In my last post, I mentioned that my training was derailed due to a bout of illness. Well, I feel much better now and as far as I’m concerned, the double century is still on. (Wait, did I just say that?) My mileage decreased significantly over the past week due to fatigue, etc.; for instance, on Saturday, I was supposed to do an ultra-century (100+ miles) and only succeeded in pedaling 22 miles. That is 10% of what I am supposed to do in less than 2 weeks. Oh well, I’ll just do my best in the time I have left. My SAT said that I could push back the date of my double century, but I do not want to do that. I really really want to do the double on the date I originally scheduled, which is February 28. I want to enter the month of March without worrying about scheduling long rides! I want the freedom of having the time to do other things and I want the satisfaction of having completed a goal on time. Call me stubborn, call me inflexible, call me maybe?
Well, it was bound to happen. I’m sick. Sort of. I’ve been fortunate to be blessed with good health and rarely get hit by colds, flus, and other such maladies. Today was supposed to be a long training ride — 124 miles, to be exact — but when I woke up this morning, I felt tired (more than usual), detected a sore-ish throat, headache, and runny nose. Maybe it’s an allergic reaction to the idea of a long ride….maybe it’s an allergic reaction to whatever is in the air….or maybe it’s the beginning of a legitimate ailment. My SAT and I decided to head out to meet our usual Saturday group and see how I felt along the way. Well, we were going so slowly that he had to ride ahead to tell the group that I was going to be late and that I probably wasn’t going to ride the rest of the day. I’m not going to lie: I wasn’t super excited about riding 124 miles today! But I would rather feel 100% and do that ride than feel yucky and icky right now.
In the meantime, I want to share a few pictures of the burros I spotted on my ride yesterday morning. I elected to do the Red Rock loop (again!) and just before mile marker 10, I saw these 2 burros happily munching on grass and just enjoying the sunshine:
One of them actually came to take a closer look at me:
I love seeing animals when I’m outside and I really enjoyed my time with these 2 burros. I spent a few minutes taking some pictures and talking with them (yes, I really did talk with them). For those few minutes, it was just me and these cuties, enjoying the fresh air and each other’s company (well, I can imagine that, right?). I’m glad I got to get out yesterday because I don’t think I’ll be doing much today. I should have known something was up when I identified myself — more than usual — in this sign:
I was looking at my calendar and scheduling some events for February when I realized that my penultimate ultra-century ride (136 miles, if you must know) is set for Saturday February 14, a.k.a., Valentine’s Day. OF COURSE it would be. While this fact will probably make my SAT jump for joy (“oh yay!!!! I get to ride my bike with my sweetie on Valentine’s Day!!!! We get to do a long, long, long bike ride!!!!), that same fact makes me cringe inside (“how typical that something that will hurt me mentally and physically occurs on the day that most normal people celebrate love”). I am so grateful that February is a short month and that it is NOT a leap year this year.
The title of this blog post does not refer to each and every single bike ride I endure. It refers to the local “fun” event held yesterday by a very generous businessman/avid cyclist. Over the past 10 years, he has sponsored 3 long and painful rides each year, appropriately named Sufferfest I, II, or III. Each year, the Sufferfest I ride (what I braved yesterday) consists of 2 Red Rock Canyon scenic loops, 1 climb up Potosi, then back to the Red Rock loop for a third torturous circuit. Anyone who has ever cycled the Red Rock loop knows that the first 5 miles = pure climbing; it is a 13.1 mile one-way road that begins with a 1000 foot climb….then retreats a little bit, then ascends again, topping out just before mile 5, after which the road descends and cyclists joyfully ride downhill….then at mile 7, you hit a “wall,” which basically feels like you’ve run into a brick wall. After that, though, it’s pretty much downhill to the end. Imagine doing that loop once. Now imagine doing that twice in a row. Then you ride up to the Potosi summit, which is a 9.5 mile ascent that gains just over 2200 feet in elevation. Yuck. Then you zip back down to do ANOTHER RR loop. Then you collapse.
(Cool photo that a friend took during his hike in Red Rock Canyon! This is during the third and final RR loop. I am at the back and my SAT is in front.)
Honestly, I was dreading this event. Some people ENJOY putting themselves through VOLUNTARY PAIN for HOURS on end. SAT, this means YOU and your like-minded sickos that you call “friends.” I started out slowly, as I usually do, and my SAT was with me the entire time, sometimes chatting with another unwitting cycling victim, sometimes pushing me uphill (literally….he wanted me to experience a “friendly boost” whilst on the saddle). The first loop was fine, the second was a bit more difficult, Potosi was hard (but I managed to dig up some extra energy and sprint the last 50 yards to the top only to get that dumb climb finished!), and the last loop was awful. I didn’t eat enough during the day and “bonked” (totally depleted of glycogen/energy, felt lightheaded, had tunnel vision and slurred words….basically, I felt like I was drunk). The good thing about bonking this time compared to the last time (which was a few months ago, I believe) was that I recovered much faster. I guess I can attribute my quicker recovery time to all this training I’ve been doing.
There were specifically three cool things about Sufferfest yesterday: 1) I wasn’t the slowest one!, 2) the free food and support, and 3) the pig-out fest my SAT and I enjoyed after the ride. (Burgers and bottomless fries at Red Robin. They disappeared fast!) Ok, maybe I have a *teeny tiny* sense of pride in accomplishing something I never thought I would do.
(Cyclists at the last aid station at the top of the RR loop climb.)
As my SAT kept reminding me, the group of cyclists who tackled Sufferfest I yesterday is a select group and being on the slower end of the spectrum is still pretty strong. There were about 50 cyclists who signed up for the whole ride, but at the end of the day, only about 10 finished. Most people already knew they would only do 1 or 2 loops, then go home and do something fun. A fair number of people were deterred by the threat of rain and didn’t bother showing up (it didn’t rain). Because I actually finished the whole thing, I will get a (free!) t-shirt commemorating the event. My SAT thinks I’ll be doing Sufferfest II and III with him.