This past weekend, I did something crazy :: I rode 100 miles. On a tandem. With Brad. In the scorching Texas heat. And we still like each other.
I even have a cool medal to prove it!
Though no one will admit it, I am confident that people lost bets on Saturday. To be fair, when I announced that we planned to ride the Hotter ‘n Hell 100 (a.k.a. HHH) this year, I’m not even sure I thought it would happen.
We had set this goal before. Last year, to be exact. Last year, we were both in great shape and actually training. But, for reasons that I can’t recall, we didn’t even show up. This year, we are many months from top form, and our “training” consisted of one long ride on Saturday and maybe a second short ride if we managed to peel ourselves out of bed Sunday morning.
Without proper training, I wasn’t getting enough time in the saddle, which became crystal-clear every time we hit the 3-hour mark on a ride, and HHH was going to take 5 hours assuming everything went perfectly. After having our least successful tandem ride ever last Saturday, I begrudgingly admitted that we had no business attempting to ride 100 miles the following weekend. We told our friends who were leading the 5-hour pace group that we wouldn’t make the entire distance, and prepared ourselves for Plan B — pacing with the group until Hell’s Gate at mile 60 and then turning off early to make it a 75-mile ride. Or, the worst case scenario, Plan C — turning off even earlier and riding the 100k (62 miles) route instead.
I don’t know whether it was the cool breeze that joined us for the first 20 miles, the new saddle I was riding against all logic and reason (Just like a new pair of sneaks, you should never ride a new saddle on race day. Do as I say; not as I do.), the good company, or the excitement of the day, but I felt GREAT on the bike. When we hit the 100k turn-off point around mile 25, there wasn’t even a question about whether we would keep going. (There also wasn’t any question about whether we’d be stopping a.s.a.p. so that I could pee on the side of the road while being heckled as the rest of the pace group flew by. Note to self: Find the port-o-potty location at the start-line next time!)
Somewhere around mile 40, we both commented that it’d be pretty cool if we could go the whole distance because it would be my first Century ever and Brad’s first in about two years. But, we said, we need to play it safe. It was still early.
By the time we reached Hell’s Gate, we were still rockin’ and rollin’. Brad was already set up to turn for the full 100-mile course, but just for good measure, he quickly turned to me and said “We’re going for it, right?” “Yes! Let’s do it!,” I replied. We turned left and headed towards the 100-mile finish line, which is actually at mile 103, but who’s counting?! The last 15 miles of the ride were strikingly similar to the last 5k of a marathon. You can’t understand what it feels like or the thoughts that go through your head until you’ve been there. I really faded in the last 10 miles, but rallied in the final 5 and rode in all smiles.
To say that I was elated at the finish is an understatement. I couldn’t believe we did it, and we weren’t even too snippy with each other! 🙂 All day long, I kept turning to Brad and saying “Can you believe we just did that?” Every time, he responded, in his typical brutally-honest fashion, “No. With how little we’ve been riding and all the saddle problems you’ve been having, I really can’t. You did great today.”
As I reflected on the day, though, I couldn’t help but feel like something was missing. I didn’t have the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that I normally do after an event. I kept wondering what I could have done if I had actually tried.
Today, as if she could read my mind, a friend sent me an article that contained this phrase:
People who equally relish the process and the punctuation.
And there it was. I had missed the process of training. This shouldn’t have come as a surprise, really. When it comes to running, I already knew that I loved training, sometimes more than the race itself.
For the record, I am still thrilled with our HHH accomplishment. It was a great day that I won’t soon forget, and one that will prompt many more cycling goals to come. But, next time, I won’t sell myself – or my partner – short.
The hard work begets the reward. Without it, you will never know how well you can do, and you can’t fully rejoice at the finish.
Whatever you accomplish, don’t let it be accidental.
xoxo ~your busy little B