The blog of the adventures (or mis-adventures) of an active mountain woman.

40 Miles Feels Like… 40 Miles

The first half of our ride, more or less. The rest is a blur.

I’m guessing that you’re curious as to how I traveled these 40 miles, so I will keep you in suspense no longer – by bike. While I’m well aware that certain die-hard road bikers do “century club rides” (that would be 100 miles) with alarming frequency, this 40 miles trek was my longest to date. And boy, did it feel like long.

We started out strong from south Boulder with temps in the low 40’s. I was nervous. My heart is with my mountain bike and on single track it’s you versus trail, rock, trees, etc. But suddenly I was facing a much bigger, scarier foe (cue dark, gloomy music): cars.

My fear can partially be attributed to the results of an informal poll I have conducted that past 5 years or so. Every time I meet someone who is really passionate about road biking, I ask if they have ever been hit by a car. The answer, without exception, is “yes”. This is not a comfortable margin for me.

So, with the fear of Not Being In Control in my heart and two Boulder locals, we wove through the intricate system of Boulder bike trails before striking out on highway 36 north towards Lyons. For the first few minutes, I had an odd feeling I can only describe as anxiety. The cars passing by were too loud and disruptive. What if someone reached down to change the radio station and swerved? However, finding that level of anxiety too high maintenance, I soon settled into a happy peddling rhythm and watched the colors fly by.

And by colors, I mean bikers. In matching colors. As my friend Aaron pointed out, if you see a biker with a jersey that matches their shorts which match their bike, you’re about to get your butt kicked. I can further simplify that to if you see a biker with a matching jersey and shorts, they are passing me, which leads me to this solid hypothesis: matching makes you go faster.

I did not match. In fact, I didn’t even have slick tires. I was laboring away (happily, I might add) on my Jake cyclo-cross (see this post for more info on Jake). While I appreciated the margin of comfort provided by the tread, I do believe I had to work a bit harder than if I had outfitted my bike with slick tires. But it was all worth it when our posse veered off 36 North to Hygiene road and the Crane Hollow Cafe.

The Crane Hollow Cafe is tucked in the sleepy town of Hygiene and has some truly delicious eats. So delicious that I could have ordered a second sandwich after the first tuna melt went down incredibly easy and just started to ebb the hunger of a 20 mile pedal. Alas, it was not to be – someone (not me) had only brought $20 cash for our duo to dine at the most excellent cafe. This proved to be a problem.

I had no juice left for the return ride. Luckily, our brilliant Boulder friends had stacked the odds distinctly in my favor – we looped back on a shorter, 17 mile road with less hills (okay, okay, I know you’re doing the math and it’s only a 37 mile ride. But 40 sounded better for the title, so just relax). My quads just felt empty. The sandwich didn’t make it past my belly. While I had chowed down before the ride, I had forgotten my #1 rule of long hikes/runs/bike rides – bring lots and lot (and lots) of food in many forms. A Gu shot or two would have made all the difference. While I know this to be inherently true for me, I still found myself without. Is life just a big repeating loop after all or will I someday get wiser (provided I don’t get hit by a car first)?

Yummy-recipe-of-the-day: Whole Wheat, Rosemary & Caramelized Onion Bread from


One Response to “40 Miles Feels Like… 40 Miles”

  1. Rebecca says:

    Shelly–you know me and my low blood sugar situations. You are similar because you have the metabolism of a small woodlands creature. Here is my suggestion: The next time you see a sale on Gu (Northface does put it on a weird clearance every now and again) buy a bunch. Also get some Justin’s nutbutter packets. Keep them in glove compartments of cars and at least 2 in your purse at any point in time. They are life savers and almost never expire. Honey packets are also good because honey actually never expires–but it lacks protein so its only a quick fix. Another tip: Case of gaterade in your trunk. I never regret that I always have at least half a case of that in my trunk.

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