While wandering around on Saturday night I kept hearing rumors that the weather on day two was going to be even hotter. The general consensus was that we'd have to get up even earlier to get most of the ride in before it got too hot. This was not promising. I managed to get into my sleeping bag by around 9pm... but there was no way I was going to be up for a 5am start time. I didn't even bother setting the alarm on my phone. I'd just sleep as long as I could. This turned out to be not nearly as long as I would have liked.
I woke up at about 4am to the sound of bike cleats on the gym floor. Everyone had been very respectful of people sleeping - and aside from some rustling and snoring - it had been quiet all night. But there's simply no way for that many people to get ready in silence.
Grrrrr.... I rolled over and tried to ignore it. Never mind riding another hundred miles - I didn't want to *move*. I finally got up to go to the bathroom feeling like a zombie. My butt was still sore and my calf muscles were locked up... I could barely open my eyes. I shuffled back to my sleeping bag and agonized for a few minutes about whether or not to call it quits. I knew I didn't have 100 miles in me physically... but mentally - I'm stubborn. I'd spent the day before imagining myself crossing the finish line and thinking about how bad-ass it would be to do all 200 miles - despite riding alone, despite my heavy bike, despite my lack of training... I can do anything!!
This is that mental challenge that people were telling me about. Mentally - I was there. Physically however... my body was screaming no. I sent a text message to my support person back home "I'm not doing this - come get me in Centralia, call me when you wake up." But I knew she wouldn't be awake for hours, so I started trying to figure out how to spend my day in Centralia. Ugh.
It was only 4:45am, but by this point I was well and truly awake. The gym was practically empty, everyone was already on the road - trying to beat the heat. I headed off to the shower and changed into my normal clothes. I started packing up all my gear. I expected to be the last one left in Centralia - but when I exited the gym I saw a ton of people milling about. Some folks still in their tents, others in line for coffee, as well as a bunch of folks just starting out on their bikes.
|Centralia college - 6am|
The mental / physical debate started up again... it's not really too late to start. I'm walking now, so I can't be too bad off. I stood for a while, indecisive. I overheard a couple of older guys talking about the ride, one of them was still in street clothes. Finally he said "Oh heck - I'll ride today." I laughed and said I was trying to decide the same thing. He stopped and thought for a moment.
"Have you had any caffeine yet?" he asked.
"Well, have a coffee and then decide".
The old dude had a point. I'd only had an apple and some trail mix... and it was still obscenely early. I grabbed my phone and texted my friend "Fuck it - I'm riding. Call me when you wake up." I knew I wouldn't make it 100 miles, but at least I could be further on down the road by the time she was ready to get me. I quickly changed into riding gear and took my luggage to the moving van. I got my bike out of the corral and was on my way. It was only 6am.
Seattle to Portland - Day 2
Mile 100 - This isn't so bad.
Mile 101 - Actually... it really is. My butt does not want to be in this bike seat, my legs are stiff, and I'm still really tired.
Mile 102 - My butt hurts, but if I shift a bit I can relieve the pressure a bit.
Mile 103 - A hill - this early, are you kidding me?
Mile 104 - Ok - now this part of my butt hurts, but if I shift a bit... hmmm...
Mile 105 - First rest stop of the day.
A local community group is cooking up a pancake breakfast on their lawn. I pull over and load up on eggs, sausage, pancakes, and yes - coffee. Well, about half cream and sugar, half coffee - but it's caffeine. The guys at my table are veterans of the ride - they're talking about gears and ratios and I don't understand a word of it. One of them jokes about passing a granny on a beach cruiser going up The Hill yesterday. I laugh and say "I'm pretty sure that was me." We chat a bit... and I mention that someone had told me there would be banana bread at the top of the hill - but I didn't see it yesterday.
"Oh, no... we haven't gotten to that hill yet - that's today." he tells me.
"There's another big hill???" I cringe.
"Yeah - it's not quite as tall as the one yesterday - it's just longer." he says this as though it's supposed to reassure me.
"I thought today was just rollers"
"Yeah the big hill first, then it's just rollers."
I finish up my breakfast and head out again.
Mile 106 - Owwwwiiiieeee.
Mile 107 - maybe if I shift a bit....well, now my lady bits are squished but at least my butt doesn't hurt as much.
Mile 110 - The OTHER hill. Head down, granny gears, owie owie owie, just keep pedaling.
Mile 111 - At the top of the banana-bread hill I get a text - my friend is up and willing to come get me, we just have to figure out where. My route map is in the bottom of my back-pack on a moving van somewhere along I-5, so I ask around until someone knows where the first official rest stop is - Lexington Riverside Park. Rescue secured, I feel a lot better.
Mile 112 - except that my butt hurts.
