You may recall me mentioning my bike a bit more last year. Of course, if you are fairly new to my blog, then odds are you haven’t gone back that far to read old posts and you have no idea what I’m talking about. In that case, you can take my word for it that I spent a lot of time on my bike last year! If you have been reading my blog since last year…shhhh…just keep your mouth shut and try not to burst the aura of awesomeness the newer folks are feeling emanating from their computer screens right now.
Either way, my focus since January has been about 99% running, and my Trek 2.1 has wept accordingly, hanging out in the basement and avoiding the leaks in the floor from the heavy rain. I did manage to move my trusty Trek onto the trainer over the winter with the help of a friend. Despite all my riding, my ability to change out tires and tubes leaves a bit to be desired. Thus, you may want to bump me down a few notches on your emergency tire call list. Just sayin’. Now, just like simply owning shoes doesn’t mean you put them on and get out the door for a run, simply owning a really pretty bike doesn’t mean you get on it and log any miles. Up till this point, I had completed approximately 4 trainer rides, totaling about 60 miles. By approximately, I mean exactly, and by “up till this point”, I mean since September. Needless to say, my legs and butt were not properly acclimated to cycling.
So, when a few great friends invited me for a century ride on my rest day, during a low mileage running week, I obviously said yes immediately! Now, what I really mean is I told them that if they helped me put my road tires back on and grease my chain, I would begrudgingly accompany them on their much-too-early bike ride. After a nice and relaxing 4th of July with the beautiful epicurean, I woke up at 5AM the next day to eat a small breakfast and head over to their house to meet them for our ride. At 5AM, on what is a vacation day for most folks, it’s pretty darn quiet in a small town in Iowa. Everyone is sleeping. I couldn’t help but think about the comfy bed I left behind as I pedaled down the road toward their house…then back to my house when I realized I forgot my sunglasses, and then back to their house. I didn’t exactly know the route for the day, and they assured me they would be moving at a comfortable pace, with the goal being simply to reach 100 miles. Have I mentioned yet that this was basically my first time on the bike all year? I should also mention they’ve been riding all year, and are training for Ironman Wisconsin. Hmmmm…I wonder if our definitions of “comfortable” are the same?
We headed south out-of-town, and were quickly traveling down a country road I’d never been on before. I like exploring uncharted (by me) territory, so this was exciting. It was still relatively cool outside, and we had the road to ourselves. At this point, 17-20 mph seemed perfectly reasonable. It wouldn’t seem nearly as reasonable 80 miles later, but I’ll get to that in good time. We headed south again, and picked up the High Trestle Trail in Woodward. This trail has only been open a few years, but has become incredibly popular, and for good reason. After about 10 miles, we crossed over the Des Moines River, and the view from the bridge is fantastic! It was still early enough, so traffic on the trail was light. We hit the 50-mile mark in Slater, where the trail turns south towards Ankeny.
At this point, one of our friends had to head back to Ames to get back in time for work. My legs were feeling mildly tired, but I was still in pretty good shape. Nonetheless, I still thought long and hard about heading back to Ames with him. Alas, my internal competition is far too great, and I knew I’d kick myself if I didn’t keep going. I kept my mouth shut, and continued on. We hit Ankeny, and cut under the interstate, and up some nice, rolling hills. Ok, so they would have been nice and rolling if my legs didn’t have 60 miles on them at that point. I was certainly happy to start heading north, and let the tailwind provide a little natural propulsion. Aside from moving a bit more to the east, the northern direction was definitely well-earned, and I was feeling pretty darn good, all things considered. Mind you, my butt was screaming at me, but it had been doing that for the last 40 miles, and showed no signs of letting up, so I just accepted it as a given.
When we hit mile 90 or so, we headed back west towards Ames. That’s when my legs began to revolt, and my speed dropped to a more mandatory 12 or 13 mph. The wind was still blowing from the south, which meant it was trying to blow me over personally during the entire last segment of the ride. Mother nature and I do have a bit of a love/hate relationship. She’s the jealous type as it turns out. Even so, a nice friendly push from my friends made the final few miles much easier, and I made my way back into town. I arrived home around 3pm, and felt every bit as tired as sitting on a tiny, hard bike seat for 9 hours would suggest. I managed to avoid most of the sunburn that typically haunts me, but I had plenty of other more “delicate” bruises. My body had to remind me of my crazy somehow, right? Despite it all, it was a wonderful day with friends, and I couldn’t have been happier with the experience. The bike will probably always play second fiddle to my endurance running addiction, but it’s great to maintain my relationship with cycling as well!
Regardless of the GPS readings, we knew we had hit our mark, and it felt great knowing I had tackled this challenge…more challenges to come!