Sunday, April 4, 2010

Back in the Groove

I haven’t been updating this blog lately. Not for lack of things to say, I just wasn’t sure I wanted to say them out loud.

I’ve been having a really tough time with my Death Ride training this time around. My Inner Voices have been in full-on “who are you kidding” mode and getting on my case for being the slowpoke.

What was really bugging me was that, on account of my being so slow, the coach and the other people on the team who were stuck riding with me have had to start out at a stupid-early time, and continuously wait for me on the top of climbs, that sort of thing.

Well, to cut to the chase, after a particularly miserable ride last Saturday, I think I’ve finally gotten over that.

Last Saturday’s crappy ride, coincidentally (or not), was over the exact same route that I crashed on exactly a year ago, starting from Olema and heading out to the Pt Reyes Lighthouse and back by a very meandering, very scenic and very hilly route. It's a gorgeous ride, but this time around, I felt like crud from about mile 10 -- which, since it was a 68 mile ride, made for a very long day. I seriously wanted to pull out at the first SAG stop about 25 miles into the ride. Coach Sarah (filling in for Coach Peg), my mentor Maggie, and the incomparable DHK managed to find the right combination of sweet-talking and taunts to keep me going. Actually, what really did it was Sarah’s direct order: “You start my ride, you finish my ride”. Uhhhh, okay.

And it actually did get better. I’ve been noticing that on long rides I seem to get stronger over the course the ride. Well, relatively speaking. Since I was nearly at rock-bottom at mile 25 that’s not saying a whole heck of a lot, but it was enough.

Mount Vision near the end of the ride was pretty hideous, but I eventually made it to the top. I was very worried about the descent – down a steep, curvy road with bad pavement. My confidence in descending is still lacking, and this wasn’t looking good. A SAG driver (not Lee) pulled up just as I reached the top, and I asked him if I could get a lift to the bottom. Just then Coach Karen appeared, and she encouraged me to give it a try. Which I did, and it wasn’t that bad after all, although I was braking a lot and had a lovely case of crab hands to show for it by the time I finally reached the bottom. Yay for my new KoolStop brake pads, they were champs.

After Mt Vision, the only part remaining was the short, moderately steep descent down Sir Francis Drake Blvd towards Inverness. Which is where I crashed last year.

Our group was pretty much back together by then. First we passed by the clearing where I’m told the helicopter ambulance landed to take me to Santa Rosa (nope, still no memory of that). Then the descent started. Wow, the pavement WAS really chewed up there – I got a bit of perverse reassurance from that; maybe I wasn’t a total klutz! :D I was very cautious on that descent, but I wasn’t scared, I just stayed in the moment and didn’t dwell much on what happened last year. Partway down the descent we passed Kurt who had pulled off; come to find out later, he hit a pothole (they were hard to avoid) and had flatted both tires, ugh. Maggie pulled off to help him but I kept going, I wanted to be out of there.

When I reached the bottom of the hill and onto smooth pavement, and it was pretty clear I was going to finish this freakin' ride on my own power, I gave my companions a thumbs up. And then I got a bit teary-eyed. I managed to keep that under control, no way in hell was I going to crash at that point! The last few miles were blessedly uneventful, although they seemed to take forever. But I finally finished, booyah.

Here's last Saturday's ride:

Although I was very very happy to have completed that ride in one piece, I still wasn’t sure I was going to stay with the DR team. It took a bit more soul searching to finally come to terms with the fact that, yeah, I’m fairly slow, but not horrendously so, and my group members are OK with starting out early and hanging back with me. They're a super-supportive, fun bunch of people and I really enjoy riding with them (that includes DHK, but don’t tell him that, OK? He has enough of an ego already and he doesn’t need to know that he’s one of the reasons why I recommitted). So, here I am.

As it turns out, yesterday’s ride went really well for me. Oh, it was freakin’ hard, no mistake about that. I was still slower than snot, it still put the hurt on me, but I dealt with it much better. More on that later.

In the meantime, suffice to say it’s good to be back in the groove. :)


Thom said...

Woohoo Jo! So glad to hear you're stompin' those demons down! :-)

Keep on riding' chickie.


jobob said...

Thanks V! {hugs}

Joe K said...

Yo Jo,

You conquered more than those hills, aye.........

Just remember what Yogi Berra said about baseball also works for longish bike rides: "50% of the game is 90% mental" (g)

Slo Joe

Curtis Corlew said...

I know it's a pain, but you'll be so happy with yourself as you progress it will be worth it. Carry on! And good luck.