Cycling Thoughts Cycling
So yesterday, I did a thing. I finished what I started, and I’m proud of myself. I don’t say that often, but I accomplished what I set out to do in spite of my doubts, and that’s worth something.
40 miles. On a bike. Yep, I did that.
It was pretty dang cool.
A few months ago after I got the bike, I spied this cycling event and at first was hesitant to thing about it because I still had Salinas Valley Half Marathon (last month) and my upcoming half marathon at the Ventura Marathon in two weeks that I am training for, but I wanted something too that would help me start to integrate cycling into my training schedule as well. So, I started looking at Goldilocks Vegas. They had mileage categories ranging from 20-100 miles. Since I had just got the bike and don’t have group cycling experience, I figured, okay…20 miles. But I wasn’t really sure about the course. I went to three people that I trust their “expert” opinion. One, had a vested interest, and said, “20 miles–yes, do it.” A friend that knew the area looked at the course and said, “Yeah, you could do the 20 mile. But you should go for the 40.” The third, this person exists to educate and push me, and often forgets that while training makes my ministry more effective, I don’t live to train, and told me to go for 80 miles. And after I finished laughing at #3, I did think about it for a bit, got the schematics for what the training plan would look like for running and cycling for this couple months for the 20 and 40 mile…40 looked doable…and the rest is history.
Could I have trained better? Sure. I’m not going to make excuses for life, it happens. But even in my doubts, I made the decision that I was going to show up, finish if it killed me, and have some fun along the way. Mission accomplished.
Actually, in the four hours (well, four hours of riding/almost five hours it took with stops), I learned way more than I think I expected to, and not just about riding a bike. So bear with me here…
- Open starts are awesome. I am so happy that it was not required you take off with your mileage wave. I took off 45 minutes before the start time of mine, which was perfect, because I was able to finish around the same time as everyone else, I didn’t have to start in a tight pack of other cyclists, and there weren’t big packs of riders to navigate.
- Scenery is a great distraction–stunning course is a great distraction from the fact that you’re still climbing. Still.
- I wavered on the idea of an all-women’s event for a few reasons, some of those reasons were completely confirmed, others went to the wayside, but overall, I’m glad I chose it
- Open course in an area popular with cyclists was pretty awesome, while some of the women weren’t the most sociable and a bit catty on the course (but were awesome at the start/finish…hence my hesitations above proven), other cyclists out for their rides were awesome. I had one guy slow down to my speed for a couple miles on a downhill/flat-ish section and we had a good chat, mostly about his bike–he was riding a pretty slick tri bike. I was grilling him on his shifting system…down the line when I’m in the market for N+1, I’m quite curious about the ultegra or di2 shifting systems. Good times.
- I got to exercise the full range of the cassette…every gear on my bike got a workout yesterday with the up and down. And then I ran out of gears…about 1/3 of the way up the 2nd to last climb. I was really happy here for a few reasons: I didn’t die. I didn’t refer to the old mantras–not once did I pull out, “shut up legs!” but employed some other different techniques to keep moving forward that I’ve learned recently. And my worst nightmare did NOT come true–having to walk my bike up a hill, not once–I kept moving and rode the entire course. That’s huge to me.
- Fuel and hydration on the course, nailed. That was a finely honed plan that’s been worked on for awhile. I’m used to being hungry after a long run or race, but I was not quite prepared for the desire to consume everything not nailed down in the aftermath at that level…I consumed a fair amount of food yesterday, and even so, I still went to bed with a calorie deficit that almost outweighed what I would have normally consumed in an average day. It seemed like I would eat a meal or snack and then be hungry again soon.
- I left it all out on the course. I don’t think I could have pushed myself any harder. The last 45 minutes were brutal. The gal and I that were leapfrogging each other over the last few climbs looked at each other and practically cried when we passed the sign that it was five miles (literally downhill) to the finish. No matter what happened out there, I was going to finish or die trying. But as soon as I rolled over the finish, got off the bike, and pounded down a cold water–I was fine. Immediately ran errands and went shopping post-race. Completely fine. Even today, other than slightly stiff arms and shoulders, I’m fine. I fully expected to be completely wrecked. So my head got the better of me, and I started thinking, well, did I really push myself as hard as I could have? Did I really do my best? Yes. Yes, I did. There’s several quantifiable factors that prove that. And that’s why I need to listen to the people smarter than me that I have in my life. I was reminded that the goal isn’t to wreck myself–but look at the potential (and look at the facts that I did my best). I’ve been cycling for just a few months, and managed to pull this in the midst of my life lately and feel great–so I was asked to put it into context of some of the greater goals. What can I do?
Well…I can comfortably swim the half iron distance. So I’m 50% of the way to Ironman. I feel pretty good after throwing down 40 miles on the bike. I’m 33% of the way to Ironman. I can run 13.1 miles. I’m 50% of the way to Ironman. I can do all of these things (independently of each other) without feeling wrecked. Once I put it into that context in conversation, it was pointed out that maybe–just maybe–should I give myself some credit? There’s so much physical training that goes into this journey, but there’s just as much mental training and emotional retraining too. I may not yet look like a “typical” athlete on the outside, and I may never will, but time and time again as things like fuel, hydration, training, and all sorts of things are tweaked, it keeps coming back to the same idea–I may not be fast (yet), but I am definitely built for endurance. I have a hard time wrapping my head around that one, but others believe it, and I’m okay faking it until I can truly believe it too. And speed, that will come.
Cycling? Yeah. I can see the addiction. Very different but equally as consuming as running–different outlet for different purposes. I’m all in. Next up? Not for sure as far as racing, 2018 goals are set but the calendar is still a touch fluid…but there’s some new goals to work on as far as improving strength/climbing, consistent cadence, and speed. It’s good stuff.
Race report to come on Race Everywhere. Will post some event pictures when they come in. I did post a few pictures from the day on my instagram feed that you can access from this site as well.