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.