Chapter 35: 100 kilometres

One hundred kilometres equals the distance between New York and New Jersey, or between Florence and Bologna. By car, 100 kilometres are easily done under an hour when driving on the highway. On urban roads, this time increases to about two hours. The question is, how many hours are you sitting on the saddle of a bike if you intend to travel 100 kilometres? More interestingly, how long do you spin along, burning the pedals, until you crack 100 kilometres at the age of 57?  

The answer is four and a half hours. At least, this is the time my dad took. He and I went on a cycling tour, aiming to pass the 100-kilometre mark. It all started with my dad suggesting a bike ride during my visit at home in Germany. He proposed a tour together as proper father-daughter bonding activity. Nothing wrong with a bit of recreative relaxation while on holiday, right?

Initially, he approached me with the idea of hitting 70 kilometres. I agreed without any hesitation because I love sports and I love sports outdoors even more. During our preparations, we explored several potential biking tracks. As we were going to spend a good chunk of the day on a bike, we wanted to enjoy as much of a scenic route as possible. At the same time, we wanted to make these 70 kilometres realistically achievable. We were not planning on killing ourselves, meaning that we scouted out a flat terrain rather than an endless cascade of hills. While devising our final route, my dad started catering to the idea of hammering down 100 kilometres in one go, not merely 70. According to his reasoning, an additional 15 kilometres each way mattered little since we were aiming for a large-scale trip anyway. I agreed to push it to 100, mainly because the prospect of completing 100km flattered my ego more than a negligible 70km.  

When the day of our big tour came around, the weather played nicely into our cards with little wind and bearable temperatures. Feeling strong, we shot off, racing down the cycle path which followed a broad river along the German-Luxembourgish border. Leading the way, my dad set the pace, a rather ambitious one, and I stayed closely behind. He said I should let him know in case I needed a break to which I responded with a nod. However, I had no intentions of pausing within the first third of our track. I believed the first course section counted the most for bagging kilometre after kilometre since we were both still fresh and fit. Thus, I did not want to interrupt our keen legs unless I really, really had to.  

My calculations proved right. After our first break at 34km, we swung back into our saddles with considerably less combative spirit than at the start. My legs yawned already, but we had another 70-ish kilometres ahead of us. The second third turned into a mental battle against the personal skunk that grew heavier inside me with every revolution. Similarly, I noticed periods of exhaustion from my dad too. Luckily, our athletic depressions never overlapped. Whenever he seemed to slow down, I increased my force in spinning, and vice versa. To prevent myself from giving in, I focused on my breath while imagining how proud I would feel at the end of our ride. Like a mantra, I internally kept cheering just keep going. In this manner, we stretched our stamina until my dad’s tracker announced a little under 80km.  

At that point, I knew that the worst part was over. I did not fear the last quarter of our way, quite the opposite, I looked forward to it with renewed spirits. Because there were not many more breaths between us and the finish line, I knew that from now on, I could unrestrictedly deplete all my resources without having to save any for later. On the other hand, my dad voiced concerns about the last bit of the track, especially because it entailed a climb uphill. Not going to lie, the final climb drained our very last capacities. However, we both conquered the hill and from the hill’s peak onwards, all we had left was dashing down the road back to our starting position, the car park.  

We both yearned for an extensive nap when we finally descended from our bikes. Together, we had travelled 100 kilometres per bike in 265 minutes and 36 seconds. We were proud and happy, tired, but proud.  

Accomplishing 100 kilometres on a bike is more than doable for somebody of my age, somebody in their mid-twenties. Yet, for my dad’s age, somebody who passed beyond the 50, I view it as a much more extraordinary achievement. I admire my dad for his energy and motivation. Despite his advanced age, his morale and energy did not flinch. He truly strikes me with his dynamic that compares to the one of a youngster.

You know what he said to me when we arrived at the finishing point?

He said “So, this is one of my goals for this year successfully ticked off the list. Time to tackle the next ones, there are only five months left in 2020.”

Can you believe it? Riding 100 kilometres represented just one among many other, not any less considerable items on his bucket list for 2020!

Apart from killing 100 kilometres on the bike, he intends to paint a portray the size of a wall mirror for his partner. Besides, he set his mind on renovating the house, which includes flooring the garage, repainting the hallway, and building a sauna. I am not entirely sure how he actually juggles these things while working a demanding full-time job. In any case, his ambition is amazing and I admire my dad for his youthful vigour. Setting goals and staying active seems to be his secret to staying young. Hopefully, I will profit from the same kind of fitness and vitality once I turn over 50. To make a start, I have already noted down another 100-kilometre bike into my calendar for 2046, the year when I will turn 50.

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