This is it, it's crunch time. I have 5 days of "rest" and then it's the biggie, the long ride, the century, Solvang! We had our last team training ride, our taper ride, on Saturday and there's only one more ride together as a group. The big one. The long ride. The century. Holy crap, it's almost time to ride 104 miles at Solvang.
Saturday dawned much cooler than expected. The forecasters all blew it. It was supposed to be cool in the morning and warming with the sun. Sun? Not so much until after we were done with our entire ride. It was foggy and cloudy but at least there was very little wind. What a difference that makes. Like almost every ride this season I started with a jacket, ear warmers, glove liners and my toes were numb within 10 minutes.
We met in Danville and headed out toward Livermore for our "flat" "easy" ride. It's funny how the hills were so much easier than they had been several weeks ago. That's easier, not easy. I wasn't having a good stomach day so I was able to either eat and drink and feel like I was about to puke, or go without food and hydrating and hit the wall. I tried to do most of my eating at the couple of rest stops but that really wasn't enough and sure enough, in the middle of the ride (my nemesis) I wanted to throw my hands up and quit. I didn't, but man, I was tempted. I kept telling myself to just ride another 5 miles and I could jump in the sag, then another 5, then another. I was on the verge of tears for about 20 miles.
I went a good ways through Livermore at the front of our paceline right behind Coach Beth. She's one of the few people that I trust enough to draft off of closely enough for it to do some good. Her dragging me along was a big reason that long stretch went so well. Also, the scenery was spectacular. Green fields and hills, mustard, lupine, birds and baby barnyard animals. We saw the cutest, teensiest newborn lambs. I wanted to gawk but if I had slowed I would have knocked over our entire paceline so I just got a short glimpse.
Toward the end of the Livermore portion of the ride I started feeling low again and waved people ahead of me. I didn't feel that I could keep up with the line and wanted to go my own pace, even if that meant I'd have nobody ahead of me to ease the way. We had a short stop at our last waterstop and headed out for the final stretch, about 14 miles to go.
Once again my chain popped off and jammed when I shifted into my granny. Beth stopped and helped me to unjam it. The annoyance factor and struggle to free the chain gave me a big boost of adrenaline that helped me back out to the main road. Then I wore out again. I knew the rest of the route very well and knew it was easy, not a single uphill stretch. I fell back and took it easy until we hit town. Then I got my final jot of energy and flew back to the parking lot. I passed everyone in my group; I was on a mission to finish.
I'm hoping the stomach issues and the I'm-getting-a-cold feelings will work themselves out in the next few days. Obviously hitting the wall isn't going to stop me in Solvang, it'll just make it a miserable experience. As I intend this to be my one-and-only full century (ever), I'd like to have it be a good experience. My brain is ready. My body better be too.