I didn’t know where I was or how I had gotten here. I had been riding for so long, I had forgotten how many hours I had been out.
I contemplated this thing between my legs. It had become an extension of my body rather than just a bicycle. Life before bike faded into a distant, welcomed haze.
It was a perfect plan. My family was away. My phone was turned off. I had the whole day and no need to rush home. Warm. Sunny. Dry. My pockets packed full of food and my bottles topped off. So I had started riding, with vague thoughts of doing 100 miles but not sure how my body would respond. It had been at least 5 years since I had ridden a similar distance. There was always something daunting and impressive about that century milestone. Back in the day, I would ride these once or even twice a week. But those days were long gone.
I rolled out in small gears, through Weston and Concord, up Strawberry Hill, working my way towards Littleton. In Littleton, I picked up our rollerski route and gnawed away the miles. The slow grind up Oak Hill. The sudden drop into Harvard Center. The steep climb out. Then out to Westford, running low on water and fuel.
Not quite half-way, I started to feel the hunger knock. I was out of food and water and not sure how many miles until I found a store. I was somewhere near Carlisle at this point. I think. Rolling at Route 225, soft pedaling the hills, waiting for a country store around the bend.
In Carlisle center, I ate tub of German potato salad and drank a coke. I was craving a gin and tonic, of all things. I filled my bottles and pockets again with food, and set out to ride some more. The potato salad settled nicely in my belly, kept me from going too fast. I rolled into the cranberry bogs, letting the bike pick its way along the twists and turns.
And that’s about where I started to forget where I was. Started to forget who I was. I was just a guy on a bike, with many miles more to ride and a cold beer waiting for me at the end. So I just kept riding.
In Concord Center, at about 75 miles, I stopped to fill my bottles one last time and chatted with a guy on a circa 1990’s JP Weigle. I told him stories about my old Richard Sachs bike while he marveled at my LOOK 695. I’m pretty sure I did. I was a little hazy at that point and it’s possible I was hallucinating.
I felt stronger and stronger over the final quarter. Only my hands hurt from gripping the bars for nearly 5 hours. I kept going. I pulled on familiar roads like loose threads to eek out a few more miles. Getting to 100 had become a matter of principle.
The sun was starting to drop as I approached home. I had been on the bike for 5 1/2 hours, not including time spent refueling and checking the map on my phone. I was high on endorphins. My bike was covered with the dust of the roads and countryside, the handlebars and tubes sticky with drink mix.
I’d have kept going had there been more daylight.
But 100 was good enough.