ARHC days 1-2: Let me go

 Day 1

Having taken nearly 7 hours to cover the sweltering 31 miles between Leslie and Fifty-Six, I was desperate to stop by the time I limped up the the office of the Cedarwood Motel and tearfully asked the owner for a room. While it was surprisingly half the cost of last year's stay in the same place I'd have paid double just to know I didn't have to ride in the heat any further.

My hostess could not have been kinder to the tearful, disheveled girl at her doorway. She asked if I was ok, equal parts appalled and amazed at the way I'd spent my day. She crossed the yard to turn on the air in my room while I sat on her porch taking advantage of the office wifi, invited me into the office cabin / her family's home, shared the pizza they were having for dinner, and bought me some cold waters when she ran to pick up dinner. 


I sat at her dining room table savoring the cool air, my sweat-stained jersey still bedazzled with grass and tiny chunks of gravel from my many roadside rest stops.  My first order of business was to secure a ride back to my car. My second, to update Facebook on my abject failure. After all, there's no point in sharing your adventures if you're only willing to reveal the fun parts.

Last year's support had buoyed and sustained me through difficult times on the route. This year's infuriated me (to all my wonderful, supportive friends: I'm sorry for what I thought when I was quitting. I love and appreciate you. Please don't stop with the encouraging posts). I wasn't just complaining about a hard day; I was quitting, and no one seemed to understand that. All the cheery encouragement in the world didn't change the fact that I could. not. ride. in this heat. 

Along with the supportive chorus was good advice (take more breaks, ride at night and rest in the heat of the day) that I didn't want to hear. There was a plan. I wanted to follow the plan. I wanted the chance of at least occasionally riding with friends. I wanted to know where I was sleeping at night. Ironically, after last year's race I've said that women can have an edge over men during endurance events because when things don't go according to plan men tend to throw in the towel and women more easily adjust their expectations and move on. 

I'm pretty sure I warned Dirk about this before the race, and yet here I was quitting 12 hours in, but I had the excuse trump card of my sister-in-law's June 20 wedding. If I couldn't manage more daily mileage -- and I was quite convinced I couldn't -- then I wasn't going to make it home in time. And if I couldn't do the whole thing, what was the point?

Dirk and Cliff made the same decision about calling the day early and arrived not long after I  got to my room. We regrouped on the front porch, exchanging stories from the day, and while it was comforting that they'd had a similarly rough time it didn't change my mind about quitting. The motel owners offered to drive us and our bikes to the Mountain View campground where Tracy had stopped as planned, and the campground people offered to come pick up us. We opted to stay planted in the air conditioning rather than weather a night in the summer heat.

I facebooked while the guys prepped their gear for the next morning, and despite all of the uplifting posts, the only thing that even dented my resolve to quit was Tracy's remark about bonking after getting off-track with electrolytes. I'd had plenty to eat and drink, but nothing had been particularly salty; that certainly didn't help my situation, but it was too late to fix it now.

We all went to bed reasonably early since the guys had an early wake-up. I don't think Dirk slept too well on the floor, but it was that or cuddle with Cliff. Their alarms went off around 5 (maybe?), and I rolled over in bed, happy that I was going to get more sleep. Then Cliff groaned, "My legs are killing me."

I stared at the ceiling. My stupid legs didn't hurt at all. Nothing hurt except the memory of how much the previous day had sucked. But maybe I just needed more salt. Was I really going to let the guys ride away without me when I felt fine? 

Damn it, no. I got out of bed, packed up, and was back on the road just before 6 a.m. 



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