Tourist in training …

 

When I ride the road bikes, I go fast.  I work hard.  Repeat climbs.  Sprints.  It’s a workout.  When I ride my commuter, speed is not the objective.  I have a computer on board but I am more relaxed.  I stop.  Take pictures.  Enjoy a coffee.  And, sometimes shop.

On the road bikes I cruise along at 25-30 kph on the flats, no wind, no draft.  And, no stopping.  On the commuter, I cruise along at 20-25 kph on the flats, no wind, no draft.  And, I stop.  Stop for coffee.  Stop to shop.  Stop to smell the roses.  It’s a different ride.

Yesterday, I imagined I was taking a trip on my bike.  I put a pair of old panniers on the commuter, loaded them with the tools and clothing I would need for a 3-4 day trip and took off, pretending I was on the road.  I wanted to see what it would feel like cycling all day without racing and not knowing where I might end up.  Of course I knew I would sleep in my own bed at night but when I started out I had no route in mind.  I simply wanted to ride.  To explore.

I circumnavigated the City of Richmond.  Richmond is on a river delta where the Fraser River meets the Pacific ocean.  All sides of the city are protected by a dyke and, fortunately for cyclists, low traffic, rural roads and bike pathways follow the dykes that surround the city.  This is an 80 km ride from the house.  A good days outing.

I cycled the first 25 km east along the north dyke with a 20 kph helping wind.  A piece of cake.  The next 25 km I bucked the same wind all of the way to Steveston where I stopped for lunch.  This was no piece of cake.  And, the final 30 km was a mixture of wind and hills culminating with a 4 km climb.  Believe it or not, I had a lot of energy on the climb.  I actually felt refreshed.  Energetic.

I was careful.  I did not race so as to conserve energy.  I didn’t poke either.  No, I maintained a respectable 20-25 kph pace the entire day.  I made certain I was properly hydrated, refilling my bottle several times throughout the day.  And, I ate.  A sandwich for lunch.  A coffee.  An energy bar.  And, a banana.  I could have eaten more.

I stopped 3 times.  First, after 25 km for a gel and water.  Lunch at the 50 km mark.  And, at 60 km to enjoy the view along the west dyke bikeway.  I left the house at 11 am and returned at 4 PM.

What did I learn from this ride?

I learned I like being on the road without a specific destination in mind or time limit.  I learned if I stay properly hydrated and fed, I can cycle for a long time.  I didn’t bonk.  And, I learned a non-competitive, slower pace means I can ride longer.  All day in fact.

In its own way, this was a training ride.  Preparation for longer, solo trips to parts of the Pacific Northwest I have yet to explore on 2 wheels.

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2 thoughts on “Tourist in training …

    • It’s a different experience for sure. I focus on the pedal stroke more in part because I have an extra load and in part because I can’t really go fast. I like to mix it up with the different bikes and when I get on the carbon bike it feels extra light and fast.

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