So my weekend consisted of biking 85 km, then turning around and doing it again the next day. Before, during and after, there was also getting up really early, fixing a flat tire on the road, drinking some beer on the beach, getting hit on by a drunk guy in a viking hat, consuming a huge number of calories (and gallons of Gatorade) sleeping (poorly) on the top bunk of a squeaky bunkbed in a barracks, getting up really early again, eating excellent pancakes, and triumphantly riding back into town to legions of fans, yelling just for me. Ok, maybe not that last part, but I pretended it was true. It’s a good motivator.
I rode in the MS Bike Tour. I have never participated in a cycling event, so this was new. I have also never done that many hours of strenuous activity in a row, so I was nervous. I joined a team with some people from work. We had sharp-looking jerseys. Mostly, I had trained alone, because it was difficult to meet up with my teammates to train, so prior to Saturday, I had never ridden in a group. It was a great group. We rode at a very comfortable pace, the weather was beautiful (eventually), and it was great fun. Exhausting, but fun. And a good cause.
The Tour was very well organized, with 750 riders and hundreds of volunteers, providing food and directions. The six or eight rest stops were well-stocked with snacks, drinks, port-a-potties, and first-aid support. Even my flat tire towards the end of the first day was looked after in style by a cute bike jockey with a car full of tools and a gift for patching.
I was surprised to find I wasn’t terribly sore on Sunday morning, but as soon as I sat on my bike again, I understood what everyone else had been talking about (an old guy in the hot tub had warned me to approach my bike seat very cautiously Sunday morning). Those two little bones at the bottom of my butt, the ones that you sit on… they felt like someone was tapping on them with a little tiny hammer.
I learned a lot of things from my first cycling event.
I found out that cycling is easier than running and just as satisfying.
I learned that riding with a team is way more fun than riding alone.
I learned that drafting another cyclist actually works to reduce wind resistance and energy consumption. Plus you get to chat.
I learned that when you are in the lead, you can’t go faster than everyone else wants to go (sorry about that, guys).
I learned that the two smallest fingers on each hand go numb when I ride for more than an hour or two.
I came to appreciate, again, the motivation factor of crowds, supporters, teammates, people with common interests, and really cool jerseys.
I learned that I want to try riding a road bike instead of a mountain bike.
I learned that I am not the biggest cycling geek out there, and not the biggest nerd, either.
I now have an even greater fear of a career-ending injury. What if I could never ride/run again? That would suck beyond belief.
I learned I can do it, even with minimal training and no experience.
I want to thank my family, for giving me the support that allowed me to train, to be away overnight, and so that my children didn’t need to miss birthday parties so that their father could come and see me cross the line.
I need to thank the people who donated the the MS Society and pledged their support, trusting I would actually be fit enough to achieve my goal of completing the tour. You were all very generous, and I more than made my goal.
I want to thank my team for allowing me to be part of their group, and to celebrate in their trials and tribulations. And for helping me get to the finish line in good enough shape that I have actually booked a hotel room for next year’s ride already. I am proud of all of them and thankful that they roped me into it. I’m already looking for another ride, and I can still barely sit down.
For the geeks among us, here are the screen shots of the information I downloaded from my GPS speed/distance tracker. I stopped the timer at each rest stop, and each shot shows a graph of our speed, a map, and the info on the average speed, the distance, the date and time. Yes, I am a geek. Just not the biggest one. Others have cooler gear, like stuff with heart monitors. But I am not jealous.
If you want to look at each leg of the race, here’s a link to the full set of screen shots from the monitor. Of interest is Day 2 Rest 3, when you can see how nicely we were trucking along, until we turned the corner into the wind. My personal favourites are Day1 Rest 5 when you can see where I had to stop for the flat, and then Day 1 Rest 6 where I booted it at 30 km per hour to catch up with my friend and teammate, Nadine, so we could keep each other company to the finish.
Anyway, it was a lot of fun, and I will probably do it next year, God willing. Now, I must continue my multi-day recovery plan, and head for bed. Thanks if you made it this far.