63.18 miles, or How I Spent My Saturday
This past Saturday, July 23, I rode with some friends and coworkers in the Tour de Cure to benefit the American Diabetes Association. There were four different ride levels: 5 miles, 15 miles, 32 miles, and the metric “Century” ride (62 miles). Being my somewhat adventurous self, I signed up for the 62 miler, along with my friend and work cohort Kim (whose husband, Matt, is a bad-ass cyclist that joined us as well). I did that with every intention of training hard for it as I did the marathon.
Well, as always, time got the best of me. My “training” fell by the wayside as work and musical rehearsals moved to the front burner. I even had to borrow a bike for the ride, as I wasn’t about to attempt a 62-miler on my near-death mountain bike. But, my procrastination aside, let’s move on to the event…
I awoke at 4AM in the morning to eat a big-calorie breakfast (just as I did for the marathon) and gather all of my supplies. I hit the speedway around 6AM, then met up with Matt and Kim to tweak my borrowed bike to my size (as well as switch out the pedals). Once we all gathered, we headed over to the starting line to get going.
The beginning of the ride was incredible. They let us all go around the track of the Texas Motor Speedway once before embarking on our long journey, which was a really cool experience. Some of us even took off up the steep embankments of the corners (which was SCARY, but fun as hell!). Once around, we pedaled through the north tunnel and out into the countryside.
I have to say, with this being my first organized ride event, the rest stops were AWESOME. They had them set up around 8 or so miles apart (could’ve been ten, I wasn’t really counting), and they had everything from fruit, water and Gatorade (or Powerade) to pretzels, pickle juice, peanut butter sandwiches and more. It was EPIC. I had packed food and things in the back of my jersey, but I wouldn’t have had to really. It was tops.
I felt really good until about mile 15 or 16, where I started to feel a bit nauseous. I can’t say why I felt that way, as it quickly subsided and I was fine. In fact, I still felt pretty fresh at the turnaround (approx. 32 miles). It wasn’t until about mile 36 or 37 that my body slowly began rejecting my intentions. My left calf (which gave me a quite a time during the marathon) began cramping up, though it never fully locked down like it did whilst running Cowtown. Once we hit the fifth rest stop, I ate some pickles and some other stuff, and I felt better.
The most challenging part of the route came in the form of a very long and steep hill between rest stops five and six (around mile 47 or so). At this point, I had already gone around seven miles further than I’ve ever ridden at one time before. So, I was already fairly tired. Kim was in the same boat. However, we trudged along as best we could.
Kim felt really rough afterward, so we made an impromptu pit stop in the shade so she could cool down a bit. At the realization that the next rest stop was about a mile away, we continued on. Once we reached rest stop #6, we sat in the shade for a while until Kim felt better. By then, it was getting really hot and the riders were thinning out (by the last rest stop, I think there were only ten riders behind us). But Kim, being ever the tough one, decided she could stick it out the rest of the way in.
Though “the hill” (as it’s now dubbed… by me) was the most physically-challenging aspect of the course for me, the segment between rest stop 7 and the finish line was the most mentally challenging. We had reached 61 miles, and had one more long uphill climb to make (though not the last incline). With the Speedway in sight, I pedaled harder and faster. However, I couldn’t maintain that rhythm more than about a quarter of the way up, so I slowed down considerably.
I really did, for about 30 seconds, want to walk the bike up the rest of that incline. But, my senses kicked back in, and I spent the rest of the time internally cursing at my muscles to ‘MUSH! MUSH!” until I reached the level area of road. It was tough, but once we reached the north end of the Speedway again, I knew I could make it the rest of the way.
We pedaled hard into the north tunnel, then up the final little incline to reach the finish line. Overall, we went approximately 63.18 miles (so sayeth the Garmin… haha). The finish line was a bit anti-climactic, as almost all of the crowd had dispersed (see earlier comments about only ten riders being behind us), and all but one of our other team members had already left. However, even though I was incredibly exhausted, I felt amazing.
Afterward, I rested for a while, then played a large chunk of our indoor soccer league game. I felt a bit insane for even entertaining that idea, but I did it anyway… haha. I even performed rather well considering.
Next up: Now that I’ve been bitten by the cycling bug, I really want to train for a full century ride (100 miles). I think that, with proper training this time, I could knock it out rather swimmingly. Also, I do still want to participate in some sprint triathlons. However, my next big endurance events will be the Austin Marathon and the Cowtown Half Marathon double feature.