Mikey is leaving today. I'm up early, Mike and Atreyu went out dancing last night so they are both lagging since they came home at 4:30 am and we're supposed to leave for the airport at 6:45. Realizing i was risking missing the ride, i decided to catch the BART from SF to the east bay rather than have Atreyu drop me off on his way back from dropping Mike at the airport. Not the way i wanted to see Mike off... and still, the training had to happen.
getting on the bike, on a cool spring morning at 7:30 am, i rode down to the bart station, excited about the adventure of the day. Definitely nervous. I mean, my longest ride was only 12.2 miles at that point. i barely understood how to shift my gears and i'd dropped my chain just a few days earlier on a hill while riding.
not to worry. i meditated on the train, thinking of Adam C. and all the ways he and his practice have encouraged me in my journey. I thought of the funds people gave me. I thought of the fact that this was the reason i was doing the ride -- for the challenge.
pulling into the pittsburgh/baypoint stop at the end of the line, i got off the train and looked at all the other riders around me. "wow... am i a biker?" clueless and unsure, i found my way to the pack where i was greeted by Dan and his brother in law Paul, two great guys that actually made it easy on me. Dan was the ride leader and his brother-in-law was so friendly and supportive, i immediately felt like i could do it and things would be great.
safety lecture, comments... a quick show of hands about experience and a joking question, "anyone's first training ride?" lots of scoffs from the group and me timidly raising my hand to say, "yeah..." people looking at me funny as if i was joking... me saying, "yeah, i'm serious."
off we go. riding through the streets. it's really different in a pack of 25. we head off... we're zipping along. 17 MPH... 22... OMG,i'm going 27 MPH... holy geez... i'm over 30 MPH. i didn't think that was possible, but with these little rolling hills, suddenly i am in a different place. the pack has definitely separated out. I'm at the end of the front of the pack.
i realize quickly stopping is the enemy and less efficient. i value efficiency -- so i slow down rather than coming to complete halts. uncertain of how long it takes to stop, i slow early and, as a result, find myself losing the lead pack. we're on main roads. What did Dan say about where we were supposed to turn? Hmmm... i have a feeling i just missed the turn. stop, check the cue sheet... yup, i'm a half mile off... turn around, go back, catch up... yeah... nice work. i pull in and everyone's super supportive. Especially Liz. Wow -- another beautiful being on a journey of body discovery. Our stories are similar.
we leave the 18 mile rest stop, i'm feeling good. off we go to the half way point at the dam. up and down... rollers they call them... short little hills that aren't really that steep, but there's lots of them in a row. i realize how important conserving momentum is and shifting. Damn, my thumbs hurt. geez... when will i feel more comfortable on the hills? Make mental note: get brakes on the straight part of the handle bar.
finally make it in to the half way point. lots of conversation, support. talk about electrolytes. What? electrolytes? i just drank a gallon of water, what are you talking about? Oh... salt? sugar? hmmm... okay, if you say so. Wow, i'm so glad they said so. i already clocked 29 miles of riding for the day... my longest ride ever. wow. i feel great. i'm tired. i'm happy. i'm realizing my whole idea about training is absolutely nuts and i need to rethink my strategy. I need more rides and miles than i thought. no problem, i can do it.
we head out, going back to the starbucks. I'm slower than everyone else, but i get there, and still, surprisingly, after 44 miles, feeling pretty good. we start off again. lots of start and stop on the main road. i'm grateful for it. my quads are starting to get super sore. woah. only 48 miles. keep pushing. wow. small hills. only 50 miles? how am i ever going to do this? what am i thinking? 51 miles? stopping. have to breath. my god i didn't know my legs could be this sore from such a simple thing.
5.4 mph riding? what is my problem?
only one rider behind me... except the other ride leader John. I think i can make it... there's only a few more miles to get to the BART station... we take a rest. Dan comes back... saying he'll get his van to pick up the other rider and John. He and I take off. small hill -- i can do it... geez... only 53 miles? I stop at the next hill, realizing i am literally out of energy. oh geez. thanks Liz for those shot blocks (pure carbs)... i had just hit my wall. i walk the bike up the hill. a small hill. i climbed bigger ones that day, but it was really too much for me in that moment. we're only 2 miles from the BART Dan says. he's encouraging me, telling me how good a job i did, reminding me that every thing i ride now is a personal record for me.
renewed will... i get on the bike for the final push... lord, i wonder if i can make it... pumping an average of 6.5 MPH, crying as i do it, i finally make it over the hill... i'm shaking. wow. what did i just do?
Dan gives me carbs... Paul congratulates me... Liz yells to me from the car, let's be tentmates -- yeah! i'm so glad i found her!
I BART home... crying most of the way. text page Mikey, still stuck in DC on his way home... i'm glad he gave me the pep talk he did. i wonder... how am i ever going to do this? absolutely the hardest thing i've ever done physically... so far. I get off the bart, feeling a little better... and get back on the bike to ride it home. so glad that last bit of the miles i put on today are basically downhill. My ass is sore.
so glad to be in Atreyu's arms... holding me as i describe the whole thing, crying, shaking, sunburned, worn, raw... and proud of an unbelievable accomplishment i would never have though i could do 10 years ago... hell, 10 days ago.