Before this ride, Zliten said he was really nervous. For some reason, I wasn’t. At all. Yeah, it would be our longest ride outdoors to date. Yeah, it would set a PR for climbing (beating our mountain ride in Colorado by over 500 feet). But I was totally calm about it.
I think it was the fact that it was fully supported, and I had 3 outs (turnarounds for the 28, 50, and 65 mile rides) if we really weren’t feeling it. Frankly, we would also have SAG support in case of the worst. Do I take those outs? Rarely to never. But… it always makes me feel better to have them.
Also, it wasn’t a race. We had a time where we had to complete the ride by, but there was no timing, no placement, and no stress. And I was on Evilbike, who’s become my best buddy this year. Death Star is very sexy, but we are still getting acquainted. Evilbike is <3. After about 5 years of constant misunderstandings, we just get each other now.
In the morning, we drove up to Liberty Hill Elementary School, which we thought was an hour away but really was less than 30 minutes – score! I completely did a stupid and didn’t eat anything pre-ride, just drank some decaf coffee with a little sugar in it, but since it was a supported ride with a buffet at each rest stop, I didn’t think much of it. There was a chill in the air that morning, but the weather forecast said it should warm up rather quickly, so I decided to leave my sleeves in the car and deal with it.
We started out with the crush of people, and made our way further up to the front over the first few miles. We couldn’t roll through the first 14 at 10 mph or we might not make it back in time! The ride was supported really well, we had motorcycle escorts on the main road making sure cars were polite. I want a motorcycle escort always please!
Then… it started to rain. Cloudy, chilly, windy… I was really kicking myself for not bringing my sleeves. It was probably the first 2 to 2.5 hours where I was cold, wet, and kind of miserable. I don’t ride in the cold much. This is the weekend my bike usually gets tucked away, except maybe a trainer session here and there, until Spring. I guess I have some things to learn about riding in different seasons. Next time, I will bring the sleeves. I probably would have worn them most of the ride and even if not, they fit easily in my jersey pockets.
I made up for the fact that I didn’t eat by hitting up the buffets as we passed them. Tally for the day: about 3 bottles of gatorade or gatorade-like substance, two date rolls, one caffeinated gel, one small brownie, a few handfuls of pretzels or chex mix, one pb pretzel bar, and one english muffin bacon and cream cheese sandwich, which I stuck in my shirt and ate from about mile 30 to mile 50. I’m starting to think about what’s going in my special needs bags mid-bike and mid-run at IM Texas, and I’ll probably bring something like that.
We passed all the turnarounds, and committed to the longest ride. We took the turn to do the loop that gives you the extra miles, and immediately was glad we did. It was the prettiest section of the course. I didn’t paparazzi a whole lot because we were working, but this is a great representation of what it looked like. Sweet Texas country.
We found a lot of downhill, which I just can’t bring myself to fully enjoy, because I know I’m going to pay for it, and pay for it we did. Thankfully, the climb was gradual (but long), and we hit the over halfway point, the sun started to peek out, and I was like, “Ok, it’s going to be a long day, but I can totally do this”.
At some point in here, Zliten and I were riding together, a car was riding behind us, so he ushered me to get in front and we happened to turn around a blind corner right as a truck came the opposite way. It wasn’t that close, but my adrenaline was definitely up for a bit after that. Next time I’ll use my common sense and drop back instead.
For some reason, the last half of long rides are usually my favorite. The beginning miles, I just start psyching myself out. When I’ve covered some ground, my legs are usually warmer, and I’m feeling better and more confident. In fact, I’d say that the ride was split pretty squarely in quarters. The first, we were kind of miserable and cold and it took FOREVER. The second, things were getting better. The third, I was really enjoying myself and I took the lead for a lot of it. It’s crazy, all my other 5 mile splits are 14 and 15-something mph, and then there’s this one that’s 17.8. I found some flat (or more flat, we still gained over 100 feet), and I was pushing us.
Then, after about 55, we found those rolling hills that Zliten really likes, and he pulled me until we hit the main road again. The last 25 miles, we averaged almost 16 mph while still doing a decent amount of climbing. I may have sent some psychic cuss words at him, but I stayed with it and then all of a sudden we were back on the home stretch (which was a LOT less nice without our motorcycle escorts) and then the ride was done. It was advertised at 79, we hit about 75, and I totally did not mind.
And then, after a distance and climbing PR, how do you celebrate? By running, of course. We changed into running shoes and at first my legs felt like lead, but after a minute or two they loosened up and actually felt really good! I would have been happy to complete a mile at any pace after 5 hours on the bike, but one at 10:10/mile? Super stoked.
I really wanted to get a good, over-distance ride in this half training session. It was nice to ride 75 miles, and then run, and realize that I could definitely have done more on both if I was pushing to exhaustion. I’d say I’m feeling it not in body soreness, but in a tiredness I can’t seem to sleep away (it’s the last peak week, this is normal for me, as long as I’m not stupid it will go away) and my appetite turned up to 11. I have eaten ALL THE THINGS.
Two more feats of strength coming up this week, and then it’s time to start tapering! Wheee!