Saturday, June 07, 2008

the finish

Most of my life i have been at the front of the pack in everything i do. what a radically different experience to be at the end of the pack... perhaps the 20th rider to the end. pulling into the VA center in LA i screamed with joy like i never have before... high fives to riders as i passed them and they congratulated me... tears of joy, relief, pride... pain... release... so much emotion.

i did not think i could do it. that's a rare experience for me. so glad to have done what i did and gotten where i did.

i sat under a tree and cried for a while... glad to be done. too wiped out to deal with closing ceremonies, i simply wanted to be in Atreyu's arms. we finally connected... a beautiful reunion. so grateful to have him in my life and by my side.

slipping away as the riders went into closing ceremonies, i found myself grateful to leave when i did.

pretty much the only place on my body not sore were my ears and elbows. my face was wind chapped and sunburned. my eyes burning -- from the sun, the sunblock, the crying. my legs, ass, arms, back, and stomach muscles worn out and used. my crotch and ass chaffed beyond belief.

and, i'd do it again.

day 7: will over skill indeed!

at 65 miles, todays ride seems... in a surprising shift in perspective, short. i am, however, struggling to get out of bed again because we have to be out even earlier today as everything closes earlier.

once again, the caboose is chasing me. i'm struggling at the beginning of the ride... the first 4 miles i'm sluggish, at best. i move along, doing my best... and then suddenly i catch up to a pack of folks who are stopped at a light. slowing down enough to catch the light without having to stop, i whiz out and then i just try to keep up. for a few miles i'm riding 18-20 MPH with the pack, but i realize with my quad being where it is at, i need to take a breather. 10 miles left on the 20 mile leg... i get back on the bike and ride hard. my shifter is still not working right... i need to tech my bike at the rest stop, so i pull in and go straight to the techs. they spend 20 minutes trying to adjust it... i ride out, caboose still right behind me. I ride a good ways, stopping... the shifter finally seems to be mostly working (except the obnoxious sound it makes)... but my quad it not.

i'm hot. i'm tired. i look down and see i've put in 31 miles and i think about how lame that is. ha! i came into this riding having only done *one* ride over 30 miles and now i think only 30 miles is lame. what a perspective shift. but i realize if i sweep to lunch i can ice, roll, rest and then finish the last 18 mile leg. i mean, it is only 18 miles. so i sweep.

i call Atreyu who is only miles from me... i want to see him ... and he encourages me to ride on and finish. there are hills this afternoon... i'm not sure i can do them. really. i already feel beyond my capabilities. i wait until nearly the last minute, resting, icing, relaxing and rolling my leg as much as possible before heading out. And i give it all i have to give.

then we have to get off the bike and carry it down a stairs through a tunnel and back up. egads, i didn't know how much you used your quad when walking down a stair. wow. how painful...

it's all up hill on the other side. i ride as hard as i can manage... because anything less seems to not get me up the hills. i pull over a few times and walk the bike. there's only one big hill left. other riders are encouraging me -- they can see the wear and tear on my body, being, soul... the tears in my eyes... it is only a few miles, but oh how far that seems after all this work.

i take a rest under a tree... i slug another energy goo... knowing it's only 3.5 miles to the end. i ride out... hit a small downhill and i use it to my advantage... pedal at hard as a i can and pass riders on the uphill. as i'm yelling, "on your left, on your left, on your left..." the riders yell back at me, "Take it girl!" and "go for it..." encouraging me.

and finally, the last hill... i'm passing, and i'm about 4 car lengths from the top and as i downshift, my chain drops again. my god, what a crappy time for that to happen. A beautiful woman who 15 minutes ago encouraged me stops to help. another woman drops her chain... we make it up the 4 car lengths of hill and there it is... the finish in site.