Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What the Hell am I Doing?, Part III: The Ride

When I got up Sunday morning, I felt pretty good. My legs were a little shaky, but considering I had just run farther than I had ever in my life only the day before, I was feeling alright.

The weather report was not promising for the ride. They were calling for a high of 55 degrees with intermittent rain throughout the morning.

Katie and the kids came outside to see me off.

Considering my physical condition and the weather outlook, I decided to take a laid back approach to the ride. I had initially intended to ride 46 miles, but if it really started to rain or my legs were not feeling up to it, I would just cut it short. I also promised myself I was not going to push real hard. I wanted to keep my pace about 15 mph.

From the start, you could tell that the weather was keeping some folks away. The registration tent was nearly vacant and there were very few riders out on the course. A couple of miles into the ride, a father/daughter team from Mahomet came riding up. They were nice and we rode together to the first rest area. We talked about the route (I had probably ridden this stretch 10 times), and checked out each others gear. They were riding hybrids, so I wasn't too envious, but they did have GPS computers on their rides. I thought that was pretty cool, but when they told me how much they cost, I knew it was only a pipe dream.

When we reached the first rest stop, I got off to use the potty and get something to eat; the couple kept going. I evaluated how I was feeling and to tell you the truth I was feeling great. My legs had loosened up and I figured the food would keep my energy up.

When I got out on the road again, I took a turn towards the east, and the wind was picking up. I quickly caught up with the couple form Mahomet, who were wearing rain jackets. The wind was really slowing them down, as it caught their jackets like a parachute. When we reached the first cutoff for the 16 mile ride I knew I had more in me. The couple stuck it out for another 2 miles or so then called it a day. It had started to sprinkle a little and I think the daughter was not prepared for the ride.

So I continued to ride alone for the next 5 miles or so. I ate a kashi bar and drank a little Gatorade. I eventually caught u with an older gentleman that was taking a very leisurely ride. we chatted a bit and I continued on. Very soon i came to a Y in in the road, and the sign the riding club put up said to go right, but the painted arrow int eh road said to go left. A kid in one of the yards said the a couple riders had just gone left. I was very unsure if that was correct, but i went with it any way. Soon I passed another rider that looked like they had packed for a weekend trip. She had a saddle bag the size of a carry on tied to her bike and all kinds of "stuff" clipped on to her handle bars. she seemed overly prepared, but suddenly I began to think maybe I was under-prepared. I passed by her with a "Hello" and kept on riding.

When I came to the next town, I knew I had taken a wrong turn (darn kid was probably back in his yard laughing at me). No longer were there any signs about which direction to go, and I was coming up on a pretty busy state highway. I took out the map and got oriented; I waited for the rider that I just passed, in case she did not know her way either. We got back on the right track and eventually I left her pretty far behind.

I had been maintaining a pretty steady 15 mph, inching closer to 16 every so often. I did notice that it had been 20 miles since the last rest stop and I needed to pee. Finally, at mile 30 I reached the next stop. I used the potty again, and ate another banana and bag of trail mix. I refilled my water bottles, stretched my legs and was ready to go.

I only had 16 miles left and physically I was feeling great. So I decided to push it a little bit for the last leg. And when I say a little bit, I mean I buried the needle. I rode as hard and as fast as I could go. The rain began to pick up a little, so I was glad I was nearly done.

When I finally finished, I was very pleased. I had ridden 46 miles in a little under 3 hours. Overall there was nothing really that exciting about the ride, but it was fun.

And for the weekend, I could not have been happier. I completed my goals, in times that I was very comfortable with, and I had a lot of fun doing it. For the next few weeks I will probably stop running and focus solely on riding, since the 175 mile MS bike ride is less than a month away.

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