The last two days were tough, physically and emotionally. Yesterday we rode 87 miles, which started out fine and after the first rest stop went even better. Our speed increased even though the hills were sprinkled along the way, and we were feeling good. Then we left the second rest stop and started into the Missouri Ozarks. The hills started coming fast and furious. Our speed decreased but we made it to the 60 mile mark in good spirits. With only 27 miles to go, we started off hoping to finish the day in fine shape. By mile 75, I for one, kept checking the mileage, wondering why it was slipping by so slowly, found myself grimacing with each hill looming in front of me, and prayed that my water would last until the end. The near 90 degrees along with the constant hill climbing had taken their toll on me. For the first time on the ride, I felt complete relief when I saw the sign for the campground where we were staying.
Today, we rode 79 miles. As soon as we started out, the hills carried on where they left off yesterday. Immediately outside the campground drive, we started up. And we continued the mostly ups with few downs for the first 10 miles. I tried to settle in, but my head kept saying today was going to be the worst kind of bitch. Still tired from yesterday, the legs complaining of too little rest, I just kept telling myself one pedal stroke at a time. Thankfully, the hills lightened up, the straights became longer, and my body started to find the rhythm I'm so accustomed to. I actually started to enjoy the ride. Today's ride turned out to be absolutely beautiful. We still had hills, one towards the end boasting an 11% grade, but for the most part, the hills were more gradual and rolling.
Tomorrow we have another 70+ miles ride, but I'm pretty sure after these past two days, it'll seem like cake. That's what I've come to realize about this ride: each day offers its own challenges, but when the day is over, the challenges don't seem all that tough. Our minds and bodies can handle way more than what many of us believe we can. Even today, when I saw that last gruesome hill coming at me, I didn't go all negative. I knew that I could do it because I'd done so many yesterday and earlier today. It became just another hill.