Sunday, September 13, 2009

Yesterday was another huge leap of faith for me, getting out on the roads to ride. I signed up for the Maple Leaf ride, an organized ride put on by our local cycling club. They do 3 or 4 of these a year, and since yesterday's distance included 3 loops totalling 86 miles, I thought it would be good for me to do this,
I went alone, which was my first mistake. I knew no one there and as a result didn't have anyone planned to ride with. The second mistake was assuming that since the weather was to be near 80 degrees that day, it would be safe to wear shorts and a short sleeved shirt to start out with, in addition to using arm warmers. The meet up place was about 35 miles northwest of where I live, so as I drove north I could see the temperature in my car dropping from 60 degrees down to 51. Yikes! I was even a little shivery in the car, and didn't feel particularly great, so decided to stop at the Meijer (sort of like Walmart) right on the way and ended up buying women's silk long underwear to put under my shirt and shorts. No bulk but just warmth.
That was actually the right decision, because the entire ride was totally rural, out in the orchards, farms, and wooded areas. I was never too warm the entire time. I signed up, got my 3 maps for the 3 loops, and headed out around 8:15. I didn't want to be out there all day so wanted to get an early start. I did leave just after another person in a bright yellow coat, but never was able to catch up with that person. I just followed that yellow coat for quite a while, like a beacon in the night.
The first couple miles of the first loop were fairly flat, but my third mistake was not knowing just how hilly this course would be. Those first few miles also were along the shoulder of a highway, so I was a little paranoid right from the start, riding alone. Once we turned off the highway, it was country roads with no shoulder and no posted speed limit. That meant pickup trucks and cars pulling campers and boats flying by at who knows how fast. I was getting freaked out. And to make matters worse, by the time I got about 5 miles into the ride, I realized I had forgot to bring my ID, making me worry if I got killed no one would be able to identify me for a while. Unless maybe of course my car was the last left in the lot. Dumb, dumb, dumb!
I was pretty much angry at myself and the ride organizers for picking this route, country roads with no shoulder and at least 55 mph speed limits. If they had done this on Sunday, there would be only 1/3 or less traffic, I was sure. Saturdays are busy days; people have things to do and everyone is always in a hurry. Add to that the fact that we have had the best weather this past week we have had all year, and people are still going to the lake, which explained the number of campers and boats. And I didn't totally know the area, so couldn't take any shortcuts that I knew would be any better. I was also afraid if I got off the route and got hit or killed, no one would know. So I stayed the course.
After about 13 miles, I had to cross another major highway,and by now it was getting extremely foggy, to the point where cars with lights on were just pinpoints. It took me 3-4 minutes to cross the highway, without the benefit of a traffic light. Scary. And we would have to cross it again later.
After a few more miles, a group finally came past me, and fortunately I was able to stay close enough to them to know where to go without worrying about markings on the road or feeling like I was out there totally alone.
I thought last week's ride was hilly, but this had it beat by 100%. The only flat stretches were the first couple of miles and the last couple of miles. The rest, all hills. Hills that required me to stand a few times to keep moving without toppling over. A month ago, I could not have been able to do this route, so I at least can see some progress.
The last 15 or so miles, I rode with another guy who pretty much watched out for me, always tucking behind me when cars came, We stopped for about 15 minutes to help someone with a flat tire, and during that time I decided I was not going to do the other 2 loops. I was starving, shakey, and my head was starting to hurt a lot. I figured that was from the stress and terror of that ride, but actually I was coming down with something. I only ended up doing 34 miles then.
So today, I'm nursing a sore throat, congested head, sore ears, and athlete tracking those at Ironman Wisconsin that I know. It seems like a horrible waste of such a beautiful day, but I also know that I need to nip this thing in the bud early so I have no lingering issues getting in the way of the rest of my weeks of training. I guess I do need a day off from time to time.


Marlene said...

That does NOT sounds like a pleasant experience. Sorry to hear that it didn't go well. You were brave to get out there! Congrats!

Hope you feel better soon.

Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

You got some riding done. That's the positive.

Now take care of yourself. Heal up!


Hey.... first thing... can I trade you some 100+ heat index weather for some of yours?? Also, you gotta find some nice 4 lane roads. But, you would hope that bike club would have figured that out..

Just_because_today said...

you do need a day off from time to to time...from work, that is (kidding).
You are conquering your fear and this horror ride was a tough challenge to take, so yes, there is progress, a lot of progress.

Lily on the Road said...

oh Vickie that doesn't sound like a fun day at all. I'm so surprised that you don't ride with your ID and Phone....please promise me you'll make that a #1 priority when you go out....(sorry, but you know I'm a worry wart),

get better soon...

ShirleyPerly said...

Well, you got more time out on the roads, which is good. I've never been hit by a car but had a severe fear of riding on a road the first year I got into cycling. I too only wanted to ride on bike paths and we had to drive an hour to get to one that was long enough and very lightly used so we could do some decent training. Now I'm fine riding on the roads but it did take a while. One thing that helped calm me is getting a rearview mirror on my sunglasses so I could see cars coming up behind me and prepare for them to whiz by. I know it looks dorky as hell but made me much more comfortable out on the roads.

Hope you get well soon!

SWTrigal said...

I hope you feel better soon!

Calyx Meredith said...

Definitely take care of yourself. Hope you're back to 100% soon!