Sunday, June 7, 2009

It's a ride, not a race! It's a ride, not a race!

Yeah, I told myself that more than once yesterday as me and some GF's participated in the Little Red Riding Hood Century ride.

It started out Friday evening. I had taken my bike in for a tune-up to my boys over at Taylor's Bike Shop. They tuned-up Patrick up nicely and even fixed my computer, added a second water bottle cage and added a nice saddle bag to carry stuff. I must say Patrick was be-u-ti-ful when I picked him up!

Loaded my gear and goodies and then picked up the Shark. While we were getting her loaded, Splenda called and reminded me that I had forgotten my recovery drink. Let me tell you, it's CRUCIAL that I have my recovery drink. After toddling back home, having him snap a picture, we were off.

Cruised right into Logan, unloaded the bikes and all our crap and then headed to the Firehouse.
Seriously, if you have not tried the Firehouse in Logan, you are MISSING out! Best carb load ever! And the fhzookie just tops it off nicely. Yes, I ate. A.lot!

We also had the BEST server. He was so good, that we actually took the time to tell the manager.
It was fun to also get a chance to visit with my sister, her hubby and the girls. And me being their favorite aunt and all, just made the night that much more special.

Tib and I headed back to our room and bedded down for the night.
Considering I had already taken my nigh-nigh-sleep-tight med, I was out like a light! Slept great and awoke to......RAIN! Are you kidding me?? RAIN!! Not.Pleased.

We packed up, loaded our bikes, and headed to Wellsville and the little park that the even was held. The rain had stopped, that was good. It was cold, that was NOT good. In the park, they had many tents with different companies hawking their wares and I took mental note to make sure I hit some of them at the end and see what kinds of deals I could come up with. I was even accosted by the big bad wolf!

I also took the opportunity to look around and check out the other riders. If you know me even a little, I am a tich competitive. Okay, let's be honest, a LOT competitive. And while this was billed as a ride not a race, I was still checking out the "competition". There were some very hard core cyclists. And, I have to admit, I was more than a little intimidated. This is when I began my mantra of the day. 'It's a ride, not a race. It's a ride, not a race.' Tiburon began to express some self doubt herself. She admitted a particular feeling to me, and to reassure her, I pointed out someone that definitely was beyond her. I was trying to make her feel better. This yet-to-be-named gal also played along in the costume contest so she was wearing a coconut bra and a grass skirt. I was not particularly kind in my observations of her, and my take of her doing the century in that grass skirt. Ashamedly, I said them out loud. Remember this, it comes back to me.

Carb loaded some more with bagels, muffins and banana's and then got ready to ride. It took some phone calling back and forth to find the rest of our group that drove up that morning, but finally, we all connected.

Before you knew it, we were off. It was cold. Not gonna lie. Very cold. I was wishing I had packed some leg warmers or tights or something to keep my lower extremities warm. But, it was what it was, and there was nothing to be done, but just keep going. The five of us stayed fairly close together for the first 4 miles, but as we were going along a straightaway, I hear Tib yelling behind me. I brake and turn around and wouldn't you know it? She had a freakin FLAT TIRE!!! Caaarrraapp!

Now, to be honest, Chad taught me how to change a tire, and so I knew the basics of what needed to be done, and we got somewhat started, but in reality, we were kinda floundering. I heard women pass by and call out asking if we were okay. Tiburon answered one of them by telling them that we just had a flat tire, didn't know how to change it but would figure it out. We continue juggling the "spoon" trying to get the tire off and wouldn't you know it? Here comes Miss coconut bra. She had passed us, heard our plight and turned back to help. She whips that tire into shape in no time. I was amazed at watching her. We asked her name. She is Angie, she works at REI and does this all the time. Her friends pass by, asking if they should wait. No she tells them, she'll catch up. She finishes up, we thank her and she pedals away, quickly pushing toward her group. I think my mouth was agape.

Let me stop the story right here for a minute. Talk about a lesson. I looked at Tiburon and said, "Never mock someone, they just might turn out to be your good Samaritan." As we settled back into our saddles, I let my thoughts turn to what had just happened in the space of less than 2 hours. I had let myself be less than stellar about a perfect stranger, and then that perfect stranger did for us, what we could not do for ourselves. I could not help but compare it to the Savior. He was mocked, he was treated unkindly, and yet for those very same people that were so mean and unkind, he was their Savior. I stewed on those thoughts for the next couple of miles and I believe it set the tone of the ride for me.

