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My 100 Mile Bike Ride – Made It!

The Harpeth River Ride south of Nashville, is one of the two premier biking events in Middle Tennessee each year.

The 100-mile Route of the Harpeth River Ride

Last year I did the 62-mile loop for the Harpeth River Ride that starts in the parking lot of Nissan’s North American headquarters in Franklin, Tennessee, and winds through some beautiful scenic roads. I had just got back into riding a couple of months earlier and the ride was just about more than I could handle. I started off strong but then hit Pulltight Hill for the first time and struggled the rest of the way to the finish line.

I’ve been on the bike at least once a week and usually twice since then – so I’ve “let” my neighbor talk me into the 100-mile loop – which goes 101 miles. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be just about more than I can handle – but I can do it! So if you see a triumphant update on my ride on Monday – you’ll know I made it – even if my pace doesn’t break any land speed records.

If I am unusually quiet next week you might be right when you assume I switched to the 62-mile loop mid-course. But I’m not even going to think that way. 101 miles here I come. Prayers and best wishes are welcome!

ADDENDUM

I made it! In fact, I took a wrong turn and added 4 miles, so I made 105 miles. I wasn’t the last rider in – but I was definitely near the back of the pack. I expected that knowing that the majority of the 100-mile participants would be the better riders and I didn’t think I could catch any of the stragglers riding the 62-mile or 44-mile loops. Next year? Might return to the 62-mile loop!

Harpeth River Bike Ride

Nissan’s Official Harpeth River Ride Vehicle

 

“The Necessary Compulsion of Exercise”

I will be riding my bike this Saturday with Lance Armstrong and other friends.

On Saturday morning I take off on my bicycle with a couple thousand of my closest friends – including Lance Armstrong and some of his Team RadioShack teammates – on the Harpeth River Ride. I am doing the 62-mile course with mixed emotions. (Not sure how far Lance is riding or how long we are going to hang together.)

On one hand I love riding my bike and I see the benefit – or more accurately the necessity – of riding to get in better shape (another way of saying, “I need to lose 20 pounds … again”). On the other hand, after a long winter hibernation and then an early spring surgery, I’m not in the best shape of my life, a condition that both motivates and discourages the obvious cure. So I know full well that not all of the 62 miles promise to be fun. In the short time I’ve had to get ready for this modest ride I’ve discovered that after riding about 25 miles the gentle rolling hills of Middle Tennessee, the hills are not always so gentle.

I was sifting through some excerpts from Albert Schweitzer’s Africa Notebooks and stumbled on this relevant observation the great missionary and humanitarian made as he conversed with the natives of Africa. They were curious as to the differences between themselves and the people of Europe where Schweitzer was born.

So I go on to tell them that in Europe people row for pleasure, a statement followed by uncontrollable laughter. … I don’t attempt to make clear to them what sport is. The conditions under which they live in so many ways compel them to use their physical forces and take exercise to a greater extent than they like, that they cannot understand at all how people can do so except under compulsion.

We may have a choice whether to exercise or not, but in our corner of the world where food is abundant and many of us ply a trade that is sedentary, it’s not surprising we put on jogging shoes or head to the gym or hop on a bike under a certain compulsion, too.

So will I ride for pleasure or compulsion on Saturday? I’m telling myself it is for pleasure. But halfway through I may not be able to fool myself any longer. As is so often the case in life, the answer is a definite and resounding, yes.

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