A week from now I may finally have an internet connection in my new apartment. I finally signed up for service, but those crooks at Comcast tell me I have to wait eight days for a "technician" to come to my building and flip a switch, or something like that. I am convinced many of the services these so-called technicians perform are really just busy work Comcast has them do so they can charge a service fee and keep the dudes busy until a real problem occurs.
Last week I took a rare week off from work and spent it up north. I take time off through the year, but rarely an entire week, and usually not in the summer. That makes no sense, but nothing I do makes sense.
Last week I spent my vacation in Osakis, Minn., the small town I frequent thanks to my friends, who have a little lake place up there.
It was during this week that I completed No. 7, my seventh "century" bike ride. As I have noted before, bicyclists fixate upon the magic number 100, and therefore a 100-mile ride is something special. In all my years, I've accomplished the task seven times. For the third consecutive year I've done it while riding the Central Lakes bike trail. The round trip is 112 miles.
The ride was not particularly memorable. I've seen the sights twice before, and while it's a nice trail that passes several small lakes, what I'll remember most is how woefully prepared I was for the challenge. I had biked rather ambitiously throughout June, but I had yet to bike more than 48 miles in one day, yet I figured I was ready for the challenge of 112. It's a very flat trail, so why not?
During the past two years I have biked this trail late in the summer, weeks after completing the MS150, a two-day, 150-mile bike ride. I didn't do the MS150 this past June, and I learned last week that there's something to be said for completing such a ride prior to attempting 112 miles.
It wasn't very windy on June 30, the day I completed No. 7, but what wind there was didn't seem to help me. I thought perhaps it'd help push be back to Osakis when I reached the turnaround point in Fergus Falls, but I was wrong. It wasn't hot, but it was warmer than I prefer for a long-distance challenge. I stopped for rest breaks more often than I anticipated. Those helped, but during the latter half of the ride, I was riding on fumes at times.
I didn't depart until after lunch, but past experience has shown me that I can complete the round trip, with rest stops, in eight hours or less. I departed about 1:15 p.m., thinking I had plenty of time to finish the ride by sunset, which was approximately 9:19 p.m.
I was wrong.
I knew when I stopped for water about 25 miles from the end of my ride that I'd be finishing after sunset, but I didn't care. I don't like to ride in the dark, but without a break, I wasn't sure I'd make it back to Osakis. I finished at approximately 9:45 p.m. Although it was darker than I prefer, it's not as if I was trying to bike through the streets of Minneapolis in the dark, and there was a tinge of sunlight in the western sky when I finished, so it wasn't as dark as it could be.
My average speed was the worst of the three round trips I have made, and I wasn't surprised. It was still respectable, I suppose, but I was disappointed.
Moral of my story: prepare better before attempting my next century ride. Sometimes you have to learn things the hard way.