Early in the season, I signed up for Bike MS: City to Shore, a weekend-long event with many different options (ride 25, 45, 75 or 100 miles in a day; ride one or both days). I picked the ride for several reasons; at the time I signed up, I would have ranked my reasons this way:
- The ride was scheduled late enough in the season — the last weekend of September — that I could be sure I’d have plenty of time to train.
- I knew at least a couple of my friends would be doing the ride, and many people from both cycling clubs.
- I have friends with MS, one who was just diagnosed last year, and I knew that the organization was one I could support.
- There was a better chance that it wouldn’t be brutally hot, since the ride was in late September.
Having the date marked on my calendar gave me extra determination on my weekday rides. It’s not that I was turning my rides into races or trying to do anything crazy; but I was less likely to skip a ride because I felt tired or because the skies looked threatening. If the skies looked threatening, I just crossed my fingers that we would get good miles before the rain hit. In past years, I wouldn’t even have shown up for a ride if there was rain on the radar.
Having this goal also acted as a nudge, pushing me out of my comfort zone to try rides in unfamiliar areas. I was already used to the roads in the area of the Monday night club ride; other than that, I had previously stuck to the Perkiomen Trail and the SRT. When I added the Thursday night club ride, I learned new roads, and how to handle traffic in an area where drivers weren’t as accustomed to seeing groups of cyclists on their rural and suburban roads.
I also knew that I could only take so much of the paved trails in the area before boredom would kick in — and getting bored, for me, is a sure path back to the couch. I joined more club rides on the weekends — one weekend, a group of us rode from Collegeville to St. Peter’s and back via a circuitous route of pretty, quiet, rural roads. We got 50 miles that day, and had an excellent time.
Another day, I met up with another woman from the club and we rode down the SRT to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where we met up with the Bicycle Club of Philadelphia. The plan was to ride 50 miles with them, then back out the SRT to our cars, for a total of about 76 miles. The ride was beautiful — we had an easy spin down the SRT, and then the ride from the Art Museum took us out through Fairmount Park and onto beautiful, quiet side streets, winding us out of the city towards Montgomeryville. It was great, right until we climbed a couple hills and I started feeling like I was pedaling through molasses. That’s when we realized my rear wheel was out of true … because I’d broken a spoke. We stopped at Whole Foods (the planned rest stop of the ride) and tried to make the wheel ride-able, but I ended up calling my boyfriend for a rescue. I was disappointed to only get 40 miles altogether that day.
Luckily, I had another opportunity to ride 75 miles in a single day coming up the following week, when I would join the Bicycle Club of Philadelphia again– this time, to ride my bike into Brooklyn on the Peter Odell Memorial Ride.
And that seems like a good place to pick up next time.