I have a friend who I share a birthday with who said we should ride our age on our birthday. The problem with that this year was that I had just gotten out of a boot after several months. Yesterday I rode the Hot Hundred in Tuscaloosa and when I finished I realized that I had ridden my age, exactly, 52.77 miles. Pretty good considering I had a few bumps along the way.
The Hot Hundred has started at the UA Rec Center for the past two years. This year 450 riders lined up for various distances ranging from 29 miles to 103 miles. I had decided to try 52 miles this year. Last year I made it 36 miles and figured I could add a leg to that since I have been riding more.
The day started out overcast, a little foggy, and cool for July in Alabama. After the neutral start from the Rec Center to Capitol Park, I felt like I was at about the pace I had hoped for during the ride (between 14-17 mph). This was the section of the route I know the best, Sander’s Ferry, and it is fairly flat most of the way out. The first rest stop is at the end of the Sander’s Ferry ride before turning onto Highway 11. I was still feeling pretty good at that point but I knew Dry Creek was the next section.
I remembered that there is hill as soon as you turn onto Dry Creek Road. I forgot that is not the only hill. They just keep coming. I dropped my chain and had to stop for that after the second hill. The sun suddenly came out while I was on Dry Creek and made the Hot Hundred live up to it’s description as the hottest ride in the South. I made it up some more hills when I knew I had to stop for water since I am still learning how to drink water while I am riding the bike. My nutrition was ok but my hydration was not. I stopped under a slight bit of shade, drank some water and then tried to start again. I could not get clipped in, probably because I was still overheated. At that point I just fell over. At least two people stopped to help me – one poured ice water on me and the other one helped me up. Michael Hayes appeared in a vehicle and called the SAG vehicle. (Michael Hayes often seems to appear when I need assistance on the bike.)
I thought my ride was done at mile 17. The SAG driver picked me up and said that he was looking for a couple of riders who might have taken a wrong turn. I cleaned up the blood and tried to decide what I wanted to do. I was probably in the vehicle about 10 minutes and we didn’t find any lost riders. I decided I wanted to keep going so he dropped me off near where the Frog Ridge section begins and said he would watch for me in case I really did need to go back.
I had never ridden Frog Ridge before. It is a gradual climb up Frog Ridge before turning and then mostly down hill on Gainesville. It is a beautiful section of road. I was essentially by myself on the road though because the people I had been riding near had continued on and there were not many people behind me doing the 52 mile option at that point. I was slower at this point trying to make sure my knee and my bike were ok. I had not realized that the left hood of my brakes bent when I fell. They still worked though.
The Hot Hundred is a ride, not a race, so I didn’t feel pressure to be faster. I wanted to finish. At this point I didn’t realize that I would actually ride 52 miles since I had been in the SAG vehicle. When I got back and looked at the map I realized that I was really almost done with the section of Dry Creek when I fell and near the beginning of Frog Ridge.
I spent some time at the next rest stop, Romulus Fire Station, since there were places in the shade and iced wash cloths. When I started again, the road was mainly downhill back to Highway 11. I hit another snag just before I reached Highway 11 when I went over some very small speed bumps. My water cage must have come loose when I fell and it came off while I was moving. I stopped, found the pieces, managed to put it back together even though my tool kit was in my car, and went on.
Once I got off Highway 11, I was back to familiar territory on the Sander’s Ferry route. I stopped again, let the first aid person clean off my knee, and kept going. My water bottle cage started coming off again when I reached the rough section of pavement on Sander’s Ferry. I managed to keep it together until I spotted Larry Pierson in another SAG vehicle and gave him my empty bottle. That only left me with one water bottle and it wasn’t really enough to get back to the Rec Center.
The rest of the ride wasn’t bad until I reached Hackberry. That can be a tough little hill, especially since I had run out of water. I made it up the hill but I also realized that I really needed to get to a place with water soon. I was not far from the Rec Center so I wasn’t going to stop at that point. I made it across the finish line and headed to the DCH tent so they could look at my knee.
Cathy, one of my friends, met me at the end. She had been trying to figure out what happened to me since she heard I had been in the SAG vehicle but had not appeared. My phone was either not working where I was riding or I didn’t hear it because the calls did not come through. She brought me water, some kind of other drink, and a banana. It’s good to have people who care what happened to you. Cathy wasn’t the only one though and I feel very fortunate to have people who were concerned about me yesterday.
The DCH trainers looked at my knee, cleaned it up some more, and put a huge ice pack on it. Cathy noticed that there was also blood on the back of my leg so they cleaned that off too. I spent about 20 minutes with the ice on my knee, ate a little, talked to a few people, but then just wanted to go home.
Despite how it might sound, this was a good ride for me. It is the longest distance I have ridden so far and I learned several things that I need to do and work on.
I was not going to do anything today but Camille posted a message this morning asking if anyone was doing a recovery ride today. I emailed her back and said let me know when and where, I might be interested. I heard back from her and sent a message to Cathy to see if she wanted to join us too. We headed out about 4:00 to ride part of Sander’s Ferry Road but we wound up riding the whole thing. It was a good, easy ride with friends. I decided my challenge to myself today was to drink water while I was riding. The only time I had managed this previously was once during the Wet Dog Triathlon. Today I drank both water bottles and then some, with two stops when we filled water bottles at the churches on the route. I now know where to find water when I am riding too. I did have to stop to swap bottles from the back cage to the front because I haven’t progressed that much already. I felt like this was really good progress though.
Other thoughts from the week: Mind stuff
I’ve been thinking a lot about the mental stuff this week and things my coaches have told me. Last weekend I realized that I am really not afraid of the water anymore so why do I think it is a big deal? I need to let go of the old fear that has been stuck in my mind for too many years.
I also realized that I can push myself to do more than I think I can. Eric Doehrman posted the photo below this week on Facebook and the following: “Never underestimate the power of your mind, it can even melt ice if you are patient.”
Yes, the mind is powerful. My mind tells me I can’t go a distance or I can’t do a swim, or I can’t … but when I change it to I can do this, then that is when I change. At Wet Dog I ran faster than I would have on my own at the end with Eric running beside me. This week I ran 3.1 miles without stopping, walked about a 1/4 mile and finished up running for four miles. It was slower than I would like it to be but I did it. Yesterday I rode farther than I ever had and I got back on my bike after a fall. Today I challenged myself with the water bottle and had a far better ride since I was actually hydrated. It’s all a process and I will keep moving forward bit by bit.