Monday, February 2, 2009

75 miles better

Yesterday was incredible.

The team is incredible.

I'm beyond proud of myself right now.

At 9:30 yesterday morning I headed out, armed with leg warmers, booties, 2 layers of underarmour, and all of my new Rutgers team gear. My mom actually got tear-y when she saw me dressed up in team stuff. It was very sweet, really. She made me pose for pictures (I'll post them later) and then she finally let me leave.

I had no idea how hilly that 13 miles was. I was under the impression that it was mostly downhill with a few small uphills, but I couldn't have been more wrong. My hips were killing me from my run yesterday, but they worked themselves out eventually, just not quickly. I rolled into Frenchtown in 40-45 min and left my bike by the rack near the cafe the team meets in when they stop mid-Century. An hour or so (and a blueberry scone) later, the shop was attacked by a horde of sweaty bikers dressed in Rutgers kits. It was amazing! I actually knew most of them, and got over the whole "nervous around groups" business and had a great time just talking to all of them. It's funny though- I'm really not used to being recognized as a girl, since I've lived with all guys for so long, so to have so many people pointing out "hey, a girl riding with the guys" was really strange to me. It did have its advantages, since Don let me cut in line for the bathroom!
We headed out around noon, and I rode with them for 21-22 miles (at around 19-21 mph) into Titusville, down Route 29. It was so much fun, I had this huge grin on my face for the first 12 miles, talking to the guys and singing along to 867-5309. Once we hit Stockton, it was single file riding, so it was less fun, but still not terrible.

Don helped me figure out how to ride with a pack, especially how to slow down without braking and how to stay with the rest of the team. Andy shared a gel with me, and it didn't sit too well in my stomach. Because of that, I admit, the last couple miles were rough, and between my stomach and my legs being pretty angry at me after my run on Saturday, but with Rich behind me yelling encouraging stuff, I managed to keep up until they turned off and I biked back to Stockton.

I stopped after they turned so I could call my dad and tell him to meet me in Stockton so we could ride together, and when I stopped, a guy pulled up to ask if I was ok, introducing himself as a "fellow cyclist." It was very sweet, actually.

The ride to Stockton was half terrible, half amazing. Terrible because the side of the road I had to ride on was covered in slush and potholes with almost no shoulder and a hefty amount of traffic, and awesome because I was up to one of my longest mileages ever and I was thinking that I wasn't going to make it and after a few minutes, I just started picking up the pace and doing great again.

Dad met me in Stockton, I chugged Gatorade like it was my job, and we hit the road for Frenchtown. Again, thought I'd be dying, but we averaged 17-19 mph the whole time. We thought the ride back, mostly downhill, would be a breeze, but it turned out that the breeze was against us, in the form of an intense headwind.

We got back pretty fast though, after which Dad sardonically added, "you sure sped up after that other guy passed us."
What can I say? I'm competitive like that.

So I'm 75 miles stronger, and the morning after, I'm not in any pain, thankfully. I could have done the century, I think, but I wanted to spend more time with Dad and make him get out on a ride. Maybe next weekend I'll go farther with them so I do my own version of a century.

Anyway, my legs are stronger, and I finally am starting to feel like part of the team. For a girl, I think I kept up admirably well. Then again, when they took that turn and left me in Titusville, for all I know, they were laughing their asses off about me. However, if I give myself credit for one thing, it's that when I felt sore and my stomach hurt and I just wanted to slow down, when I didn't think I could go faster, when Rich yelled "go, Molly!", I went. If nothing else, I like to think I've got determination.

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