Today I got new tires installed on the bike and thought it would be a good idea to break them in. So what better way than riding to work. That would also be a good test to see if riding to work is feasible (it turns out it’s not). My daily commute is about 3 hours roundtrip on the Interstate. Not being comfortable at speeds over 60 on the bike, I chose an alternate route through secondary highways.
I left around 11 AM and tried to keep track of the waypoints where I would change roads. The first checkpoint was at 20 minutes, the next was at 60 minutes, then I didn’t really know what the next road to use was. So I wandered around taking roads that sounded familiar to me and eventually ended up on the right one. Total trip time: 2.5 hours. I was squirming pretty badly in the seat from saddle sores.
I stopped for food and then considered the fact that the PM storms were coming so I’d better get back home. The thought of another 2.5 hours back was disheartening, but I sucked it up and headed out back the way I came.
That’s when things changed. I missed my turn, which is not surprising since the road I took to get there was the first time I’d been on it. Ended up in a city I’d only been to once before and knew I wasn’t supposed to be there. On the way out, a road had caught my eye as a route I had taken before in the car. When I turned around and was on the way back I saw the same turn and figured, “why not?”
Now I’m in unknown territory. At this point , the only thing I was really scared of was my stamina. I don’t mind being lost – and this was really the definition of lost. I drove through a city I’d never heard of; drove on routes I’d never heard of; took a two lane highway to a dead end (who ever heard of a highway just ending?) and had to backtrack twice. I figured if I was on a road that went south or west, I’d have to hit a major highway sometime.
Finally, I saw a sign with a city I knew on it and was thrilled. But I was also exhausted. Once I hit the familiar roadways, I stopped at a gas station and got a snack and a drink. While there, I assessed my physical condition. My knees were so sore I could barely stand. My back was pretty ok, which was a surprise. My throttle hand was in sad shape – very cramped up. My butt was a lost cause. I had about an hour left of riding to go (this was waypoint #2). Hopped back on and went for it.
The physical problems began taking their toll. It was hard to concentrate. There weren’t many stops to allow me to rest my throttle hand and air out the sweat on the seat of my pants. My right hand starting turning to fire with piercing pain when I would try to stretch out a couple fingers at a time. My knees would throb on occasion. Cars and trucks behind me were getting pissed because I couldn’t keep a good speed going, so I got passed a lot. Finally, I made it back home. A 150 mile, six-hour journey to get lunch.
In retrospect, I think everything happened probably as would be expected. Many riders take a break once an hour or so and maybe I should have budgeted more stops. I’m still new and I know I have too tight a grip on the throttle, which is having a negative effect. I didn’t plan my route, but it would have been enjoyable with the exception of fatigue. When getting the tires changed, I saw a product that allows you to hold the throttle without gripping it. At the time, I thought I should get one. Now, I’m kicking myself for not getting it then.
I have a ride planned for tomorrow, so I need to rest up tonight to do it all over again.