Monday, August 04, 2008

Marin Century 2008: Total Success

Saturday rocked. I could just leave it at that and say that it was one of the best days I've had all year long.

Kelly and I!

My ride started with Kelly. We pushed off from the start around 7:45 a.m. Those first 35 miles flew - we just chatted and rode strong the whole way, and I was really sad when she had to leave to go home.

Climbing the Marshall Wall I thought "ohhh, now I remember what climbing big hills feels like on this bike." A lot of grinding, less spinning. The closer I got to the top, the harder the wind blew. A few times I really was concerned I was going to be knocked over! But, I made it, with some rewardingly gorgeous views.

After our great descent, it was time to ride solo. I was really uncertain how the rest of my ride would go. I like having people around to push me and I enjoy the social aspect of it. Still, I kept an open mind and looked forward to having the alone time with my own thoughts.

There were 15 more miles until the next rest stop - the 50 mile mark at Valley Ford. Along the way, I encountered some MIGHTY winds - which COMPLETELY ruined my descent at Dillon Beach because I wanted to just fly but the winds were so strong and they seemed to be pushing from both sides - I figured this was the only reason I was staying upright.

After Valley Ford, the wind continued and I wondered if I would ever have a tailwind on this ride - so far I'd only encountered cross winds and head winds!

I met up with a guy with a Triple Crown jersey - this is awarded to people who have completed at least 3 qualifying double centuries in one year. Wow!! We rode along for awhile, enjoying the open land that was leading in from the coast. The ad really seems true - the cows in (this part of) California sure do look happy!!

Another cyclist joined us at some point. My Triple Crown friend had tried to back off once already, saying "oh, I'm gonna let you go now - I don't think I can keep up," and I willed him to stay with me. But not long after we had found another buddy, I looked back and he was gone!

My new cyclist friend, Jeremy, became my riding partner for the last 40 miles of this ride. It was absolutely perfect because we were the same speed (well, up until probably the last 10 miles, when he was still feeling stellar and I was less than...) and had great conversations about anything and everything. At one point he said “this is so beautiful – I had no idea there was so much open land out here.” It made me remember to take in all of the space we were riding through and enjoy the beauty of it all.

I was good about this up until my epic moment of the ride, which was on Petaluma-Pt.Reyes road. At mile 87, after you’ve already done 5,000 feet of climbing – it’s a pretty mean climb.

I nearly cracked on that hill. I felt tears welling up, the strength in my legs was quickly vanishing and I honestly didn’t know how I’d get to the top. But then I remembered that I’d be there before. Last September, on mile 90 of my 130 mile ride, on Graton Road, I had been in the same spot: feeling defeated, upset, angry, tired, nauseated, hot, and simply finished. But I had taken a deep breath, regained my composure, and pressed on.

So I did it again. And Jeremy was patiently waiting at the top. I knew from then on, we only had one small climb on Lucas Valley and about 20 more miles to go. The wind was still pretty heavy, but we simply rode with it and didn’t try to push too hard.

In the last 10 miles, we were FINALLY rewarded with our tailwind. We ate it up and stormed back to the finish as fast as possible, savoring the fact that we could push some hard gears and feel like we were flying.

The awesome thing about this ride was that I didn’t have to worry about holding pace with anybody but myself. I was able to simply enjoy it for me and not be concerned with holding anybody up or going too fast. It allowed me to simply savor the ride itself, and ride a pace that I felt up to.

I felt so PROUD of myself. Then I had the realization that in spite of being proud of my ride time, I didn’t even care as much because at the end of the day, I was simply reveling in how much fun I’d had. I loved riding my road bike and remembered that it was on this bike that I fell in love with cycling. I fell in love with cycling all over again on Saturday.

I think I might do more organized rides solo!


Kelly said...

totally fun!

and i dunno how you kept that pace up for 100. i was pretty tired after 69.

Anonymous said...

Way to go girly! Be proud. Finishing a long ride like that is ALWAYS rewarding!

rocketpants said...

And you were worried about getting back on your road bike with its gearing?? (as I shake my head)

Congrats on a great day and it is always even that much sweeter to be reminded *why* you love the sport. There are a lot of days I know I have had where i'm more of the ilk of :WHY do I do this??? And then there are those sweet, sweet days that just remind us of THIS is why I do it.

Rainmaker said...

Looks like a great ride! I always enjoy those rides where I'm not super-anal about stuff like pace, HR, distance or anything else. Just out to wander and ride. That's the fun stuff! Glad you're able to get back to that!

Anonymous said...

Looks like fantastic weather, scenery and riding partners...doesn't sound like it could get much better.

TawnyJean said...

Oh man. Look at that first picture!
You have the best guns!!
Seriously jealous.

Mel said...

You are a total cycle machine....that is a serious with the hills and winds....ugggg...glad you feel in LOVE again and had a great time:)

Steve Stenzel said...

Nice ride! Way to finish with a nice tail wind!! That always feels good! (I wasn't so lucky yesterday...)