We continue pedaling on and realized the rest of the group is long gone. They are probably far enough ahead that they are not interested in stopping to wait for us. And really, I couldn't blame them. They were in a groove and wanted to crank it out and see how fast they could pound this thing. I get that, I understand that. However, right next to me is Tiburon. Clearly the pace we are working at is not the same as what they were doing. We are gonna get to the finish just like the rest of them, but it will be a different pace.

I had a choice to make. I could push on, catch the rest of the group and just meet Tib somewhere along the way. I bet you 10 bucks if I had said to Tib that I really wanted to push it out and see what I could do, she would have said, "Go, Go, do it, I'll be fine." But that would have meant she would be completely alone for the entire ride. That.would.suck. I wouldn't want to be alone the entire ride, if it were me. And I know, if I had been the one with the flat tire, she would have stayed with me. The mantra that had started earlier in my head came singing back. 'It's a ride, not a race, its a ride, not a race." No decision needed to be made at that point. I wanted to see it through with the Shark. We started this together and we were gonna finish it. Together. Period.

We found ourselves in a nice groove after catching the next rest stop, and making sure Tib's tire pressure was okay. Just pedaling along. Riding two abreast, chatting when we could, and single file when we couldn't. Along about mile 26 or so, we were tackling a bit of an upgrade when I heard someone call left. See, when cycling, the rule is, to pass someone, you pass on the left and call out "left" so the rider know you are there and does not make any sudden movements to the side. If there is a string of riders passing, the head rider should call "left, 5 back" or 6 back or how ever many there are in your string. If you don't, then each person in the string passing should call left. This makes the rider aware of just when exactly it is safe to make a move to the left if desired. Got that? That's the rule.

We're going along and I hear "left". Once. As soon as that rider is past, I notice something on my right (we were on a wide open road), and so I move to the left to make room for the motion I am seeing/feeling on my right. Unfortunately, there was a string of riders but hadn't made their presence known and before I knew it, I was at the bottom of a heap of bikes and bodies. I instinctively pulled into a fetal position and covered my head. I don't know exactly how many of us were down, but what's funny is that as soon as I realized that I was okay, the first thought in my head was to holler at Tib to take a picture! I refrained. After assuring everyone was okay, bikes were okay, etc. I then felt myself get TICKED. TICKED!! The whole thing could have been avoided had the riders passing followed the rules. I love rules. I love rule followers! So yeah, I opened my big fat mouth and said, "You know what would be great? Is if when you call left, you let us know how many there are of you. I heard one and once one was passed, I made a move left not knowing you were all there." The lead girl, responded with an "Okay, yeah, sorry."

They rode off having no apparent issues. I moved to the side of the road where Tib was waiting and assessed the damage. Some road rash, not too bad. Just some more pavement shaving as we like to call it. My bike seemed just fine. We saddled up and rode off. I noticed my front brake rubbing a bit, so at the next aid station I had the fellows take a look and get me all fixed up. The dude offered me a band-aid but since he didn't have Hello Kitty, or Barbie or something cool like that, I passed. Washed it off a bit and off we went.

As we continued we couldn't help but notice the sky. It wasn't raining at this point, but it was overcast, cold, and the direction we were headed looked downright nasty! In fact, to quote the Shark, "It feels like we are riding into the jaws of hell." Yeah, it looked like it all right.

After our next stop, Tib had heard someone say that there was a HUGE hill after the next 12 miles or so. Please, people, for the love of all that's holy, DON'T TELL HER STUFF LIKE THAT! She psyches herself out. Thus, psyching me out! That was a long twelve miles waiting for "the hill". When we finally spotted it, it had started to rain. Yep, RAIN! Getting soaked and now have to tackle this hill that we are told was 3/4 mile long and between a 6% and 7% grade. WTC?! On hills, I just have to push it. So I go to tackle it and It's hard. It's by far the hardest hill I have ever done. And, it.doesn't.end.

It's now POURING rain, running off my helmet, completely covering my glasses, and I'm still on this freakin hill. I pass a few people, calling "left, just one" as I continue to dig deep down inside for everything I have to keep the bike going forward at a decent speed. I glance down at my heart rate monitor and see that I am 109%. Um, yeah, that's how hard it was. Now the rain feels painful, like, oh I don't know, that it might be HAIL! Keep pedaling, keep pushing. I see a couple ladies off to the side of the road pushing their bikes. I can't turn around and see the Shark to see how she is doing, but in my head I am thinking, 'Pleas Tib, don't push your bike. Don't get off your bike. You can do this.'. I am hoping against hope that she'll gut it out.

