About forty miles into riding my rollers (for those of you lucky enough to not know what "rollers" are, they’re a contraption that lets you ride your regular bike inside, without going anywhere), I had an epiphany, sharp and bright:
"I," I thought to myself, "am a complete idiot."
It’s an incontrovertible point, so don’t bother to try arguing. Not that you were going to anyway.
Apart from the obvious and ongoing reasons for which I am an idiot, though, why did it suddenly occur to me that I am an idiot while I was riding my bike, going nowhere, for 100 miles?
The answer is simple: I am an idiot because I had chosen to ride my bike, going nowhere, for 100 miles.
Here’s what the road looks like when you’re riding inside for 100 miles:
Oddly enough, the road looks very much like a pair of office chair mats, placed there to keep the quarts and quarts and quarts of sweat from landing in the carpet.
And here’s the view:
And now I’m going to tell you what it was like.
Pay Up, Suckas
Before I get into the nitty-gritty details, though, I’m happy to say that I did in fact complete the 100 miles…and a little bit more, just to show I wasn’t beaten. Here are the stats:
- Total Distance: 101.66 miles
- Total Time: 6:34:31 (including stopped time when I was eating, refilling water bottles, changing DVDs and so forth)
- Average Speed: 15.55 mph (again, in my defense, this averages in when I was not riding at all)
- Total Calories: 7095 (according to my Garmin workout software — this seems outrageously high to me)
- Average Heart Rate: 143 bpm
- Max Heart Rate: 167 bpm
- Average Cadence: 75 rpm
I’d like to ask those of you who, last week, bet me that I could not do this to pay up. You can do this by making the donation amount you promised to the Lance Armstrong Foundation — around $1200 in donations, altogether, so I guess doing this wasn’t entirely idiotic. Anyway, Click here to get started with making your donation. Most of you who bet against me noted that you hoped I would win, since you were more than happy to help with the important work this foundation is doing, so thank you very much.
Both during the ride and afterward, I thought several times how strange it was to be riding this many miles, for this many hours, without ever leaving my house.
Apparently, my Garmin 305 — a GPS as well as odometer, speedometer, heart rate monitor and cadence-ometer — thought it was strange, too, because here’s what it shows as my route:
Oddly enough, this is exactly what it would look like if I were to carry a GPS on an average weekday morning as I look for my keys.
To eliminate this confusion, I charted my 100 mile route using Google Maps:
Yes, that’s really my house, though this satellite photo’s at least half a year old. for one thing, there are three more houses that would appear in this image if the photo were recent, and everything would be buried under about two feet of snow.
By the way, the houses on either side of mine are for sale right now if you want to be my neighbor. Although the fact that the houses on either side of me are for sale might tell you what kind of neighbor I am.
When I’m riding outside, I’m generally not especially interested in quantifying my experience. I know whether it felt like a long ride. I know whether my heart felt like it was going to explode out my chest during the climbs. I know when I’ve bonked and have had to pretend I have a flat tire to disguise the fact that I simply can’t turn the cranks anymore.
When I’m riding inside, though, the math matters. I need something to prove that I wasn’t actually just sitting in that room watching TV. Or at least that, while I was sitting in that room watching TV I was also riding my bike.
Which, unfortunately for you, means I’m about to show you a bunch of charts. Here’s a graph of my speed:
This chart demonstrates, nice and visual-like, my very most common error when riding: I take it out too fast. I intended, before I began, to try to hold a nice, steady 19mph for the entire ride.
And yet, as you can see, for the first forty miles I tended to ride between 20 and 23 mph.
Even as I was churning along, too fast at too high a gear, I was thinking to myself: "I’m going too fast, at too high a gear."
And yet I did not slow down, saving something for the second half of the ride.
And the results speak pretty clearly for themselves: right about mile 40, I slowed waaaaaaay down. Not because I wanted to. Because I had to.
Although, to be fair to myself, from miles 40-60 was also when I was watching episodes 21-22 of Season 6 of 24. Man, those episodes sucked. It’s really a miracle that I was able to stay on my bike at all. Several times I would look down at my speedometer, notice it had dropped to 15, and think to myself, "This is not my fault."
[Side Note: I just had a brilliant idea. For action movies and TV shows, the studio should test the quality of the film by having athletes exercise to them. If the athletes are able to stay in zone 4 throughout the film, it's a winner. If not, keep adding car chases, fistfights, explosions and gunfire until the movie does its job (i.e., keep the adrenaline flowing).]
