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August 2, 2013

Nash: Ride of the Century, Part 2

— Last week I started to chronicle my journey of 100 miles on my bicycle in a single day. It was a long journey and just too much for a single column. When I finished last week I had started my expedition in New Albany, traveled from Clarksville to Utica and back toward Jeffersonville. I crossed the Ohio River and headed west for 20 miles along the Louisville Loop.

I reached the 20-mile marker and was ready to turn around, three quarters of the way toward my goal. As I turned around to head home my legs were rubbery, my back was achy, and there was a headwind that kept me from being as efficient as I needed to be. I was about an hour behind my goal time, but the important part was making it home safely. I was beginning to have serious doubts on whether I could do this.

The sun was starting to become a factor too. For most of the day it had been cool and a little bit cloudy, but now the sun was out and starting to heat up. Suddenly the elements began to factor into this journey and were making it increasingly difficult for me to make it to 100 miles that day.

At one point a TARC bus passed me along Cane Run Road and I began to have a thought. I knew buses come equipped with bike racks for people to ride to their bus stops and get on the bus, and then finish riding to their destination. I thought that if I could get to a place where there was a route that headed to New Albany I could survive the ride.  

It was about time for Amy to get off work and I considered calling her and having her swing by and get me. I thought better of this because I knew there was no way she would allow my greasy bike in her new car. I was also concerned that she would not let me in her car as I was drenched in a day’s worth of sweat and probably didn’t smell too good.

With less than 20 miles to go to complete my trip it was time for me to buckle down and get the thoughts of quitting out of my mind. I knew that I had gone too far to give up now. If I was ever going to accomplish a century ride, today was the day I had to do it.

I made it back to the Clark Memorial Bridge with less than 10 miles to go. I stopped to take some pictures of the “American Queen” Steamboat that was docked at Louisville’s waterfront.

I was finally crossing the bridge back into Indiana and knew that I was going to be able to make it home. I stopped for a final time to fill my water bottle. I looked back across the river at Louisville’s skyline and thought of the adventure that I had that day. I was back in our state after having spent nearly five hours riding around Louisville.

I rode along the levee trail passing the Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center along a path I have ridden dozens of times. I rode my bike past the George Rogers Clark cabin and back to Clarksville where I jumped back on the main road at Providence Way. Nearly back in New Albany I was about ready for this journey to end.

I pulled into my driveway and looked down at my odometer which now read 99.46 miles. I had been riding ever since the sun came up and now I was half a mile short of my expected journey.  After 10 hours in the saddle I was ready for a shower, some ibuprofen and a good dinner, but it would have to wait. I did the only thing that a reasonable person could do it that situation, I got back on my bike and rode around the block until the odometer officially read more than 100 miles.

I wrote a few months back about my 1,000 mile goal for walking/riding for 2013. Last Wednesday I made 10 percent of that goal in a single day. It put me just over 400 miles for the year. I am still below the pace I need to go to reach my goal, but I have made significant progress over the last several weeks and hope that I can still finish strong.  

After a week of reflection and recovery I am very happy that I was able to do my century ride.  Riding my bike 100 miles in a single day is a significant accomplishment and I would encourage any other recreational cyclist to try it sometime. The next time I hope to be in better shape and I will be a little more prepared. Now I know what to expect.    

— Matthew Nash can be reached at dmatthewnash@gmail.com

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