My Tour Finale

wiggo wins 2012 tour de france

Instead of sitting on the couch and watching the Tour finale on live TV, I went out for a long ride instead.  I had been jonesing for some distance on the bike for some time.  For a long, slow ride in good weather, where I could take my time and go for as long as I wanted.  Finally, it all came together this morning.

My longest ride of the year so far has been a little over 90km, albeit with a race involved.  Last year was about the same.  I can tell you that racing competively with low miles doesn’t work for me.  So I wasn’t sure how today would go, especially with a target of 4 hrs and 130km. I was tired from a two and half hour rollerski the day before.  So my plan was to go slow and keep my heart rate low.  I rolled out slowly beneath cloudless blue skies.  Low humidity, temps in the 80’s.  I was hoping I’d feel better at the end of the ride than the beginning.

After the first hour, I started to find some energy.  I was eating and drinking frequently, nursing a Cliff bar and a couple bottles of Cytomax.  I was riding roads that were unfamiliar to me, lots of them with “Hill” in their name.  They were the classic New England country roads that I love.  Rising and falling, gently curving through orchards, conservation lands, neighborhoods, and antique town centers.  All with very little traffic on a  summer Sunday morning.


After an hour-thirty, I reached the route where we do our rollerskiing.  As I joined the course, I suddenly felt tired.  Maybe it was the long climb up Oak Hill Road.  Maybe it was the pyschology of starting a long slog all over again. Back in the day, I had a 100km loop I used to ride.  For really long days, I’d do it twice and this was starting to feel like the second lap.

At two hours, a wave of calm and relaxation passed over me.  I was on the familiar rollerski route (it’s much easier on a bike, by the way).  I was reaching that zone when my body could go on its own.  But I was barely half-way.  If I bonked or cracked, it would be a long time getting back home.  My bottles were empty.  I was out of food.  There were no stores in sight.  I was on a winding country road, navigating by intuition, fortunately descending with a slight tailwind.

When I finally reached West Concord and familiar terrain, three hours had gone and I was hurting for a cold drink.  I stopped at a supermarket.  They were closed.  I started to panic and hit the next thing I saw:  an old gas station.  Their drink selection, inconsistent and incomplete, did not inspire confidence.  Old cans of V8 and Tetley tea. Coolers nearly empty.  I found some Gatorade but there was nothing in the way of food except for Butterfingers strategically scattered throughout the store’s collection of milk glass and commemorative china.  While I chugged a Mountain Dew, I noticed a pristine 7-Eleven across the street.   Somehow I had missed it.

I felt solid from that point on.  Despite a belly almost uncomfortably full of liquid and the oily mouth-feel of the Gatorade, I was feeling better and better.  My legs were only a little tired.  There were no cramps or muscle pain.  No bonk or hazy vision or hallucinations.  No soul-crushing all-body fatigue.  My arms, shoulders and neck — benefitting from all the core strength work — felt strong and fresh.  I used to fall apart in the upper body on long rides.  Not anymore.

After four hours, I was close enough to my distance target that I kept going another 30 minutes until I had racked up 130km, very pleased to see it and to be feeling so good.

Distance:  130.49 km
Time:  4:29:55
Calories:  2649
HR Avg:  134 bpm
Avg Speed:  29 km/h

Afterwards, I stretched out on the couch and took my time watching the final stage to Paris.  They covered many of the same roads I used to train on over there, from Rambouillet, through the Chevruese valley, and into one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  I watched with sweaty palms as Cavendish sprinted to a spectacular, record victory, and as Wiggo became the first British rider to win le Grande Boucle.  Congrats, boys!





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