Well, today was the day. The G3 ride. Something I have been looking forward to, yet dreading, for the past few months.
Looking forward to because I knew I was in better shape then when I rode it last and I was pumped to do a long ride.
Dreading because…well, it’s a long ride.
To most, 75 miles may not seem like much. Heck, to serious cyclists, it is just another weekly ride. For me though, I am still not at the stage in my cycling where I can do that every weekend. And today’s ride helped prove why. It is a lot easier to motivate when you have someone pushing you/ you can chase the whole time.
Before I continue, I figure I’ll post the stats:
75.31 miles, 3,538 feet climbed, 20.1 mph average in 3 hours and 45 minutes.
I had thought that once upon a time I would bike in from my house. That would have added another 30 miles to the loop. (15 miles each way) In the end, I am glad I took my car in.
The initial registration ran from 6:30 – 7:30. The idea is, you check in, you depart whenever. Part of the whole biking thing that I am not comfortable with yet is meeting people and making friends. It’s the social wallflower in me. I know that I have nothing much to offer. I can’t really talk the talk and I can barely walk the walk. (or is it bike the bike?)
I feared riding alone.
Not because I would be lonely. I had my music with me. That usually helps keep me going. More because I didn’t know the route and I wasn’t overly familiar with the re-routes from last year. As we took off, I met up with a few familiar faces from my Wednesday night rides. We decided to leave together. Not more than 3 pedal strokes in, I was ahead as he had some kind of minor technical malfunction. (I found this out later…I didn’t leave him intentionally)
When I reached the first stop light, I was alone.
Much to my relief, two riders caught up to me. We exchanged pleasantries and I decided to join their group.
It was the three of us all the way until our first rest stop 20 miles in.
I was in rider bliss. The pace was perfect. Right in my wheelhouse. Was it because it was mostly flat? Maybe. Was it because I was in good physical shape? Perhaps. Was it the speed? Probably. 23+ mph for the first leg and I felt strong. Once we arrived at Gritty’s #1 (Portland), we decided to join a slightly larger group. With a newly formed pace line, we headed for the next stop. Portland to North Pownal via Yarmouth. A bunch of climbing by Bradbury mountain but not much other than that. Once we made it through Portland, the road pedaled smooth and fast. Our larger group, however, broke up before we reached the second rest stop.
After a quick banana and bathroom break, the original three headed off with three new riders.
This leg was the one I was dreading the most. Pownal to Auburn. A lot of climbing and very little rest. I would say 90% of the climbs occurred on this leg. The three new guys were fast. Real fast. The 6 of us motored along at a good clip, never dropping below 20 mph save one or two climbs but that was brief.
After reaching the third (and final stop), the original three of us met up with two familiar faces and departed. For whatever reason, I ended up at the front of the pack and just started to pedal. After a few short minutes, I was alone. Again. Averaging 23 mph for quite some time, my riding buddies caught me. We shared the rest of the ride together and pulled into the parking lot after riding for 3 hours and 45 minutes. You can imagine my surprise when I found out that we were the first group in.
When I decided to do the ride, I set 3 goals for myself; 1) Finish, 2) Finish in under 4 hours, 3) Finish with an average pace over 20.
The last goal was, in my mind, unattainable. I wasn’t going to make it happen unless I really pushed. And push I did. Thanks to the help of my two riding friends.
There is something overly gratifying when a rider says, “Nice Pull”. It’s essentially the bike equivalent of, “nice shot”, or “nice hit”. Getting one or two of these per ride is a badge of honor for me. It says that I am doing something right in my riding. I received a bunch throughout the day. It was totally self gratifying but, on the same hand, it was hard-earned.
One of the things that I wanted to make sure happened today was for Mary to take a picture of me in the same position I was in last year. I wanted to do a side by side photo so I could see the change in my physical appearance. (because, believe it or not, I still don’t see it)
Last year, left. This year, right.
There is still so much to do but I am pleased. I feel a sense of accomplishment. I also know that none of this would have been possible without the love, support, and encouragement from so many people. You know who you are. Thank you.
My only regret to the whole day is that, following the ride, I didn’t take advantage of the free beer and burgers. There were several factors that played into my decision to take off. Yes, one of them was motivated by my points for the day. True, I had earned 42 activity points but I had consumed 7 extra on the ride by eating a cliff bar. I also was feeling like I needed a shower and, as previously mentioned, I felt like a wallflower. Yes, Mary was there to keep me company but, when at a table with other riders, I didn’t know what to say. In the end, we departed and I got a much needed shower and lunch.
It was a monumental day. I am blessed to have been able to participate in it and am already looking forward to next year. In the meantime, I need to keep riding and training. Who knows…maybe I can ride in the Dempsey Challenge in October.