Today was the SpokerRide which benefits Livestrong and the American Cancer Society. This is their 13th year (I believe) having this local race.
I never knew this, but Marc has been wanting to do this race for years but hasn’t wanted to do it alone. So he was excited when I started biking and wanted to do the race with him.
We got the bikes ready and packed them up the night before. There was a distinct feeling of forgetting something as I got ready this morning. But no, we were all set.
We got to the race start and as I’ve mentioned, I‘ve gotten to know a lot of the local racers for running but I didn’t see one other person that I’ve seen at the running races at the bike race.
Once again, though, I noticed people that were clearly “team members” wearing identical shirts and warming up together, talking race strategy and inspecting each other’s bikes. For the most part, I saw very expensive bikes – names like Giant and Cannondale and Cervelo. There were also some mid-range Treks like mine and very few cheaper bikes.
There were 3 distances for the race – a 50, what was originally supposed to be a 30 reduced to 26 (due to a bridge closed for repairs) and a 10. We did the 26.
We signed in, got our t-shirts and were handed small round timing chip. We were told where to get the zip ties. They had temporarily run out of the ties and we waited for them to bring more. That turned out to be a blessing, because I was all ready to tie the chip to my shoe like I’ve done in several running races. Then I saw people zipping the chip to the front fork of their bikes.
I would have felt like SUCH a DORK if I had tied it to my shoe!!!! I didn’t even think about it!! The zip ties arrived and Marc and I latched them to our bikes.
We then lined up and they had the 50 milers go first. 5 minutes later they sent our group off. We started slow – in a tight pack as we made our way out of the village.
Less than 2 miles a guy in one of the team shirts pulled over and quickly flipped his bike over while talking loudly and quickly into his phone – he had a flat! That has to SUCK.
I began edging my way around some people, pedaling fast to get by them. Marc had insisted that he wanted to ride with me, rather than at his own faster pace saying that he had no interest in trying for a faster time when he could spend the time riding with me (do I have the best husband ever or what??!!) so he was slightly behind me letting me set the pace.
“Pace yourself!!” he told me – afraid that I was going faster than normal and would burn out quickly.
I passed a woman who I thought was part of the local bicycling group that Marc created on Facebook who said that she would be at the race. I thought it was her and “introduced” myself as I rode next to her briefly. She confirmed it was her. She would become my self-imposed rival for the race, as I made it my goal to try to keep up with this more experienced rider.
We started to thin out a little as the super-riders took off and the slower ones lagged behind and we all spread out in the middle. We rode on regular back roads – there were some volunteers stopping traffic at some large intersections, but we did encounter quite a bit of traffic throughout the race.
As we neared mile 6 Marc warned me that he thought that there was large hill coming up that was supposed to be hell. Here is a screen shot of the hill captured from Marc’s Garmin Virb – I don’t know if you can tell how steep it is, but it was a KILLER – easily the toughest hill I have ridden.
I thought I was going to have to dismount and walk it, but I made it. My rival however, had passed me and as we neared the top I saw her hop off and push her bike to the top. I thought I was home free, but then I saw ahead of me yet another hill. Not nearly as steep but MUCH longer.
I managed that one a little better and passed an older guy who appeared extremely fit but apparently was having trouble with his chain.
The next few miles went by nicely. It was about 73 degrees, more windy than I would have liked it, but sunny. I expected to fatigue as I often do anyway, but especially because I had been pushing myself. But I felt strong today. The roads were in good shape, which helped. Marc and I talked as we rode. We passed some people.
As we neared the halfway point, we were passed by a couple people, including my rival! She went by and was GONE.
Mile 18 brought a HUGE downhill – which was great except I was going the fastest I ever have – 32 miles per hour – and to be honest? It was a little scary going that fast. I passed a woman who is apparently known as being a very fast and skilled biker, but she always rides with her TINY dog in a basket on the front! The dog apparently loves to ride and I looked over as I FLEW by them and the dog was calmly sitting up in the basket and facing the wind as we whizzed down the hill and appeared to be having the time of his life!
I saw another hill looming in front of us and was thrilled when I saw the riders ahead of us turn right onto a road right before the hill started. Marc told me that this was the road that would take us to a main state road that I am very familiar with and that we would head back into the village and the finish line.
“Dang!” I told him with a smile “I was hoping to beat the woman from our Facebook group – but she isn’t even in sight!” Marc laughed at me.
As we reached this main route, clouds were starting to move in and the wind picked up drastically. They had been predicting a cold front moving in with thunderstorms for the afternoon and it looked as if they were right.
We turned and I noted only 5 miles to go, so even though we were headed directly into a strong wind, I knew we didn’t have far and didn’t get discouraged.
We had been riding mostly side by side for the whole race, but there was a LOT of traffic so Marc told me to go ahead and he followed behind me on the relatively small shoulder.
And there – in the distance – I saw my rival. As we rode towards the village, we edged closer and closer and at mile 23 I had almost caught up to her. I threw a look back over my shoulder and there was no traffic so I pulled out and passed her. A minute later we entered the village and I pedaled like a MAD WOMAN (because I’m batshit crazy) hoping that she wouldn’t catch me. We flew through the village and took the right turn to the finish line and sped across.
Woo-Hoo! I had done it! Unfortunately, the timing company had a huge fuck up with the timing chips. They told us that they’re hoping to get it straightened out, but it’s HOURS later and there is still no results listed on the website. So I can’t tell you our “official” time or where we placed.
However, according to my Garmin, the course was 25.72 miles long and I finished in 1:36:16. That’s an average speed of 16 miles per hour. Since on a ride this distance, I usually average about 14.5, I’m pretty happy with that. I’d like to see the results to see how I compare with other women my age, but I think for someone who has been back biking for less than 1 year it’s pretty respectable.
We then went to the tent and ate the provided bag lunch. Then – BONUS TIME – they handed out the raffle prizes and I totally scored – I won a $200 gift certificate to a local bike shop!! Shopping time!
There were no awards given due to the timer problems so we hung out for a while and then left.
I feel really happy about the day as a whole as well as my performance. I hope you guys enjoyed reading about it!