Now this won't seem like much to the speedsters among you, but I was surprised to have set personal bests for average speed my last two times out. Losing 44 pounds since January has undoubtedly helped, but I also notice a different approach to my biking. Instead of logging miles just for the sake of logging miles, I seem to be riding with a purpose. Not speed, necessarily, but I want to make sure that each ride is a workout.
Between May 21, 2005 and this past Saturday, I've ridden a bike on 185 days. Whether it was the 2+ mile round trip to work or the 85.5 mile day from Sheldon to Estherville (in the hail, as I recall) in 2005 or anything in between, the best speed I could muster was 13.7 mph in a six-mile ride on Sept. 24, 2005. (Obviously, I'm anal about recording my rides.) Typically, I've plodded along at 12 mph. Until Saturday, when I averaged 14 mph in a 24.7 mile ride home from Urbana along the Cedar Valley Trail. That record didn't last long as tonight, after mowing the lawn as a warm up, I averaged 15 mph on an 11.5 mile ride.
That 3 mph jump will save me more than an hour in the saddle each day of RAGBRAI. I also plan to take spinning classes leading up to RAGBRAI, which should make me faster yet (or, at least, make the hills less difficult).
I've always stressed that RAGBRAI isn't a race, and it's not. But I'm going to save a fortune on Chamois Butter and Gold Bond if I can cut my time in the saddle from 5-6 hours to 4-5, and so can you.
P.S. With 87 miles logged over the last 11 days, I'm now at 178 on the year. Last year, I didn't hit that mileage until July 4. In 2006, it wasn't until July 23, day 1 of RAGBRAI! In 2005, when I caught this bug, it took me until June 24 (although I didn't start until May 21). After three straight years of declining mileage (from 933 in 2005 to 633 in 2006 to 613 last year), 1,000 miles looks like a reasonable expectation.