Monday, March 12, 2012

Sunday's Long Ride

The ride started in pristine fashion with me yelling at Eric to wait up for me because "my bootie's stuck!" The weather on Sunday proved to make dressing appropriately for the ride, well, just impossible. Despite the promise of 60 degree weather in the afternoon, at 9am, it was a chilly 37 degrees, just too cold not to wear booties over my shoes. As the group started the ride, I went to clip into my pedals and couldn't get my right foot to click. I quickly realized something was blocking it, so I pulled over and realized my shoe cover was stuck on part of the cleat (part of the shoe that locks onto the pedal). With the help of a friend, we were able to get the bootie off the cleat, but not before we were left in the dust by the rest of the group.

After a few minutes of harder than desired effort, we got back to the group... and then a minute later, I hit a bump and down my seatpost went. Now, I snapped the bolt connecting me seatpost to my saddle a few weeks ago and was worried about it, but I thought the problem was going to be a bad seat position, not it falling down. Part of me thought about just fixing it and turning around to call it a day, but I was literally 12 minutes into the ride. I didn't drive to Berea for a 24 minute ride. So, I rushed to get the seatpost up, and I actually found the line marking the proper height for my seatpost. The guy who fit me on my bike put a groove into the seatpost so I could fix it if the seatpost was ever moved by a twitchy handed mechanic or something else. I then got out my cue sheet and made a few turns and found Eric who hadn't waited with me, but had soft-pedaled to make sure I didn't get lost. Sometimes, he's okay even if he did keep asking me if I needed a tissue to wipe my tears since SO wasn't there.

I knew there was no way we were going to catch back up to the big group, but I had some solace in knowing we had a stop relatively early on the route. We quickly caught up with a few people, and I assumed that they had waited for Eric so I kept working in vain to try to catch the big group, when I looked back, and they were significantly behind me. That's when I realized that
Eric was staying back with the people who couldn't keep a faster pace, and since I tend to get lost on these rides when I am riding by myself, I decided to try to help pull and stay in a group...not really a choice, I mean, ride harder and get lost or take it easy and stay on course.

When we made it to the first stop, I quickly went to the bathroom and then asked TC to help me adjust my saddle position, the height was right, but the angle was wrong. Well, it didn't take us long, but long enough that he and I along with a woman named Kim were kind of left behind. We were about 30 seconds behind the group, but that was enough with the bit of a headwind we had to keep us from re-joining the group. Truth be told, at that point, I hadn't really ridden with the main group at all so it would have been joining the group for me. Oh well, it was only about 10 miles to Medina, so it was just more time to enjoy not hammering on the bike. After a bit, Eric and TC held up and waited for the stragglers at the turns, and I kind of went and played sweeper. There was a bit of a headwind, and so when people fell of the pace line, they fell way behind, kind of noodling in the wind. As I rode, I caught up with about three different guys struggling in the wind. As a result of my playing conductor on the dropped train, one of the guys was so grateful that he bought me a cookie at the Java Bean cafe.

After a few "bonus miles" getting lost in Medina, we headed to Creston, and for once, I actually found myself riding with the group. I don't think anyone was hammering. I think it was a pretty conversational pace, at least for this group, but it was nice to keep up and still feel like I was putting in a solid effort. In Creston, we split into two groups: the century riders and the not feeling like killing myself group. I went with the latter, and while I think I could have handled a century, I was worried about my back and opted to play it safe.

The ride back was just awesome! The one woman who was definitely slower than the rest kind of gave us an excuse to take it easy and just enjoy each other's company and the wonderful weather on the bike. We didn't ride all that slowly, but we would wait for her at the turns,which gave us little pockets of breaks and enabled her to stay relatively close to the group. There was also a woman in this group, Christa, who I look up to as the kind of cyclist I want to be. According to TC, she makes riding strong look effortless, kind of the goal of any athlete to make the difficult look easy.

After crossing a major highway, we stopped on the side of the road to strip out of the layers of clothes we were wearing. We all looked like our own different version of a hunchback with our cycling pockets filled with tights and booties and jackets. Oh, but to feel air on my legs was just amazing!

The ride back was pretty uneventful until the other woman Christa and I both needed to hit a restroom, or at least some trees. We rode off from the guys, but by the time we found somewhere and realized we were digging through thorn bushes, they passed us on their way back. I have a few cuts and scraps from the thorns, but sometimes, a girl has to do what a girl has to do. We got back on the bikes, and we worked together to get back to the group by trading off pulls to catch up with the rest of the group.

We got back to Berea right around 3 pm with 70 miles under our belts. I think we all felt good and were all happy for Kim to have made it through such a long ride. It's days like Sunday that remind me why I love cycling so much.

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