I was awoken with a gentle whisper and a touch on my shoulder from my bride, “Honey, it’s time to get up”. I open my eyes to see the clock read 5:00. She had gotten up early to make me a breakfast of peanut butter toast and poured my coffee just the way I like it. Who could ask for more?
This was a big day: my first charity ride the Tour De Farms. It’s a 2 day ride covering 200 miles for the National MS Society. This was the ride my buddy Todd introduced me to the year prior.
This is how I accidentally became a cyclist again.
The radar showed a storm bearing down on the event’s location, and as the rain started to hit the windshield on our to way the college town of DeKalb Illinois,we feared a washout. When we parked, we were met with puddles and bikes clad in plastic. We had dropped our rides off the day before to save the hassle of transporting them on event day.
After checking in on the state of our bikes, we walked over to the registration area. Todd picked up his rider number and we made our way into the stadium where a buffet of breakfast foods awaited hungry riders. Bagels, with cream cheese in squirt bottles, breakfast burritos, donuts and all sorts of other high carb foods was on the menu. I was still full from my yummy breakfast, so I grabbed half a bagel and some coffee.
The ride’s coordinators used the stadium’s PA system to give us updates and the announcement came that the ride would be starting in 30 minutes. Todd and I finished our food and beverages, emptied the tanks then got our bikes and made our way to the start.
I hadn’t ridden in a very large group before, but had read up on how to do it safely and stay out of everyone’s way. Todd rode my left wingtip as we gathered speed and settled into a nice pace. Two women behind us said they loved our speed and stayed with us for some time.
The clouds promised more rain, but held off. There was an interesting wall cloud that made its way through the early stages of the ride. By the time we made the first rest stop, it was well passed us.
At the stop, there was a mechanic on hand, and I was having some shifting issues so I wanted him to look at the situation. He mentioned how I had my seat bag mounted wrong by saying "I love all you cyclists, but please learn how to properly attach your seat bags”. He was funny!
We made our way to the lunch stop, we woofed down some grilled food then made our way back onto the route. As we rode further into the event, the more I realized my feet were starting to cramp up. By the time we got to the 50 mile rest stop, I had to take my shoes off. I had planned on at least 100 miles that day, but my feet were having no part of it.
We decided 25 more miles and then to call it a day. This last segment was the one with the most hills, and that not being a strong part of my training, Todd was still there on my left, coaching me the whole way. Without his motivational techniques, I really would have had a rough time with those climbs.
The last 3 miles were the roughest of Saturday’s ride, with strong headwinds. Todd rode strong, and I struggled to keep my cadence up and my head down to reduce drag. It was worse than any training ride had ever done. I was about ready to throw in the towel when I looked up and saw the second to last left hand turn up ahead.
I caught up with Todd, and we crossed the finish line together, our families were cheering us on with the loudest cowbells of all! I smiled for the camera and gave a thumbs up as I passed, excited to finally be done with this ride for today.
I got home and soaked in the tub that night. It never felt so good. I really didn’t think that I could last any longer on that bike. Now that I look at that day’s ride, there were some equipment issues that caused me misery. Those have been rectified.
Sunday’s ride was sunny and a bit windy, but it proved to be the best, even though it was smaller mileage wise. At one point on our way back, we hit 31mph! Obviously we had a great tailwind and a flat road, but still, 31 miles an hour!
One thing I learned about this ride: be prepared. I had let my training lax several weeks before the ride, thinking I was good to go. I was humbled by Saturday’s ride, and now I know what to do for next year. My goal? Double metric, 124 miles on Saturday. Then we will see what’s going on with the body on Sunday.
Until next time!
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