My ride on Saturday was long, hard and hilly. The end.
What? More detail is requested? All righty then. My ride on Saturday was long, hard, hilly and absolutely beautiful. The end.
More? Fine. My ride on Saturday was long, hard, hilly and absolutely beautiful. Our team met bright and early in Robertson Park in Livermore. I was looking forward to this ride for a couple of reasons. It was very close to home, travel time being less than a half hour in each direction. That meant staying in bed a bit longer and getting home earlier. It was also almost entirely on one road, thus lessening the chance of my getting lost. During the week I did lots of visualization and imagery to help me keep focused and happy on the ride. Didn't work too well.
We headed out in a nice tight paceline which was ok, but I'm still not used to riding with several of those women and I don't particularly trust all of them enough to just go with the flow. I was concentrating not only on the woman directly in front of me, but the women in front of her and the one directly behind me. Because of this I didn't take a drink for the first half hour or so of the ride, not a great idea.
After we turned onto Mines Road we stopped while Coach Beth gave us a few hints for the hills ahead. I took off my jacket and glove liners knowing I'd start sweating soon enough. Our nice paceline blew all to hell after about five pedal revolutions, all of us proclaiming that no no, I'm the slowest and have to go to the back. As it turned out, I was truly one of the slowest and remained at the back.
On the very steepest hills I can out ride a few in our group, but otherwise most of them are faster on the flats, the lesser inclines and definitely on the declines. I didn't have to worry too much about the declines on the outward direction though; they were few and far between until the last 5 miles. I remembered to eat my Pop Tarts and my gels, remembered to drink, remembered to look at the gorgeous scenery around me. Easy to look around when I'm spinning along at about 5 mph uphill. Not as easy when I'm trying to turn the pedals while my eyeballs burst out of my head on the steep hills.
I never had to walk but I did take momentary stops at the top of several of the hills, to catch my breath and return my heart rate to something approaching normal. It was very challenging but I was doing fine. My happy mood from the start was getting a little soured, but I was ok. Ok even when we rode past the little baby cow ("little" being relative, of course) in the middle of the road, bleating for his mommy cow. I had a bit of an adrenaline spike, but nothing like last week when the cow was grazing in my bike lane. I continued on until our turnaround at the 30 mile mark. I was tired, not looking forward to the next few miles of steep uphills, but doing ok.
At this point I lost most of the rest of the team. I knew they were out there, knew there were people not too far ahead of me and not too far behind me, but climbing was very much an individual pursuit. At one point on one of the steepest inclines a teammate passed me on the hill and told me "take deep breaths through your nose" and seriously, I felt like punching her since my nose had been both stuffed and dripping since about mile one. If I took a deep breath through my nose I would have had snot shooting out my ears. Er, sorry for that visual. So in my breathless state I just replied "nose is stuffed" and waited for her to pass me.
My mood plummeted between miles 35 and 40. We had another rest stop at mile 40 and I had my weekly meltdown. I don't know what's causing them, but they've happened each damn week for the past month. I was fighting tears and weepily told our captain that I just couldn't see riding another 60 miles. She quizzically corrected me and said I only had another 20, but I tearily stuttered "I m-m-m-mean in 5 w-w-w-weeks at S-s-s-Solvang!" Poor woman, I fell apart on her last week too and I just couldn't help myself. I felt miserable and my pity party burst into full celebration.
I couldn't hang around there too long because I just didn't want to be around people. I knew the rest of the ride was generally downhill with only a few uphills and a couple of grades. Still, it was 20 more miles and at that point my overall average was about 8 mph (damn hills). I wasn't in the mood for 3 more hours on a bike and I was dreading the whole thing.
As I rode along my mood and my energy gradually improved and I actually started feeling ok. I continued to eat, continued to drink, continued to pedal. I told myself that I could take a break at each hour mark but no more frequently than that. I really started to pay more attention to my surroundings, to the gorgeous hills and fabulous scenery around me. There were a lot of white-knuckle descents that I didn't enjoy too much, but for the most part I could just pedal easily along.
I realized it was great being out there and hearing just the three W's: wind, wheels and wheezing. Even riding easily my breathing wasn't very good. I had hoped that the rain would have cleared the air, and that being in the middle of nowhere there would be no wood smoke, but I was wheezing nonetheless. Around mile 50 I just stopped caring and started having a great ride again.
When I reached the end of Mines Road I realized that I had to follow the map back to Robertson Park. Uh-oh. Luckily there were signs so even though I wasn't sure if it was the way we were supposed to go, I could get back there. My mileage when I reached the parking lot was short so I continued down the road until my odometer read 60 and then headed back. I was glad to finish and except for being exhausted and sore, I was feeling remarkably chipper and good.
So I don't know what's with the meltdowns in the middle of each of my rides. I don't think it was a hydration or blood sugar or hunger thing since I'm pretty certain I was doing well in those areas. It could just be something I'll have to realize will happen and deal with and try to convince myself that I'll come out of it a hour later. It's embarrassing as hell to fall apart in front of not only my teammates and the support crew, but also in front of two of our injured who I'm sure would give anything to change places with me and be out on a bike. I don't like being the pain-in-the-ass on the team and as we all know I don't like being a stand-out in any way. Having very public breakdowns is not a good way to stay anonymous. I've been trying to keep it to myself, but it's obvious that I'm having trouble and the simple kindness of the people around me make them want to try to help me. Hopefully I'll be better at hiding it if it happens again.
My recovery this week is going quite well. My body is responding well to the