As We Forge Ahead . . .

My friend, Tracy, and I woke up bright and early on a Sunday to bike to Conshohocken, a ride we estimated would be around 30 miles in total. We started at the Art Museum in Center City.

If you’ve never been to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, I highly recommend it. The Schuylkill River Trail starts here and continues on to Phoenixville.

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Lesson Learned

I don’t want to be indelicate, but I must admit something: whenever I train for these rides after not riding in a while I forget what I’m really training when I’m on a bike. It’s not just the leg and back endurance – it’s the butt.

Your butt will eventually go numb from sitting on a bike for too long. But if you train enough you can get to a point where you’re at least 50+ miles into a ride before that becomes an issue.

That being said there are several things you can do to make life easier while training. Here are three suggestions from me to you on how to make your training go more smoothly:

1. Buy proper bike shorts

I use Canari Cyclewear Shorts – but anything with padding will do. This won’t save you from all discomfort, but it will definitely help.

2. Use a CamelBak for water

When you’re on a bike and going to be riding in a group – you don’t want to mess with your balance by reaching down for a water bottle and unscrewing the cap or fighting to open the tab. You could injure yourself and others if you aren’t paying full attention.

I loved having the CamelBak last year. I was able to fill it up at the break points along the way and could keep drinking while I was riding.

3. Use bike gloves

Ok – I’ll admit when I started riding I had no idea why bike gloves were really necessary. You’re not swinging a golf club or a bat or anything. Right?

While that may be true, you are sweating – a LOT – and sometimes using your hands to grip handlebars in order to help boost yourself up a hill or if you have to emergency stop. For long rides, whenever I don’t have gloves, my hands get really raw and chapped. After about 40 miles it’s not pleasant.

Long of the short of it is: use gloves.

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Expect the Unexpected & Enjoy

Tracy and I were about 7 miles along the SRT and had just stopped to take a few photos of the lovely terrain, when we recognized a voice behind us.

Our friend Bobby and his buddy were biking the SRT too. Bobby works with Tracy and I and is an avid cyclist. We said hi and after laughing at the coincidence Bobby invited Tracy and I to join them for their ride to Valley Forge.

A ride from Philadelphia to Valley Forge and back is a 40 mile ride. Tracy and I had only been planning on 30 and since it was the longest ride of my training this year I was a little worried. But that saying kept playing in my head:

You will never know your limits until you push yourself to them.

So with that happy thought in mind we joined them. It was a blast riding in a small group. Bike rides are fun because in the more relaxed moments you can chat and catch up and when you’re in a more intense part of the ride you can cheer each other on a motivate each other.

So that’s what we did. We made it to Valley Forge after 22 or so miles and walked around a bit to stretch our legs. Bobby and his friend continued onto trails, but Tracy and I decided to head back.

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Along the way back we took the time to stop a few times so that I could take some photos. It’s really quite a beautiful trail and I highly recommend running/biking/walking along it whenever you have the opportunity.

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It goes to show – you never know where the day will take you. So next time you have the opportunity, take a chance and see what you can make of it.

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