Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Ride: Impromptu Century

So this happened today:

For full stats, you can click on the link in the "Garmin Connect" widget in the lower right-hand column of this blog.
How, you ask?  Simple:  I got on a bike at 6:30am and didn't get off again until 1:30pm.  (Okay, okay, so I did get off a couple of times in between -- as you can see from the chart, I was actually riding for only 5 hours and 48 minutes; that lost hour-and-twelve-minutes was devoted to pit stops and snacks.)

Why, you ask?  Ummm, because that's what happens when you hang out with people who are training for Ironman triathlons.  Consider yourself warned.  Here's how it all went down:

[Wednesday afternoon.  At work.]

Chris:  I'm going on an 85-mile training ride on Saturday.  Want to come? 

Me:  Sure!

[That night it occured to me that I'd only ridden my bike, like, three times this entire spring, and none of those rides had been longer than 35 miles.]

Me:  So, um, how long do you think it'll take to ride 85 miles?  [Code for how fast are you going to ride, and am I going to die?]

Chris:  I dunno, probably 5 hours or so.  Just a comfortable, rolling pace.

[Comfortable? No way was 85 miles going to be comfortable. And for FIVE HOURS? How were we not going to starve to death? My usual approach of munching on a few snacks by the lake with the water lilies (or, in extremis, stopping at a McDonald's) surely wasn't going to mesh with the triathlon training regime. So I did a little research and found an entire book devoted to how not to die (including by starvation) while riding a bike. I read that book.]

Chris:  [Last night] Update on the ride: A couple of my friends from the DC Tri Club are going to join us on the ride, so let's all meet at 7:00 am at the intersection of M Street and Key Bridge.

[Oh no! Other people!]

Me:  Great!  I'll be there.  P.S. I feel a little intimidated.

Chris:  I think you'll be fine, though fair warning the two people riding are fast and somewhat competitive (though really nice). Also, it looks like it'll be raining.  Will be fun but a bit hard.

[Crap. Eighty-five miles with nice, competitive people in the rain. I didn't even know what color lenses I was supposed to wear in the rain! (Turns out Google had the answer to that question.)]

Chris:  [The next morning -- 7am at the rendez-vous point] Ready for this?

Me:  Sure! I'm not so worried about the distance [a complete lie] but I am a little nervous about riding that distance with folks I don't know [God's honest truth], so I'm making no promises! If I can't keep up, I'll just call it a day and pack it in. [pause] Or . . . .

Chris:  Or you'll just force yourself to keep up anyway, knowing that you're completely Type A and competitive and willing to spend the rest of the day recovering on your couch.

Me:  Um, yeah, pretty much. [Gosh, was it that obvious?]

Two seconds later, Erin and Brody pulled up on two of the most tricked out tri bikes I'd ever seen, looking for all the world like the intense, competitive triathletes they were reputed to be.  Hellos all around, and then we were off! 

Many hours -- and many miles -- later, I dismounted back at my apartment, totally happy; totally encrusted in dried sweat and sticky gnats.

Don't be fooled by my general hotness --
at this point I was completely disgusting and NOT sweet-smelling
Not only had I survived, but I'd had a blast. The others were clearly all very strong riders, but so, apparently, was I (surprise!).  I had no problem matching the pace they set -- it was challenging, but in the exhilarating "I can totally do this if I push myself" way.  It was fun to ride with the group and feel motivated by the others' energy.  It was fun to feel my body healthy and strong and working like a machine.  And it was fun to see those miles tick by.

Speaking of miles, how did the original 85 miles turn into 100 miles?  That's a no-brainer.  By the time we'd gotten back to the initial rendez-vous point, I'd done the 85 miles, plus the additional 5 miles that I'd ridden to get from my apartment to the bridge in the first place.  I thought to myself, "90 miles? Sounds weak. Better top it off and get the full 100."  So I did.

Not without regret, though.  Those last 10 miles were as hard to get as the first 60 had been.  After the bridge my companions had all gone their separate ways, and I discovered what an enormous difference it makes to ride in a group instead of alone.  All that moral support, friendly competition, and chitchat were gone -- my thighs, calves and butt had my undivided attention for the first time in six hours, and they were NOT happy.

But it's not like I could just give up, right? I mean, seriously, what descendent of Mormon pioneers gives up at the end of a hundred-mile bike ride just because his legs are tired?  There weren't even any freezing rivers to cross! So I pressed on and reminded myself that all this suffering would simply add to the bragging rights (and the inevitable blog post; suddenly all those pioneer diaries made more sense -- THEY WERE BLOGS!)

Besides, having read up not only on what to eat before and during a long ride, but also on what to eat after a long ride, I knew that my screaming legs would be getting all the tender loving care they needed before too long.  And by "tender loving care" I mean "carbohydrates and protein." 

For carbohydrates, I opted for banana waffles with 100% pure maple syrup . . .

which I ate standing up because, well . . . BECAUSE I'D JUST SPENT SIX HOURS SITTING ON A TINY TRIANGLE
and for protein, I busted out my trusty keg of trainer-approved protein powder and made a nice cold chocolate protein shake . . .

which I drank lying in fetal position on the floor of my shower until the
crystallized sweat and gnats started to melt and run into my eyeballs and I had to
wash my face to avoid going blind and catching malaria.
Needless to say, the rest of the day will be pretty low-key.  My legs have been loving the couch as I sit here and write this blog post.  In a few minutes, after I hit "publish", I'll probably run to Home Depot and pick up some gardening supplies (I bought flowers yesterday! too many to fit into my pots!) and see if I can find a pet store with pond-friendly goldfish (time to replace the Elijah-fish!).  Then it's off to the movie theatre, where I'll meet up with Amy and see Ironman 3 in 3D.  Because flashy Hollywood action-figure entertainment is exactly what I want right now.
Give me a couple weeks, though, and I may just get the itch to do this all again.  Apparently Chris and company are planning to ride Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah National Park . . . . Stay tuned!

1 comment:

Ashley said...

Great post! You can always make me laugh! But way to have some guts... I'd have curled up in the fetal position just at the thought of 100 miles. Btw - your teeth are looking good!