I have a new disease, it's called computeraholic, and it's all thanks to my friend A who gave me the Garmin. Maybe you've experienced this yourself--when you become simply obsessed with the numbers on that screen.
Example #1: Distance. Having decided to cycle 70 miles (35 out and back), I start becoming completely obsessed with my distance around mile 30. I simply don't want to pedal even 1/10 of a mile beyond my goal, since I'm hurting and starting to bonk.
Example #2: Average speed. Must keep that number up! Must not let it drop! Damn, damn, damn, it's dropping! (Need more sugar. Suddenly it all becomes clear to me why people drink those sport energy drinks I previously thought were ridiculous.)
Example #3: Calories burned. Ah, when it gets really painful, there's nothing like watching that number climbing and fantasizing about all of the food I will eat later in the day. It simply amazes me how fast calories fly away when riding a bicycle. If more people rode, we wouldn't have an obesity epidemic in the USA.
I rode 71.5 miles today, a record for me. Woot! Never mind that it was completely flat with less than 1000 feet of climbing total. The first 30 miles were simple, just cruising along at 18 or 19 mph. Then I started to bonk a bit, and rode 10 miles more slowly... until I reached a town where I purchased, after long deliberation, an ice cream bar. Mmmm. I wasn't excited about the hydrogenated oils, but I figured I'd burn the 250 calories in the next 20 minutes. It simply amazes me how much sugar effects the body. It becomes rather obvious when cycling long distances. About 5 minutes after finishing my ice cream I was clipping right along at nearly 20 mph again, whereas when my blood sugar was low, it was a struggle to keep up 15 mph. I'm sure it's more complicated then all that, and if you're an expert feel free to leave a comment and enlighten me. I did start thinking I ought to read up on the physiology of cycling. Lesson learned: take more food than you need. And those nuts simply aren't enough, we're talking sugar, baby, sugar.
I was cycling through an area sort of like the delta in California. In fact, I was cycling alongside a canal (hence the extreme flatness). Hills would have been nice but I really couldn't give up the near absence of motor vehicles and relative lack of intersections. Most importantly, there were trees along either side, which kept me in the shade until 10 am or so. It's usually over 100 by noon here, and never really cools off--the low tends to be around 70. Local custom is to stay up past midnight (they won't even serve you dinner until 9 pm) and then sleep in. If you go into a town midafternoon it will look like a ghost town because everyone is resting indoors away from the heat. The few people that saw me cycling today towards the end of my ride at 1 pm or so looked at me like I was absolutely, completely, utterly insane. Indeed, I was pretty hot, with sweat dripping down every limb and all that, and the water in the canal was looking more and more inviting. I kept thinking about jumping in because my friend had recently told me he gets through the long hot rides by dousing himself with water. I didn't jump in though, mostly because I was afraid of what type of strange agricultural runoff would be in the canal... it looked very clean but I did see some growth that could indicate nitrification.