Indeed, there was no race planned. That's because I was going to do a 50 mile road ride tomorrow. It's part of a local church festival: cheap, well supported, and 20 min from my house. It was really the perfect fit for tomorrow as I need to start increasing my bike mileage in preparation for October's private half ironman.
As usual when I make a decision to do something out of my league, I spent a day being super excited about it before starting to freak out. Googling previous year's race reports wasn't comforting, either. Jeff hoped my newfound fear would keep me home, but instead I asked Luke if anyone would want to preride and, luckily, he did. (Funny, in chatting with Bob later, he noted that I'm not super fond of downhills or rocky areas and might want to pre-ride the route. I guess my blog gives a pretty clear picture of my strengths and weaknesses :D)
I had convinced my mom to come along so I didn't have to drive myself home by offering her the opportunity to hang out with my aunt and uncle who live nearby while I race. Then I had to convince her to hang out in Jefferson City while I rode at the park. Luckily, there was a mall nearby. We had a great ride, and I really enjoyed hanging out with my mom. And then we got to the mall...what was left of it. I'd been warned that it was a crappy mall, and that was a very accurate assessment. I tried to convince her to drop me at the park so shed have her car, but she's not big on driving in unfamiliar areas. So, with a few misgivings and significant guilt, I dropped her off and headed to the park.
I got to meet the organizer, his wife, and a couple of their friends, and then we headed onto the trail. For those who are counting, this is my first time on a mountain bike in about a month and my third time in clipless pedals on a mountain bike. This had the possibility to end badly.
The first part of the ride wasn't reassuring. The trail wasn't hard, but my breath sounded like a freight train was overtaking us. Sooo out of shape. Thankfully, once I got warmed up it was much better (more like a person running from a serial killer than a freight train...progress). I rode between the guys so that they could give me tips on what was coming up next and what I could do better, and I could watch their lines. Here's how part of that conversation went:
"I think I know what you're doing wrong on the hills."
"other than curling up in a fetal position? "What's that?"
"You're staying on your seat. I can see your ass jiggling, so you're bouncing too much on the seat. You need to get it up and back and keep your elbows bent."
OK, ass up and back, elbows bent. Remember that. "OK, but even if my ass is off the seat, it's still going to jiggle."
Also on hills: "Heavy feet, light hands."
Went over several bridges (maybe 3 ft wide, no railings, plenty of room but still scary to me) that had me whimpering to myself "Look where you wanna go...look where you wanna go..."
Made it up some hills and had to walk on some others.
Got over a bumpy root on an uphill (still hard for me)
Had a couple of pedal falls. Still glad for the clipless pedals.
Had a blast. Laughed a lot. Feel much better for tomorrow.
Towards the end, the trail was getting rockier and dusk was coming on fast. "Um, how much longer?" I asked Bob. I hate to sound whiny or wimpy, but riding unfamiliar terrain with diminishing light was making me nervous. We ended up hopping out onto the road before closing the loop, but hopefully that last section of trail won't throw anything nasty at me. Once again, I'm so thankful to have awesome friends who'll ride with me and help me get better (or at least not die).
Ugh, and it's already tomorrow now. I'm going to bed. Goals for tomorrow:
1. Have fun.
2. Have fun
3. Get in some good riding.
4. Avoid need for off-site medical attention.
5. Have fun.