Wow! What a weekend! I am currently licking my wounds, however I know my body will heal itself and become even stronger!
What an experience!
Sure, I can go ride 100 miles, anytime, and probably even have better weather than yesterday. However, you simply cannot compare the feeling of being surrounded by cyclists for 7 hours! The fun, the camaraderie, the new friends you meet along the way all comprise the feeling that is a supported cycling ride.
I also got my first real chance to use my new Garmin Edge 520 Bike computer, heart rate monitor, and cadence sensor! Let me tell you, these are some serious tools at my disposal!! I absolutely loved the elevation map on my Garmin! I was able to see the next 2 miles ahead of me and be aware of when would be harder, when would be easier! This helped me tremendously, considering the fact I have never rode on these roads, and it is 100 miles of rolling hills! As I continue along this cycling adventure, these tools will help me grow!
Now, let’s crack into the event itself!
I arrived on Saturday night as they allowed tent camping! I got down there about 2 hours before the sun set, giving me ample time to set up camp and relax. In fact, I went to sleep around 9 in order to get up around 5 am! I slept well, and got up with a spring in my step! In about an hour I pulled down my tent, ate breakfast, and was changed into my gear!
Everything was great, people had already started and plenty of patrons started gathering at the start/finish line! Oops, I forgot to take off my headphones, so I head back to my car. I cut a corner that was grass in between the concrete, my tire stopped, I did not, and my handlebars jabbed directly above my groin. This literally caused me pain all day long, and will probably be about a week longer while it bruises and heals! I will also state that the weather for the day was slated to be 75 degrees and sunny. It was…56 degrees, cloudy, and windy the entire time!
Despite these factors, off we go!
It is about 6 am and I am riding out with dozens of people. There are people everywhere! Behind, in front, and this would continue all day long! It’s an exhilarating feeling!
One of the big things that came in to play was the wind. Riding solo can be way more difficult in that respect! So as often as you can, hop onto the speed train that is shooting past you. This can literally be difference between riding at 11 mph and 16 mph, and it actually being easier at 16 mph. Up in the mountains, we get some swirling winds here and there, but the plains are something else! There’s nothing to stop the wind!
For hours it just kept beating you in the face, or swaying you left to right with the crosswinds! It was pretty intense! The first 50 miles were actually quite difficult because of these factors!
Miles 50 to 80 were an ABSOLUTE BLAST! My top speed was 49.9 MPH! I cannot even explain how badass this feels!! I made a point to stop at all of the aid stations, about every 15 miles. I didn’t have to, but hey, it’s not a race and I might as well enjoy it!
My biggest goal of the day was the Tomah Hill climb! This came around mile 85, and was the steepest climb of the day! 2.2 miles straight uphill and the winner would get a special jersey! Well, alright then! I took a break at the aid station about 2 miles prior to hitting it and fueled up. Then I headed towards my own boss battle!
I turn right and the Hill Climb starts! This is where confidence comes into life! I wasn’t totally confident about the starting or ending point to it. I start my climb and being to get a pretty decent pace. I continue grueling it as my heart is continuously beating around 170 bpm. I had to have passed at least 50 people on my way up. Grunting and gasping with each new pedal stroke, I can here the first man yell out, “Yeah! Push it harder!!” I get around the first dogleg left and it starts bending back to the right, it also levels out slightly, and I try to up my pace while I can! One more left hand bend and about a mile straight shot to the top! I pushed my pedals down time after time. Roughly 90 times per minute as a matter of fact! Several people start shouting for me as they notice the effort I am producing in front of them. I climbed and I climbed, as hard as I could.
My Result? That day I placed 23rd out of 878 people that did the longer course, attempted the hill, AND tracked it with Strava to prove the results! All-time, I took 458, out of 4,377 people that have attempted the hill. I think I will have another chance at this hill one day, and for that I will be even more prepared!
Then it was 15 miles back to town. Mostly downhill, with some hills sprinkled in!
As I crossed the finish line I was met with Bliss. All of this hard work, I finished. I have trained. I have gotten myself to a place where I can actually accomplish something like this. Despite the winds, despite the chilly temps, I DID IT.
There were many things I learned yesterday, that I will implement in the future of my riding!
I am so thankful for all of the volunteers, as well as the 6,000 people out riding different length courses all for one common goal of enjoying the art of cycling!
-“Do what makes your heart sing”