Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Seattle Century--Or One Life Goal Down. Snap!

I meant to write about the Seattle Century. Among the many life goals I made after graduating with my MFA, a long bike ride was one. I had originally planned to do the 200 mile Seattle to Portland, but it stupidly sold out. So, after some research, I found the Seattle Century--100 miles circumnavigating the city of Seattle, completely catered. Um...sign me up! I said. And then I signed me up.

Training was a bit of a maelstrom. As often happens to me, it seemed as though the universe was conspiring against me. My bike broke down on two long rides. I got really sick for about 1.5 weeks right before the actual ride, thereby not getting a chance to do the 75 mile ride I was suppsoed to do. On ride day, I was super nervous. I felt unprepared. And looking around the site, I felt like my equipment was all wrong. I did not have a 3000 bike, clip pedals, and I was rocking full saddle bags instead of a tiny underseat pouch.

But, you know, you do what you do. And the first 50 miles flew by--I mean, literally. 3.5 hours of rolling hills and beautiful vistas. Every 12 miles, a rest stop with PB&J and water refills and fruit. A total cinch! Plus, the 50 mile marker ended at a rest stop with fresh, local pie, next to a big open farm of baby Alpacas! The picture didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped...but it was hard to get a good pic with the sun and the giant distance I had to cover. Still. Baby Alpacas!

Unfortunately, the first 50 was the easy 50. Rolling hills be damned. At least the weather was still cool, and the hills were rolling instead of vertical.

After pie, shit got real.

You ride, unprotected from the blazing sun, on windy roads through horse, cow, and goat fields. Pretty? Yes. But man was it hot. And immediately after that, you start your first real hill. The introduction isn't too bad, but it does take you to decision time. Do you go straight and do 85 miles? Or do you turn left for the 15 mile loop to Snoqualmie Falls. I have to say, I considered taking the easy route, but thankfully I was riding with a nice guy who basically told me to buck up. And I'm glad I did. It was pretty easy at first, slight downhill most of the way until you hit the monster climb up to Snoqualmie Falls. It brought me a lot of joy to know that my first time to the falls I rode my bike:

Twin Peaks, yo!

But the hill climb tanked my legs. I stopped, drank water, stretched lightly. But after a short, but fun downhill, I still had that slight incline back to the fork in the road. And, what's worse, the hill that follows. I had to stop to stretch before I got to the fork in the road. And then I turned left, my legs like weighted hams below me trying to pedal. And this is where the biggest hill in the whole ride happens. I can't say I mastered this climb. I did crest it, eventually. And I did it faster than the people I started it with. But I had to stop a few times to drink water and stretch. There was one point where I considered crying it hurt so much. But I didn't. I didn't walk up any of it. I didn't give up. I got to the top and made it to the next rest stop where I took a long, long break. I stopped for about 30 minutes, drinking lots and lots of water, stretching, eating, stretching, water, etc. And after that I felt great. After that I finished strong. The last 25 miles were almost easier than the first 50. Partly because a lot of it was downhill, and then a lot of it was flat.

The moment of pride came at the last rest stop, where they had refreshing strawberry shortcake. I engaged in some rest stop chatter with two people who I had basically kept pace with the whole day (I saw them at most of the rest stops). And they couldn't believe how fast I was having never done a ride like this before, and in converse! Apparently they saw me ahead of them in the front 50 and were trying to catch up but just couldn't. And I finished strong and then I drank some beer, and then I went home and passed out on my couch. A total success.

Next challenge? Fiddle lessons. I got the violin and the bow sitting next to me as we speak.

No comments: