest. My plan was to complete the take home exam… until my bike shop called and said that my bike was back and ready for me to pick up.

Success!

I was so excited to have my working bike back in my little apartment, that I immediately mapped out my first “real ride” to conquer Tuesday after work. I was aiming for 10 miles, but settled for this almost- 8 mile route through Chapel Hill neighborhoods. I got the route sent to my phone, started my timer, and was off.

Below is the elevation graph. I had seen this before the ride, and knew it would be hilly, but I live in Chapel Hill, so I wasn’t too concerned. After all, isn’t that what having a bike with 24 gears is for?

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Yeah… see that this route ranged from gradients of –4% to +5%? Do you know what they means? Let me tell you…

It means that the first 2 miles of your ride is really nice. Flat greenways through neighborhoods, riding past families out with their dogs, feeling happy with the breeze blowing in your face.

THEN you hit mile 2.5 and it the road becomes a flipping cliff straight up into the air. Of course, I changed into a lower gear, but didn’t make it very far at all. Even my quick stops for water and checking the map wouldn’t help restore my legs. I ended up walking up most of that hill, and even walking was a struggle because my poor quads were screaming for pain. I don’t remember ever breathing that hard in my life!

The next few miles had some ups and downs, but it wasn’t too bad overall (until I forgot to continue my timer on my iPhone during one of my many water breaks that I take because I’m not coordinated enough yet to drink water while riding) . And then you hit mile 5.5 going downhill. I never realized how scary downhill can be! Granted, I was also on the very narrow sidewalk of a really major road, and the sidewalk was bumpy and not fun, but I was having to completely ride my brakes the whole way down to control my speed. It was potentially more terrifying than the uphill. At least I could stop going up a hill (and lay down and cry). If something happened flying down this hill, I’d most likely fly off the bike and die seriously injure myself.

And then the last 2 miles were perfectly fun and flat. Why can’t it all be like that??!!?

It ended up taking me a full hour to do this 7.8 mile ride, which is pathetic, but certainly a humbling experience. And amazingly, I haven’t been sore at all in the following days. Maybe I should go out and try this ‘bike’ thing again…

However, my next route (9 miles tonight!) will have a beautiful elevation graph like this:

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Much better Smile