Sunday was the second of four scheduled Rally Rides for the Young’s Ice Cream Charity Bike Tour. The planned route was a 47-mile loop, beginning and ending at Xenia Station. After much deliberation, I decided to capitalize on the opportunity to rack up some miles and ride the 43-mile round trip to Xenia Station. I’m so glad I did.
I got everything ready the night before and set my alarm. Despite my best intentions and efforts, I overslept. I got on the road about ten minutes later than I had planned, but I arrived at the starting point with 20 minutes to spare before the ride got underway. This allowed me time to sign in, grab some coffee and a bagel, put on my free jersey that I earned as a result of having raised over $500 for the charity tour, and meet some fellow riders.
At 9am, we were pushing off. I quickly settled in with a group whose pace I found to my liking, and we made our way out of town and deep into the surrounding country roads. The scenery was absolutely beautiful. Rolling hills, manicured farmlands, stylish old houses and pole barns, all beneath a giant blue sky. Upon arriving at the first of three rest stops, I feasted on free PB&J sandwiches, oatmeal cookies, and Gatorade. I did the same at the remaining two rest stops. Finally we reached the end. After shooting the breeze with friends made along the way, another guy and I topped off our water bottles and began the trek home. With about nine miles left to go, we parted ways, and I was on my own for the final stretch. I was grinning ear to ear and pushing hard on the pedals. I felt so alive.
By day’s end, I had nearly six hours in the saddle and 90.1 miles on the clock. It was my longest ride to date, and it has put me within a stone’s throw of reaching my goal of riding a century. I expected to be utterly exhausted at the end of the ride, but I wasn’t. Indeed, I was well aware that I had spent most of the day on my bicycle, but I felt like a million bucks, strong and invigorated.
Riding with a group can be such a terrific experience. The conversation takes your mind off of the physical exertion and the miles. The energy that comes from being with other riders gives you strength and keeps your spirit high. Stronger and more experienced riders keep an easier pace alongside slower, less experienced riders, offering their support, so that no one feels left out or discouraged. It’s a beautiful thing.
It’s not too late to make a donation for the Young’s Ice Cream Charity Bike Tour. Better yet: if anyone reading this is within 200 miles of Yellow Springs, OH, why not register yourself and join me for the ride? I’m serious! Give it some thought.