Bonnie on a Bike: Training for a 100-k Cycling Challenge. 61 Days to Go!

The Ride For Karen is now about 9 weeks away. I’ve been clocking up the kilometres, and the last time


The Ride For Karen is now about 9 weeks away. I’ve been clocking up the kilometres, and the last time I blogged I described what was then my longest ride so far: 38km from my home in Toronto to downtown Oakville. My next plan was to double that by going to Oakville’then turning around and riding back to Toronto. I’d need to get my body used to long hours in the saddle, and this should take about 4 hours. (I estimate the Ride For Karen will take around 6.)

I called my parents the day before and asked if they were free to meet me for breakfast at a cafe on Lakeshore Road in Oakville at 9 a.m., and they were. "Okay, good," I said. "I’ll leave at 7 a.m. and call you if I think I’ll get there much later than 9." It was forecast to be a really hot and muggy day so I wanted to get out early and be back home before noon.

I had a great night’s sleep, was up at 6:30 and fuelled up with 2 eggs [minus one yolk] on a piece of wholegrain toast, a glass of juice and half a banana. I shoved a big handful of almonds into my vest pocket, grabbed my water bottle from the freezer (I had stuck it in there the night before after filling it 3/4-full with water), topped it up with tap water, slathered myself in waterproof sunscreen and took off.

It was a beautiful clear morning along the now-familiar Waterfront Trail, and I crossed the Humber bridge feeling so much better than the last time I’d headed this way, when I was under the weather. En route I seemed to have the whole lakefront to myself; there was nobody about, apart from a few rabbits who scampered out of the way as I sped by. I was averaging between 20-25 kilometres an hour, according to my speedometer (although at one point I absolutely flew down a hill, my fastest speed yet at 41km/hr! Fun.). Passed the Welcome to Mississauga sign, passed the Oakville Welcomes You sign. Now more cyclists were on the road’as usual, mostly guys. Now in downtown Oakville, I didn’t know where the coffee shop was exactly, and was so busy trying not to let a gaggle of those guys on road bikes pass me (I know, I’m way too new to this sport to be competitive!) that I wheeled right past my parents and had to turn around a couple of blocks later and go back.

Made it! And starving. It was about 9:10. We all had a delicious iced coffee and a bagel with cream cheese & tomatoes. Caught up on family news with my parents and recharged. About an hour later, I said goodbye and turned the bike eastwards. Now, at 10 a.m., it was really getting hot. Only about 5 kilometres into the return trip, my legs were SO feeling it! And that was on the flat. I dreaded the hills I knew were coming up through Mississauga and seriously wondered how I could get through the next 33 kilometres. I told myself there was no big rush, just take it at a comfortable speed.

One difference now compared to earlier was that there were a ton of people out in the parks and on the beaches, getting picnics and BBQs set up and already swimming to cool off. So slow going was a must, and I was really glad I was wearing my brightly coloured Specialized cycling vest (it’s pretty cool, with removable sleeves that I’ll zip on when the cooler weather arrives). I’ve been wearing this each time I’ve been out, apart from once: That time, I was riding in High Park wearing a black top, was in my bike lane, and a jogger coming toward me the wrong way on the bike path saw me only at the last minute and got out of the way. I’m sure if I was wearing the bright top, she would have seen me earlier.

Anyway, after about 25 km I stopped for water and almonds (hungry again!) and took in the lovely view of the Toronto skyline in the distance, thinking, hmmm; I guess I’m going to make it! Yes, rolling up to the front of my house with almost 80km under my belt that morning felt great. My legs were aching and I got into an icy bath, then had a shower’and was walking on air for the rest of the day.

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