I managed to double the distance I did on my last longer ride, hitting 12 miles. My original intention was just to hit 10, but something kept pushing me.
I went down to the park again, starting at a downhill position going up to the east (route here, distance on trail is longer than road). When I got close to the five mile mark going out, I knew I was starting to close in on what I call the invisible hill. After 130th, there's a slight uphill grade that goes for at least two miles (that's the longest I've gone), and you almost don't realize it until you find yourself down shifting and getting insanely tired. That last mile because a struggle, and I actually dumped into my granny gear, just trying to keep spinning. At six miles, I got off the bike and drank half of my bottle of water.
The positive is that you get to turn around and go down hill at that point. Fast. I peaked at around 27 mph, and that first mile going back was done in no time. In fact, the trip out was 30 minutes and change, while the trip back was about 25.
With three miles to go, I started to feel some cramping, which is not unexpected considering how out of shape I am. I resisted the temptation to stop because I knew that would be certain death. Before I knew it, I was back at the car.
And honestly, I didn't feel that bad. I think the key is to find a distance that's easily repeatable so I can condition myself for more. I'd like to get to a steady 15 mile circuit if I can, because if I do it frequently enough, that feels like a significant workout.
I think I need to raise my seat just a little, as I feel like my knees are coming up too far. I also need to get the toe clips on there, because my feet came flying off on a few bumps. I need to think about some gloves and proactively not holding a death grip on the handlebars as well, because I find my hands falling asleep a little now and then.
But this is progress, and I need to really keep with it. Again, I really want to reclaim the fitness I had in 2005, and keep it.