Sunday, June 26, 2011

101 Miles of Pleasure, Pain, and Torture

Yes, I did it. I completed my first century ride, the Swedish Days Ride just west of Chicago. In the end, exhausted, almost overwhelmed by having actually finished something I've longed to do for a year now, I could only lean against the truck and take deep breaths to stay calm. The last ten miles forced me to dig deep mentally and physically, and at times I doubted my strength. Thankfully, at that ten miles to go point, I could see the tower marking what I thought of as home. I kept my sights on it and just kept pedaling.

The last leg was maybe a mile, all uphill and into the wind. I put my head down, telling myself Hubby, food, and clean clothes were right around the corner. Turning into the school drive, I didn't have to pedal any longer. I coasted from the top of the drive down to the truck parked in the lot just outside the school. Like with all the crazy things I do, Hubby was there, and when I saw that smile of his, when we high-fived, I just wanted to grab hold of him and hang on for a bit. His support means more to me than he'll ever know.

The pleasure of the ride was the 25ish miles I rode with Hubby. The wind hadn't come up during this time, so we enjoyed an easy, comfortable ride together. There were lots of other pleasurable moments during the rest of the ride: the Shetland ponies walking one behind the other along a fence line, the dragonflies hovering over the prairie grasses, the fresh-cut alfalfa filling the morning air with its sweet aroma, the wheat bending under the pressure of the wind, the croak of a bullfrog at the edge of a pond. The pain came around mile 70. The left calf began teasing me that it was going to cramp up. The lower back was moaning about having to lean over for so long. The shoulders and triceps were saying, "Hey! Cut it out!" The torture kicked in the last ten miles. Most of it was into a 14 mph wind, and to top things off, several hills presented themselves. I've not battled with myself mentally like I did today in a very, very long time. Today's ride was truly one of the most difficult things I've ever done in my life.

While I'm tired and sore, I'm looking forward to my next scheduled century. I have one month to recover, continue training, and prepare for it. Bring it on.


John Romeo Alpha said...

That's awesome. I've never done a century, but it's definitely on the list. How long did it take to ride it?

JK said...

We started out at 6:20 a.m., and I arrived back at the truck right around 1 p.m. My bike computer stops when the bike stops, so it showed the ride time being 6 hours, 21 minutes. I didn't spend a lot of time at any of the rest stops, just enough to eat, drink, and shake out the legs a little, so total rest stop time was around 15-20 minutes (I should probably rest longer).