Saturday, bike club ride. They call it the 100 Grand, a clever play on words: 100 miles along the Grand River (mainly). Its an organized group ride, one of the club's fundraisers, and pretty popular, especially being near the beginning of the bike season.
They offered 4 different distances: 17; 35; 65; 105. Originally, I had thought of doing the 65 with Lecia and Sue and whoever decided on that distance. But then that didn't work for Lecia, and Sue backed out too, so that made me reconsider only doing the 35 as well. After I added up my bike mileage for the week, doing 35 would put me at--are you ready for this?? 108 miles. For one week. My first real biking week. (where did that come from??) So 35 seemed to be a smarter choice.
The IM tri-geeks were all there, some doing the 105 and the rest doing the 65. Five of them had done Triple T the weekend before, but Mikey, Dan, and Shawn were still doing the 105, and Libby and Pat were doing the 65. Libby and Pat are both over 55 but are still going strong! Mike actually placed 4th overall in the half IM, and is looking lean and mean. I almost didn't recognize him. When I first met him, he weighed in over 200 pounds, but was a pretty good athlete. Now, he weighs in the low 160s, and is getting better and faster all the time. He is young, and in a tough age group (30-34), but his goal this year is to go under 10 hrs. for the IM (PR is right around 10:30) and hopefully he will be able to qualify for Kona. I'm betting he will do a lot better than he thinks he will.
We started early, 7:30, since Lecia wanted to be done and home before noon. I knew it would only take us around 3 hours and then some with the planned stop, so we had plenty of time. The weather for Saturday morning had threatened to be rainy and stormy on Friday night, but the storms rolled in and out before I even got up at 5:30, and we had nearly clear skies the whole way. It was hot though, probably in the mid 80s and humid! All of us said we were glad we weren't running that morning.
Before we even got to our first hill, I was trailing behind, and my legs were feeling the other 72 miles I had already biked that week. It didn't matter. I just have to do this stuff or I will never get better, I know that, regardless of whether I am way behind or not. There were plenty of others coming behind us, so it wasn't like I would be totally last.
The route was hilly, nearly the whole way, and not just rolling. Most of the route was on back roads, but while there is always less traffic there, the traffic there is always seems to be those huge pickups going 75 mph. It makes you wonder if all the rednecks really do live outside the city. I was okay most of the time, but a few times we had to cross busy streets/highways with no traffic lights, so I always got a little nervous with this.
We had 6 people in our group again, 5 women and one man, but a steady stream of others came along frequently. At one point, there was a HUGE peloton that went by us, most of them wearing a team uniform. Pretty impressive to see.
I knew where our turnaround was, but the route they had us take there this year was different, adding the extra 5 miles on, and taking us on a route I was totally unfamiliar with. I was totally amazed at how nice the day had turned out, but it definitely was getting hotter and hotter, another reason I was glad to be cutting it shorter.
About halfway to the turnaround, Don and his bunch came by. I had thought he was doing the 105, but he had switched down to the 65. Probably just as well, since he has a half IM next weekend. All of them pulled ahead of us like we were standing still, and we were doing a pretty decent pace!
The turnaround was almost at the 22 mile mark. I was glad to be finally stopping, if only for a few minutes, although I wasn't particularly hungry or thirsty, but I was plagued by worrying who had called my cell phone and left a message so early in the day. I had gotten the message practically right when we started out, and wasn't able to check it until we stopped. Unlike Lecia who can talk on a cell phone while riding or even ride no handed, I am not that coordinated! Its sometimes hard enough getting a drink!
As it turned out, it was my daughter in New Jersey, calling to say someone had done a hit and run on her new car. Oh, brother! But at least no one needed a ride somewhere or was hurt or anything I had to do anything about!
Our return trip started out on a road I disliked quite a bit because it is so busy AND hilly. There is a lot of traffic going by in both directions, and it is hilly and windy, making it dangerous to the bikers who have to put up with speeding, impatient drivers, and the drivers themselves crossing over the centerline to pass us, even though we mainly ride single file. It has some beautiful scenery here, with the river valley below, but I was still glad to get off this stretch of road as quickly as possible. Here, we picked up another rider in our group who had decided not to do the 65 since they really were riding hard and fast that day (when don't they??). My spot with the group didn't change: I was still last. But I definitely was getting a good workout and I was pretty happy with my pace--right around 16 mph average.
Next, we had to cross a divided highway, with a median preventing us from going straight across, so we had to actually cross over, get in the left turn lane, and do that famous and not so well liked Michigan left turn, and that alone took us 1/2 mile out of the way of where we needed to go just to get across the road (see why people hate doing that??). We all made it safely, thankfully, and continued on our way, with one of the few long straightaways ahead, for the next couple of miles anyway.
Here, I pulled ahead of Mary and Lecia, but only because they were busy gabbing! I decided to practice again on the aerobars, since I am really uncomfortable with them so far. With a lighter bike and a different type, I really am feeling wobbly. It usually takes me at least 5 or 6 rides, and I am at 5, so maybe soon? I know I will use them more in a race unless it is horribly hilly, but right now I need more practice to get comfortable.
After the flat stretch, there was no more mercy shown. The rest of the route was hills, hills, and more hills. And a winding roadway and lots of fast traffic, so I was really starting to get frustrated with this. And oh, yes, it was getting hotter--not to the point where we were dying from the heat, but enough so we were sweating a lot. It was just one of those hot, muggy days with not much wind. My one water bottle was completely warm, yet my insulated one was still partially frozen, so I was happy with this. I detest warm water!
At this point, it was just Sue, me, and Lecia. We had lost sight of the other 4. Even with all the hills, they are just so much stronger! By the time we reached the 30 mile mark, we caught up with them since they waited to cross one of the last busy streets we had to deal with. After that, everyone took totally different positions in the lineup: Mike was out in front, then Sue, and then me, struggling to catch Sue, to no avail, and then Lecia, Bonnie, and Mary trailed behind, gabbing again. I just don't know how they can talk and concentrate on the road that way! And here again, the last 5 miles were some of the hilliest! Long downhills where I reached 28 mph coasting, and dropping to 10 or 11 going back up.
And that coasting thing. I rarely, if ever, coast on the downhills, just so first I can catch up with everyone else, and second so I can get up the hills, yet Sue and Lecia coasted on every downhill, yet I never caught them going down or up! Ever! It flabbergasted me!
The last couple of miles of the route were in heavy traffic on the city streets, and I was not happy here at all! We had cars creeping behind us most of that way, and I got nervous to the point where a couple of people finally went behind me to ease my fears. The route was almost 2 miles longer too, so I was really getting frustrated with this--not that it was longer, just that we had to ride with so much traffic longer! I put this on my comments survey the club put out too--that we shouldn't have to ride with all that traffic! It seemed like they could have taken us on a different route.
And then we were done, and everyone scattered to their next destinations of the day! Lecia, Sue, and I took advantage of the lunch provided however: either Subway wrap sandwiches or pulled pork barbeque sandwiches, lots of fruit, cookies, chips, soft drinks, juice, etc. A true feast. Then I got lucky and was given a 15 minute upper body massage by some volunteers. And did I need that! After all that riding this week, my neck was barely able to turn, and my shoulder, front and back, was aching, not to mention my low back and everyplace in between!
So a nice ride, and great mileage for the week. I figure this should put me on the way to some improved biking!