This Friday I am going to take part in an underground race from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. I haven’t told too many people, because I haven’t wanted to commit to it. However, with only three days between me and the race, months of planning and training, and two days off work, I guess I am pretty darn committed.
The race is called Crush the Commonwealth, and its tag line is:
“400 miles, Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. Just you and your bike. No support, no spectators, no prizes.”
Sometime in early February I met up with a guy who had a cycling computer that I wanted to purchase. I told him about Bike & Build, and my plans for cross-country cycling, and he told me about Crush the Commonwealth. I, the ridiculous one-upper that I am, was immediately intrigued. I had been creating a training regime for a century (a 100 mile bike ride in a day) at the end of May, but damn, 400 miles in two days a month earlier sounded even better.
And so I started secretly planning on cycling across the state. With a little less than three months to train, I had a lot of planning to do. The rule of thumb seems to be to only bike 10% farther than you had the week before, in order to prevent an overuse injury. With that in mind, I counted backwards, starting with 400 miles, and subtracting 10% of the total miles in a week, and 10% of the longest ride of the week for three months.
With a plan in my hand, I started logging miles.
I kept it a secret for as long as I could because I knew it was a crackpot idea. I was going to attempt to take myself from a scrawny exercise-hating runt, into a brawny cycling machine in less than three months. I was going to have to spend all my free time on my bike, learning how to effectively and efficiently use my body. Eventually my excitement couldn’t be contained, and I had to tell Avry and my parents. They took it with a wink, knowing how non-committal I can be.
My training started slowly, but I saw progress soon enough. Now, at the end of those few months, I can spin at an average of 13 mph comfortably (up from 8 or 9 mph to begin with), have defeated every single hill that leads to my house (there are many), and have all of my gear.
I am ready! Although still unsure that I will be mentally prepared for this thing, I think my body is as ready as it will be. I’ve been lucky enough to have been offered a spot with the guy with the computer, and three other cyclist. At least I’ll start the ride with someone, although who knows if I’ll be able to keep up!
And now that the day is fast approaching, I will practicing packing! Stay tuned for how to fit a ton of shit in bags, and for tips on looking your best in spandex. Oh yes.