And now, here’s my cadence (number of times per minute I was able to turn the cranks):
I’m actually pretty pleased with this graph. It shows that for the duration of the ride, I was able to keep my cadence at a nice, even rate: right around 80-85 rotations per minute. So, even though I lost power, I was able to downshift and keep my pedals going at about the same rate.
Of course, 90 rpm would have been better. I just wanted to point out that I already realize this, or somebody in the comments most certainly would have. And probably still will.
All those little dips represent how every few minutes I would shift into a high gear and stand up to pedal (not something you can do on most rollers, but very easy to do on the E-Motion Rollers), so as to keep my nether regions from falling asleep and eventually atrophying and falling off.
That would be bad.
The big dips in cadence — the ones that drop all the way to 0 — are for when I got of the bike to refill my water bottles, go get something to eat, change the DVD, or — for episodes 21-22 of 24 — skip forward a couple of scenes to avert the catastrophic consequences of falling asleep on the rollers.
Miscellaneous Thoughts on Riding 100 Miles Without Going Anywhere
When you ride your bike outside for 100 miles — whether on the road or on the dirt — with a group of riding buddies you bring home big memories: memories of the road and the scenery, memories of hanging out with your friends, and memories of the standout features of the ride: a big climb, a twisty descent.
When you ride inside for 100 miles, your overarching memory of the event is of the stuff you used to distract you from the ride itself: I mostly remember watching the last few episodes of 24 (uggghhh) and the first few episodes of Deadwood (great show so far, but it’s a good thing I listen over headphones, because I do not want my kids hearing that language).
All that said, I do have a few observations to make.
- My left achilles tendon got sore: In fourteen years of cycling, my achilles tendons have never gotten sore before. Now I have a hard time walking up the stairs. Due to this, today I considered, for the first time, riding up the stairs on Susan’s stairlift. In the end I walked the stairs, but the day is still young.
- Eating was awesome: When riding 100 miles on the open road, your food options are limited to what you can carry in your jersey pocket without it melting or giving you salmonella. When riding 100 miles in your house, your food options are limited to what’s in the kitchen. During this ride, I ate several slices of pizza, a peanut butter and Nutella sandwich, half a burrito, and drank a whole bunch of Pepsi Max (it’s like regular Diet Pepsi, but with more caffeine! Huzzah!). Many of you would have gotten sick eating the way I did, but I was fine. Eating while exercising is my superpower. It is why I am The Fat Cyclist, and you are not.
- A long ride before bed was a great idea: After riding 100 miles, I’m always cooked and need to sleep for a while. By starting this ride at 8:30pm — right after I got the twins to bed — I finished around 3:00am. So sure I was cooked and needed to sleep afterwards. Serendipitously, it was definitely time for bed.
- Two fans was a good idea: I had one fan on the windowsill with the window open, blowing cold air at my front in from outside. Another fan sat on the floor, blowing air at my side. I still sweated (I think "swat" should be past tense of "sweat," but that’s just me) gallon upon gallon, but I never felt especially uncomfortable.
- I do not need chamois cream: I’m increasingly confident that chamois cream is just for people who either haven’t yet hardened their butts up or have an especially bad chamois. I never use it, and I don’t need it.
- There are no downhill sections on the rollers: One thing that makes riding 100 miles on the rollers hard is that there are no coasting sections. You’ve got to keep pedaling, all the time.
- A two minute rest does a lot of good: Every time I got off the bike for a couple minutes to refill water bottles or change the DVD, I felt so much stronger when I got back on my bike. I need to remember to take short breaks during long rides and races; I think that will make me faster overall.
- My neck is sore: I am now paying the price for riding for 6.5 hours with my neck craned up enough to see the TV. I need to find a lower stand for the TV.
Would I Do It Again?
So, was this a one-time stunt, or will I ever ride 100 miles on the rollers again? I don’t know. After doing this, I can’t help but wonder: how far could I ride my rollers in 24 hours? Or what if a bunch of us — located wherever we each happen to live — had a 100-miles-on-rollers ride/race, with entry fees, divisions, awards, t-shirts, and everything? With proceeds going toward fighting cancer, natch.
I have to admit, I like the idea of "Fatty’s First Annual Cyber Century."