I finally reach the summit and feel the burn begin to subside in my quads. Up ahead I see this. I had to snap a photo of this for a certain someone.
And yeah, it's the same Preston, ID that the film Napoleon Dynamite was filmed in. However, I was not interested in finding any movie landmarks. It's pouring rain, and hail, the wind is blowing like crazy and I'm thinking, I really don't want to do this that bad. I see an aid station and next to it is a building of some sort that lots of riders have taken shelter under. I head there waiting and watching for Tib.

While I am waiting, I take a few minutes to think about what I just accomplished. A hard hill. A very hard hill. The hardest hill that I have ever cycled. And I did it in the big ring on my bike! If you are a cyclist, you'll understand what that means, if your not, well, I'm just gonna say, I accomplished something! I could have made it easier on myself, but I didn't. I chose to push myself, not let up and see what I could do with that challenge. And guess what? I did it. I allowed myself to bask for a few minutes in the high that comes with defeating a foe.

Tib comes up, I am waving her over to the "shelter" and she tells me how she tackled that bad boy of a mountain. Girl took it by the horns and showed it who's boss! I was so happy for her! It's raining now, letting up a bit so we saddle back up and head back out. We are both soaked, freezing, and hungry. Lunch is not too far away. and to be honest that was what was keeping me going. The thought of lunch. Now, I had plenty of snacks mind you, it wasn't the food necessarily, but the lunch stop was at 67 miles which meant that when we stopped next it would be over halfway. That was a bench marker for me.

Good thing I had something to look forward to, because at this point now, we had turned back south and straight into a headwind. Not a breeze. Not a gentle whisper of country air. A full on, FREAKIN STRONG headwind. I have no realm of even guessing how hard it was, but I do know I had to hang onto my bike for dear life during several of the gusts. So yeah, wet, cold and windy. Good times. At this point, I think I might have said out loud to Tib, "I could kiss Chad for offering me his bike jacket." And had he been there I probably would have kissed him. It's the only thing that saved me.

We finally reach the lunch spot. We have now cycled out of the rain, the sun is starting to peek out a little and we meet up with the rest of our group. It was wonderful to get off the bike, sit in the grass, have a Subway sandwich and eat as many cookies as I wanted! I called Splenda and gave him our update. Talked with the girl's and relaxed for a few minutes. It was fun to hear everyone's version of "the hill" and the elements. I am proud of everyone in our group. We rocked. Just saying.

It was time to refill our water bottles, grab one last treat, take a trip to the porta-potty and get back on our bikes. Can I just take a minute and say how grateful I am for padded cycling shorts? Can I get an amen here?

Back in the saddle, and unfortunately back into the headwind. It sucked. Bad. I don't know exactly how many miles we rode in that crap, but it felt like a lot. It was a couple of hours worth at any rate. It was frustrating and discouraging to be peddling hard, on a flat grade, and still feel like you were climbing a mountain. My knees started complaining, and my back was clearly not amused. Oh well, just keep pushing......

Next rest stop, we pulled over. Drank, stretched and the sun had begun showing it's happy face a little bit more and more. Of course with the strong wind, we were all dried out so I took off the blessed jacket, tied it around my waist and put sunscreen on my arms and shoulders. It was refreshing to have more air on me and as we started back out, I felt slightly energized. About 2 miles from that aid station, I realized I left my gloves sitting on the table where the sunscreen was. I had taken them off to apply the lotion and forgot to put them back on. I glance at my odometer and knew we had about 30 miles left. I was NOT going to turn around for those. Nope! I could 30 miles with no gloves and buy more after I got home.

Between this aid station and the next was tough. Not a lot of side by side riding, so not a whole lot of chatting. Hills and head wind. It was tough. At one point I thought to myself, 'Self, I think I'd rather be running this right now.' I was sick of the stupid bike. I wanted off. I would look back every once in awhile and check on Shark and see her just keep pushing. I knew this was killing her, but if she could stick with it, then for crying out loud so could I.

We made it to the next aid station. More water, little break. Porta-potty with no TP - niiiiiiiiice. Popping advil and drinking gatorade. Tib makes some phone calls, I'm just checking out my legs to make sure I don't have some awful debris in my scrapes. We take off again.

