Sunday, September 18, 2016

Upstate Forever Preservation ride, 9/17

This was my first charity bike ride since I got back to riding in July. I was quick to sign up for it because it started from Strawberry Hill, where I like to buy peaches. I had worked my way up to a couple of 33 mile rides around Pendleton, so I signed up for the 40.

They started the 79 mile riders at 8 am and the 40 and then the 20 mile riders at 9. There must have been close to 100 in those two groups, looking more professional than the usual group when I was doing triathlons. I didn't notice anyone else with any kind of aerobars (used by triathletes but not by road bike riders--my bike is set up for both).

I put the cue sheet in my top tube bag, but I didn't look at it closely to know what to expect. For the first 5 miles I rode towards the end of the 40 mile group, passing people on the downhills and being passed on the uphills. But after 5 miles no one else was in sight. I saw a tandem fixing a flat tire and they later passed me, as did a few others who must have started late. By about 10 miles the sag car had settled in behind me, thankfully staying fairly far back but still making me very aware that I was bringing up the rear.

I fought with my feelings that they would be annoyed with having a slower rider and that I didn't belong because I had come alone and was slower than everyone else. The first 10 miles were on fairly busy roads with lots of sprawl, but after that it was beautiful. I didn't push too hard, I knew I was going farther than I had gone before and didn't want to wear myself out too early. I had folded the cue sheet in half and I finished the first half and so couldn't see what was coming up. It seemed forever to get to the rest stop--it was at 25 miles and I was running out of water. There were other people still there when I got there, which made me feel a little better--I wasn't horribly far behind everyone else. I filled up my water bottle and ate a banana.

There were times in the next 10 miles where I thought if there is another hill this bad (none were horrible) I will quit. I was struggling more mentally than physically; it was hard but not beyond what I was ready to do. I worried about things like whether there would be any lunch left when I got in. I was cheered by being passed by several groups doing the 79 mile ride, every one of whom said "good job" to me. Then the last 5 miles I caught up with three people, two of whom were waiting for their friend who was doing the ride on his mountain bike. I was so glad not to be alone at the end.

There was plenty of lunch left and it was excellent: green salad, chicken, corn and bean salad, and cut up melon. I sat down with some people who looked closer to me in age but didn't get into their conversation. Then they left and one of the people from the sag car sat down with me and told me how proud he was of me for completing the ride. Again I had to fight my negative thinking--was he impressed because I was overweight or looked like I was struggling that badly? There are plenty of riders my age and older, though the riders over 60 tend to look particularly fit. But I did hear the positive as well, that the people in the sag car had been thinking good thoughts about me and I was welcome even if I was slow. I averaged just under 12 mph, which is what I would expect on a long ride at this point.