Ironman Countdown

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Galena Lions Club Ride to See -- My First Century Ride

We interrupt the regularly scheduled shout outs and dedications....

Galena, MD, Lions Club

On Saturday, August 8th, I did my very first 100 Mile bike ride.  I had two scheduled (the next one is Labor Day Weekend) to help me get ready for IMMD.   I felt compelled to share a "race report" with you on this one, albeit this was not a race... just an organized ride.  And, as you have all probably figured out by now, biking it not my professed forte, so I am pretty proud of completing this event.

Let me start off by saying I was a bit nervous.   The longest ride I had done was 65 miles at this point.  It was not a question of finishing 100 Miles (my pride alone would have gotten me through it).  I was concerned I was not ready for it, that this ride would demolish me.  I have been doing the work and putting in the hours.  "But," the little voice in my head said, "maybe you haven't done enough. Maybe you'll finish this ride and want to die... and then you'll know IMMD, and the reality of sitting on a bike for well over 6 hours, may be the death of you."  So yes, I was nervous.

I was extremely grateful that my lovely friend, and Swim Bike Mom Ambassador Teammate, Sara agreed to drive up from North Carolina and do this ride with me.  That helped quell some nerves because I knew I'd have someone to ride with; and I know from previous long stretches of time spent with Sara that we can have a great time no matter what we are doing.  And we don't seem to annoy each other, even after hours on end.  It should be noted, too, that Sara is a really good biker.

Prior to Sara's arrival, I ran 14 miles before going to work on Friday.  I felt so much better than I had in my previous week's long run, but a lot of that had to do with the major break in humidity.

Sara arrived on Friday afternoon.  We spent the afternoon poking around the shops of Ellicott City near home, and she came with me to pick up Jack from camp and meet James and Julia at the pool.  We brought pizza and hung out, which was a nice way to relax.
the eggplant of Ellicott City

Saturday morning came early.  We were up around 5, shuffling around the kitchen making our coffee and tea, getting our water bottles ready, packing up our food, etc.  We loaded up our bikes, and off we went to Galena, Maryland, on the Eastern Shore.  It took about an hour and twenty minutes to get there, where we parked and checked in.  Everyone with the Galena Lion Club, all the volunteers, were so friendly and nice.  The ride extended all the way down and around Kent County, going through several small towns, with food/rest stops every 20 miles or so.  I have lived in Maryland my whole life, and I had never been to many of these little towns!
Map of the ride; the roads were all very well marked!

wearing our SBMAT bracelets from Therese

obligatory pre-bike selfie

ready to head out

Sara heading off

Sara and I headed off around 7:30 a.m.  It was a gorgeous day; low humidity and bright blue skies.  The landscape was all farmlands and wooded areas.  There were some rolling hills and lots of stretches of flat road where we could really get up some speed.  The roads on The Shore all have very wide shoulders, free of debris and well paved... so there's a feeling of safety and visibility which I love.  I am still learning how best to shift gears going up hills and down, and I am getting better at that.  Sara, on the other hand, eats hills for breakfast.  Watching her fly up hills in front of me was cool to watch.  She's faster than me in general, but I felt like I kept up pretty well.  I did not ride up on her wheel, i.e. drafting, because you can't do that in triathlon... so I did not see the point in doing it for this practice ride. 

The century ride itself was sparse.  No packs or pelotons.   So for a vast majority of the time, it was Sara and me on our own.  At the rest stops we might see a few people, and then see them again later.  But generally, it was a solo ride.  Had Sara not been there, I would have been basically alone... so glad she was with me!

Our first food/water stop was about mile 18, with a gorgeous view of the Sassafras River.  I enjoy saying "Sassafras" and kept repeating it.
Sassafras River
My favorite spot we rode through was a town called Betterton.  I had never been here before or even heard of it.  It sits right on the mouth of the Sassafras River and the Chesapeake Bay.  It was just adorable, with gorgeous views of the Bay, and a really wide beach for playing and swimming.

We then wound our way down towards the halfway point just outside of Rock Hall.  As we got closer to our food/rest stop at Mile 55, in downtown, we started noticing some people dressed as pirates... and the Jolly Roger flag was hanging from flag poles at the local homes... then more pirates... and wenches.... and children dressed as pirates.  As it turned out, it was Rock Hall's annual Pirates and Wenches Fantasy Weekend Convention.  It was fascinating, and made for great people watching as we re-fueled and filled up our water bottles.

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selfies with the Celtic Pirate we met named Molly

At this point in the ride, we were doing quite well.  Morale was high.  It continued to be a gorgeous day.  We were able to ride side by side for portions of it and talk/laugh.  We saw lots of old plantations and other gorgeous stately mansions.  We felt good.  And then came Chestertown.  The stretch between Rock Hall and Chestertown marked the beginning of non-stop headwinds.  Instead of holding speeds of 18 to 22 mph (and sometimes as high as 24), we were struggling to hold 16 mph.  The wind was unrelenting... and that my friends is what makes biking on the Eastern Shore so hard.  And that is also why doing rides on the Shore, for me, is so important to prep for IMMD.

Chestertown was our last major stopping point.  We had 25-30 miles of headwinds to go.  We got off our bikes and stretched, re-upped the Gatorade, had a snack.  So far, I had eaten two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, some peanut butter pretzel nuggets (thanks Therese!), and a Stinger waffle cookie.  I also had stashed my favorite peanut butter M&M's in my bento box (a small zippered pouch that straps to the bike in front of your saddle so you can access some food).  Periodically, I would have some of those to lift my spirits!

We headed back north from Chestertown for the longest 30 miles of our lives.  Mentally, it was hard to stay on task.  While I was not exhausted or to the point of physically wanting to quit or stop, I just was "done" and seriously tired of the wind.  We did see two other solo century riders, and, despite our own mental fatigue, we made it a priority to not just pass but stay far ahead of both of them.  At one point I was next to Sara, after we had passed these two riders... and I loved that, like me, her pride would never have let them catch back up, no matter how tired we were.  Have I mentioned Sara is awesome?
Sara, getting it done

And so it came to pass that 80 miles gave way to 90... then 95... then 98... and we entered back into Galena.  It was a welcome sight!
Welcome to Galena... indeed!

We finished back up at the school, and back with the amazing Galena Lions Club volunteers.  They had hamburgers and hotdogs, cold water and Gatorade, access to clean bathrooms to change clothes... and lots of chairs to just sit in for awhile.   Sara and I enjoyed sitting in a chair, versus sitting in a bike saddle, immensely.
so happy to be sitting in chairs!

We did it.  We rode 100 Miles... each of us for the first time.  I never thought that is something I would do!  And I am happy to say that when it was over, I knew two things:  (1) I still had 12 more miles in me, had I needed to like I will at IMMD; and (2) while I was happy I did not have to get off the bike and start running, I could have.  My legs did not feel trashed.  I did not feel low on blood sugar or any major fatigue.  So I guess all the training it working?  Or I was simply high on the feeling that I managed a 100 mile ride.  Either way, it was a great feeling.

We stopped for some good eats (and even better people watching) at the Jetty dock bar on Kent Island.  Then we headed home for showers and early bed times.  I think we were both asleep by 9 p.m. 
at the Jetty, watching old people drink and dance

I loved this ride for its beauty and lack of crowds.  I liked the terrain, how well marked the roads were, and how friendly all the riders and volunteers were.  Sara and I may even make this a tradition.  I am so very grateful to her for being with me; that was the very best part in my opinion!

1 comment:

  1. Sara's Mom told me that I needed to read this. Glad that I did. Felt like I was sitting on your shoulder