We all need a catalyst to prompt change. I’ve been reading Fatties exploits for quite some time and kept telling myself I should dig out the bike… but never did. I’m not sure why, but the moment I read about the 100 Miles of Nowhere something clicked and I signed up that day. The ridiculousness, the personal challenge, and a great cause all came together as an awesome goal. So after 13+ years of not really riding a bike, I got started. My ride – a straight up, old school, 1994 hardtail XC Jamis Diablo mountain bike. Fast forward through 7 weeks of slow, painful training and it’s race day!
The course was a half-mile loop around my block. I figured that if I threw a clot, at least I’d be close to home and neighbors who might call 911. Up early, ate a decent pre-ride meal, and got my aid station ready with the swag from the ride package.
Just because I like to make things complicated, I decided to catch a cold a few days prior. I loaded up with various drugs and throat lozenges and set off. First lap and I realized (after 7 years of living here) that our block actually has a slope! The backside of each lap would be slightly uphill. Hmmm.
For the first 20 miles I was a rock star. I contemplated mtb racing in the masters division. 16 mph average speed thanks to the downhill. I don’t know why I thought this would be so hard. And then boom – all of a sudden I had to shift down to the middle chain ring. My brother-in-law showed up to ride a few miles with me to show support. He was riding a beach cruiser and I was struggling to keep up. Not a good sign. A while later his whole family rode over and did a good 4-5 miles with me. Having the support of my niece and nephew riding along is what got me to mile 50.
The halfway mark was a real low point. I started developing tremendous knee pain in both knees and the head cold was just ugly. Riding alone, I settled into a pattern of doing 5 miles, then stopping for nose blowing, water, and a throat lozenge. Every 10 I’d eat a little something. Did I mention that I like to make things complicated? I decided to call up some gusty afternoon winds to negate any benefit of the downhill portion of each lap. Miles 50-70 were spent battling the urge to quit. I cooked up an elaborate plan to crash into the back of a parked car so that it wouldn’t be my fault that I had to abandon. As soon as I reached the three-quarters mark I knew I’d be able to finish. No way was I going to go that far and not complete it. The miles slowly ticked by. It was neat, in an oddly voyeuristic way, to watch my neighborhood routine from beginning to end. I was riding by from the time they picked up their morning papers, doing yard work, washing cars and various projects, afternoon chores, to barbeques starting up and kids being called in for dinner. Interestingly the last 5 miles I felt really good. Maybe it was just the satisfaction of knowing I’d accomplish my goal, but I was able to push aside the knee pain and ride pretty hard. Not quite the early morning pace, but close. The finish was a little anti-climatic. My wife had to leave for a previously scheduled event and all the neighbors must have gone inside for dinner. I rode the last few miles on quiet streets without seeing anyone. When the odometer ticked over to one hundred I simply rode up into my garage and that was that. It’s hard to describe the satisfaction of accomplishing a hard goal. I achieved two things. The first is getting back on the bike – I don’t know why I stopped riding in the first place, but it’s not going to happen again. I’m looking forward to a fun summer of riding the trails. Second, and most important, through the awesome support of friends, family, and co-workers I raised $685 for Livestrong! http://sanjose2010.livestrong.org/ericw A great cause and I can’t thank enough those who donated. Did I suffer a little bit? Yep. However, not nearly as much as folks who are impacted by cancer… so anything we can do to help the cause is a great thing!