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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Going Off Course

I did it again. I missed a turn during a century ride and went totally off course. Thankfully, because I know the area so well, I was able to make my own route back to the starting point. Unfortunately, I ended at 95+ miles, missing the 100 mile goal. As penance, I rode home from the starting/finishing point to get to the 100 miles. In the end, I went 103 miles.

Most of this course I've ridden at one time or another. There was only one section I've never experienced. This section was hilly but manageable. And this section led into another that I've ridden before that I knew was very, very hilly. All last evening, I thought about one hill in particular and decided if I had to get off and walk, so be it. Century riding for me isn't a race. It's an opportunity for me to get out and ride a longer course than I usually do, enjoying the scenery along the way. The century route today was beautiful, and when I reached the section I knew was extremely hilly, I looked to my right and saw a fawn standing by the road. Doesn't get much better than that. As I came around the curve that led into the feared hill, I shifted into the granny gear and started the climb. Midway up, I glanced down at my speed: 4 mph. I told myself I can do this, and when I reached the top, I whooped a "hell yeah!" What I didn't know at that point was another more demonic hill was awaiting me a couple miles down the road. At the bottom of this hill was a smiley face and "going up" painted on the road. Halfway up, I looked down to see "don't suck" and a frown face. Not about to let this hill get me after conquering of the previous hill, I dug deep and continued on. Just about to the top, I looked down to see "hurting yet?" Yes, my thighs were screaming, but I had to make it to the top. And I did. I didn't have the breath to whoop another "hell yeah" at this point. I needed all the air I could get to keep going forward.

From there the landscape smoothed out, with just some rolling hills here and there. I stopped in at the gas station rest stop, downed some food and drink, then continued on. This is where I missed my turn. After reviewing the route, I figured out why I missed it. I was supposed to turn left right after leaving the gas station. This was when a truck pulling a trailer laden with furniture and appliances was coming up behind me and going around. Another truck was behind this one. I never saw the arrow as the trucks covered it as they passed by me. About two miles beyond, I knew I was most likely off course, but I didn't want to turn around. I decided to make my own route back.

The rest of the ride went by smoothly, and I was alone, just the way I like to cycle. Today, when I pulled into the driveway after serving my penance of riding home since I missed my turn, my kids and Hubby came out onto the deck, clapping and yelling congratulations to me for finishing 100 miles. My youngest came up to me and kissed my cheek. My gentle giant of a 14 year old gave me a big hug, laughing at how sweaty I was. And my lovely daughter smiled, saying, "Good job, Momma." I knew at that point that I was back on course.

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