Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Hardest Bike Ride Evah...

I have had the weirdest luck when it comes to bike rides this year. You may recall the missing bike incident a month or so ago. Well, two weeks ago, I got a flat tire on my car while on my way to another century ride. Sigh... I *did* need tires and I broke down literally a half mile from a mall and a tire store so it could have been soooo much worse. if you are going to break down, do it near a mall.

Last Sunday, I made the trek to another ride. This one was a metric century. I had originally signed up for the 100 but with all the bike issues and missed rides, I was not close to being ready for the full 100. I only had 50-60 miles on the new bike. How fortunate it was that I dropped to the Metric as I probably would still be out on the 100 mile course trying to complete it two days later. Really.

If you love hills, the Georgia 400 Century ride is for you. By far, the most challenging ride I have done. The metric is 5500 feet of climbing, the full century is 8700 feet of climbing.

As luck would have it, my friend Meredith (aka Swim Bike Mom), also signed up for the ride. We found each other in the wee hours of the morning at check in. Without her, the ride would not have been nearly as fun. (All pictures are courtesy of Meredith as y'all know I lack in the picture department).

Meredith had a couple of friends who we somehow lost pretty much from the start and the friend I was supposed to meet at the ride had an emergency and never made it to the start so Meredith and I were ride buddies for the day.

Had I known how hilly the ride was I probably would have brought the road bike instead of the QR. The tri bike is really hard to shift going up any kind of serious incline. Hopefully with more practice it will get easier but the combination of the steepest hills I have ever climbed along with a bike that I was still getting used to made for a challenging ride!

We made the most of the rest stops, enjoying the PB&J sandwiches, rice krispie treats and oranges. We ran into more than a few people that we knew and we briefly pondered out loud whether a person's pee could get backed up. We were answered out loud by a group of urologists who happened to be standing next to us. They chuckled and all three answered "YES" in unison. LOL. Turns out it can lead to renal failure (or something like that) so either pee on your bikes or hit the line at the port o potty. My public service announcement for the day :)

Somewhere along mile 40, I remember saying that the first 40 miles weren't all that bad. They actually seemed only slightly more difficult than the ride we do on a regular basis closer to home. I believe that is where my lack of awareness of the ride map was showing. As we were waiting for a luxurious flush toilet at the 40 mile rest stop (fear of renal failure and all...), someone quickly brought us back to reality. He announced that we had only climbed 2500 feet over the last 40 miles and we had 3000 feet of climbing to do in the next 21 miles. WHAT the WHAT? Thanks, Mr. Statistics. We moved away from him quickly, enjoyed another half sandwich and headed back out.

The last 20 miles has these hills known as "The Three Sisters". I wasn't prepared for the first sister. I had just laughed as we passed what looked to be a rather steep turnoff to the left. "Thank goodness we aren't turning left... ha ha". No sooner had I said it then the very next left turn was ours. Shortly thereafter, there were some very ominous words painted on the road "Big Sister". I am pretty sure Meredith squealed excitedly behind me "oh it is one of the sisters!". Had we known they were so evil, we would not have been nearly as overjoyed to meet them.

We are climbing, climbing and it is getting steeper, steeper going on for what feels like forever. at some point early on I manage to release the death grip on my bars to reach over and downshift to the smaller gear. (This is why I feel like the road bike would have been easier on this ride - simply for the three sisters. I do plenty of climbing on my rides but nothing like this. I tend to climb out of aero so at this point in my "getting used to a tri bike" phase, it seemed like quite the reach to let go and try to downshift without losing it.)

On Big Sister, I am not sure if I just mentally gave up or ran out of gears. (Road bike has a triple so I was missing that...). It was hard turning the pedals over. The road was kind of an S turn as we ascended and I kept thinking surely we are getting close as we rounded each little bend. I remember going around a bend to see there was at least another 1/4 mile or so of climbing and just gave up. It felt a little like that picture going around on FB about how your mind gives up before your muscles do. I think my mind gave up. Maybe my gears did too. Who knows. I have this fear of being clipped in and can't pedal anymore so I just fall over. Do you ever get over that? I don't walk up hills. I did this day.

More riding and here comes Middle Sister. Did I mention I am the middle of three girls? I felt that Middle Sister should have been a little kinder based on that alone. Some sort of camaraderie. I actually had trouble downshifting heading up Middle Sis. The chain got stuck as I was maneuvering the shift and down I went. Lovely. My right foot was unclipped so I fell to the left, naturally.

Meredith stopped to survey the damage and we walked our way up Middle Sis. I think that is what I felt the worst about - I know we could have ridden up that hill even though it was tough. Had I not had the shifting issue, Meredith would not have had to stop. DOH.

Little Sis was a much kinder sister. I enjoyed her company.

Once we were past the sisters, it was pretty much smooth sailing. There were two evil hills leading up to the finish but they seemed like nothing once we got to the end. All in all, it was a good ride. I love Century rides as you generally always have someone to ride with even if you just met them as you were riding. This ride was no different. After we got done, one guy came over to us and thanked us for keeping him going. I guess you never know who you are helping out there in one way or another.

Next up is the Covington Century, August 4th. This one is billed as the "flattest and fastest in GA". Yes, please.


Kate Geisen said...

I have the same worries about losing momentum climbing and not being able to unclip. It definitely makes me a little wimpier on climbs.

Swim Bike Mom said...

I wrote a comment and must have closed out the box. Because I'm smart like that. Errrr....

ANYWAY! Loved the race report... it was so awesome. And going forward you can write the official reports and I'll take pictures. And no I would not have made it up the middle sister. THat is all. :)

Ransick said...

Nice job! I would be worried about losing momentum and just falling over too. Nice you got to ride with a friend.

Jill said...

Loving that smile at the end - picture is painting a million words :). Great job on the ride - I am very impressed. Can you teach me how to like riding my bike? I gotta little tri in a few weeks, but I suck royally on my bike :(.

Suz and Allan said...

Great job! This one sounds really tough. Fast and flat will be a breeze compared to this!

Unknown said...

Way to get it done! You showed those sisters who's boss! :)

Looking forward to Covington. Should be a good one!

Miles of the Journey said...

Three Sisters? We have a "Three Sisters" bike course here in Texas. Yes, hills, bad hills. Of course.
And it is a great course. Good report

Matthew Smith said...

It's amazing to see how last year was compared to this year. You smoked it this year! Way to go on improving!