After my foray into the metric century ride, I needed a challenge. In Colorado, there's no shortage of cycling challenges ranging from flatlander rides through Denver to rides over 3 mountain passes, to the brutal century ride with 12,000 feet of elevation gain.
What's a girl to choose? Since I wanted a couple months to get into century riding shape, I started looking for rides in August. Knowing that S was itching to get into mountain biking and ditch his road bike for the summer, I thought I'd look around for one I could do myself. Enter the Venus de Miles, an all-women's ride that had the added bonus of raising money for Greenhouse Scholars. Win! I only pay $30 to register, raise $200 minimum and away we go! Given the number of rides that are easily $75-$150 registration fees, this was a bargain.
I signed up, and got to business. Much like my 62-mile training, I only had 2 days a week to ride consistently. I continued to bust my butt up the group ride hill climb on Tuesdays (getting rained on several times, and chased by lightning. No fun!). Saturday were 3-4 hour rides that turned into 5-6 hour rides as I got further into training. I joined a couple of group rides with riders that were way faster than me, and experienced the soul crushing feeling of being dropped.
My final long training ride was with the group: it was 97 degrees, I got a flat 15 miles into the ride. It was my first flat on the road, and I spent a good half hour swearing, calling S for advice and yelling out "I'm good!" while other cyclists sped by me at 20 mph yelling, "You got everything? You ok?" I wanted to change the tube myself, stubborn girl, so it took way longer than if I had accepted help, and I don't recommend trying out a CO2 cartridge for the first time on the side of the road. Carry a bunch, because you'll screw it up at least once. Eventually a couple of older guys stopped without asking and helped me get the tire back onto my frame. I thought I had held it together quite well until I got on my bike. Shaken, emotional and on the verge of tears, rode to a nearby bike shop to get my tire pressure checked. Thank goodness for that little shop! Tire pressure all set, new tube in my saddle bag, and I was ready to go. But where? I had the turn by turn directions of the route, but I was in wholly unfamiliar territory. Knowing that this was the day I had to shoot for 70 miles come hell or high water, I checked in with S, told him my plan and got going all by my lonesome. The directions were great, and with my phone (hooray technology!) I managed to finish the ride with 67 miles under my belt, some tears shed and a whole lot of sweating. At the end of that ride, I felt mentally tough enough to tackle the 100 miles all by myself. *side note* This is the power of being introverted. Most of my training was solo and I didn't care.
In addition to training, I started learning more about nutrition having suffered overtraining symptoms as I was getting ready for this ride. I really wasn't overtraining in the sense of too much exercise. There were always 2 rest days in my schedule giving enough time for recovery. Still, the fatigue and soreness were not going away the closer I got to the ride. I did a little research after a post I put up here on my blog and found that I was under eating. Without a whole lot of thought or tracking other than to make decent choices, I upped my intake on a daily basis, added protein powder and almost immediately saw an improvement in my performance and recovery. Hey, fueling your muscles is a thing!
Getting closer to the ride I felt ready, until I had to travel to MT for field work the week of the ride. So much for tapering off and keeping my legs loose. The hotel didn't have an exercise bike!
Next up....the debacle and conquering the 100.