Monday, February 16, 2009

To Columbia and back

With a 300-mile bike ride in Israel only about nine weeks away, training has -- despite the snow on the ground here in PA! -- been much on my mind these days. They say you need to work yourself up to not _just_ doing long, challenging rides in preparation for a tour, but also to getting to the point where you can do two hard days in a row. This is not just a challenging thing for me to do because of weather and the physical challenge -- but also, because of my commitment to Shabbat, Sunday is the only weekend day I have for riding.

So, I decided to take a vacation day this week and make a a two-day mini-tour from here in Reading to Columbia, Pa., on the banks of the mighty Susquehanna river, which had me crossing the entire length of Lancaster County. It was a challenging and beautiful ride in temps that were a bit below freezing in the mornings and late afternoons, and a bit above freezing in the middle of the day.

Lancaster is known for its cycling , both for the beauty of its rolling hills, and for the influence of the Pennsylvania Dutch, both the Amish and the Mennonites , on its culture and landscape. Sunday morning they were out in force -- mostly in their traditional black horse and buggies, but some also on bicycles -- on their way to and from church.

Here's the route I took on the way there (about 55 miles):

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I took a shorter trip on the way back, today -- about 37 miles. But the riding in the cold was just as challenging, today, as it was on Sunday. I spent a lot of time zipping and unzipping my jackets, trying to keep myself just cold enough so that I would not sweat too much -- if you let your clothes get all wet, there's no way to keep warm on the downhills.

I feel pretty good now. Some parts of my body are clearly still warming up -- and my legs are quite sore! But, I feel like I could ride even further if I had to, a good feeling for someone planning on a long tour!

PS If you'd like to sponsor me and Minna on the tour, click here!

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