The sun is out a little more and honestly between this aid station and the next, I don't remember much except pedaling, pedaling, pedaling. We did talk about all the different smells we encountered. To me, it was all very familiar smells. Smells that sparked memories. I dare say, comfort smells in a way. Yeah, I know, siiiiiiiick!

The next rest stop, the sun was in it's full glory so we slathered more sunscreen, I ate more banana and we refilled our water bottles. Tib took a look at the map. She seems to operate better knowing what is ahead of her. I would rather just go and see what happens. She scouted the map, I scouted the other riders and then off we went.

The next stretch was more of busy highways so it was a lot of two abreast chit chatting away, then a yell of 'car back', me slipping in behind Tib, waiting for the car to pass, me pushing back up alongside and picking up our stories again. I really enjoyed that part. The talking. I know, big surprise, but it certainly made the time go much faster. Funny how we could end on one word, wait while the car passed and then continue practically mid sentence.

Our last rest stop was another potty break, another banana and more advil. The support gentleman assured us that is was a fairly easy last 5 and 1/2 miles. Maybe one small hill, but relatively a flat ride. He LIED. Big fat LIAR LIAR! : ) It wasn't a small hill, okay, perhaps short, but STEEP. With a stop sign at the top. HELLO! That one required some out loud self motivation. I thought back on what the gentleman had told us and realized everyone's perspective is different. To him, that wasn't a bad hill. He probably had never biked it. In a car, not bad at all. So from his perspective, the only one he could have, his idea of the hill was much different than mine. I could remember that more often with life situations.

The last 5 1/2 miles in was nice. We pushed through the sleepy little town and to the finish line at the park. We pulled in to cheers from support staff and a gentleman was placing lei's around our necks. Tib crossed first so I got my lei and rolled up next to her. I couldn't help but just GRIN. We did it. We seriously DID IT! I called Splenda, fought back tears of happiness and then got OFF THE BIKE!
The official odometer?Oh Yeah!!

They had food, drinks and vendor tents. I knew things would be on sale, so off I went. I found these little numbers.
A jersey and all weather jacket for 50% off. They were a steal. I was more than a little happy with my finds and felt it a just reward for having done it.

We took one last picture at the truck and headed home.

Made phone calls, shared our news, and relived the ride. As we pulled into Shark's circle, we saw this huge banner on her garage.I cried. How cool is that? Got her unloaded, more pictures and then home I headed.

I pulled in the driveway to see Sissy and Splenda watching for me out the window. I couldn't have been happier to be home than if I had been gone for two weeks! I wanted food, a bath and my bed.

As I laid in the tub relaxing and trying to stay awake, I thought over the day. It was more than just a ride for me. Now, keep in mind, I'm not generally a very "deep" person, but I try to learn something from every experience I have. The Little Red Riding Hood ride was no exception.

Don't mock ANYONE. Ever. They just might turn out to be your saving grace.

Everyone has different paces. We're all trying for the same goal, but we have different paces, and that's okay.

Life experiences gives us perspective. My life experiences are different than someone else's so my perspective will be different. I need to understand that when dealing with others.

Hills are like trials. They are hard. And sometimes, you get hail, rain and wind (extra crap on top of it all), but all you can do is keep pushing. There will eventually be a summit. Just keep pushing. If I had gotten off the bike at any point in a hill, you either have to walk it the whole way, thus cheating yourself of the experience and what you can learn, or you have to get back on and start on the hill which is ten times harder. No matter what challenge we are faced with, just keep pushing. Giving up either makes things harder or you lose out on the blessings of having succeeded.

Friends are most important. People matter. Feelings matter. Relationships matter. Sometimes we need to do things for ourselves, that is true. And if you need to take an opportunity for yourself, well I say, good on ya! Only you can decide if and when that time or event is when it's time for you. I have certainly had my times that it's all about me. But yesterday I really had the point driven home that when we give up something for someone else, it makes life meaningful. When we put someone else ahead of ourselves, it brings real purpose to life and why we are here.

We are here for each other. To encourage, to assist, to lend our talents, to cheer on, to serve, to be served, to ride the hills with, to face the head winds, to cross the finish line with.

Life.....It's a ride, not a race!


tiburon said...

Is it lame if I say that reading your account made me teary?

I am one amazingly blessed person to have you in my life. And I know it.

