Just today I cycled 80 miles with my team. We were supposed to initially ride on Saturday but the storm was so bad that we pushed our ride to today.
The ride was beautiful. We started about 20 minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge....we headed west towards the ocean...after doing a few maze like turns we were heading towards Highway 1 (along the coastline). It was cold, slightly rainy...and did I mention cold? My knees don't do so well when it is cold out like that so I had double layers on my knees to keep them insulated....it didn't work.
At about mile 40 I was feeling some discomfort in my right knee and it was wrapping around my whole knee area. I have never felt a pain like that before and it worried me. We got to the second food and water stop (or SAG stop) and I pulled our team manager aside to talk to her. I knew that I had some big hills to ride up today (one of which I just cycled down and got to see cyclist coming back up and it concerned me since my knee was bothering me). I explained where I was hurting and said that I was going to attempt the hill and A) either have to get off my bike to walk it B) get off my bike and get driven to the finish line if something doesn't go right or C) make it up the freaking hill. I was hoping for the later...but you never know with my knees.
I dropped off the pace line to take it really nice and easy while we were heading up to the hill. I was the last one in our group to start to get up the hill...and I am proud to say I was the 4th one up the hill. I didn't push it up the hill by any means...but I did the slow and steady and my knees survived! It was the hill on Sir Francis Drake that my knee didn't like at all. I got about 3/4 of the way up the hill (it was a long and steady hill) and the pain came back with a vengeance....so I actually listened to my body and got off the bike, stretched a bit and then decided to walk up the hill or at least to where my team manager was parked to cheer us on (she drives the courses all day long to cheer us on!). She saw me walking and got concerned. I told her that I just needed to stretch out my leg b/c it was hurting but that I wasn't ready to thrown in the towel. At this point I was only at mile 52. She gave me a "That a Girl" salute and then I jumped back up on the bike and finished the hill....with no pain might I add...then the downhill came...which was a much needed break from the climbing that I had just done for the last 45minutes or so.
At the bottom of the hill we had our 3rd and final SAG stop...and we had about 22 miles to go. I stayed for about 5-7 minutes (too long b/c I got cold again)...and then jumped back on my bike. One of my teammates and I decided to ride to the finish together. We both knew that we had one more pretty good size hill to get up and then the back of it was a huge decent...which I was really looking forward too.
The headwind came back with a vengeance around this time and my teammate and I both complained about being tired, about having sore bottoms and private areas (after sitting on a bike seat for that long I dare you to tell me you aren't sore!), and having wet shorts (again b/c of the rain and of course the rear tire throwing water back on us and the padding in our shorts soaking it up!). We were ready to be done for sure...but knew that we had another 22 miles to go. We closed the gap down to about 10 miles and then started to climb again. We had about 4 miles of climbing to do before the downhill was to start. I struggled with myself on this last part. I wanted so badly to stop...every part of my body was hurting and I was extremely tired. I played that horrible mental game with myself all the way up to the top of the hill...where again our team manager (Merla) was waiting for me...she was my savior today. Every time I was ready to stop she was there to cheer me on. As I saw her cheering for me I smiled...b/c truly that is what I needed at that moment. Someone yelling at me that I could do it....b/c in my head I didn't think that I could. As I got close to her I said, "Holy Crap that was hard!". Then I remembered my manners that my mom taught me and said, "Thank you so much for being here!" I also said a few other things that shouldn't be repeated. :) Again my workout tourettes took over me!
The rest of the ride was uneventful. I had about 4 miles of downhill and about 2 miles of flat to get back to where my friend would be waiting for me! I knew that I could do at that moment. As I was riding to the parking lot I heard horns honking and I looked over to the opposite lanes and there were some of my team members leaving but wanted to show their support with my finishing the longest ride I have completed thus far.
In a few weeks I will be in Solvang riding 100 miles. Am I nervous? Yes. Am I terrified? Absolutely...heck 100 miles is a long way! Am I going to do everything that I can to finish the the 100 mile ride? ABSOLUTELY!