It’s Been 19 years At Least! 63 miles!?!

Call me crazy?!? It’s been at least 19 years since I had ridden a bicycle 60 miles. When I noticed most multi-day rides are at least 60 miles per day, I wondered if I can do that distance? Along came a GABA ride, the Owls Head Butte Century with an option of 63 miles; so today I went for it!

About a half hour car drive north of where I live was the starting point. Early to rise, eat a good breakfast and drive to the start with my partner. It felt like 40 degrees while we unloaded the bicycles so I had pants, long sleeve shirts, helmet liner and gloves. I was cold as I bicycled down the road! (The always say to not overdress at the start of a running or bicycle race, so I thought I should be okay.) Finally, at five miles into the distance I felt my heart warm up; 10 miles my arms. This was not fun for a person with Raynaud’s (poor circulation), yet I kept cycling. Fortunately the road beckoned me; just keep pedaling and I told myself I will warm up.

The frontage road is not my first choice of where to ride but I heard once into the desert things will look better. Fortunately, not much car traffic, I did not get caught with the train going through, so I could ride along and just think about how wonderful ti was to be outdoors and active.

First SAG stop, approximately 18 miles, I looked back to see Picacho Peak (nice hike there!). I ate plenty of food: banana with Nutella, M&M’s with nuts, Gatorade and trail mix. I filled my water containers, used the port-a-john and was on my way once again. Unfortunately, I was still cold! At 18.01 miles it dawned on me that I am 63 years old and riding 63 miles today. Anything to keep me distracted from how cold my feet still felt, or actually had no feeling. Finally at about 22 miles, my feet warmed up! Now to enjoy the ride. Wow, there were people passing me and I think they were bicyclists on the 104 mile ride. They made it look so simple and don’t those people wear any clothing? I must have looked like the Pillsbury dough boy with all my clothing!

Picacho Peak in the distance
Picacho Peak in the distance

This road was more enjoyable to ride. At one point a plane was flying toward me. I thought it was going to land right on the road as I bicycled toward it, yet I guess that was just part of the pilot’s lift-off an airstrip…wherever it happened to be I do not know. Plenty of Saguaro cacti, and various varieties of other cacti. Birds flew and no other creatures obvious from my bike saddle.

Next SAG stop, approximately 31.5 miles, I finally pulled off my long pants, a layer of long sleeves, ate plenty of rice crackers, banana, M&M’s and drank more Gatorade. I was looking forward to this turn-around point because it was to be downhill for about 10 miles, I guessed, or maybe simply hoped for at least that distance. Whatever it was, it felt great to fly along at 24 mph, especially considering my slog up this slight uphill was about 10 mph! My body weight, weight of all my bicycle gear and water allowed me to enjoy this fast speed. I was grateful!

Back at the first/now my final SAG stop, approximately the 45 mile point, I was back to reality in realizing my downhill ride was done. Fueled up again with rice crackers, M&M’s, and Gatorade; and making sure my water was topped off on my bicycle, off I would go. But before doing so, I was talking with some people and mentioned this is my 63 mile goal, a distance not done in the last 19 years. The woman caring for this SAG stop said, “Great, you are stretching your legs!” Well that became my mantra as I bicycled down this road; a road that seemed to never end. The mistake I made was to look at my odometer to many times along the way. It just seemed to creep….ever slowly! Darn! Yet, I was stretching my legs…that’s good, right?

Well I made it! Sixty three miles accomplished; raw butt, tired arms, ready for another snack and beverage, but I did it… probably all thanks to the support of the people at the SAG stops, my persistence in wanting to meet this goal, good weather, and my partner at least a mile ahead of me to keep me motivated in meeting her at the end! Enjoyed food at the final point, yeah! We did the 63 miles….and now to get out of these clothes, shower, and watch the Super Bowl!

Marcia on the ride
Marcia on the ride

Bike Paths are to Love!

When bicycling on a bike path, here’s what to like:
1. Seeing people be active; roller blading, walking, jogging, bicycling. Even blind people can enjoy this space.
2. Knowing the bike path is a valued piece of real estate in a community. You can bicycle many places in the world; paths are available.
3. Seeing people support each other; a victory sign, a thumbs-up, or a hello from one to another. No other language needed beyond a smile.
4. Knowing people are choosing to cycle to the local coffeeshop or farmers market rather than use a motorized vehicle. Follow that person to some place fun!
5. Seeing a person help another person when a tire is flat or a chain is jammed. We all appreciate a helping hand!
6. Knowing there are railroad tracks being converted to bike trails (thanks to people who support Rails to Trails Conservancy).
Simply enjoying outdoor weather, wildlife, camaraderie and to know

Bicyclist on wooden path in Tarifa, Spain.
Bicyclist on wooden path in Tarifa, Spain.

the bike path will be here tomorrow to enjoy alone or with others. Actually, I love it!

Five Years Later; In Remembrance.

John Green unveiling a plaque for all to remember his daughter and why this green space is important for us all.

I do not remember where I was 5 years ago when I heard about a shooting at a Tucson Safeway store. I heard people were gathered outside there to listen to Gabby Giffords speak, this young girl: Christina-Taylor Green was one individual in attendance. Gabby was severely injured, Christina-Taylor was killed and many other spectators were part of the horrific moment.

Now five years later there is a section of the Tucson bike path with an area, and future cacti garden, to commemorate Christina-Taylor’s memory. Her father, John Green, spoke about his family’s use of the recreational areas nearby and their use of the bike path. The family has plans to continue developing a couple of acres of land here with everyone’s financial support.

The bicycling group I was with the day of this presentation did bike ride to attend this plaque unveiling and rode to the Safeway store where flowers were present. It’s unfortunate we in the USA are still amidst such gun violence, but I have hopes we will always remember those we have lost and work toward a safer USA.