Saturday, April 13, 2013

Gravel roads hurt my butt and my ego

Today began like every other day this spring, COLD. April 13th greeted us with a wintry mix of light snowfall, wind chills near 20 degrees and wind gusts near 20 mph. Sounds like a good day to ride, outdoors.

On the docket today, a 41.3 mile gravel "group" ride leaving from our local bike shop and touring some of the off the beaten path roads in rural DeKalb and Ogle counties. Today's ride was / is in prep for next month's Gravel Metric (62 mi) event. My steed of choice, my new Raleigh CX bike. My most fav part of that bike, the bar tape, there are tattoos on it.

Leaving the shop at 8 a.m. the group of 30 ish riders sped comfortably through downtown DeKalb heading south (I think) on pavement. Sweet, this pack was moving together and the wind didn't really suck that bad. My hands snug inside my lobster gloves were all snuggly next to my trusty hand warmers. I remember thinking to myself "I can do this." I mean I just spent an entire week in Kentucky tackling crazy hills on my tri bike in prep for St. George 70.3, gravel schmavel! We logged a 22 hr training week, followed up with an 18 hr training week culminating in this rodeo.

OMG, sooner than that thought flew from my head the "pack" including my husband shit me out the backend like a carnivorous amoeba. Then. They. Were. Gone. Dropped, alone, unwanted like a hairless Chihuahua.

Sigh.......then began my arduous journey to complete the 41.3 miles mostly alone. But not completely, I managed to latch onto a group of riders including Tim (Slender Fungus), Brent, Dave, Katy, and Mike.  Tim described our group as akin to the Postal Service, "We're not the fastest but we'll get there eventually." At my darkest point - insert inane laughter here - around mile 8 before I met up with the group I wanted to call it quits, ride the tailwind back to the shop, drink espresso with the Chad (friend and bike wrench) and wait for Al to finish up the hammerfest with the lead pack. I don't even know from where these defeatist thoughts were coming from. I NEVER QUIT! I've RUN 62 miles before and you bet your ass I wanted to quit during that nightmare, but didn't! Looking back I'm not sure if it was the feeling of being left in the dust, feeling completely out of shape compared to these titans of the gravel world or perhaps just being tired after two long weeks of training. But my negative thoughts were closing around me like a thick smoke. I had to break away, regroup and just stick it out and I did, it wasn't fast, but then again it wasn't a race.

There was only feeling good after that, or at least that was my self talk. I've ridden farther, I've ridden faster and I've been more uncomfortable than I was today. I guess in the end I found that you learn the most about yourself in the brutal beautiful places. You get closer to finding out who you really are and the best parts of what makes you you. You're out there along the gravel roads, blowing in the breeze, tangled up in the prairie grasses, and at the crest of the climb.

Cheers to growing . . . even if it is only at 10 mph


PS 41.3 turned into 42.2 group rides are never AS ADVERTISED.