Thank you so much for everything. For talking me up. For talking me through. For making me laugh. For distracting me. For being my biggest cheerleader (albeit without the rockin' skirt) and for just being awesome.

I heart you :)

Martha H. said...


I heart you so much and I'm so very proud of you. Thanks for sharing the lessons you learned on this ride. What an amazing experience for you and Tiburon.

Becca said...

Now my weekend is complete! You didn't dissappoint--in your report or in the lessons learned. You and Tiburon are seriously impressive and inspiring. And might I add that I would kill for legs like yours!

Kristina P. said...

I am a big fan of carbo loading. I do it daily. I just don't do the whole exercise thing after. Perhaps that's why I look like I do, and you look like you do.

You are an inspiration!

tammy said...

I'm teary too. Love your perspective and thoughts. And almost a little jealous of the love affair you and Tib have going on. My BFF is too far away :( Your pants look like they have flames on them in that pic with the waiter. And I am a rule follower too. FOLLOW THE RULES PEOPLE!!

Erin said...

That was amazing. I loved reading both your and Tib's versions of this. Good for you!!

Becca said...

I'm back--how could I not have mentioned Firehouse!! Love me some Fhzookie! Good thing I'm going there this week.

Cadance said...

I ♥ that ride cute!

Oh...what a good lesson about the grass skirt samaritan! Very good lesson!

OUCH! on the leg scrape!!

WOW....I didn't know there was shopping involved....You might have just convinced me to take up bike racing...just for the shopping at the end!!!

You are so freaking cute all geared up in that racing ensemble! You & Tib!

Love the guote at the end! "Life.....It's a ride, not a race!" I NEED to remember that more is someting that is easier to accept the more I age!!!

Vanessa said...

Gosh, stop making me cry! It was great to hear both of your perspectives on the ride. I am just in awe that you did it and finished...wihtout dying! You both ROCK!

Anonymous said...

What a great adventure!

Heather said...

I've been lurking on ya for a little while, but this beautiful post has forced me to comment.

Your uplift and inspiring words has set a great tone for my day. Thank you. With so much snark rampant in the blog world it is so easy to get caught up in that (myself included), so it's very refreshing to read something so uplifting. Well done! You guys are amazing.

Loralee and the gang... said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loralee and the gang... said...

First of all - I'm tired after just reading about what you did! You are a beast, woman!
And second, I love love LOVE your analogies. It's amazing what endorphins and exhaustion can produce in the way of epiphanies . . .

Alisha said...


Congratulations! I love the details and the lessons of your ride. I wish I would have seen you to say hello. You are a fabulous writer. Reading your post takes me back to the memories of my first century. Good Good Times! I love that you love the rules. :)

Plain Jame said...

Am I the only one still stuck on the pictures of pizza and fizookies up there? Holy balls I want I want I need!
Ok, I focus up - I focus... even though I already impatiently congratulated you, I loved your account of it. It makes my day to read uplifting things that people do to better themselves and push themselves. It inspires me. Obviously I'm not alone in that thinking!!!

Omgirl said...

You are a good, good friends. Good for you for staying with her. In the end, you'll remember that ride together far longer than you'll ever remember the time on your stop watch.

glittersmama said...

I love reading your race reports.

Your pants look like they are on fire in that picture with the server at Firehouse.

MiaKatia said...

Beautiful post Melissa. Thanks for the lessons learned. What an awesome experience for the two of you, thanks for sharing.

LaurieJ said...

Prolly my favorite post you have written. Thanks for the new life logo and bikers who do not call on the left!

Sue said...

This post has a little of everything!

Love your perspective and the lessons you learned.

What a fun time for you and Tib.

Can I just say your bod rocks!! Maybe I need to take up biking.

Motherboard said...

That is inspiring! My friend did that bike race, err, I mean ride!

(I need to apparently now go try the firehouse!)

Pedaling said...

i loved this post.
especially your ending comments.
also, with the wind and rain, i have to admit i am not so sad i missed the ride, afterall. i know i am a wimp.
i can do a mean hill, but i hate the cold and wet!
job well done.
i love how you are soft and emotional
with a hard bod!

Sher said...

You guys have just gotten way too hardcore for me. Here I am, looking forward to Ragnar, only so i can have an excuse to get it all over with and take it easy, and sit on my fat butt all summer, and you go and make me feel guilty.
You'll have to keep me motivated for those all night parties, I mean, runs!