Several weeks we signed up for the annual SpokerRide which benefits the fight against cancer. Obviously, this year, racing for that cause took on a special meaning this year.
On Friday, I ordered a couple of pictures of Chakotay and walked to Walgreens over my lunch hour to pick them up so I could have a picture of him with me while we rode.
Last year I rode the 25 mile course and wanted to challenge myself this year by doing the 50 miler.
We got ready and took the requisite pre-race pic.
By the way, see the dorky hat Marc is wearing? That is a specific hat made for biking with a very small brim so it fits under the helmet. Marc was thrilled to get it and it wicks sweat nicely. But it looks DORKY!
Anyway, we get to where the race is held and sign in before unloading our bikes. As I’ve mentioned before, biking is MUCH more “clique-y” I’ve found than running. Also, because bike racing takes some equipment, you don’t typically see too many “casual” bicyclists at the races. Not many are there for fun, they want to RACE.
So there were people from all over NYS and even other states and Canada. People with extremely expensive bikes and decked out in full racing gear.
Everyone was checking out each other’s bikes and talking about gearing and braking parts all excitedly which were a foreign language to me.
By far, men outnumbered the women, and the women that were there, by and large, were extremely lean and toned. I felt like a horse’s ass lining up near them and wondered if I had made a very stupid mistake signing up for the 50. I’m going to be last, and last by a LOT – I was thinking and would be humiliated.
The weather was beautiful – low 70’s and climbing quickly. There were some filtered clouds in the sky and the only bad part was some wind.
The start horn went off and the guys in front took off like bats out of hell. I was totally left in the dust. The 30 mile route and 50 mile route broke off just before 1 mile in and I gulped when I turned right and most of the pack went straight.
The first 15 miles of the course the wind was at our back and it was an ever so slight downhill. So I was going much faster than I normally can sustain and thought that I was kicking ass. Then at mile 8 we hit a MONSTER hill and I was passed by an older man and a guy on a EliptiGO.
Have you seen these things? You stand up and ride them like an elliptical. I’ve seen them only in pictures before and thought they were pretty cool, but I never imagined that you can go as fast as this guy was going – he was averaging like 15 miles per hour and the hills hardly slowed him at all!
We ended up passing each other back and forth for the next 10+ miles.
At around 15 miles in, we took a turn directly into the wind and the next 15 miles would be a slight uphill.
It got tough for me mentally and physically at that point – out on these back rural roads. I was pushing myself pretty hard and my legs were already fatigued and I was only 20 miles in – not even halfway. And I was getting pissed about the EliptiGO guy – no way did I want him to beat me!!
Around mile 25 we entered a local village, so there were people and houses and it helped me feel not quite so… isolated I guess the word would be. I finally passed ElliptiGO guy as well as younger woman who had stopped to drink. I wouldn’t see either of them again.
We hit a main road a mile 27 and a guy coming out of a convenience station in a large truck started to pull out and then quickly backed up after seeing me to give me plenty of room to pass. I started to wave at him and he stuck his fist out the window and yelled “YOU STRONG LIKE OX!”
I was a bit giddy at that point and giggled to myself for about the next 1/2 mile.
At this point we had finished the main ascent and the ground leveled off, to my relief.
At mile 35 I followed the paintings on the road and suddenly found myself on a very long and steep downhill. My bike computer told me that I was going about 35 MPH. I was able to coast for a good mile and it was lovely. Until I reached the bottom and realized I had to start pedaling again and still had about an hour to go.
I was starting to get very thirsty and had burned about 1200 calories and my stomach was starting to rumble. I had brought an energy gel with me, but it was in my bike seat and I didn’t want to stop.
At mile 40 I could see that I was coming up to the main road, so I pulled over and gulped a whole lot of water. I looked behind me and didn’t see anyone and was relieved that I wouldn’t be coming in last.
I considered eating the gel, but since I was on the home stretch decided against it.
I got back on the bike and headed off, counting down the miles. With only 5 miles to go, a road marshall blocked traffic and waved me through. I took the left turn and in front of me was a very short but VERY sleep hill. I frantically downshifted and pedaled as hard as I could on shaky legs.
From there it was just getting to the finish.
My goal was to finish in under 3 hours and 15 minutes. I crossed the line at 3 hours and 10 minutes and the actual course was 50.44 miles.
A pretty good time for me, but PATHETICALLY slow compared to the rest of the field. I came in 61 out of 68 racers.
But because only 16 women raced the 50 miler, I took 2nd in my age group. Whoopee.
A good cause, good workout (1600 calories burned according to my watch).