My beeping phone goes off at around 6.30. I let it snooze a few times until finally the short fitful sleeps are worse than just getting up. The only way to rouse myself now is to let the air out of my mattress. Phhhhhhsssssssweeww. Ok, now I’m awake, this just isn’t comfortable. Around 7am I pack up camp, have breakfast and start thinking about the road ahead. I’m anxious to get the day underway, feeling strong and ready for a big ride.
Everything loaded, I hit the road. Now my muscles feel weak. My legs aren’t working properly, I feel like i’m pushing harder than usual and not getting anywhere. I check the trees for signs of blowing wind… nothing too bad. I glance at my tires every few minutes… they must be low on air. I even stop my momentum, lean over and check both. Nope, all fine. Now my chain is making a little more noise than usual – maybe I just need to oil it? This happens every morning, and I should know by now… it’s just early.
I pedal about 10 miles, until the nearest petrol stations or water stop. They’re hard miles though, and I’m doubting I’ll really push out 100 today. I’ll usually buy a coffee or hot chocolate, at a $1.06 you can’t go wrong. I fill it up in my huge plastic cup (their’s is always styrofoam!) and do some stretches while I snack on more food. Ok, gotta keep going.
Until about the 50 mile mark, I feel pretty low on energy and not sure I can pull this off. I’ll stop every 15 or so, munching at every opportunity, whatever I can find in my bike bags… sugar, sugar, sugar, fruit, peanut butter…
I’ll stop for a big break around 60miles down the road. Never have a long stop on the wrong side of halfway! My legs are well-warmed up now, and I’m actually feeling pretty good. Life is great on a bike isn’t it? Just ride ride, stop, eat, ride ride. Chatting to local folk and getting past the first familiar few questions is fun, and I love reading the people here in middle America. Most tap their beer-gut and say “ooo, I could never do something like that, ho ho ho”. Of course I’m quick to tell them “oh sure you could! Just gotta start small!”
A quick few stretches before heading out again – my muscles are definitely feeling it. Now i’m doing 20mile blocks… either because I can go faster, or there’s just nothing out here. No shade, no water, no reason to rest. I keep reapplying sunscreen, but the sun out here is brutal. From 60-80 I start feeling pretty tired. Still another 40 to go? I try to look ahead, to see it as just two chunks, 20 and 20. Take a sip of water – It’s turned to tea already. Pedal, pedal, pedal. I’m almost wishing there was more traffic – every truck breaks the headwind and gives me a little tail push. I daydream a lot… using fantasy to push me through. Imagine buying and owning my own little sail boat… pushing off from the dock and raising her canvas. Or of re-united with old lovers and being around familiar faces. Mostly it’s about arriving. Just gotta make it to the coast. Water sweet water.
Wow, made it 80 miles. I stumble to the nearest shade, my knees are creaking and my thigh muscles pounding. Guzzle more water. Just a quick stop – gotta get back on the road.
These last 20 are just bliss. I know it’s my last leg, and that i’ll ride another century today. I’m proud of myself, and find it easy to boost my ego. My muscles are so well-warmed they are just powering up the hills and through the miles. My knees are aching a little, and I have to readjust my hands and ass constantly, every bit is well-worn and a little bruised. The sun is starting to come down though, and the fields take on a beautiful glow. Traffic has thinned, the shoulder is wide. I feel like Juno and I are one entity, well oiled and well used, made to ride together.
I normally end up pushing out another 6 miles or so, make it to a water stop, and smile at the day gone by. Passers by pull up in their cars and say “Too hot to ride today!”… or “Is it really fun in this heat?” Fun?! Hell yeah! Every day I can ride is a gift! Maybe if we all rode our bikes, it wouldn’t be getting so hot? Mostly I just grin, and munch on my musli bar.
My tent is up before sundown, I’m curled inside my sleeping bag writing in my journal and looking at the map. Every muscle aches, but the sweetness of lying down and falling into a deep slumber is indescribable. It’s what keeps me getting up and doing it again. 100 miles.