Today was an easy day of 65 miles from Pocatello to Idaho Falls with only about 1,500 vertical feet. We had either a strong crosswind from the rear or outright tailwind for most of the ride. It hardly felt like I was pedaling or doing much exercise. My time was only marginally slower on a mph basis than yesterday, but the tailwind accounts for that more than anything else. I definitely worked a lot less. But if I said to you back home: “I did an easy 65 mile ride,” your reaction would probably be to roll your eyes and think that I was being a jerk. I hope I can get away from that on when my comparison out here is a whole lot of much harder rides.
The group did not get very “stretched out” today–usually on the longer rides or with more vertical feet the difference from the front of the pack to the back can end up being several hours or more. Here, 65% of the group was probably within 15 minutes of each other. I carried on a conversation for most of the ride with two women that I was riding with. It was quite enjoyable.
So, two weeks in, I’m feeling strong, and enjoying the scenery and fellow riders. The pacing is about right, although the past few days have been somewhat easy. The tour company (America By Bicycle) has several cross country trips each year. This is Across America North. There is another ride called the “Challenge” from San Francisco to the same endpoint as our ride (Portsmouth NH), and then there is a ride call “Fast.” Fast is earlier in the spring, and this year the route went from Costa Mesa to Savannah. Fast averages closer to 120 miles per day, and takes only 27 days from coast to coast with 3 rest days (albeit mileage is less across the country in the South). Still, I am trying to imagine what that would be like. There is a huge difference between what I am calling an “easy” ride today at 65 miles, an “average” like yesterday at 85 miles, and a few of our longer days like Prineville to John Day which was 120 miles. Somewhere around 90 miles or so, especially in the heat, the thought of riding another 20-30 miles seems tough. You just want the ride to be over. To get that much riding in, you start at 6am, breakfast probably at 5am. Every day. Then ride for 7+ hours, and including SAGs means on the bike well over 8 hours. And if anything hurts or gets injured you have to go back hard the next day. Much as the sick side of me smirks a bit at the idea of going across the country in only 27 days, I feel like our pace is fast enough. But it is way too early to think about whether I would ever do something like this ever again (smirk)….