Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Complete Book of Long-Distance Cycling, by Edmund R. Burke and Ed Pavelka

Starting up serious cycling? This'll get you going!

Earlier this fall, I got to thinking about goals, goal-setting, and goal-achieving when I read Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods. While my post talked about goals in general and in storytelling, I had my own personal subtext at the time. I was in the midst of NaNoWriMo, that mad dash of creativity where thousands of people the world over sprint to complete a 50,000 word novel in thirty days. (I did it!) At the same time, I started riding my bike several times a week, pushing myself a little farther and a little faster each ride. The rides were a great way to experience nature and get to know my new environment outside Durango. But that tickling at the base of my brain let me know these rides were more than merry jaunts.

The distant stony mountains to the north, crisp in the clear air up here, challenged me. Beckoned me. If I could conquer a novel in a month, what was to say that I couldn't accomplish anything I wanted?

December 1 was my day of reckoning: the day registration opened for the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic. At the end of May, several hundred bicyclists ride 50 miles from Durango to Silverton. Over two mountains. Up over 6000 feet. And they race a train there.

Until this fall, I had probably clocked less than 50 miles on a bike total. And my biggest uphill was our residential driveway. So I figure, I'm the perfect insane person candidate to tackle the Iron Horse.

If my old man can train for (and triumph in) the IHBC, then that's the gauntlet. It's official. I'm riding over those mountains come May.

So far, I'm loving it. I fully expect there will be those times for despair, agony, heartbreak, and regret. (And angry quadriceps.) And I'll count on my lovely family and friends for support in those times.

I feel prepared, though. I can pick my dad's brain when I have questions. And I've read The Complete Book of Long-Distance Cycling. I'm the kind of fella that prefers not jumping into a challenge entirely cold. If I can read about it and learn about it, I will. This book won't pull me up hills, but it's brought me up to speed on the equipment, the lingo, the methods of training, and the nutrition. Now I'm not a total noob when I walk in a bike shop. I feel like I'm armed to accomplish this goal.

It's effing terrifying. But it's exhilarating, too. Considering that I am traditionally an eggheaded chap whose idea of a perfect day is reading in pajamas, this ride and its training may just be the perfect proof of what humans are capable of accomplishing when they put pride (and a sign-up fee) on the line.

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