Sure, Let’s Go Bike 100km

The Reason

A friend asked me why I had decided to bike 100 kilometres with my best friend Logan to his cottage. The first reason was the thrill of adventure and the opportunity to make a unique memory. The next was that I saw a chance for a physical test to determine my limits. The last…was that I didn’t have much else going on that day.

The plan was to leave early Sunday morning from Kincardine Ontario and bike to Francis Lake. Were we prepared? The longest single bike ride I had been prior to this was about 25km. I did have some special machinery to help me out though.

The Gear

My bike was a Norco Mountaineer SL that I had bought used for $100 a few weeks prior. It was stuck in one gear which wasn’t exactly ideal, and the breaks welcome you with a wonderful high-pitched squeal. With decades of riding under its belt and loveable rust patches covering its frame, it was ready to head out on the long journey. I cannot say I had full confidence that the bike would stay together, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me.

The Journey

We completed the first 40 kilometres in exactly two hours and stopped for lunch. At that point we were overflowing with childlike hubris, ready to finish this ride and take on the Tour de France the next week. That adrenaline was great for our psyche, but we were woefully overconfident and were bound for a reality check right around the corner.

The next leg from Port Elgin to Tara was undoubtedly the hardest for me. The wind was blowing head-on and the hills were endless. My mental fortitude took a hit when I would give all I had to crest a hill, just to be greeted by another daunting slope immediately ahead. With our quads burning and our backsides a bit sore, we pulled into Tara and passed out on the grass.

At this point the importance of food and nutrition became clear. Cars use fuel for energy. I use Jelly Babies. If you have never had a Jelly Baby, you really don’t know what you are missing. They are a candy akin to a gummy bear but come with a hard wax coating and a wonderful texture. After popping three or four of those at our pitstop, the upcoming 30km didn’t feel nearly as daunting.

We continued to cruise along, each of us passing the time and staying positive by singing to ourselves, uttering the occasional positive affirmation, and giving a loud moo to each cow we passed. Realizing that we had come so far and that there was no turning back was enough to push us right to the 100th kilometre.

The Finish Line

So what did I learn? I think it is important to push yourself to your limits when possible for the purpose of contextualizing your discomfort. When I experience pain in the future I’ll be able to remember the fire burning in my legs around 90 kilometres in, and I’ll try to remember that I am nowhere near my limit. Hopefully that will help me when finishing my last set of squats.

We also discussed how your physical stamina and performance is closely linked to your mental goals. We both recalled times where we had previously biked only 5–10 kilometres and were completely winded. By pushing ourselves to reach an ambitious goal, we were able to reach 100km with nothing left in our tanks. We started to wonder if maybe there was a bit of energy left within us, only accessible by setting the next goal at 150km.

I will never look at a hill the same way while driving, and I will be sure to give bikers an extra bit of space while passing. Finally, I was able to make an incredible memory forged with a great friend that will ride with me for a lifetime.

We drove back.

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