I'm still not running...and will probably be taking off another month before I attempt running again. And since I've been biking so much (I'm now up to 110-120+ miles per week) I had no excuse not to ride in the Wheels of Hope event yesterday. There were 4 different distances to choose from. The 18 and 31 mile options were too close to my normal daily mileage, and the 112 option was definitely much too long for me. So I chose the 63 mile option. I had never ridden more than 50, but thanks to my new yoga-ish 10 minute morning stretching routine, my back has been doing better. And I'm always up for a challenge when it comes to exercise.
Lewisburg has been suffering from a drought all summer. We have been in need of rain for awhile now. The rain picked yesterday to finally show up. (Also, it was barely 60 degrees out...not my ideal weather!) Running in the rain stopped bothering me a long time ago, but I had not yet gotten brave enough to really ride in the rain. However, I had signed up for this thing, and I had paid for it, so there was no way I was going to let myself wimp out. There were some changes made to the course because of something wrong with a bridge somewhere on the course, so the course was shortened to 58 miles. I had no complaints about that.
When I run races, I am used to starting at the very front and doing my best to stay ahead of the pack so I don't get pushed around or boxed in. I had no such delusions with biking, so I tried to start near the back. It was still a miserable traffic jam at the beginning. Being boxed in on a bike with people swerving all over the place and rain spraying off of tires into my face was not a pleasant experience. It was rather terrifying. I had to deal with that for the first 2 miles or so before I could finally get around the craziness and find a nice empty stretch of road between packs of people. It meant riding faster than I had planned, but at that point all I cared about was feeling safer. And getting the ride over with so I could get out of the rain.
After a lot of back and forth with the local bike mechanic (mostly me pulling ahead on climbs, and him pulling ahead on flats/descents), we ended up riding together. We still had some back and forth with climbs and descents, but whoever was behind always caught up to the other eventually. It was really nice to have someone to ride with and complain with about the weather and our various aches and pains. My back held up remarkably well, didn't really start bothering me until somewhere around mile 40. By mile 50, I was beat. My neck and shoulders got really cramped, and my legs were worn out. There were a few small climbs in those last miles, that normally wouldn't be a big deal, but I'm pretty sure they caused my legs more pain than I have ever felt before while on a bike. I really wanted to give up and lie down on the side of the road until someone came to get me. But of course I just get spinning the pedals and eventually the ride was over.
We finished the 58.3 mile ride in 3:41. There was 4,538 feet of elevation change in that ride. There was a 2.5 mile climb somewhere in the middle of the ride. Thankfully, I had ridden that part of the ride once before, so I knew what to expect on that hill.
Overall, I'm really happy with how the ride went. It was cold, wet, and miserable, but I didn't wreck, and I didn't get injured. Aside from the cold/wet part, I actually felt pretty good throughout the ride. I thought I would be really sore today, but there's just a little bit of stiffness in my shoulders.