My first 60K is in the books. I like speaking in kilometers because I think it sounds official and cool even though 38.72 miles also sounds pretty impressive. So, that’s what I did… rode my bike for close to that mileage. The Garmin was turned on and off at various points so I am not sure if we actually went the whole 38.72 miles or not, but it sure felt like it!
The day started off well enough; I woke up fresh after a good night’s sleep, had a good breakfast, picked up Cynthia and headed to Brevard. We were excited but nervous… the unexpected. We viewed the course elevation and had read the ride description:
The 60K riders will get to test their climbing abilities on Walnut Hollow, which is a local favorite. Walnut hollow is a steep challenging climb that is sure to get everyone’s heart pumping. The climb is 1.1 mile with grades reaching 15%. After climbing Walnut Hollow riders will enjoy a nice rolling ride home through the French Broad River Valley. The 60k has 2 fully stocked rest stops.
There is obviously one large hill and that is the only thing I was worried about. The rest of the course sounded lovely. And it was…. except for the 8 miles leading up to the big hill. it takes lots of smaller hills to get to the big hill. Not sure how I missed that. I am smart… Brevard is not flat.
I was a bit tough starting out weaving around traffic, stop lights, stop signs, pedestrians… things that you do not really find in my lovely happy place of Cowpens and the trainer, where I have spent most of my training time. Once we were out of that the hills started. There were not really any hills I couldn’t handle those first few miles, but I just wasn’t expecting them and started to worry about the BIG one that still lay ahead.
I started worrying about too many things; being slow, being with all of the 100’s of other cyclists on April 14th, losing control of my bike… blah, blah, blah (didn’t this chatter go away with the marathon?????). I was overcome with self doubt and questioning my ability to make it the whole way.
Thank goodness for supportive friends. I am sure they didn’t sign up for all of this nonsense. They didn’t know they had to be motivators while they, too, put in the hard work to get up all the hills.
At some point we came to the turn off for the short course and for a second I thought of cutting it short. Then I realized that I could not do that. I came here to ride 60K and I was going to. At that point I made the decision that no matter how hard the hill I would get up it.
Which I did… half way.
I had every intention of getting all the way up that hill but my legs had a different idea. At one point I was peddling so slowly that I thought I was going to fall over. I was long out of gears to use. I heard Katie in my mind telling me to “snake” up the hill, but there was too much traffic. There was really nothing to do but power straight up but I ran out of power. I finally had to get off and push.
My heart rate was high just walking with the bike. Which, I might add, takes on a whole new meaning when you are wearing cleated shoes! No small feat! I just kept pushing… one foot in front of the other. Finally, I made it. Susette and Barbara were waiting at the top with their own funny stories to tell about making it to the top. It was challenging for all. Shortly after I made it Cynthia arrived – she was the smart one… she took her cleats off to walk. Why didn’t I think of that!
We refueled and laughed about the effort. It was all downhill from there. The next couple of miles were curvy and downhill and I just went with it. I relaxed into the hill and just let go (not literally!). I trusted that the bike knew what to do and hit a max speed of 27 MPH! my fastest!
The next few miles were the most beautiful of the ride. A flat (that helped!) winding road next to a river. The sun was shining through the trees. My speed was 18 MPH and my cadence was perfect. Everything felt right and that hill was totally worth the pay off.
The rest of the ride was fun – a nice variety of flat, hills and curves.
We finished strong and the self doubt from earlier was almost gone. I was tired, but I did it. I am still not feeling great about walking up that hill during the big ride in a couple of weeks but I can’t help but to think that I will not be the only one. And, I suppose, who cares if I am.
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