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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    near New Paltz, NY

    My first "Big Ride" since getting back on a bike (long)

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    In May I started riding again after letting my bike sit for over 5 years. DH and I had been riding for a few years, and then I missed a season when I was very pg with my daughter (who just turned 5), then the next year it was too hard to find the time with a job and a baby and we were moving that summer, then the next summer I was pregnant again, and well, one day you wake up and realize that as much as you loved your bike, its been 5 years.

    At the beginning of the season I signed up for the Harlem Valley Rail Ride, to have a goal to motivate me into regular riding. There were 5 route options, and I chose the century while taking comfort in the fact that I could always do the 75 or the 55 if it came down to it. The 75 and the century were quite hilly (okay, mountainous), with 5500 feet of climbing on the 75 and 8000 on the century.

    Despite 3 and 5 year old children, a demanding job, a house with 2 acres to maintain (and, oh yeah, DH ) I've been averaging two weekday rides of 17-20 miles, a longer Saturday ride (longest was 45 miles), plus random bike commuting when I can manage it, to the gym (6 mile round trip) and to work a couple of times (16mi round trip). About 6 weeks ago I admitted the century was out of the question, and pretty much figured I would do the 55 mile route. Then last week I decided to just go for the 75, even with the 8mile mountain climb. (elevation profile is here: http://www.bikenewyork.org/rides/hvr...e_profiles.pdf)

    And yesterday I DID IT!!!!! It actually turned out to be closer to 77 miles, but who's counting? The first two legs went great. I was feeling very strong and was really happy with my time. I have a new respect for how hilly the roads around my house are, and consequently for how hilly my usual rides are. My typical average speed has been around 13.6, and my best was 14.2 on a 42-mile ride two Saturdays ago. Well, at the second rest stop (40 mile mark) I was averaging 15.2 and was really really happy with that.

    The third leg was 16 miles, up and over the mountain. It sucked. Hard. The climbing went on for 8 miles, getting quite steep about 4 miles in. I stopped twice, and each time had to walk a little to get to a less steep place so I could start riding again, but I'd say I walked less than 1/2 mile of the 8 mile climb. The descent was just as bad, very very steep, with potholes and gravel and debris from the previous night's thunderstorms (branches and sticks and leaves in the road), lots of switchbacks and tight s-turns. I heard someone behind me crash, but couldn't stop. There were plenty of riders back there, though, so I am confident he got help. A father-and-son team that I had been riding with off and on were in front of me, and the 15-year old son wiped out on a turn right in front of me. He banged up his elbow and had some nice road rash, but was okay and finished the ride. His dad was upset that he scuffed and scratched his brand new Trek.

    After the descent we hit the 3rd rest stop, at the 55 mile mark. I stayed there for a while, probably longer than I should have. I ate lunch, rested, stretched. When I started out again, I was feeling better than I thought I would. The skies were starting to darken, and I really just wanted to motor through to the end and beat the rain. But then we started riding into headwinds, which grew stronger and stronger as the storms brewed. I couldn't gain any speed with the winds. There were lots of rolling hills, and my legs just had nothing left for climbing after that mountain. I was riding painfully slow and just wanted to be done. The sky got darker, the winds got stronger, the thunder started first, and then the skies just opened. Torrential rain, thunder and lightning, and we were riding through miles of open corn fields. I went about 2 miles in the pouring rain, and then got to the last rest stop. It was about 6.5 miles from the finish, and the question was to stop and seek shelter or just keep going and be done. I decided to stop, which I think was a mistake. I got out of rain, but once I was off the bike, soaked, I was freezing, just bone chilled and shivering and couldn't get warm. The temperature had dropped significantly with the storm. I waited out the storm for about 1/2 hour, which was too long - my muscles were stiff and sore when I got back on. From there it was a gradual uphill for about 3 miles, then a hill climb, 1.2 miles with an average grade of 7%. It started to rain again just as I started climbing. I was tired and my legs ached and I had nothing left in me. It took me nearly 15 minutes to get up that hill, but I got up it, and then it was 3 miles to the finish, all downhill (which would have been fun if not for the rain and the wet roads).

    By the end my avg speed was down to 12.8. Total riding time of 5:58. I'm just happy I finished, and with my first big ride behind me I feel like I'm officially a cyclist again. I'm signed up for a metric century in September, which now seems like it'll be a cakewalk in comparison.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Newport, RI
    Wow, what a ride! I'm impressed. It must have been so scary to hear the crashes around you, and still have to descend on wet roads. The climbs sound painful. Good for you for getting through it. The next one will be a cakewalk!



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