Apparently I can go on a 40 mile ride just several days after having gone on a 36 mile ride, with shorter (12 mile) rides in between. This gives me hope that I may be able to handle consecutive longer-mile days soon.
If I pace myself, I never get out of breath and experience only anaerobic (leg muscle) strain. Oddly, cycling reminds me of yoga and pilates in this regard, which I used to do in my twenties. I had never made that connection before.
I am absolutely fine without padded cycling shorts for 40 miles. But next time I will remember to pack warmer clothes, even if it's hot when I set off.
This one was surprising: Cycling long distance is more tiring for me with a partner than alone. The Co-Habitant and I seem to have different cycling rhythms. He may disagree with this, but my impression is that he starts out going as fast as he can, then slows down when he grows tired. I am the opposite: I start slow, then gradually gain energy and speed up as the ride progresses. Still, cycling together is of course more interesting.
Cycling to a beautiful and meaningful destination is highly motivating; the feeling of exploring holds my interest. I think I am ready for 50 miles. But where to?