So kind of you to ask!
Contrary to how it might seem so far, Bike & Build is actually not called “Raise A Lot of Money & Build.” Despite asking all riders to raise a seemingly-impossible $4,500 for affordable housing, the main event is still biking across this entire freakishly large landmass we call America.
When I first considered doing this, I definitely contemplated the distance you’d have to put in every day to make it across the country in two months, but the number was just so damn high I decided to ignore it. I’m quite trained in this technique from my experience disbelieving in the feasibility of marathons. Running one mile is a big ordeal for me, so when I heard that people sometime run 27 miles IN A ROW, I just figured they must have some special, mutant thing going on and went on with my life because that’s not a relatable concept to me at all.
When I saw the daily mileage for my route, I was no less incredulous, but figured, if a thousand other seemingly normal people have done this before, there must be a way I’ll be able to do it as well.
This way, I am sad to say, is through training. Here’s how that’s been going for me:
- Very often, after I bike, my thighs feel like something big has just happened to them. I don’t know why, but I never feel exercise in my calves; it’s always my thighs. Whether this means I over-rely on my thighs or I have calves with definition so sharp they are forbidden by the TSA is unknown, but I think we all know my preferred answer.
- I have tried (with varying success) to increase the length of my rides each time. I started using Strava, an app thing that tracks your distance and speed and has been linked to exercise addiction, to really get Quantifed Selfy with my training. Also, Bike & Build requires you ride at least 500 miles before the trip starts so you don’t puff out in a huff of exhaustion on Day 1 (I am saving that for Day 15), so I wanted a way to figure out if and when I do that besides trying to remember where I went and then looking at a map after the fact. However, I’m not quite sure it’s tracking me entirely, both because sometimes it seems to not acknowledge that I get home at the end of every ride, and I think I sometimes pause and then forget to unpause it. So we will all have to give up the dream of purely cold and mechanical calculated numbers and just believe me when I tell you I bike a lot.
- After most rides, I usually feel like I could keep going, which is both reassuring and makes me feel as if I am not giving it my all or some other poster slogan. Isn’t the sign of a good workout collapse, or at least some vomit? I finally reached this point on Friday, when I took the alluded-to longest bike ride of my life so far, and yet, after a stint on the bus, got back in the saddle and rode even a bit more, so perhaps it’s riding after you truly believe you are about to die from exhaustion that is the mark of a true bike warrior or some other motivational bullshit idk.
- While the contents of my legs appear to be getting stronger, the wrapping seems to grow a bit worse for wear each time I ride. I have a new collection of scratches, scrapes, and a rainbow of black and blue marks (some elevated!) from doing things such as having my bike fall on me, slamming my leg into its tubes, banging into the gears, and dropping my bike lock on my leg.
- Thongs are a solution to wedgies only in that they ensure a constant wedgie, thus freeing you from the suspense of wondering when you might get one. Bike seats, it would seem, are in fact 3D renderings of thongs, offering a stronger, more assertive wedgie of not just fabric but metal, stuffing, and leather all up in there too. Unlike most things in society, they don’t even seem to have been optimized for men, as I can’t imagine they would be much improved by having an alternate lower torso anatomy to my own. To help counter this, Joe lent me his men’s large padded bike shorts, which are a perfect fit. But, just as SPF levels are not a permanent shield from the sun but just tell you how long until you have to reapply to try to not get cancer, so does padding your butt just stave off the inevitable soreness a little longer. Until I started riding my bike more heavily, I had always assumed the tailbone was simply a vestigial bump. Now I see its true purpose is to humble those of us who think we may have gained powers above our station through the invention of the bicycle. “No,” it whispers to you as you wince through its message, “you can never rise above walking, for I am always here to lower you with my pain.” The padded bike shorts muffle this cry a few hours longer, as well as making me look like a long-lost Kardashian sister.
- Hills still suck, and I still photograph every hill I manage to complete as a way to stuff and mount these slope trophies, even though I remain frustrated that the photos never seem to do them justice. Sometimes I avoid routes or even biking at all because I just hate hills that much. When I reach one I think I can do, however, I try my hardest to ride through it without stopping or walking. If I can do that, I feel like the most accomplished person in the world for as long as it takes me to remember anyone else in the world’s accomplishments. When I don’t, I just wonder to myself how many more tries it will take for me to do it in one sweep, and fantasize about that day. After all, if there’s one thing I’m know for, it’s positive thinking.