Happy Independence Day everyone! Hope everyone got to do something special today. I went for a 50-mile, very hilly bike ride. An organized ride with other cyclists, aid stations, and SAG support is always hard to turn down.
I almost chickened out and opted for the 28-mile ride, especially after the "warning" on the entry form:
"The 50-mile course is for serious riders who've been in training for some time. We don't suggest you attempt this ride unless you are in top condition. Grueling is the word of the day here."
I knew I wasn't in the best of shape. Plus, the weatherman called for extremely hot temperatures, especially inland, which was where I was headed. But I had already signed up for the 50-mile ride, and I decided to (gulp) go for it. I would just take it slow and use it as a break-through workout.
I polished up Bluebell and took her instead of Torch (tear) since it was a HILLY ride with lots of other cyclists. I also stripped her of her clip-on aero bars, officially making her my purist road bike. She looks a lot better that way (and is a bit lighter in front).
It was hard to get up at 5 a.m. but I didn't clean up Bluebell and freeze 2 sports drink bottles for nothin'! We all lined up and took off. I hung out in the back and just spun easily the first 5 or 6 miles. No use in burning up now. It was extremely foggy, misting up my sunglasses and making it difficult to see--virtually pea soup! However, I relished the cool morning mist.
We rode easily for the first 25 miles, through beautiful Rancho Santa Fe, littered with gorgeous mansions, lush gardens, perfectly manicured lawns, immaculate horse stables, with gorgeous, sheen, muscular horses, frolicking in the cool mist. I could smell hay, fly spray, and manure, all of which I love, since I used to be avidly involved with horses and riding. Orange groves, golf courses, and a pasture full of the most adoreable mommy and baby Shetland ponies I've ever seen. It was a picturesque ride.
Luckily, the fog really didn't burn up until around 9 a.m., which of course, was around the first major climb. Near Escondido, we begun the first major climb up to Lake Hodges. Near the top of the first big climb, the western edge of Lake Hodges appeared. Steam was rising off the water, and it was a mystical, breathtaking sight. The beauty of the lake took my mind off the pain of the never-ending climb.
My quads and calves were already tight from my run and weights the night before. I concentrated on finding a rhythm and tried to keep spinning. The whole time, I kept wondering wear my low gears had gone, even though I was in the lowest one. It seemed like everyone passed me, even the old guys, and I definitely began to hit my low point around mile 30. One woman told me to "push it" as she passed me, and I wanted to strangle her. What did she think I was doing? Funny thing was that I wasn't breathing all that hard. I know my heart rate was up but it wasn't in the red. My legs were just screaming with battery acid. I simply couldn't turn my legs over any faster. I have no power.
I talked myself into a better mood. I reminded myself that it was normal to have low points during any long workout, thinking back to what Mark Allen had said about doing Ironman (basically, he said there will always be tough moments and really bad periods you have to get through). This calmed me down. In addition, my performance wasn't a suprise. I knew I was out of shape and had no power. That's why I was doing this. My goal was to pace myself, finish and get a good workout, and that's what I was doing. Once I reminded myself of the point of being out there, I turned my mood around and began to focus again. My stomach felt good, and I was hydrating, salting, and eating well (still low for most but good for me--at this point, I only seem to be able to get down about 150 calories/hr--work in progress).
I refueled at an aid station and tried to spin the next 15 miles of rollers. I felt sooo slow but focused on RPE. Luckily, I had just changed the batteries on my computer and hadn't set the circumference correctly so the speed was way off...on the high side. It kept reading 20-40 mph. Yipee! I'm Lance! So I had no idea what my pace was--just a rough estimate based on the clock. This actually helped a lot. I'm thinking of not looking at my speed at all for awhile. I think it forces me to run in the red waay too much.
At another low point, someone asked me if my bike was brand new. Bluebell is definitely not new. I had just been thinking about all the nicks and dents in the paint last night and all the particles of sand in crevices the rag couldn't reach. Plus, the "hubcap" on one of the cranks had fallen off, which I only discovered last night. I actually had to consider whether she was even rideable! (Another trip to the bike store is in order). However, she rode very smoothly and took great care of me. It felt really good to have someone compliment my bike. I take pride in my rides.
I had been anticipating the final big climb at mile 45, the "Pomerado Bomber", was what the other experienced cyclists were calling it. Luckily, another cyclist had started chatting with me as it approached. She was complimenting my riding form, saying I rode very smoothly, making it look easy. That made me feel sooo good since I felt like I was really suffering. We were riding about the same pace so we rode up the Bomber together. This way, I was able to push myself a little, and it was over in a snap. Ah, the beauty of group rides.
Suddenly, I was coasting downhill and on the way to the finish (although the last 2 miles seemed to take forever!). My legs were really cramping, and even though it was at the end, I popped another 2 salt tablets. The cramps subsided within 5 minutes. Guess that stuff really works! At the finish, I was tired but happy. I didn't feel too thirsty or too hungry. Nor did I feel that tired. I picked up the t-shirt for Jason, a bagel omelet with bacon for me and headed home for a shower, meal, and nap...in that order.
I've been focusing on recovery the rest of the day. I feel tired but good. Definitely got a lot of lactic acid going on. I'm glad I did it. I still got it, baby! Plus, it was so scenic, and the other cyclists were so friendly. Very fun. Why is it we think grueling workouts that last for hours where we suffer in exquisite pain are so much fun?