On Friday I rode 67.6 miles. I was aiming for 64 but there were detours. I was out on the bike for at least 7 hours but I wasn’t keeping careful track of time, and my speedometer is not working because I need to remount the sensor somewhere that won’t bump into the monkeylectric lights.
My first and only stop was at the Montezuma Visitors Center to say hi to my mom. She volunteers there a lot. I hung out there for maybe 30 minutes. It’s a really cool place & I don’t know why I’d never actually gone inside before. On my way I’d seen some pheasants, and osprey, and some vultures. While I was there I got to see a bunch of other birds through the spotting scope.
That was around mile 20. Up until then, the wind had been at my back. And that was the end of that.
I headed north up to skirt around the east side of Howland Island. I’ve done a lot of work on this area in Google Map Maker so I thought it would be fun to revisit the area by bike. I found a few road corrections I need to make. There was a closed bridge that maps thought I should cross. I did cross it but it involved crawling under two barriers with my bike. I figured that sign was aimed at someone else. A few miles later I was directed down a non-existent road. The map maker in me was happy to find something to correct, the cyclist, not so much.
I rerouted a little bit and headed up around Howland Island. There were a lot more hills up there than I realized. I really thought I checked out the terrain maps. Hills, hills, and wind, and a weird dude.
I was at a stop sign checking my directions when a guy rode by on his bike. He was wearing white highwater pants and white sneakers, generally looked a little goofy. He was riding about as slow as you can to keep the bike upright. A little later I passed him walking his bike along level ground. I wondered if he was having mechanical issues but I was hesitant to start a conversation with this guy… just because. It turned out his bike was fine, because just a few minutes later he caught up and started riding along side me. He didn’t say anything. He just grinned and exposed some missing teeth. I didn’t say anything either. He didn’t seem scary exactly but I didn’t know what to say.
Then he asked where I was headed. I said “Newark” he said “have fun” or “wow” or something and turned into a driveway and I was on my own again.
At this point I was realizing how far behind my expected time I was. Time is the hook most likely to catch in my brain and cause me to descend into a mentally “bad ride.” I can have energy and physically be fine but thoughts about time can work on me even if time doesn’t really matter. I told Brian I thought I’d make it home by 3 expecting to be home sooner, and it was clear at this point that this was not even close. It didn’t matter if I got home later because I share my location with him on latitude while I’m riding but somehow the fact that I had estimated the time wrong was going to dog me mentally for the rest of the ride in one way or another. I’m not cut out for this. Maybe I don’t want to ride 100 miles after all. I was not only talking myself out of the ride I was on but out of future rides as well.
This had already begun when I got to the road I really needed to take and found a detour with a closed bridge that I wasn’t going to be able to sneak across. I decided to head south to route 31 and go home that way. No more route finding, no more discovery, screw the adventure, let’s end this and just get home. This decision was probably setting me up for more mind games but I didn’t see it.
When I got to the top of a steep hill I had a good moment. There was an old silo that looked exactly like something out of Skyrim. I had one of those real life/video game impulse moments, where I thought I should stop and check to see if there are any bandits or hagravens in there. There could be some good loot. I felt good for a while after this having monetarily escaped my negative mental loop.
I kept heading south through a huge fenced in private game farm. I know it was just a game farm but I was telling myself some good stories about the horrifying biological experiments that were probably roaming around behind the fences. I kept looking for them but the only thing I saw was a guy driving a golf cart.
A little bit before I got to route 31 I found a HUGE tree. I’m not sure what kind, I’m guessing shagbark hickory but my tree identification skills could use some work. I stopped to take a few pictures of my bike next to it for scale.
Then route 31. Despair. Suffering. My shoulders, my neck. How could I keep going? Maybe I couldn’t. Maybe I should call someone. But by the time they got in the car, figured out where I was and picked me up, I could practically be home. I rationalized that with the wind and the hills this had to count for way more than my actual mileage. I could just stop. I should stop. But I just kept pedaling. and pedaling. and looking at the time, which seemed to pass so slowly. Somehow I made it back, and as much as I believed I was suffering physically, now I’m pretty sure it was 80% mental. Except for some knee pain, I wasn’t even sore the next day, or the day after that.
My mental stamina needs a little work and I think I may get an external battery for my phone and bring headphones with me to get me through some of difficult mental moments. I don’t know if that’s cheating, but I know it will help.