And we’re rolling…

During a terrifically long training ride on Saturday, my group leader said, “Don’t be discouraged, this is way harder than the STP will be.” Which was a huge relief, as I told her, “I desperately need that to be true with every fiber of my being.” And then I’m not sure what happened, I just sort of toppled over.

I’m not sure at which point this becomes true, but once you reach a certain distance in riding, it’s all a mental game. Regardless of the distance, it’s just really challenging, and there’s nothing you can do but dig in and keep going. You may want to curl into a ball on the side of the road, but all you have is a bike and your own will power to get yourself home, so it would just be a waste of time. That, and your muscles will freeze in that position and you won’t actually be able to get up if and when you eventually decide to do so.

Naturally, I thought of all that when my spirits were relatively high during the first 60 miles of the ride. I didn’t hit the wall until about mile 73, but when it happened, it happened in a big way. I just couldn’t keep up with the group, and they got farther and farther ahead of me and the hills, though unimpressive, where just not what I needed in that moment. I felt like I was riding really well for my ability level, but obviously not as well as my teammates. I was beyond frustrated, and just ready to be done. And, miraculously, 20 miles later, I was! Hahaha.

The good news is that I have done some long-distance cycling before, and I’ve done rides that are harder than the upcoming STP, but I’ve never trained nearly this much. I assume that based on that fact, this will not be as bad as I sometimes think it will be, and most of all, since I’m going with my fabulous aunt, Barbara, it’s going to be a delightfully fun time.

And training with a group has been great in many ways – they make me go much faster than I do on my own, I’m learning a ton about bikes and biking, and really a lot about myself (mainly, being reminded of my impatient tendencies…oops). And it’s been fun to get to know them. One particular moment stands out in my mind, as I explained to the group that while I’m a confirmed hypochondriac, I’m certainly not a germaphobe, I was picking bits of crud off my granola bar, which I had just dropped in some gravel. Good times out on the road.

I know that you’re anxiously awaiting STP photos and video footage, but for now, this slideshow of biking adventures from my college days will have to suffice. Enjoy!

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