Monday, April 6, 2009

Family Mitzvah Day and a Quick Century or Some Days You Can Have it All

In Hebrew, the word “mitzvah” means commandment or blessing. It is a gift or responsibility that we share to make the world a better place. This past Sunday, my son’s Hebrew school organized a “family mitzvah day” for the community on the weekend before Passover. The day included options for spring cleaning, singing at an elder center and delivering food to a local food bank. It was hard to mobilize the troops to get up to Woodstock at the required hour, since we were out late at a family party in New York the night before, but we felt it was an important family responsibility, so we soldiered on. Jessie and Izzy and I chose to deliver and organize food while Eli raked and mulched.

One of the most difficult challenges for the endurance rider, in my opinion, is squeezing it all in. Sure I do everything I can to plot and scheme to get the rides in to keep my legs fresh and my lungs in top shape. I commute to school several days a week, get up before dawn most weekends, ride at night when necessary and arrange to cycle to meet the family at various destinations when traveling. The trouble is, these strategies often pull me away from the people I want to be spending my time with and sometimes don't even enable me to achieve the desired training goals. With my first race of the season, the Connecticut River Double Century, fast approaching on April 19, my need for a long training ride this weekend was unavoidable. How to do it? After speaking with my wife about the options, we decided on the following plan.

After completing our work in Woodstock, I suited up and jumped on my bike and rode off into the beautiful spring-like day for a quick and hilly century. It was a truly blessed day both off and on the bike. It reached 60° and the birds were out and there was barely a cloud in the sky. I wore sunscreen for the first time this season and needed not a single “warmer.” Not toe, nor arm, nor leg, nor knee. The direct route would have had me home in about 30 miles, so I added a large loop and reached the house in 100.6 miles instead. It was a quick ride. I’m trying my best to increase my average riding speed as well as my endurance for long miles. My on-bike time was 5:45 and my total time out was 6:02. Cutting out time spent in controls and rolling at a higher speed are both increasingly important as the season heats up.

The mitzvah my family gave to me, of course, was the time and freedom to ride on this most beautiful spring day. While it is often a struggle to fit it all in, some days you can have it all!

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