For three years I’ve toyed with cycling the ididaride, a 75 mile bike race through the Adirondacks. But in 2012 and 2013 longstanding commitments prevented me (saved me?) from entering. This year, my calendar opened up, and suddenly the opportunity to ride in the ididaride was there for the taking.
In other words, no more excuses. Register. Train. Train some more. And then test my pedal mettle!
Why ride the ididaride?
I’m not a competitive cyclist. Not by a long shot. In fact, I’ve only been riding regularly since 2009. And given the perfect cycling routes and conditions in and around our corner of the Adirondacks (and across the lake in Vermont), I’ve mostly amused myself with twenty to forty mile loops, starting and ending in Essex. I exert myself, but mostly I enjoy myself. Roller coaster roads, enchanting views, charming towns, minimal automobile traffic. Cycling in and around Essex is a bicyclist’s dream come true.
But a few years ago I had the opportunity to join John Davis for a couple of longer rides during his TrekEast adventure. We didn’t quite reach 75 miles each day, but we came close enough that I began to wonder about longer rides.
In particular I began to daydream about the amazing countryside I could explore if my endurance were up to the challenge. A 75 mile loop opened up all sorts of exciting possibilities. And what better way to propel myself toward the goal than competing in the ididaride? It would give me a reason, a motivation, a goal. It would give me a timeline. And, if I could successfully ride the event, it would give me the confidence to tackle longer rides.
Training for the ididaride
This spring I discovered that my calendar would permit entering the ididaride this summer. I was recovering from minor surgery that made bike training challenging. But by April I had begun to ride short, slow distances on flat ground, and by early May I was tackling my usual 25 miles loops around Essex.
I was feeling great. I was riding two or three 25-mile rides during the week. And each weekend I’d tackle a slightly longer, slightly more hilly ride. Within the last couple of weeks my distances have stretched to include Keene Valley, and this past Saturday I was finally ready for my longest ride ever.
I had thoroughly enjoyed a 65-mile loop through Lewis, Elizabethtown, Keene Valley, Westport and Wadhams the weekend before. The conditions had been perfect. Cool early in the morning, and warmer but virtually humidity free later on. And almost no traffic. I passed more runners and bikers than cars. When I coasted back into Essex mid-day I felt ecstatic. And very tired.
This past Saturday would be my first race distance ride. I was eager to tackle the challenge. But I was also wary. Not quite intimidated, but nervous. Maybe respectful, considering the long miles and hill climbs in my near future? Okay, maybe I was a little intimidated.
The morning was a chilly, low 50s as I recall. And cloudy. The temperatures were forecast to rise gradually throughout the morning but wouldn’t get much warmer than about 72 degrees. And dry. No rain. Minimal humidity. All things considered, the forecast was pretty perfect.
My route was similar to the previous weekend, but instead of returning to Elizabethtown from “Malfunction Junction” and New Russia, I would cross Route 87 and wind through a remote, hilly, a truly spectacular section of the Adirondacks toward Moriah. This was my favorite part of the ride. No cars. One motorcycle. Two deer. And endless beauty interrupted only by the pavement roller coaster I was riding.
Another exceptional section of my ride, Pilfershire Road, sent me plunging down the fastest decline of my ride (almost 50 mph!) and then opened up overlooking Lake Champlain. I wound my way back to Westport where I refilled my fluids at Ernie’s Market and continued on to Wadhams. I looped out past Crooked Brook Studios, through Whallonsburg, then swooped down to Whallons Bay before drifting into Essex almost exactly five minutes after I started.
I’d averaged 15 mph – nothing to brag about when so many Ironman survivors are still strutting around the Adirondacks – which is about par for the course in my longer rides. And I’d made it home alive, empirical evidence that I could indeed survive the ididaride!
A more seasoned (or well-trained) cyclist would undoubtedly suggest a different training regimen. And the more I ride the more I realize that I should seek some council. But for now, I’m feeling confident that another solid week followed by a taper week will get me to the starting line in North Creek on August 10. And hopefully it will also get me to the finish line.
And my enthusiasm has bumped up a notch or two in the last week because several local friends have also decided to venture down to participate in the ididaride. So far a half-dozen of us from Essex and Westport intend to ride either the 75 loop or the 20 mile option. Maybe you’d like to come along? Feel free to ask questions.
Come ride the ididaride!
If I’ve manage to pique your interest here’s an ididaride overview:
- Four rest stops with snacks and water are provided along the route.
- SAG wagon and mobile mechanical support are available.
- Find details about the route and the ride here.
- Find directions to the starting point here.
- Find registration details, prices, and register online for this event here.
- Download the registration form here.
What are you waiting for? Hope to see you in North Creek. Or riding Essex’s beautiful byways between now and then…