Tuesday 10/13/2015 I did better than I expected at the ride — particularly based on how poorly I did on the Ashford Metric last weekend (cramp city). In fact I was shocked to find not one single cramp anywhere over the 3 days. I started the day before with drinking electrolyte water (I used Nuun tabs). Then, the night before day one, I took three enduralytes. Then during the ride I drank one bottle of Infinit for every rest stop (15-20 miles), and 1/4 – 1/2 bottle of water with Enduralyte Fizz, and every rest stop I took 3 eduralytes. I probably ate too much at the rest stops (pb&j a lot of oranges, etc.) Also they had some kind of chocolate energy cube I took 1 of those each day (warning on box not to take more than 3 in one day). I think those helped me so I’m going to find out what they were.
This was a charity ride NOT a race. So there were no official standings. If you finished you finished, if you didn’t you got lots of love anyway. For me this was more about setting a personal goal and achieving it. The official ride was 200 miles with different options to make up that distance. If you did all the options it came out to 244 miles. That’s what I wanted to do. There was no extra credit for doing the extra miles. I didn’t realize how few people were shooting for that (it was probably me and about 50 others (guessing) who did the whole shebang. Most of the people were just shooting for 200 because that was the official distance. In my heart I knew that wouldn’t really be a challenge for me. I wanted to do the whole thing. I wanted to do something worth driving all that way and raising money for. Something worthy of a challenge. Not to diminish the 200 miles in anyway — believe me that was tough to accomplish and a huge accomplishment for everyone who completed their first century. It’s just that it wasn’t my first by a long shot so I had to up the ante.
The idea was if you did the metric century on day 1, you would do the full century on day 2 plus the final 57 to make the 200 miles. OR, you would do all of day 1, (87 miles), plus a portion of the century on day 2 and the final 57 and that would come out to just over 200. You could break it up anyway you wanted. There were SAG vehicles at every rest stop and you could get out whenever you wanted. That was actually quite clever because that meant even if you had a bad day, day 1, you could come back and reach your goal. My goal was no SAG at anytime and finish the whole thing.
Day one was hard. MUCH harder than I thought it would be. The 87 miles were tough. The first 30 were all hills. Nothing different from what I usually ride, just a lot of them in a row. That part was actually okay. 3,800 feet of climbing but nothing I don’t do here in CT on a regular basis. Some of the less experienced riders had to get out and walk. At this point I’m more used to hills than flat. I’ll probably never be fast on the hills, but I can climb them now without fear of falling over. I stayed with my friends for the first 30 but I knew in order to make the cutoffs I would have to leave them and pick up my pace. They would most likely be cutting out early and as it was I would be racing to stay ahead of the SAG wagon.
For me, the hard part was the last 57. Mostly flat but non-stop serious headwind. I rode on and off with different people but by mile 62 most everybody riding around me jumped out to continue their battle the next day. I kept going and the last 25 miles were extremely hard. I would be looking at the road in front of me thinking I should be easily doing 16-18 mph. But instead I’d be doing 11-12. It felt like I was pushing through jello. If I stopped pedaling for even a second I would be at dead stop. People I had passed earlier were passing me on the slight uphills because the only thing I could do was put my bike in the small chain ring and spin. I saw how hard they were working to cut through the wind. I couldn’t push anymore — I would surely wipe out my quads and never be able to do two more days. [I ended up passing those same people later on as they quit and waited for the SAG to pick them up.] The last 15 miles I caught up to some people and I just tucked in behind them. My face was burning from windburn. I had a little chamois butter and put it on my cheeks. Then I found a big guy and just tucked in behind him gladly accepting the draft but even more to give my face a break.
The ride was for breast cancer and the Young Survivors Coalition (YSC). It is a wonderful organization providing support services to young woman with breast cancer. Before 2006, when I first rode for this organization, I didn’t realize how young some girls were getting breast cancer and dying from it. Many survivors were riding this year (I think 75). Some of those people were in treatment so would ride a few miles, jump in the SAG wagon to the next stop and ride some more. Some, like one gal I rode with day 2, were multiple time survivors and it was an honor to ride with them. There were families and teams out supporting their loved ones who had passed and and still in treatment. What they had overcome was nothing compared to what we had to tackle.
I was riding for a bit with a woman and commented on how much I loved her bike. She said it was her niece’s bike. The YSC and Giant bikes had given it to her niece two years ago to ride, but she never made it. 25 years old and she passed from breast cancer before she could ride the bike. Now her Aunt was riding it for her and a huge team of friends and family were riding in her honor. Her name was Kaylee. Her mother was there at the rest stops. Her aunts and uncles and tons of friends were all riding. I still have to wipe back the tears on that one. It really put most of my life into perspective. I am incredibly blessed. Over and over I just kept thinking I am blessed and fortunate.
Day two was the 100 miler. I was surprised to find that my legs felt fine. It was just my sit bones hurt. Even though it was long, I found day two easier than day one. And for all the sad stories we heard at dinner there were many stories of hope too. I rode most of day two with a gal who I rode with back in 2008. In 2008 she rode while in treatment for her second bout with breast cancer. Now in 2015 her latest scans have come back clean and she is celebrating having just gotten married and she rode the entire 200 miles, 100 of them on day two with me and my friend Robin.
And of course there is the indefatigable Lisa Frank. If you want to be inspired, follow this woman on her blog You’re Crying on My Cashmere https://yourcryingonmycashmere.wordpress.com/. Lisa is a FIVE time breast cancer survivor (she is currently in treatment). She is also the founding member of the YSC and co-founder of Tour de Pink. I first met Lisa back in 2006 (my first ride). At that time she was a 3 time survivor, kicking A on the bike, and running the show. Wow, talk about a woman on a mission. This year she was not able to ride but she was still there in force riding along on the back of a motorcycle cheering and stopping at each aid station lending support. She is a Queen. I bow to her and her determination, fight, spirit and love she has for every soul out there — in my book the definition of a Bodhisattva.
Day two was also special because my friend who I came to support completed her first century ride. She hadn’t planned on doing a century. She had hoped to finish day 1 but the wind got the better of most people and she was forced to cut her day short. But day two she really rocked it and finished the century to complete her mission. That is what this is all about, helping people complete their goals. And isn’t that just a metaphor for life? We are all just trying to finish strong. Tackle what comes, find another way to get it done when the first way doesn’t work? I was really honored to pull my friends for a good portion of the century. It gave me a little purpose. It gave me an opportunity to give back a little. I’ve been given so much.
Day three, I rode mostly with my friends. It was 57 miles and seemed to go by soooo fast. At mile 38 there was a rest stop and they said 20 miles to go I couldn’t believe it. What? Everyone was happy. Everyone was riding their bikes and an endorphin high. Next thing we knew we were crossing the finish line! A great reception.
I ended up raising $3,750 for the organization. I put in a good portion this year because I felt a need to give back. For my friends old and new who face the challenge of not just breast cancer but all cancers. For my friends who were there for me in 2009. For my friends who have lost loved ones to cancer. We are all one. We are all love.