Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Reveling in the Aftermath

Three days after completing the Gravel Grovel, I'm still mulling over the ride and how it affected me. Riding 62 miles of paved rural roads is all well and good; riding 62 miles of rural gravel roads with steep inclines along with some treacherous mountain biking terrain thrown in is a totally different experience. The roads I normally ride are mostly flat with some small hills here and there. I have cell phone service no matter which direction I might decide to go. During Saturday's ride, in addition to cycling on gravel for upwards of 90% of the ride, I also had no cell phone service whatsoever. I was totally cut off from being able to call for help if it was needed. At one point, right around mile 53, I was exhausted, trying to climb yet another hill, up out of the saddle, my rear tire spinning to the point I knew I was going to go down if I didn't sit, putting weight back on the tire to keep it firmly attached to the ground. My stomach lurched with the effort I was expending, and for a split second, all I wanted to do was break down and cry. The Gravel Grovel was doing a number on my head and my body.

I took a deep breath to calm myself and thought back on my first century ride. I'd felt the same way at the end, when I'd battled through the last 13 miles, 9 of which was in a headwind. Alone and tired, I really, really wanted to stop, but a small voice deep inside my head said, "You're almost there. Don't stop now." I finished that ride, and when I arrived back at the truck, I turned away from Hubby to keep him from seeing me nearly break down in tears from all the overwhelming emotions gripping me. The century I completed after that first one went better, with me never feeling along the way that I wanted to stop. My third century I was even stronger. Those rides, along with my summer ride across the US, have instilled in me a confidence that rises up when I most need it. That small voice I'd heard during my first century wasn't so small on Saturday. When all I wanted to do was give in, that voice, loud and clear, said, "The last six miles are all downhill. Just three more miles. Just three more miles." I leaned down over the handlebars and kept on going. At the six miles to go mark, I saw Hubby standing near the road, snapping pictures as I approached. I knew then I had the ride all but wrapped up.

Since finishing Saturday's ride, my shoulders have been achy, my hips fatigued. The Gravel Grovel may have left its mark on me, but I won the battle. Now I look forward to the next one.


Penny said...

Nice job! Way for the hubby to provide that spark giving you the determination to finish!

I think of the movie the Little Giants quote "80% mental and 40% physical"! Its the mental challenge that I often struggle with and not just in sports!

JK said...

The mental challenge is tough, no doubt. I've found the more I ride and accomplish, the less the mental seeps in. I should qualify this by saying at least until I'm so fatigued and have nothing left in the tank!