I've posted several times over the last few weeks about the 104 mile bike ride I was going to attempt on Saturday. Let me give you a little background:
I got my road bike 2 weeks ago.
I got my mountain bike a month ago.
As of Saturday I had ridden my mountain bike a total of about 20 miles over 4 different rides.
As of Saturday I had ridden my road bike once for a total of 7 miles.
I didn't even know how to put my hands on the handle bars or that I had three chain rings on the front or how to hold my hands on the handle bars or a host of other things that might have been a good idea to know about before I attempted to ride 104 miles.
I only slept for one hour on Friday night. I wasn't nervous, but between the dog that barked in 20 minute intervals and the dishwasher that started to run at 2am, I couldn't settle in for any quality sleep.
So, with all of that said I was sortof nervous about what the hell I got myself into by agreeing to do this.
We started Saturday and I was really nervous. I wasn't sure what all this entailed. I wasn't sure how I'd hold up. I wasn't sure that I wasn't a serious danger for everyone else. While the weather was the best we could have asked for, the first 8 miles were tough. I felt like I was really out of shape as I do not have cycling legs and realizing that fact was not a good feeling with only 8 miles under my belt. But, on the bright side, I had made it one more mile than I ever had before! 8 miles turned into 15 and Justin and Tossie were doing a great job of helping me out...telling me which gears I needed to get in and how to ride on someone's wheel (real scary and I don't think I ever got used to it!). 15 miles turned into 22 and I was thinking that, while my arms were killing me for the death grip I had on the handlebars, I was actually having fun. We stopped in Madison and rested, had some food (holy crap Sandra is such a great SAG ho!), and I practiced pulling my water bottle out while riding (who knew that would be the hardest part of the entire ride?) We got back on the road with another 25 miles or so to go to Monticello where we'd stop for lunch. I was pretty excited as the first 22 were great, the next 25 would be a walk (or ride) in the park, right?
Well, not so much. We got back on the road and within minutes my legs were screaming at me. I guess they thought we were done back in Madison and they had sortof had enough of this! The gang split up and for several miles it was just Troy and I riding along...him trying to pull me, me telling him I was done...it was alot more difficult than I thought it would be! On the bright side, I wasn't pulling up the rear and I wasn't the first one to call it quits. Those two things were what kept me going to Shady Dale, our next stop.
We stopped in Shady Dale and had some watermelon (dang Sandra, you are GOOD at this!) and a few people realized that this was my first real ride and that every mile we crossed was new territory for me. Even though I was hating life I was wondering if I really could finish the entire 104 miles?? We got back on the road with only 8 miles left to Monticello. I thought...piece of cake...I've made it 40-something miles...8 will be e-a-s-y.
Right. I guess "easy" was a serious overstatement! I couldn't figure out I had already made it 40+ miles, why were those 8 so hard?!?! The huge hill at the end didn't help matters at all. But again, Justin and Tossie were there cheering me on, pulling me up the hills, and reminding me when I was not doing something that would help my efficiency.
As we came into Monticello, I sort of felt like I did when I finished my first marathon. I couldn't believe that I had made it 50 miles. I couldn't believe that I had even made it more than 10 miles. I couldn't believe that, except for a little pain my arms (need to work on moving my arms around!), I actually felt great! The sun was starting to come out and I was just enjoying the fact that I had actually made it this far on my very first real ride. And it was with that excitement and pride in myself that I decided to call it quits at 50 miles. I wanted to end my first long ride (or ride ride for that matter) with a smile on my face and a beer in my hand. And that's exactly what I did (Sandra....420s.....just too good at what you do!). I ate lunch, reveled in the fact that I felt like a superstar, and climbed in the truck to hang with Sandra for the next 4 hours.
Let me tell you, what I witnessed over the next 50 miles made me very very thankful that I decided to stop when I did. The group really split up over the next 50 miles with a few guys riding solo for long long periods of hills, hills, and more hills. The heat had started to kick in which just made me even more thankful that I made the decision that I did. I would have really pulled up the rear and probably caused a few people to have to ride alot slower than they would have wanted to. Besides that, I'm certain that I would have felt like crap at the end which was something I really tried to avoid.
I became Troy's personal SAG getting him water and gatorade at each stop, cheering him on, and telling him that he really didn't look as bad as he kept saying he felt. Remember Troy? The guy who runs 12 miles once and then runs a marathon in 4 hours and 30 minutes? Well, in true Troy fashion, he hadn't been on his bike since the triathlon in May and before that, the triathlon last September but was still plugging along. At the Juliette stop, with a little over 20 miles to go, he told me that he may end up having to quit. I just told him, yeah right, get back on your bike and stop being so silly. But, actually I was really worried about him. Maybe all this non-training was going to catch up with him shortly. He rode with Scott the rest of the way which I think helped him get back into the groove of finishing what he started, while the other guys headed on. Oh, I should mention that 2 of the guys in the front pack had never ridden this far either and one of them was on a mountain bike! We made on more stop on Pea Ridge Road before heading back to Sandra and Justin's house to cheer everyone in (except Celeste...who beat the pants off of all those guys finishing way ahead of the rest of the group...I guess cycling 900+ miles across Nova Scotia a month ago really made 104 miles look like a Sunday stroll). Sandra and Justin capped off the ride with a great party, lots of beer and pizza, and the infamous "shock box."
As I sit here now and realize that I'm only half-crazy for making it 50 miles on my first ride, I am amazed at myself. I don't feel like I give myself enough credit for what I'm capable of doing. I typically settle for mediocrity because then I don't have to beat myself up for not giving it my all. I think making it 50, or 10 miles for that matter, has made me have a better appreciation and more respect for myself. I am capable of doing the things I want to. I am capable of doing things that I wasn't born to do. And I AM capable of feeling like a superstar more often.
Thanks to all of you for pulling me along yesterday, telling me I was doing great, and just being there to show me the ropes. Justin, Sandra, Tossie, and Troy: you guys made this all worth while and for that I thank you!