We decided to ride in a car around the lake, using the same route we would use the next day. WHY? Why did we do that? Ignorance is sometimes bliss. It is hilly, scary and stupid steep in some spots. We got back late too.
We made it to the final moments of the dinner and got a chance to cry our eyes out. The Inspirational Dinner is always the evening before every Team in Training event. It’s always a leukemia or cancer survivor telling their story. These stories and the brave, brave people who tell them get me every time. Every time.
So I cried. I was in a raw emotional state as it was. Over hydrated, hungry, exhausted and still feeling the effects of the altitude. I know, I’m a candy ass, I’ll admit it. I’m doing an event to raise money and support cancer survivors and I’m crying because I’m tired, hungry and scared. Scared of a bike ride.
We went back to the room to organize our gear, lay it all out for the next morning so we’d miss nothing. And then, I couldn’t sleep. Not one bit. Well, maybe a little. I think I had 2 hours before we had to be awake and get dressed.
I was so freaked out from lack of sleep, I was freaked out by my freak out and I couldn’t eat. I’m a breakfast person, too. I’m accustomed to really pigging out before a big event. And I could barely choke down oatmeal and coffee.
We got our bikes, went outside and got in line. I’m pretty sure I was shaking. And mental. The ride starts through town and is flat. It starts to wend through an alpine forest, giving us quick views of beautiful water and sandy beaches. Then there’s a sign. It says, “Closed to motorists until 11 am” We had the road to ourselves for the next 10 miles or so. We’d need it.
The rest of the day was punctuated by me taking pee breaks, choking down peanut butter sandwiches and baked potatoes. At least I was eating and drinking now. The thing that was really getting me was the overwhelming fear of riding my bike on the edge of a drop off. I’m a total flat lander. I don’t want to see “The Edge” or be anywhere within 3 feet of it. At some points my coach rode on “The Edge” of the road for me and I got to tuck in on his left side. That was about the only time I felt safe.
I made it up to the top of the first of several serious climbs. I felt I was doing ok. I made it in decent fashion up to the lunch break at mile 72. After that, it really started sucking. I walked up every climb. I was even scared on the downhills. On descents, I rode my brakes so hard that I was going about 12 mph. Which is way slower than my normal pace on the flats. That’s because they were all right along “The Edge”.
The longest and steepest climb is the one up to Spooner Junction. It’s 8 miles long and starts at mile 82. I think I was the second to last teammate still on the course. My coach was with me because he knew I was hurting. He had no idea, however, that I was going slowly insane. It got so bad that I was just walking with my bike. Didn’t matter if it was flat, uphill or downhill. I was tired but more telling, I was tired of being frightened. Fear will wear you down faster than hunger or fatigue. At least that’s how it seemed right then.
We stopped at a Team in Training cheer station. Team in Training staff, family and friends group along the course to cheer the Team along. I stopped. I asked for water. I sat down on the barrier between the road and “The Edge” and I quit.
My coach asked one of the Cheer Team if they could give me ride to the next pit stop. He threw my bike into the back of his pickup and we drove to the top of Spooner. On the way up we passed tons of cyclists. Including my husband, DD, and our friend Chantal. I think I waved. Or maybe was still drooling on myself. I’m not sure.
I was euphoric because I was off the bike. I no longer had to worry about “The Edge” because someone else was driving. I hung out at the pit stop for 15 minutes, decided I couldn’t mentally deal any more and hopped into the Official SAG wagon. The SAG drove us within a block of the finish, we all got out and rode over the finish like we had ridden the entire thing. Yep. We did.
I finished about 10 minutes before DD and Chantal. It looked like I kicked his ass. And I did not. This is the first time I’m publicly admitting to skipping the last 18 miles of the course. My husband and all of our friends soundly beat me because they rode the entire course. And I did not.
Riding 82 miles, for charity, in the mountains is an accomplishment in itself. But it still kind of lingers that I didn’t finish and that many of our teammates thought I finished before my husband.
So, here’s my vote for getting plenty of sleep before an event, even if you need to take sleep aids. Here’s a big Hell Yeah to Super Hydration, it works. Here’s another vote for eating even if you’re not hungry. And the biggest vote yet? Admitting to not having a great day and admitting to your DNF.