“Why don’t you bike 50 miles on your 50th birthday?” a friend asked me.
“Because that isn’t much of a challenge for me,” I answered without missing a beat.
I know it sounded snobby, but it’s true. I spend a lot of time on my bike, especially during the warmer months. Since my birthday is in July, a 50-mile ride just didn’t seem like a proper way to honor this momentous birthday.
With the help of my friend Danny who is cycling-route extraordinaire, we came up with the perfect plan. We would ride back-to-back centuries. This means we would ride 100 miles on Friday and 100 miles on Saturday. I was joined by nine friends for Day 1 and five friends for Day 2. We rode from Connecticut to New Hampshire, through Massachusetts and Vermont, and then back again the next day. We booked rooms in a Bed and Breakfast and my husband and a few others came up to meet us (and bring our overnight bags and cake!). It was brutally hot and super fun! Day two was more exhausting than I had thought it would be. But, that’s what a challenge is supposed to be. Pushing us to our limits and realizing we are capable of so much more than we could have ever imagined.
This year I’m turning 55. I spent some trying to figure out what I could do to honor this “big” birthday. My first idea was to ride 110 miles (55 miles x 2). Nah, I thought, it just didn’t feel right.
As an endurance athlete, I thought trying to ride at least 55 miles each day for five days in a row would be challenging and rewarding. I truly had no idea what this would feel like. To make it easier, I decided to ride from home each day. The extra challenge would be to come up with five different routes to keep it interesting.
I invited my local cycling friends to join me on any or all of the days. Here is how it out worked out:
Day One: A friend and I rode 60 miles. We found some hills and picked one of the hottest days of the summer.
Day Two: This was the biggest day. Six of us set out to ride 75 miles to an ice cream place where my husband, daughter and a few other friends met us to celebrate with some delicious frozen treats! If I thought Day One was hot, I was mistaken. Day Two was even hotter. And longer. Despite a flat tire, a dehydrated rider and a small accident with one rider’s wheel being “taco-ed” by a driver (no rider was hurt), 4 of us made it to Salem, CT. One rider was picked up by his wife and the other was picked up by my husband, so he still got ice cream!
Days Three – Five: With no company and rain threatening for the next three days, it was a mental challenge to get up and get out of the house before the rain was predicted to hit my area. I decided to ride exactly 55 miles on Day Three and Day Four. I would ride 56 on Day Five to finish off strong!
Each evening, I prepared my gels, water and peanut butter and jelly sandwich and hit the road. While 55 miles alone isn’t a big deal for me, doing it back to back for five days definitely took its toll. At one point, I was so bored, that I turned on Spotify and listened to music. There were times I would talk out loud and cheer myself on. “You can do it Lynne!” Just 25 miles to go. Then you can rest. Then you can eat.” This definitely helped. This Birthday Bike Bonanza was challenging, both mentally and physically. It was exactly what I had hoped it would be. And the ice cream was delicious!
Over the course of 5 days, I rode 201 miles! I am and continue to be very proud of this accomplishment. Now I have to figure out what to do in five more years when I turn 6-0!