Monday, July 04, 2011

Half a Century

Chicago Botanic Garden

I biked a little over 50 miles yesterday. And I feel fine.

K and I decided to head up to the Botanic Gardens (which were great, btw). We figured if the ride up wore us out we had the option of taking Metra back. After several hours touring the garden in the hot sun (and it was hot up there -- it felt 10 degrees warmer than Lakeview), we opted for the Metra and biked on over to the station.

It was then we realized why we decided not to do this last year. During Taste of Chicago, bicycles are forbidden on Metra. Oops! When you're primed to sit in the AC and be home in a half hour or so, the idea of a 25-mile (with detour), several hour bike ride is a little hard to swallow.

Still, we did it. With a stop for ice cream. And I realized that I just ride ridiculously fast compared to most people. In fact, I do everything fast. When I used to rollerblade, I not only passed most other rollerbladers, I passed most bikers. And on my bike, the only people who pass me are outfitted head-to-toe in lycra and riding $2,000 bikes.

I guess I've been doing it for a long time -- biking not just for recreation but for a true workout. When I lived in DC in my early 20s I would bike out to my Dad's several times a week. It was 16 miles each way and a beautiful ride, from DuPont circle, through Georgetown, then straight up winding MacArther Boulevard. Door-to-door, I made the 16 miles in about 45 minutes. So around 20 mph.

And I do a short, intense ride now from my place up to the northern end of the bike trail along the lake. It's an 8-mile roundtrip, which I do in a little over 30 minutes. (At 16 mph, I seem to be slowing down!) But it's a great workout. I use a heart-rate monitor and average around 35 beats per minute over my anaerobic threshold (180 minus your age).

Going slower -- and being passed by others (!) -- is kind of painful. On the ride yesterday we averaged about 8-10 mph and it felt at times like crawling. Or coasting, really. I understand, of course, that I've been doing this a long time (and also spinning in class) and I've got a fast bike (about half the weight of K's old clunker), so not everyone can keep up. Plus the fact that she hasn't biked anything like this distance -- as usual, she was a trouper and an exceptionally good sport.

Still, in terms of fun, it was a great trip. On the way back we saw 13 deer, including 3 fawns and 2 bucks. Yay, nature!


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