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Monday, March 31, 2014

March: Center SpringFest Metric Century (a.k.a. my first ride)

For my first ever official road race, I knew I would need to train up:
  • Cardio - I ran regularly more than zero times since that February 5k
  • Technique - I got on a bike for the first time in 10 years.  And did that at least four times!  And I'm not even talking about the stationary bike, so we're serious here.
  • Endurance - Rode 10 miles with Sean one Saturday to see how I'd hold up.  We did stop somewhere in the middle to pet some puppies that were up for adoption, but we can just call that a water break, right?
  • Mental preparation - I signed us up, so it was do or die.  Or forfeit the registration fee.  So as I said, do or die.
What could go wrong?
The ride we signed up for was only the 23 miler, which I was assured by friends and family that a newbie like me could complete.  After all, I was not going for time, just survival. 

Then, a week before the ride, I get an email.  "Lucky you!  More miles for your dollar!"

Come again?

Due to construction, there had to be a little rerouting for the ride.  The new path was 30 miles now.  I know that adding seven miles to a 63 mile ride is no big deal, but I'm signed up for the 23 miler!  I've never done this before!  I'M NEVER GOING TO MAKE IT!  

(Spoiler alert - I made it)

Sean talked some sense into me and we agreed not to bail.  The ride was out in Sealy (beautiful countryside, some terrible roads), so Sean and I got up before dawn to head out of town.  We stuffed both bikes in my Camry (do what you gotta do) drove 45 minutes out to Sealy, unpacked and reassembled our bikes, and headed over to the starting line.  I'll admit, I was pretty nervous about the beginning of the group ride.  If one rider goes down, we ALL go down.  I wasn't worried about falling so much as about being that person.  That person who ends up being part of a post like this because she fell at the starting line and took down half the riders.  Geez, doesn't she know how to ride a bike?

Luckily, my shaky start did not cause a mass wreck, so my first goal was done!  Survival of the starting line!  I even managed to flip my pedals and get my feet in my cages in the mass of people.  Sound tricky?  You're right, it is.

Once we got going, I was feeling pretty good.  Sean and I caught up to a woman who was taking a slow and steady pace that he thought I could manage.  We kept pace and I was feeling pretty professional (mile 8ish).  Then Sean mentioned that he needed a bathroom break.  Fine by me - I'm just along for the ride.  Just ahead is a little country store and the neon is on!  Open for business at 8am!  It must be meant for us, right?

Wrong.  Sean didn't like the look of it for his potty stop.  So we kept riding.  Into the countryside.  With no more country stores.  Another mile or so.

Sean: "Ok, I've really got to go."

Me: "Ok pull over.  How about that tree?"

Sean: "No! People will SEE me!"

Another half a mile.

Me: "What about behind that wall?"

Sean: "That is someone's property!  I can't do that!"  (Fair enough, but it was the driveway, and I was suggesting he go on the other side of the wall, not the driveway side.  Desperate times and all that).

Another half mile or so, and Sean is sort of groaning at this point.  I'm a little concerned he's going to die.  Because I'm pretty convinced that if the country store wasn't good enough, he's certainly not going to just go for it.  Luckily for hubs we come across a little country lane that is BETWEEN properties and has LOTS of trees.  He tumbles off his bike and takes care of business.  Irony of ironies, that's when a ride marshall passes by... 

but luckily does not see us.  Crisis averted.  Let the adventure continue!

Now that I had my sunshiny ride partner back instead of the panic-stricken fellow I had been following, our ride took a turn for the better.  Morale was up.  The actual sun came out, and warmed us up from the chilly morning that had been numbing our fingers and noses.  We got past the roughest roads and were enjoying the new pavement.  We were still fighting a pretty strong headwind, but that's so much better in the sunshine.

We made it halfway through the ride to the pit stop.  There were peanut butter sandwiches, bananas, cookies, water, and plenty of other tasty power snack options.  There were also port-a-potties.  And nice, clean ones.  Poor Sean.

After a quick snack break and selfie, we got back on the road.  The weather had turned b-e-a-utiful and we were having a blast.  Laughing and cruising and just all around enjoying ourselves.  We were making good time; our headwind had become a tailwind since the trail was a loop and we were past the turnaround.  We knew we were getting close and just had one more leg to go!

We take a left, following some riders in front of us, and the path stops looking familiar.  The course looped back around on the same path, so it should look familiar.  We pull over, and sure enough, we had taken a wrong turn.  We were not the only ones stopped on our incorrect road, and luckily we were not far from our last turn.  We all head back, picking up other riders who had apparently made the same mistake.  We get to the intersection, and the right turn doesn't look familiar either.  However, it's a three-way intersection, so the right turn has to be right, right?

Wrong.  A mile down the road, we figure that we're lost again.  There are other riders going the other way, saying that now we've made a wrong turn.  Well shoot.  You may be thinking, "oh, at least it's just a mile - not too bad."  Wrong.  Remember how the ride had already gotten longer?  Well that mile was mile 27ish.  And we were not even close to the finish line.  We pull up the ride map again, and it looks like that intersection should have been four ways!  Well if we weren't able to find AN ENTIRE ROAD we figured we might as well just take the road we're on.  We could see from Google that it would eventually get us to the finish, it was just the looooonnggg way back.

I would like to tell you that I was brave.  That I was all "hakuna matata and get on your bikes!  We'll have a great time!  We'll feel successful and make it in record speed!"

But I wasn't.  I was way past my limit and being lost was that last straw.  I was tired and hungry and sore and worst of all, we were now back to battling that headwind as we looped around.  I cried a little was not a very happy camper.

But y'all, I MADE IT!  35 miles!  Sure, my legs were jello and I slept the rest of the day, but who's here to judge?  Sean and I will chock this one up to a "bonding experience," and I'll cross March off the list.  Happy riding!