Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Marin Century

me being a goof on the bike. i didn't want to pay for these pics so i just took them off the website. 

one day a few months ago Stefan asked if i wanted to ride the Marin Century and without thinking i responded "sure." now please understand that's ONE HUNDRED AND FIVE MILES on a tiny little hard bike seat! at the time i didn't think much about it but when i tried to recall last year's ride i could only remember it not being sooo bad yet proclaiming that i didn't want to ride my bike for at least three months after the ride. everything else about the ride i had wiped out of my memory.

now because my mind tricked me into thinking the ride was easier than i thought, i had no real desire to train for it. between last year's century and this year's century i probably only got on my bike a total of 15 times or so. that really is nothing as far as keeping in good cycling shape goes. i decided to rely on my ability to endure. slow and steady wins the race, right? but in this case it just gets you to the finish line in one piece.

early in the morning we headed out to Marin. we got our bib numbers and headed out to the starting line.  we began our ride at 7:55am surrounded by the cold dewy morning air. i had on a tank top meant for cycling and a pair of those funny shiny butt padded pants that cyclists all wear. i also wore a long sleeved shirt that i was willing to throw away in case the sun decided it wanted to come out later in the day. i had my running shoes on with my feet in the pedal baskets and lacked sunglasses. i didn't look like a cyclist. and i'm not one. i just like to ride my bike.

wow. creepy rider coming through!! 

it was a cold first few miles but soon after riding your body begins to heat up. nine miles into the ride we hit our first rest stop. they provided us with plenty of snacks and hydration but after only nine miles of riding, i didn't feel the need to fuel up. we stayed for less than five minutes and took off. you don't really want to rest too long anyway because your body quickly becomes cold, making starting again harder. the next fifteen miles or so felt fine, although i didn't remember the ride being as hilly as it was last year. but then again, i was in much better shape last year. (a year ago i had been training for a half marathon, running an average of 25 or so miles a week, cycling and doing other exercises. i had also cut out desserts for a couple of months at that time). as we rode on we encountered plenty of rolling hills that weren't that fun but not too challenging either. the second rest stop came at mile 27. again we stayed only a few minutes, filling up on water and orange slices and pb&js.

off we went again. this portion was much flatter but around mile 53 or so there was a substantial hill that made me think "why did i sign up for this again!!! last year i didn't ride my bike for three months after! this hill is a jerkface!!!" i really began to regret even starting the ride. throughout the ride thus far i felt like my bike was sluggish. i kept thinking that it shouldn't be this hard to push on the flat parts and the hills seemed harder than they should have. but then i thought about it and realized i couldn't blame the bike. it was obviously me that wasn't quite as in shape as last year.

i reached the third rest stop at mile 57 feeling defeated. i was crazy tired and almost contemplated telling the people who organized the ride to drive me back to the finish line. i figured Stefan could go on ahead without me and i could wait happily for him at the finish. i mean, i'd already gone nearly 60 miles. that's pretty damn good. when i found him at the rest stop i learned that he was pretty tired himself. we took the opportunity to take a real break this time. we refueled and rested for about 30 minutes. i ate a ton of trail mix and chips. they also had some rosemary raisin foccacia that tasted like heaven, so naturally i scarfed down a few of those. after resting i felt better. there was only about 45 miles left and i've definitely done 45 miles fairly easily before. plus, i'd done this ride just last year. i knew i could do it again.

Stefan fist pounding the camera. haha! it was an accident. 

to my dismay the moment we left the rest stop we reached a hill that was steep as all hell. i rode most of it but towards the top i had to hop off my bike and walk about 300 feet. know that i hate getting off my bike. if i'm going to do something, i want to do it without handicap and i felt like walking was a little slump in my ride. i felt like i'd given up. sure, it was only 300ft out of 105 miles, but i hated that i had to get off. again i couldn't help but replay my own voice in my head, "whyyyyyyy did you do this to yourself? note to self: do NOT sign up again next year!" but you know what? after i reached the top and descended, i continued to ride. and i knew i could complete it. by mile 75 i told myself that there were only 30 miles left and that on a normal day 30 miles doesn't even seem like that big a deal.

i rode and rode and didn't feel like i hated the ride anymore. i just wanted to complete it. it wasn't fun per se, but the accomplishment of completing such a long ride always feels good. at about mile 90 i felt physically fine but mentally i didn't care to ride anymore. i just wanted to finish the last fifteen miles, get in a position that wasn't upright fetal and eat the meal at the end. at mile 93, just when i could see the light at the end of the tunnel, i got a flat tire. GAH!! forreal?? i called Stefan to come to my rescue and like a good boyfriend, he came back to save me. unfortunately he doesn't have too much experience changing tubes. fortunately for the both of us a stranger who knows much more about cycling than we do came and helped me. upon inspection we found that the tiniest piece of glass was slowly letting air out of my tube. this got me wondering whether the glass was in my bike somewhere at the beginning of the ride. remember throughout the ride i kept thinking that my bike felt sluggish. could i have been riding around with a flimsy tube this whole time?? seriously? oh, i just rode 93 miles with a semi-inflated tube, no big deal. NOT! geez! i wonder if i would have had a better ride if i'd found that glass earlier. with a new tube in, i finished the ride. we got to the finish line in the afternoon and i couldn't have been more happy for the ride to be over with. we got our lunch and i finished it off with a much deserved Hagen Daaz ice cream bar.

at this point i was pretty tired and didn't really want an ugly face on the internets for the world to see. 

even though the ride seemed harder than i recall it being last year, i'm glad i did it. it's always nice to be able to say you did something that not everybody can just get up and do. and even with no training whatsoever, i managed to complete 105 miles on a bike for the second time in my life. will there be a third time? who knows! we'll have to wait until next year to find out.

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