I survived!!!! In numbers...
3:49:30 time on bike
Average speed 11.6mph
Max speed 31.7mph
~3000 vertical feet of climbing
6th ride on my new bike (photos below!)
0 Dismounted walk-ups (awesome considering I have been known to walk in the past!)
11 mile mark (post-detour): was welcomed to join a group of men, who all stayed together until mile 19
1 Able-Bodied Boy meeting me at each checkpoint
1 Chipotle burrito afterwards!
0 partners in crime to ride with, talk to, motivate/be motivated by, struggle alongside
20-30mph winds, in the face for most of the first 20 miles
1 Chain jump
2 episodes of tears welling up (did you not read the !!3000!! feet of climbing and !!20-30!! mph winds???)
5 mile mark: already winded
11 mile mark: got diverted for 1.5 miles with other confused riders
25 mile mark: almost gave up
7:00a - my phone thinks it is 1969 (aka, no 3G service, rendering it useless at mile 11 when we were lost and could have used a map)
2:00p - on the way home, we stop by Verizon and they need to wipe the phone to fix it. Ugh.
Ok, so maybe, in the moment, my phone being out of service was not the worst part of my day. When you crest a steep hill at 5mph, looking forward to the downward slide and rest of coasting at 25mph, and the 30mph winds mean you fight to go 6mph down the hill.... that's when you want to quit. But I guess the ride was a bit like childbirth... you forget much of the pain after you make it to the end.
Let me put this in perspective. The biggest hill in my county, "Burden Hill", is 90 vft of climbing. Based on that, I'd guesstimate that my 40mile ride two weeks ago was probably about 300-400 vft of climbing total. Do you remember the number for yesterday? Yup, 3000. 3000. After the first 5-10 miles, I had already done all the climbing I could have possibly ever done in a single route in my area. And I still had 30miles to go, further into the hilly countryside. Tears. Do you blame me?
Basically, I went from 5mph up the hills to 25mph down the hills. All. Day. Long. With 20-30mph winds coming from the front and the sides. Which means, when you're going 25mph down a hill, and the winds are, say, 20mph in your face, it whips you around a bit. Being on a new bike, with skinnier tires than I've ever ridden on before, I felt very unstable. Add concern about road debris (winds = leaves and nuts and sticks) which is sitting in filtered, shady sunlight (is that shadow a rock or a hole or just a shadow?!?!?), and memories of my August accident (and the scars and still-remaining knobs on my leg and chin), and other riders who don't call "on your left" and would rather just show up unexpectedly in your field of vision, and sharp curves in the road (15mph speed limit?!?! I'm going 25!!!!), and cars that may at any moment overtake/pass or come around a curve in front of you.... it was pretty much sheer terror for that first 25 miles to the checkpoint. Tears.
Ok granted, I only welled up twice. The rest of the time I was too distracted. But on those rare flats where you can go 10mph (normally 15+, but there's all that wind, ya know?), you begin to reflect on just how fucking stupid you think this whole idea was. By the time I got to the checkpoint, I knew for sure that I wasn't going to attempt the 60mile route. That additional 20miles would have added another 1500 vft of climbing, half of which would be continuing into the wind. Nope. Sorry. And I even questioned my ability to finish the rest of the 40. But I rested and got enough of a boost from Able-Bodied Boy, texting friends, and one of my rider buddies, that I figured the last half would be mostly downhill, and mostly with the wind at my back (or sides, but at least not in my face).
I was right, and even the first 10 miles of the 19 back were mostly down and mostly without any wind issues. I saw hardly any other riders (save the groups that offered to help when my chain jumped) and hardly any other vehicles. It was peaceful, without any navigational issues, and only a few wicked hills (including one in a wind tunnel, which I promptly cursed).
So, all in all, I survived, thanks to the support (in spirit) of friends and Able-Bodied Boy sticking around to help see me through. 40miles of the Savage Century, whew! Next year, I want to do other rides. I would love to do the 75mile Bike to the Bay (as originally planned), which is all flat/downhill. Able-Bodied Boy has his eye on some routes in our area (browsing them as I type, in fact). And I may try the 60miles of the Savage.
Until then, the cycling season is over and it's back to Dance Dance Revolution to keep my legs in shape over the winter months.
What hills have you conquered lately?
ps. i learned a lot about pre-, post-, and during nutrition and body-care. i'll have to share that at some point!