MY FIRST 80-MILER

I just finished my longest bike ride. EVER. Before today, my longest ride was a 76-mile (gorgeous) ride through the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. But as I continue to work toward my Ironman (and pray and hope that my race isn’t cancelled or postponed), this is the longest I’ve gone.

I am ecstatic because I feel so good. I did a couple things to make myself feel a little bit more comfortable, because let me tell you: I WAS HELLA NERVOUS. So I adapted. Instead of riding essentially 40-miles out and reversing that to come home 40-miles, I planned out 3 loops, and two of those are routes I typically ride on shorter days. I put the new route first (this was actually a suggestion by my partner, and I agreed with her). This did a couple of things that helped me mentally.

First, it broke up the ride. 80 miles is daunting y’all. At least, it was to me. Breaking it up into a 40 mile segment, and then 2 x 20 mile segments made it a bit more manageable. I had distinct “break” points, where I had made plans to eat. I had smaller “sections” so I could focus on 5, 10, or 15 miles at a time. This was amazingly helpful.

Second, it was more interesting. I essentially had 3 different rides, 3 different routes, 3 differences of scenery. The first was out into the country-side. I was completely on roads, save a 6 mile stretch toward the beginning that was on protected Metropark paved paths. I saw silos, beautiful farms, horses, quaint smaller towns, waterfalls, and I got to ride on a LOT of rolling hills. It was a pretty awesome start, if I do say so myself. The destination was also one that I’d like to ride to regularly, so it was nice to get a feel for the route and the timing of it. For this reason too, I made this section a true loop, and took a different route there than I did home. My second “loop” was an out-and-back of about 20 miles. This was on city roads for about half of the time, and then along a path next to a beautiful canal for the rest. This section was definitely more flat than either of the other two, except for one monster hill that was the biggest, longest, hardest of the day. The final section was my usual 25-miler, which I cut short to make it an even 20. It is a continuous hill-scape of Metropark beauty and I love love love this ride. It’s challenging and overall a great training ride.

Third, I was able to have stationary SAG support. Because I started and ended each loop from my house, I had prepped more food, fuel and water bottles so I could easily re-stock if needed. My amazing partner was there to check on me each time I finished a section. Since I ride almost all rides by myself, this is also good peace of mind for her. I didn’t stop for long, but it was totally helpful to have a second to exhale before tackling the next route.

Overall, I am wicked excited with how everything went. Just being able to feel strong at the end and walk when I got off was a mark of success today. I think I’ll continue to do a loop route on my longer days, and I will continue to perfect my nutrition. I felt strong at the end, but I was happy to be done. I don’t know if I could have gone too much beyond 80 miles today! I’m whooped, but energized. That’s what I love the most about the bike I think. That’s always how I feel at the end. Can anyone relate to that?

Fuel-wise, I didn’t have my “normal” stuff because well, Coronavirus. I modified and felt like I handled it pretty well. In total, I estimate I consumed approximately 1390 calories. Here’s the breakdown:

  • approx. 5oz pretzels (550 cal)
  • 3 dates (this is my “dessert” on rides, so I had one for each loop to eat around the halfway point of each, 60 cal)
  • granola bar sammich : 2 x granola bars with homemade chai cashew butter in the middle (this was a last minute *clutch* addition; I can’t even explain how amazing this was in the moment, 390 cal)
  • 1 x homemade sweet potato + apple race fuel (180 cal)
  • banana (I didn’t carry this, and had it stashed with my girlfriend to eat after the first 40; 105 cal)
  • 1 x 24-oz bottle of UCAN (80 cal)
  • 2 x 24-oz bottles of Nuun, the first with caffeine, the second without (25 cal)

As a disclaimer, I am listing calories to give me a super basic understanding of how “much” I am consuming. I choose predominantly whole foods that are carb heavy, with a focus on electrolytes, fiber, and some protein. I’ve never been calorie-conscious, but the amount of miles I’ve been hitting, I find it hard to keep weight on, so on my longer days, I just want to understand “ballpark amounts.” I’ve never been a calorie-counter, and I just find that I feel the best when I forget about the numbers and just focus on clean, whole foods. So, while I did list the calories, I do not believe this is an end-all-be-all. I go much more on feel than anything. That comes to pacing and nutrition. With that in mind, I think I still have room to add more food to this pack.

Tomorrow is my long run for the week, so I better roll out these legs and get some rest before that. I just felt like this was a milestone that I wanted to share. Happy #cyclesaturday to all of you lovely souls!


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