Mile 113 - and it's actually really cold out.
Mile 114 - here come the "rollers"... which is really just a fancy word for more hills.
Mile 117 - The people passing me are saying obnoxiously chipper things like "Good morning!" and I kind of want to throw a stick in their spokes.
Mile 120 - maybe if I shift again... no, now that just hurts in a brand new way.
Mile 123 - more hills? Are you fucking kidding me?
Mile 125 - I'm really trying to use my momentum from the downhills to carry me up the next... but I always lose momentum about half way up... and I can't seem to click it into gear just right to carry me up. It's a struggle each time.
Mile 127 - Where are the cowbells? How come no one is out with their cowbells??
Mile 130 - For the first time, I'm stopping at the tops of the hills, just to get a breather and to get off the bike seat a bit.
Mile 133 - It's really quite cold out, on the up-hill it's not bad, but going down I'm freezing - where's the heat everyone was promising? Also - my butt hurts.
Mile 135.5 - How have I not gone not 8 miles yet!?!
Mile 136 - For serious my butt really hurts. On the Hyperbole and a Half pain scale I think I went from a 3 "This is distressing, I don't want this to be happening to me at all" to 6 "Ow, ok, my pain is super legit right now." over the course of the morning.
Mile 140 - "on your left" "on your left"
Mile 141 - @#%%$^ %#^*& @#$%! %!$^&&** !() @$%!!
Mile 143 - Lexington Riverside Park. I'm done. I'm done done done-ity done. It's the half-way point for the day, but it's the end for me. I set Snowflake on the ground and grab a couple of snacks. Right at that moment, my friend texts me that she's pulling into the park. I see her and all but run to the car. Get me out of here!
|Don't cry because it happened... smile because it's over!|
She tells me "You look pretty good!" I tell her "That's because I know I'm going home."
Also, she brought her doggies with her:
|Puppy action shot|
Mile 151 - "Hey - can we stop at Burgerville?" - "You just finished a long ass ride - we can stop wherever you want" Yum!!!
Mile 153 - Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Mile 155 - "Waah huh? Was that thunder?" Bang! Crash! The lightning flashed, and well, that's another story, never mind anyway....
Mile 160 - Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Mile 199 - "Should I take you home?" "No, my keys are with my luggage - I need to go pick them up at the finish line."
Mile 201 - "Ok - just drop me off here."
Mile 202 - I am a horrible human being. I am just genuinely a horrible human being. I needed to get my luggage and the only way I could think of to get back to the baggage pick-up was to re-join the ride. Like... a block or two before the finish line. And I had to cross the street at a red-light, so I ended up in front of a whole group of riders who had presumably not escaped the thunderstorm by snoozing in a car for the past 50+ miles.
Oh well, I had to laugh. Everyone was cheering and waving and ringing their cowbells. I knew that technically I cheated, but I'd worked hard so I high-fived a couple of kids and smiled for the camera. I will probably not, however, be paying $60 for the commemorative CD of all the ride photos.
Seattle to Portland ride - Day 2 over!
I got home, took a nice warm bath, puttered around online for a bit, and then fell asleep by 3pm. I got up a few times and puttered around a bit more, but pretty much slept until my alarm went off at 5:30am for work. I woke up sore, but not incapacitated.
So, lessons learned? Training matters, gear matters, support matters. The mental aspect is important, but at some point you just can't ignore the physical aspect. And this is an important thing for me to pay attention to. I'm a thinky-thoughts kind of person - I live in my brain and don't pay enough attention to my body. I have been trying to get better about that in the past couple of years - eating better, indulging in massages & pedicures, and biking for fun and exercise. But now I've kind of gone too far in the other direction - forcing my body to do more than it was really capable of. There is a fine line between challenging myself and masochism!
Am I going to sign up for StP next year? I'm not sure. Of course the stubborn part of me wants a rematch. I want to prove to myself that I can do it. But the sensible part of me knows that I'll need to get the gear, training, and support sorted out if I want to do it. And that's not easy, or cheap. I have actually been eyeing a carbon frame road bike that would run me around $3,000 - $6,000 depending on the components.
Then there's the clipless pedals for $40 and shoes for another $100, even just padded shorts would run me around $70. Serious training would take the better part of each weekend for a few months... and finding a team that rides at a similar pace would take some time & commitment too. How far down this rabbit hole do I want to go?
How far down this rabbit hole do I want to go while still in grad school?
I might do one more organized ride this year - one official century so I can say I did it properly. But I think that'll have to be my limit until I'm out of school. The StP can go on the bucket list to do someday.
Until then, I think I'm going to just go back to my old riding group (the appropriately named "NumBunz") - 40 miles around town and finishing with lunch and a beer. That I know I can accomplish!