My plan for today’s ride was to learn how to draft by riding with my husband and a friend until I decided I could no longer keep up. Well, that worked for about 6 miles. Then I spent about 2 miles trying to get close enough to tell them to leave me. These guys started fast right at the beginning, no warming up just ZOOOOOOM right from the start. But then I felt winded and glanced at my heartrate monitor and saw numbers I didn’t want to see. And I could hear my spinning instructor’s voice echoing in my head “Don’t start out too fast and lose your energy in the first 20 miles because you’ll never get it back… You’ll never get it back…. You’ll never get it back…”
“GARY!” (That was my voice, not hers.)
“GARY! I can’t keep up. I’ll see you later.” And he and Steven were off.
When I was drafting I didn’t have the chance to enjoy the scenery. At one point, while riding between Steven and Gary, trying not to go too fast or too slow, I saw horses loping nearby. They were running ‘with’ us… until they reached the end of the fence. I wanted to giggle and enjoy the moment, but I had to focus on the tire in front of me, the crowd of cyclists around me and the potential for potholes below me. I realized the ride would be very different drafting. And I was getting tired. And so I fell back and tried to find my own pace.
It wasn’t long after that I saw a jersey for the group I ride with some days. “Ride with” is pretty liberal, here. They ride super-fast and plan to complete the MS 150 in one day. I just show up and park my car where they park. Then they fly out of the parking lot while my buddies and I wonder if we’ll ever be that fast. And when we finish, they finish, too… except they’ve gone twice as far. But, anyhow, I saw the jersey and got excited and seconds later the whole group flew by me. A few knew that today was drafting day and asked where my husband was. All I could do was laugh. They zoomed by me and gave me a shot of energy. Behind them, other cyclists tried to jump on the back of their paceline, but I don’t think any could keep close enough. Just seeing them and knowing them made me smile, though.
I pedaled along and, just as I started to get down on myself for not drafting, this man appeared and said “Come on! Let’s go.” I drafted behind him for quite awhile and my confidence grew. We chatted and cycled for a bit and then separated on a very bumpy very windy road. And then the route took a turn and I thought I was cycling on velvet. The road was smooth and the wind was at my back. I felt like I was flying. And I was. (Well, for me, anyhow.) And, not only was my speed fantastic, but my heart rate was just where I wanted it to be. Ya-hooooo! Soon I had cycled 35 miles and it was time for a rest stop. I pulled in, set my bike down and walked to the snacks and water to find my husband! What a wonderful surprise! We visited a bit and then he and Steven were off again. I refilled my sports drink, ate a bit, stretched and climbed back on my bike.
There would be one rest stop between this one and the end, and my intention was to skip it. Well, off I went, enjoying the ride, passing and being passed. And soon the wildflowers started, along with a few hills. It wasn’t long before I was riding past the rest stop 10 miles later. I scanned the crowds from the road and saw a University of Florida jersey! I couldn’t help but yell “GO GATORS!!!” And then I started thinking about how I could get some UF cycling socks or something to wear on the MS ride. (Guess I’ll work on that after I finish writing this.)
A little later I was again against the wind and getting tired. I heard “On your left!” replied “Thank you,” and looked over to see Mr. Gator jersey! I told him that I am a Gator and jumped behind him and his friend. I stayed with them for several miles and was quite proud of myself. And then we approached a hill and it started raining and I realized it was time for an energy gel (both by my odometer and energy level). So I was left again, but this time still filled with joy.
From that point I grew stronger, got rained on some more and had to just laugh at the rain. I found that it felt nice and was nothing like the deluge I experienced in Vermont in October, so I was still happy. And then we were pulling on to the Prairie View A&M campus and the ride was over. (Except I went the wrong way and added about a mile more than I was suppossed to, winding around campus. Oops.)
I waited at the car for my husband (He was waiting for me at the finish line I never found.) and checked my stats. I was elated! I knew I had a strong ride, and was thrilled to see my average speed.
This ride was a little different than most in terms of my fellowship with God. I prayed and tried to listen, but it wasn’t as it had been in the past. No big realizations. However, I know He was there, giving me a push and encouraging me just when I needed it. He’s the one who orchestrated all those things that made me giggle or gave me energy. He is the Master Planner. And today I tried out my new Bible in 90 Days jersey. I’m excited to wear it Day 2 of the MS ride.
Alright, enough of my babble… and I’m one tired girl, too.
Today’s ride stats:
distance: 62.24 miles
average speed: 16.3 mph (personal best!!)
maximum speed: 26.6 mph
average heartrate: 84%
maximum heartrate: 98%