In the last two weekends (really today and last Sunday), I've ridden 77 miles, basically doubling the number of miles I've put on my bike since I got it in December.
Last weekend, I did the Chilly Hilly ride (one of the top rides in the country according to Bicycling Magazine.) This is a 33 mile loop around Bainbridge Island (click to see our route) and sort of formally kicks off the bicycling season. While it wasn't very chilly, it was, in fact, quite hilly. I rode with my esteemed colleagues Bruce, Clint (and his wife Whitney who kicked all our butts), and Todd (who rides for the Zoka bicycling team and is way out of my league). I did my best to keep up, but all these guys killed me climbing the hills. Still, it was a pretty ride and something of an accomplishment, even if I did have to walk halfway up one of the last hills. It took about 2:20 of elapsed riding time.
Today, I just came in from a 44 mile ride with Bruce and Todd around the north end of Lake Washington and back across the I-90 bridge (click here for a map of the area -- my GPS was out of battery today, so no ride map). As I rode to the meeting point, it was raining and very windy. The road was covered in fallen branches; I kept thinking "this is a bad idea". Fortunately, the rain stopped (the wind never did).
These guys were moving pretty fast (20-21 mph, which is fast for me) for the first part. We slowed down a bit as the path got bumpy and traffic picked up, but it was still a good tempo. A short break at the University Zoka coffee shop for a latte (still my favorite place for a latte) and a little pumpkin break helped pick me up. The hills at the end climbing toward the I-90 bridge, going over Mercer Island, and then coming back up Eastgate Way did me in. My legs were shot. I made it and feel proud, but I'm tired and sore now. 3:05 elapsed riding time.
Before Chilly Hilly, my longest ride had been a flat 20 miles, so these last two rides really increased my saddle time. I'm feeling pretty good on the bike, although I have a long way to go before I'm ready for STP. I need to look into different gloves and maybe a new saddle too; my hands and butt don't like the current set up.
More than anything, I'm grateful to have knowledgable friends to ride with. It's been a great help as I get started, and it's more fun and motivating to ride with others. (Drafting is nice too...)