Today was my first really big ride of 2010. I did a 65 mile ride out in Madison, GA. Beautiful ride, though very poorly marked…I’ll get to that in a moment. First, some additional information. Since my terrible cycling accident in late 2008, I have had a helluva time getting back into the rhythm of regular riding. I would do it very sporadically and go months without doing anything at all. 2009 was hands down the WORST cycling year I have had since I first started cycling about 4 years ago. There was something else too, I’ve always had a difficult time with cycling. Always felt like I was trying to catch my breath and normally my lungs would give out way before my legs. I have always attributed this to my weight. I am not a thin cyclist by any stretch of the imagination. I could stand to lost about 40 lbs. But I do have some pretty strong legs so they make up for a lot of the weight. Anyway, about 6 weeks ago I had a terrible asthma attack. Horrible. It was then that I realized that wheezing while running or cycling was not normal and just a sign of me being ‘out of shape’. Ha. So I’ve been on treatments, and its really starting to show. I practically took an entire year off of cycling, and I’m cycling harder, faster and stronger than I was back when I used to ride almost every day.
The ride was amazing. We started out at almost 9am. Whole group of us girls being pulled by two very capable women – one of them being an Iron Man champion. Yes very capable. I held my own, but struggled uphill. Lets face it, no matter how well I do, until I drop the 40 – 50 lb sand bag I call my extra ‘puff’, I’m going to continue to struggle up the hills. I stayed with the ladies through the first 36 miles of rolling terrain. We were averaging fairly high speeds 17 to 20 mph. Then during one climb I was fighting my way up the first hill, only to be met by a second even longer climb. Nothing too severe, I don’t think there were any really severe climbs on this route, but just the distance of climbing with the caliber of athletes I was surrounded by finally took its toll and I lost my legs. Slowed way down and was dropped.
Once past the hill I worked very hard to try to catch back up. Going up to 23 mph to try to grab back on, but then I would hit a hill and watch them disappear once again. So I never did make it back with them. Turns out they stopped at the next rest stop to wait for me. I figured they wouldn’t stop so I skipped the rest stop. Anyway, I was doing very well in this ride. I rode mostly by myself the rest of the way. Since we left so late in the morning really the only people left on the road were the slower riders, and I just couldn’t take slowing down so I went along on my own. I kept a very nice pace – higher than my norm up in the 17 – 19mph range, often hitting 21+ on the flats. Felt great. Tho it helped to have a tail wind for sure. The climbs still sucked, but I pulled through.
Then in the last 10 miles I missed a turn, and ended up way out of my way. I was not happy. Especially since I skipped the last rest stop since I only had 10 miles left, so I had no food, and almost no water left. Ended up taking on an extra 8 or 9 miles to my ride, finishing a 57 mile route at 65 miles. My friends opted for the 69 mile loop in the end, and I beat them to the finish line. Food at the end of the ride sucked, but anything tastes good after a long ride like that. I drove home, took a shower, then had a nice hour and a half nap. Still have a bit of a headache, but feel a wonderful sense of accomplishment.