100 Miles Later
About two weeks ago, I did something that I never in a million years thought I could do. Something that always seemed way too great to conquer, something that I never even anticipated wanting to conquer. The thought is still a bit unsettling…even now.
Two weeks ago, I rode my bike 100 miles throughout Napa Valley.
I blogged extensively about my training (or lack thereof) but wanted to write a little bit about my thoughts, post-ride, now that a bit of time has gone by and I’ve had a chance to recover and collect myself. First of all, let say upfront that I’m not a cyclist in any way shape or form. I’m just not. Growing up I was always pretty active (and by active I mean I was a dancer and played on the school tennis team) and in the past couple years I’ve started running and have done a few small races. Never before had I sat my butt on the saddle of a road bike or ever even had the urge to. You see, the threat of oncoming traffic scares me as does those menacing peddles that you have to clip in and out with. Clip in peddles and pecial shoes equals falling over at many a stop sign with the potential of getting hit by a car. I kept my distance.
Until, that is, about mid-February when I got contacted by the group that was putting on the 100 mile charity ride. Because I have a blog they assumed I had some sort of power in society so they asked me if I wanted to do the ride and blog about my experiences in hopes of raising money for the Livestrong Foundation to fund further cancer research. Always a fan of a challenge, I readily accepted without even pausing to think it over. Bike 100 miles? Why not. And so it began.
The first couple months of training involved me falling over at every stop sign I saw. The first time I got on the bike I fell right over in front of a precious little family walking their son to school. Grease-stained and embarrassed, I got back up. The next day I toppled over at a red light and after a momentary nervous breakdown, I regained my strength and walked my bike to the other side of the street. Oh, and the hills! Many times while chugging up a Sonoma County hill, I asked myself out loud just what in the world I was thinking.
I’d like to tell you that it got easier but it really didn’t. Sure, I learned how to successfully clip in and out of my pedals while at stop signs, stop lights and even in front of young families, but the training part stayed the same. I began to doubt myself and decided to cut back to the 67 mile option of the ride instead. Doable, but still challenging. I was set.
Until the day of the ride. My pre-race jitters were in full force but I felt a little more at ease by the presence of a good friend and her dad who had flown across the country to do the ride as well. They were set on doing the 100 mile option and persuaded me to do the same around mile 23. I was feeling good, feeling strong…the sun was out and my stamina felt regained after eating oreos and pringles at the first rest stop.
So we rode on. The whole time I was thinking that this ride could quite possibly be the hardest thing I’ve ever done…..but it wasn’t impossible. I thought about all the cancer patients going through chemotherapy in their hospital rooms who would have done anything to ride a bike on a sunny day. I also thought about my brother, who passed away at the young age of nineteen last Spring, who probably would have thought I was insane. That made me smile. And ride on.
It took us almost ten hours to finish (and by finish I mean we were the very last people to finish the ride…out of 1,000) but we didn’t care—we did it. I can’t even express the feeling of accomplishment and victory at the end, while stuffing my face with pizza with the people I love. What seemed completely unfathomable just earlier that day was now under my belt and done with. The next day I had a little trouble walking (or sitting for that matter) but that was nothing a little wine tasting couldn’t remedy.
Have I been back on the bike since the big day? No. The bike is dissembled and ready to ship to the winner of my Livestrong bike auction held on my blog last month. I have to admit, I was a little sad to see it go. You see, we sort of bonded right around mile 82 when I didn’t feel like I could go another mile but somehow found the strength to push onward. That bike, although there were definitely times when I cursed its existence, helped me learn more about myself and made me realize, once and for all, that I was much stronger than I thought and could do anything I put my mind to.
But, as for now. I think I’ll stick to running.