Sometime around mid march, I decided that I was going to stop contemplating, and finally do a century (100 miles) ride on my bike. I have wanted to check this off my life’s to-do list ever since I started riding a road bike.
I sat down and mapped out a training schedule, setting aside enough time each week to get my training rides done, which included a long ride each week. These long rides got progressively longer each week. I started at 25 miles and my last long training ride was a fun 75 mile ride to Antelope Island and back.
My training was fun. It seemed to consume most of my free time, but I loved it. I could feel myself getting faster, and stronger. Routes that were really hard for me last spring, were easy to do this time around. My average speed increased by about 6-7 miles per hour. I have never trained physically for anything before, so it was thrilling to see actual progress like this. Still, though, I would have moments of self doubt and fear. I am not physically fit by any stretch of the imagination and I always had this voice in my ear telling me that I am crazy to try this.
At some point along the way, I just decided that I had put in the work to get ready and come what may, I was going to do it. Or at least die trying.
The morning of the ride the sky was dark and threatening rain. I was actually glad for this because I LOVE riding in this type of weather. Nothing sucks the energy out of me like the blazing sun, so the cool air and overcast sky was perfect.
I rode with group of awesome friends that I have been doing a lot of my training rides with. I know, I don’t match, but I’m wearing the official jersey for Little Red 2012. I bought it to commemorate the occasion. I love riding with these girls. It’s fun to have people who love to bike as much as I do, and who challenge me to be better and try harder.
This photo below is of me and Tanya, my training buddy, at the start line. I wish I looked better in a helmet. But, seriously, does anyone?
Below is the route map and I have included a little key to sort of illustrate the ride.
1} The first scheduled water/rest stop was at 14 miles, but we skipped that one. It wasn’t necessary and it’s always crowded. At 14 miles, I felt amazing and so happy to be out for this ride.
2} This was our first stop. I remember thinking that we were at mile 23, which is pretty much like one of my short training rides. We were making great time and again, I felt exhilerated and confident.
3} I think this is about the point at which it started to rain. It didn’t rain hard, but it was refreshing and welcome. I loved it and couldn’t stop thinking that we were so lucky with this weather.
4} This was the halfway point and our lunch stop. A few miles before, we were riding single file along a long streth of road with and endless line of women on their bikes. We were all moving at the same speed and drafting off the person ahead of us. I wish I would have taken a picture of it because it was so cool to see how many of there were. If I had to guess, I would say at least 50 bikers all in a row, moving together like a line of ants.
Just before lunch, I felt a surge of energy and we were making excellent time. I know it’s silly, but I love passing people on the road. Usually I am the one getting passed, and I am consantly hearing other cyclists yell, “On your left!” It’s much more fun to do the passing. The sun started to come out and it was getting a bit hot, but there was a breeze so it wasn’t bad.
5} Here is where it started to get hard for me. The sun was out in full force but we were riding into a faint head wind, so the heat wasn’t bad. I remember turning right, so the wind wasn’t on me anymore and it felt like I was in an oven. The heat was a wall. It seemed to have actual weight.
Soon after this, we started to climb the only real hills on the course. They weren’t terrible, but coupled with the brutal heat, there was one in particular that really gave me trouble. I kept looking only at the pavement in front of my tire. I didn’t want to see how much farther I had to go. I told myself to keep going, that I can’t count this as riding a century if I stop on the hills. Just keep going. I am proud to say that I did make it to the top. Thankfully, there was a scheduled water stop at the top and after dousing my head and body with ice water, I was back in business and ready to finish.
6} The finish line was approaching and my bike’s cycle computer said I still had 4 miles to go. Tanya said she really wanted her computer to say 100 on it. I told her I was done, that I did the route and was going to call it good. She looked at me and said, “I’m going to ride the last 4 miles.”
Peer pressure! But such good peer pressure!
We rode around the block and up and down streets until we had both reached the full 100 miles. Now we could cross the finish line and really be able to say we did a full century.
I am so glad she pushed me into doing those last four miles. I don’t think I would feel quite as proud of myself in saying that yes, I did my century. I rode my bike 100 miles. I did it all with my legs and lungs. I sat on that tiny seat for hours and hours and accomplished this goal I set for myself.
First thing I did when it was over was call Kelly and tell him that I did it. He said he knew I could and that he was proud of me. My boys are proud of me too. Three days later, I can walk up and down the stairs without my legs screaming and I can sit without wincing.
And there is a new spring in my step that wasn’t there before.
I am grateful for this body. It is not perfect, but it does anything I ask it to do, and through it, I experience the beautiful world in which we live. I will never say a bad word about it again, because on Saturday, June 2, 2012, it made me so proud.