Bob (unidaddy) and I took advantage of the unseasonably warm 55 degree F weather and met for a coker ride. This was Bob’s second ride on his new coker and only my second ride on mine since mid-November. The warm weather and an opportunity for a new year’s mileage start had us both thinking big. We decided to go for 20 miles for the day’s ride.
We met at a Rails To Trails path that consists of a fine crushed gravel. Last spring I had learned that the path gets pretty soft after the winter from the freeze thaw cycles that are common in southwestern Pennsylvania. Since we’ve had the ground frozen a few times this winter, I wasn’t sure how soft the trail would be. It wasn’t bad overall, but some sections were soft enough to make pedaling similar to going uphill, even though we were on flat or close to flat terrain. Other sections were very soft and difficult to maintain momentum and balance.
We started off on a semi soft section that lasted for about 1/2 mile. It was a little discouraging but we plugged along in hopes of better trail ahead. It got better, then soft, then real soft, then better. Through out the days ride it varied and kept us on our guard. Those soft spots caused each of us a few UPDs.
After a few miles, we were both pretty much commited to going for the full 20 miles. Our plan was to ride for 10 miles, then turn around and ride back to the car. The trail was a slight uphill most of the way out, so we knew gravity would help us get back home even if the quads were giving up on us. In my mind I was concerned that I would be pretty wasted on the ride back to the car. But with such beautiful weather and a desire to achieve 1,000 miles for the year’s mileage, I couldn’t stop myself. You know how those new year’s resolutions start so strong at the beginning of the year.
During the early portions of our ride, we caught up to a runner who was running in the same direction as us. He stated that we were doing the mileage the hard way but both of us thought he was doing it the hard way. Ends up he was doing an easy run that day since it was new years day. He was only planning on running about 20 miles! I was impressed! We passed him and pedalled on. Later he passed us while we were on a saddle break. Then we passed him a little later and chatted some more as we slowly passed him at our 8.2 mph pace. We discovered he is a distance runner and had completed a 50 mile race last fall that took him 10 hours to complete. He is training for a 70 mile race in June. Wow.
Bob and I enjoyed riding together and talked about a variety of subjects. A nice change for me since I have done most of my present 200 miles solo. My butt still got sore from the time in the saddle, but I didn’t notice it quite as much as we talked. Well, at least most of the time. Of course, we did numerous short breaks for saddle relief and shot a few pictures during those breaks. Bob should be adding to this post with a pic or two.
At a location that I estimated would be about the 10 mile mark we decided to stop for a break. As I rode towards a bench, I hit some soft ground and did a quick UPD onto my feet. When I picked up the coker and checked the odometer, it read 10.00 miles. Say no more, the coker had obviously said it was time to stop and I assumed it was ready to carry me home. Bob and I were willing to give the coker its way and were ready to turn around and head back to the car. After a short break and an energy bar, we headed for home.
Up to this point Bob had experienced 2 UPDs to my one UPD, so I was feeling my previous 200 miles in the coker saddle was giving me an edge over the Bob’s “inexperience”. But as we all know, those unicycles have a way of keeping one humble. Before the end of the day, we were tied with an even number of UPDs, all due to soft and irregular terrain.
We both faded fast on the way back and we plodded through the last 4 or 5 miles. Although I often felt Bob was pushing my pace a little. Anytime one of us wanted a saddle break, the other would quickly reply, “Okay!”
We reached the car 3 hours and 15 minutes after we had left. Average speed for our time in the saddle was a slow 8.2 mph. But we both knew the soft ground had kept our pace slower that our last ride which averaged 9.2 mph for a 12 mile ride. It was good ride. We were both very tired, but in a good and healthy way. After two rides together, I believe Bob will maintain a slightly faster pace than I have been riding. That’ll pull me along into a quicker pace. Or it may cause me to drop over from exhaustion as I try to keep up with him. Did I mention that he is 7 years younger than me? I did feel a little old a few times today as I lagged behind him.
We spent a few minutes picking up the garbage left in the Rails To Trails parking lot. Unfortunately some people don’t seem to think it’s wrong to throw their trash on the ground. It just didn’t seem right for us to use such a great trail and then leave without helping support the Rails to Trails effort. Picking up that garbage seemd like a small way to say thanks.
Bob and I departed, each in our vehicles. On my way home I wondered, can I find the energy to get out do a short 7 - 10 mile ride tomorrow? We’ll see.