We were working on our Cycling Merit Badge. Every week we knew what our Scout activity would be. To get ready for a 50 mile trip we would need several 10-12 mile trips to build up to it. Our leader was my cousin. He liked biking and it was a good way for him to keep somewhat fit. He planned out a safe route through country roads. Another leader, usually my dad, would follow us, with hazard lights flashing, in his car.
It was cool that we could bike right from the church parking lot where we had our Scout meetings. We started early on the first trip. We had to gut it out to get back at a reasonable hour. I think it took us about an hour and twenty minutes. We shaved it down to an hour and then to 45 minutes. That was quite the feat for all of us to do. Not everyone was in very athletic shape. We started increasing the mileage to 15 miles and even 20 on a Saturday or two.
The 50 miler was going to be daunting. We packed water and lunches. We set out. I remember sweating a ton, feeling exhausted at midpoint and not wanting to check on others as much as before, along with bigger hills for longer stretches. The downhill of course was great. The uphill was not as good. One kid had never quite figured out what gears to switch into and how to do it in stride. He must have been extremely tired. I remember stopping a little farther than the halfway point, a nice surprise, and in good timing. We actually felt so revitalized after lunch. Our bodies were not only ready to go again but the remaining miles felt more like the cool down phase rather than too much exertion. It’s the farthest I ever intend to go on a bike, however.