Jackson Parr is riding his bike from Milwaukee, Wis., to the 2012 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships, set for Aug. 18-19 in Burlington, Vt.
Day 9: Oswego NY-> Theresa, NY
Distance: 72 miles
I was concerned with these New York hills that I encountered the previous day, worried that if they persisted the entire 72 miles I had to cover that day, I may be in for a difficult day. This was the first day that I woke up to truly sore legs. In previous days, I had gotten used to the usual soreness that developed from hours of low intensity riding. Yet with these hills and the high intensity that they required, I was experiencing something entirely different.
Sitting down with the couple I was staying with in Oswego, we drew up a new plan for my route that day. The most direct route took me inland and along the interstate as I headed north. But adding a mere five miles would send me on the route hugging Lake Ontario as it stretched north, hoping that the lakeside would bring fewer hills and cooler temperatures. I sacrificed the shorter distance for hopes of an easier ride and set off early enough to ensure a reasonable arrival up north no matter the conditions.
My decision was the correct one as I found myself primarily on flat roads along the lake providing not only easier riding, but also the scenic views that are a priority for the touring cyclist. Before long, dozens of other riders began passing me and my 50-pound trailer with friendly waves and questions about how much further “we” had, assuming I was a part of their group. Slightly confused, I asked an older man at my gas station lunch stop and he explained there was a transcontinental ride of about 70 strong heading the same route I was on their way to the east coast. Happy to be joined by fellow riders, I joined their troupe, which helped in taking my mind off the spinning headwind that was developing.
Cloud cover and lakeshore roads kept temperatures cooler than I had experienced thus far. The day was long and my muscles were sore, but the roads were smooth and I found myself racing rain clouds into my relative’s house where I would be staying for the next few days. I was looking forward to a few days of both rest and concentration on something other than the saddle.
With three days off the bike before making the final 3-day, 150-mile stretch to Burlington, I was able to catch up on sleep, the Olympics and meals consisting of things besides gas station food. I took advantage of these many free hours as most triathletes would, with some running and dry land exercises to hold fast to the other two disciplines of my sport. The uncertain yet threatening weather discouraged any practical swim sets but I was able to check in on my running legs through the rural roads of New York. While running, I aimed to increase intensity, which is something that I have lacked in my hours on the bike. With a short, fast race ahead of me, I had to be sure I still had the pop of speed necessary to be competitive.
On top of my change in training focus, I was finally able to be a tourist to this part of the country that I rarely got out to see. Forced to cover dozens of miles on the bike every day would leave me with little time or energy to check the attractions of these things I was riding so close to. In my days off, I was given the opportunity to tour the Thousand Islands, including the historic Boldt’s castle and many other islands with small local stories behind them. I ate at a real restaurant and I wasn’t even wearing tight cycling clothes to draw attention from anyone and everyone around. I was amazed as I realized how quickly I had fallen into the lifestyle of a touring cyclist. Showers felt like a luxury and I woke with the sunrise thinking I had a tent to pack up.
Through the three days, I felt recovered and ready to finish the last leg of my journey to Age Group Nationals. By my last night I was even getting itchy feet, ready to hit the road yet again to travel through the scenic Adirondack mountain range. I had plenty of time to plan the perfect route and more importantly, a place to drop off excess gear that I knew I wouldn’t need in three more days of riding. I was going bare bones after cutting nearly 20 pounds of gear from my pack. Hopefully I would get there before regretting that decision.