78.02 total miles.
Not running (I wish). Biking.
Yesterday, I got up at 5 a.m. to drive to Waxahachie for the Cow Creek Country Classic, an organized ride through north Texas pastures and farm land. Depending on which route one chose to take (10, 19, 36, 75, or 100 miles), the course meandered through Waxahachie, Maypearl, Mountain Peak, Midlothian, Forreston, Milford, Mertens, Frost, and Italy (Texas). I had the notion that I would go for the 100 miler. Delusions of grandeur--especially since I hadn't been on my bike in more than a month.
Things started off well enough. I tucked in with a group zooming out around 22 mph, working together to break the wind and conserve energy. We pulled over at a rest stop just after the 20 mile mark.
After chowing down on a banana and a cup of Gatorade, I hopped back on and was just getting back into position with the "peloton" when my front tire blew. Damn. I am not mechanically inclined. About 15-20 minutes later, I had finally changed tubes and was ready to go. But by that time, the "team" was gone and my new, solo pace dropped to about 18 mph.
And then, coming around a curve, a biker just ahead of me hit some some gravel. His back tire slid out and he came crashing down. I slammed on my brakes and unclipped my right foot, but I couldn't slow my momentum. I pounded into the pavement on my left knee, scraping a decent amount of skin off the cap. I was shaken up, but okay. I turned to the biker who had taken the brunt of the fall. His sunglasses were smashed, his bike computer was broken, and his front tire was blown. I waited with him for a bit until his buddy joined us. A sag wagon was on its way when I started pedaling again about 10-15 minutes later.
At the next aid station, I washed the blood off my leg and began to ask myself if maybe I ought to take this one in. The 46 mile turnoff was about a mile up the road. It was sounding pretty enticing. As I came up on it, naturally and for who knows what reason, that voice inside my head started working on me. Before I had a chance to change my mind, I hammered further down the road. I had now obligated myself to ride at least 75 miles.
What the hell was I doing?
As if to chide me for making such a rash decision, my back tire blew out about 5 miles later. A nail had gone clear through both sides.
You've got to be kidding me.
Changing the back tire was much harder than changing the front tire. (You know, there all those gears back there.) Plus, it was getting warmer and with the wreck and the previous flat, I wasn't moving as quickly. It took me 20-25 minutes to get going again. My hands were covered in chain grease. I was hot and tired. And I still had about 38 miles to go. (I had given up on the 100 miler at that point.)
On the road again, I realized how much I missed having a bunch of riders around me. Not for the camaraderie, but to break the brutal southwesterly wind that was doing everything in its power to bring my bike to a halt. Between the headwind and the hills, I was averaging about 10-12 mph. Uphill, I was lucky to break 9 mph. It was brutal.
Finally, at the 75 mile turnoff, I got a tailwind, as the course began heading north to the finish. Suddenly, I was flying at 20+ mph again. Wow. What a difference a tailwind makes.
The next 20 miles or so were great. I stopped at an aid station and had a banana with some honey on it. (Fantastic!) I had hit my second (or was it my third?) wind. Things were good.
And then, 9 miles from the finish, my left hamstring cramped going up a hill. Ugh. I got off the bike, stretched, and popped some sports beans. Tragedy averted, I slowed the pace considerably and kept it at an easy cruise until the end.
When I finally rolled back into the parking lot of Waxahachie High, I had gone 78.02 miles in 4 hours, 28 minutes, 32 seconds. Average pace of 17.4 mph. I was hot and tired and looking forward to a shower, a big meal, and a fat nap. I enjoyed all three immensely.