Every time you think you’ve endured all the tests that cycling can offer, there are inevitably more to come. We’ve all be through the disappointment of being dropped to high heart rates and high speeds, riding in extreme conditions, getting lost, and this sport being hard.
A few days later all those bad thoughts are gone and you are inspired to try harder. I recently started a ride on minimal sleep, but shrugged it off that is was part of the training. It was brutal setting an alarm for two hours after going to bed!
I got up at 3 AM and was ride ready by 6 AM, with 40 other people willing to ride 257 miles. The sunrise was only the beginning of what would become an amazing day. The colors were like they were part of a watercolor. Everything was perfect, I felt great, and had high expectations.
About halfway through the trip I took down some fried chicken and mashed potatoes. During the 90 minutes I was at the KFC I only saw five cyclists rip by me. I knew there were already two others ahead.
I thought the lunch was positioned perfectly because a 12 mile climb was coming quick. I stashed some extra clothing and lights to limit the dead weight, but this was my first sign of trouble. My foot was throbbing, swollen, and in pain with each stroke.
The climb finally finished in a beautiful town. I made a quick stop at a gas station to get our cards signed, guzzle water, and prepare for a long descent. It’s amazing how good that long descent felt. I was able to sit there and glide until the road took a turn upwards. The wind was on my face and the tires swooshing was a soothing sound.
Now it was approaching night so I needed my lights. Mine are very nice and light up the entire road. I’m sure I looked like a motorcycle to any approaching cars. The problem is that they only last about four hours.
I did have a problem thought. My bike started rattling and bouncing and shaking. I tried slowing down, but then ran into a pothole. It knocked out my headlights, but it was only unplugged and not broken.
At this point I had survived back pain, foot pain, cold temperatures, and now it started raining. It wasn’t a drizzle either but a downpour. I almost didn’t need my headlights any more due to all of the lightening.
Making matters worse was it started hailing. Hard, clear marbles were being thrown onto the pavement. I just missed being struck by lightning.
During all of this excitement I had forgotten to eat and was near starving. My body was trembling and I was dizzy, disoriented, sleepy, and even hallucinating.
I started signing to myself to try and stay awake and distract myself. It seemed to work. I also luckily found half a candy bar in my pocket to give me a boost of energy.
This was the time when I had to really dig deep. I was tired. Hungry. Cold. Wet. But I had to keep going to make the finish line.
Soon, I saw an oasis. There was a Wal-Mart up ahead. We rolled in soaked, freezing and starving. I made a turkey sandwich and then ate it quicker than any in my life. I took a quick 20 minute nap to recharge the batteries, then bought warm, dry clothes.
I needed to get going so I could get to the hotel, shower, and sleep before checking out. So, I took off and let my cold, wet clothes to pickup later. I rushed to finish before the rain started again, but I still got caught in some with 10 miles to go.
Finally, I reach the hotel nearly 24 hours after I had begun. I finished fifth and never wanted to ride again. Everyone was thinking the same thing.