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If I tell a non cycling friend or neighbor that I rode my bicycle 25 or 30 miles, (40 to 48 km.) they are amazed. When I started cycling in England in the 1950s, ordinary working people would ride that far on a bike to get where ever they needed to be. It was their only means of transport.

I remember talking to an old man back in the 1970s. He spoke of riding his bike in the 1930s. He was a craftsman who made furniture, and once a week he would ride his bike from Worcester, England, to Stratford upon Avon, a round trip of fifty miles.

He would buy his materials, the wood he needed to make his furniture, and ride the 25 miles home with the lumber strapped to his bike, and to his back.

He told of one time he had a sheet of plywood tied to his back, and on the way home the wind caught it and lifted him from his bike and dumped him in the hedgerow.

A friend of mine from Charleston, South Carolina, near where I live now, told me how his grandmother would speak of her father, my friend’s great grandfather.

He took part in the American Civil War (1861 – 1865.) on the side of the Confederate Army. He was taken prisoner by the Northern Forces and held somewhere in Upstate New York. After the war he was released but not transported back. He walked over 900 miles (1448 km.) back to Charleston.

People will do whatever it takes to get where they need to be. When I was 16 years old, I rode my bike from Luton, just north of London, 90 miles (145 km.) one way and back the same day just to visit a bike shop in Birmingham. I remember the shop had a sale on tubular tires, and it seemed like no great feat at the time.

If an ordinary working man could ride 50 miles on a heavy roadster bike, then surely a trained racing cyclist on a lightweight bike could easily do four times the distance? Plus I rode with two other fit young cyclists. We shared the work load.

The 180 mile trip took us 12 hours. We set out at 5:00 am. and were back home that evening. Neither my friends nor I owned a car so we simply did what we needed to do, to get where we wanted to be, and back home again.

It was relevant to that time and era.


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Reader Comments (2)

Traveling 180 miles in 12 hours equals 15 mph.
Riding 75 miles in 3 hours 4 minutes equals 24.6 mph. That is the speed I did the 1980 Tacate to Ensendada Ride to take 2rd Overall.

The bicycle is the common, or relevant item. The rider is the comparison, or relative item.

A racing cyclist will ride at a higher speed, and use less energy than an untrained person. Consider what Greg LeMond said, “It doesn’t get any easier, you just get faster.” There is a speed which a trained cyclist can maintain and use very little energy, and that speed gets higher as you gain fitness and experience. You also get to know what it is going to take to speed up, like to close a gap, or catch a break, or take a flyer.

So when a conditioned cyclist is out on a training ride, he is always aware of how his legs are today. A pedestrian cyclist is not in tune with his body in the same way, and that can result in some hilarious adventures. But if they don’t know what went wrong, does it matter? No one notices.

For a racing cyclist, however, it means getting dropped, or chasing a break down only to blow up before the finish.

And that means you will be buying the beers later.

July 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Part of why you were able to do the long fast rides you did was because nobody told you you couldn't. In my late teens and 20's i thought nothing of doing 100+mile rides,feeling no fatigue the next day- because no one was there to convince me i could not.

July 16, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermike w.

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