Saturday morning, I awoke at 3:30 a.m. to the sounds of my chimes clanging in the wind outside my bedroom window. That sound could only mean one thing: WIND. Wind is a nightmare to a cyclist and it wasn't any better when I heard the wind was gusting up to 35 mph out of the north. Of course, that was the direction I'd be heading on the bike.
I was taking deep yoga breaths on the drive to our starting point. I was so anxious and scared of the huge challenge before me. It was also brrrrrr cold outside. Thankfully, I had bought a few more items the day before to help me to stay warm. Whether it was the temperature or my nerves, I was shaking as I joined my team at the starting line.
We were off - bright and early at 7:00 a.m.
I knew I'd end up getting through the day alone. I am not a fast cyclist, by any means. And the strong winds blowing in my face made sure I stayed at what seemed to be a snail's pace. I was looking forward to biking with my girlfriend who had trained with me. She is the same friend who is going through her own personal challenge and decided not to ride after all. Everyone else that I'd trained with was much faster and more experienced than I. So, I was on my own.
After getting about 15 miles down the road, I wasn't so chilly any more. 22 miles into it, we had to walk our bikes past the site of an accident. I found out later a cyclist's chain had come off and as he forced it back on with his gear shift, it broke and locked in his wheel spokes. This caused his bike to flip and throw him on to the asphalt. His helmet broke into and though he was conscious and moving, he didn't know where he was. They ended up having a CareFlite helicopter take him to the hospital. I learned about lots of other accidents later. One cyclist was even hit by a car!!! And they drove off!!! She ended up amazingly completing the ride but still.
:steps on soap box:
Share the road, people! We have to obey the same laws as you do!
:steps off soap box:
This ride was fully supported which means break points every 10-15 miles, SAG vans (support and gear - to pick you up when you just can't go any further), medics at the break points and on the vans, police stopping traffic, etc. We were a big deal. Altogether, there were over 3200 cyclists riding for the MS Society. It was a sight to see.
The break points were a welcome sight. Each break point was sponsored by a company or group of people, all volunteers, and included food (snack bars, fruit, candy, cookies, crackers), drinks (water, Powerade, pickle juice - for refueling electrolytes and stopping cramps), medics (offering ice packs, sunscreen, pain relieving gel, ibuprofen and wraps for your knees), chairs, port-o-lets, and general cheer and support for the cyclists. One break point was sponsored by the Army National Guard... of course a reminder of my soldier. I skipped several break points on the first day but when you were ready for one, those bright orange flags and cheers were a God-send.
We also had a nice lunch break point about 47 miles into the first day. The volunteers had sandwiches, chips, cookies and more refueling drinks. We were able to rest and catch up with people who were faster or slower than us. I, of course, arrived right as my friends were leaving. I took a nice break and did some yoga in the parking lot before boarding the bike again. My cycling buddies starting calling me "down dog" because of all of the yoga I did this weekend. All I'm saying is that if it wasn't for yoga, I couldn't have completed this event.
After lunch, I did feel revitalized and I think my speed was better. The wind was at my back for the 39 mile trek south into our stopping point for the night, Texas Motor Speedway. I completed the full 86 miles on Saturday and arrived around 4:00 that evening to a BIG party. There was a live band, more food than you could possibly eat, bounce houses, massage therapists, showers, and lots of worn out people. Everyone was having a good time. I also learned that beer is good for refueling your carbohydrates. Who knew?
I ate so much and then just wanted a hot bath. I took the shuttle to my hotel, had a bath, iced my sore knees and slept, though not very well, til 3:45 the next morning. I was still anxious when I went to bed that night! More to come later.
Read about Day 2.