Every year after my big spring race I tend to slip into my couch and stay there until school starts and the lack of elastic waists in my dress clothes informs me how much weight I've gained. So far I've managed to run a couple times a week and get in several mountain bike rides.
|Creve Couer Heartbreaker cat 3 podium|
Doing such a short race is a very different experience. Usually I'm aiming for measured, sustainable effort so I can finish a 3+ hour race strong; this time I could go "all out" (as all out as I get, anyway...where I'm not limited by fitness I'm still held back by handling skills and confidence) without worrying about blowing up early.
The shorter mountain bike rides are definitely helping with my handling, but I don't want to lose my endurance. After being out of town all weekend for a mud volleyball tournament, I had Monday free and made plans to ride with a couple friends who still have a big bike race to prep for. Unfortunately, Mickey ended up injured and couldn't go, but Eric was still game to ride.
The forecast had correctly called for rain, and when my alarm went off I had repeated thoughts of bailing. I know I won't melt, but the idea of a soggy ride was unexciting at best, and my bed kept calling me. The only thing that got me out the door was knowing how much I'd hate myself if I skipped out and then spent the day doing nothing.
|Misty Missouri morning|
My poor cross bike was still covered with South Dakota dust when we rolled out, but that was quickly covered with Missouri gravel spray in the light rain of the first three hours or so. Early on I felt super sluggish, like I was working way harder than I should be to keep up, so I wasn't sad at all when he had a flat 8 miles in.
|When you've taken a bite just before your riding partner takes a picture...|
The light rain and cool temps made riding really pleasant, but I definitely didn't drink enough and massive leg cramps hit me about 40 miles in. Arriving home the previous evening, I'd thrown together a few Payday bars and filled my water bladder, but with typical long-ride supplies still strewn among 4 different bags after the trip to South Dakota, I'd neglected to make sure I had ibuprofen and electrolytes. With no solution other than stretching and soft pedaling, I limped along the next 10 miles trying not to whine about how awful I felt.
We planned a convenience store stop so I could pick up some ibuprofen and Eric could grab a drink. I told him I'd give the ibuprofen an hour or so to work and then bail if my legs were still hurting. While the store clerk couldn't be bothered to get off of his phone while waiting on us, he did still have a delicious-looking piece of pizza left in the case. I slathered in in mustard (don't judge...it's delicious), took my ibuprofen with a bottle of gatorade, and tried to walk off the leg cramps.
It was a more extended stop than we'd originally planned, but it was well worth the time because my legs felt 100% better afterwards. It's a lesson I've learned time and time again on the bike and in adventure races, but it still amazes me to experience the way you can go from feeling awful to great (and then sometimes back again) as long as you don't give up.
The next 40 miles or so were fantastic. The second loop was hillier, with some decent climbs and several sections of fun rollers. I really appreciated Eric's patience when I felt terrible and was very glad I hadn't quit riding when I had the opportunity. Then around mile 90 I was pretty much over it all and started to get a little crabby about being on my bike. That final 18 miles became something of a slog as we were both suffering and ready to be finished.
My legs felt pretty good, but my arms and hands were sore and my left foot was killing me. I've had the same pair of bike shoes since I started riding clipless, and if the holes where you can see through to my socks aren't enough of a sign that it's time to replace them the long-ride foot pain should be. I entertained myself with thoughts of what I was going to eat and drink once I was off my bike, attempting to compose a song to the tune of "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music. I'm sure that wasn't annoying at all to someone who was in his own pain cave. ;-)
But at the end of the day, we logged 108 miles, got lots of time in the saddle, and had a good ride. Not bad for a rainy Monday.