Since the Tour de France is now in full swing and Chris Froome is charging up mountains leaving the peloton in the dust, I've been inspired, as is the case every year, to get on the bike more often. It's really awesome to see the progress of your legs getting stronger each time you go out and ride. After getting absolutely dumped on by the rain yesterday, I lucked out enough today to have good weather (relatively... because honestly, 90 degrees and 1000% humidity is certainly not ideal) to get in a nice long ride. I haven't done a 50 miler in quite some time, and honestly it was a challenge.
I got a cyclocomputer back in the spring, and since that has distance, total mileage, time spent riding, and average speed, I set a goal of 15mph for the ride, which would put me at finishing around 3 hours 15 minutes. As it turns out, I finished the ride with an average speed of 17.8mph, putting me at 2 hours 40 minutes. I'd consider it a successful day! And to think, while that pretty much exhausted my energy supply for the day (my legs are definitely going to feel it tomorrow...) the guys riding in the Tour today rode literally three times as much as I did today. Absolute insanity. And the last 15 miles or so to the finish was all uphill, mostly at a 10% grade (which is a lot) and even as much as a 25% grade (which is total death!).
I'm so glad I'm into cycling. It's good for you, it challenges you, you can ride with a group or ride solo, you can do intervals or sprints, hill repeats, cruises, whatever really suits your fancy. And you can surprise yourself with how far, or how fast, or how long you can go.
Being that I'm moving to Oregon in September, one of the things I look forward to the most is the bike scene out there. With mountains practically within a stone's throw, and a good number of roads designated as "bike greenways" there will be a bunch of opportunities to get out and ride in some truly breathtaking places! I'm going to try to convince my roommate to get into it, but if not, I'm sure there are plenty of groups to hitch along with! What a cool way to not only experience the natural beauty out there, but also to meet a lot of people. I couldn't be more excited!
It's my belief that places are experienced better on two wheels. It's far faster than walking or running, but not so fast as driving in a car, where you might miss things. Normally when I ride on my own I put in my iPod and listen to music the whole time, but today I left the music at home and just let my thoughts run rampant. You can look around, experience the beauty, notice the little things, talk some motivation into your legs and push through the hard stuff. If you haven't been on a bike, maybe it's time to try! And if your bike is still collecting dust in the garage... why not give it a whirl? Like I said -- the world is experienced better in a saddle on two wheels.