Getting up at 4:45am and then driving an hour and 45 minutes is about the worst thing I can do. I'm a super sleepy driver and I must have nearly fallen asleep at the wheel about 10 times. I tried all the tricks: rolling down the windows, looking around constantly, snacking, slapping my cheeks, blaring the stereo and singing at the top of my lungs, but even Everclear and Tom Petty couldn't keep me perky! I was so glad when I finally rolled into Wellsville and could get out of the car and do something to wake myself up. Chris and her hubby Shad arrived just a couple minutes after me. It was so funny because as they drove past the registration area Shad was like, "Wow, there are a lot of women here." Chris was like, "Oh, didn't I mention that this was an all women ride?" Uh, no...Shad works at a bike shop, so he was adjusting Chris's bike when I went to meet them. After the bike adjustment, he fiddled with Chris's helmet, making sure it was nice and tight. He's super paranoid about road biking because most drivers just don't give a crap about watching out for bikers. He kept making Chris's helmet tighter despite her protests and she finally said, "Oh, just do whatever you want, I'm just going to loosen it as soon as you leave!"
Here's the deal with the Fat Cyclist. When he started his blog, Elden was just an overweight guy who enjoyed biking. He chronicled his biking adventures as well as his weight loss progress. I think it has been three years now since he started the blog and he has hundreds of readers who love his humorous biking stories. Oh, and he's no longer fat. Dan started reading his blog about a year and a half ago and as I mentioned before, he makes lots of funny comments. When Elden moved from Washington to Utah, he posted a Top 10 Reasons I'm Looking Forward to Moving to Utah list and one of things was that he was looking forward to meeting Dan. Cool. They have become good friends and in addition to riding together, Dan's knowledge of molecular biology and cancer made him an excellent resource when Elden's wife recently found out that her breast cancer of two years ago had metastasized into her bones. She is undergoing treatment right now. Elden has talked about their situation on his blog and the guys who designed his Fat Cyclist jersey contacted him and offered to do a pink version of the jersey at no cost to show their support for Elden's wife Susan and for breast cancer research. The Pink Lemonade jerseys just became available for purchase and I'm certain they will sell out. Fatty has a huge online community of friends and everyone has been so eager to support he and his wife. In fact, Dan helped Elden secretly set up a PO Box where people could send cards for his wife. After a couple of weeks he surprised Susan with them. She has an awesome entry thanking everyone. Dan bought us both a pink jersey which boasts on the back "Team Fatty, Fighting for Susan." It's pretty cool. Dan posted a comment after he purchased the jerseys, "This is the most excited I’ve been about something I ordered on the internet since the Red Green costume my wife asked me to get to spice up the bedroom." See, I told you he was funny!
But I digress...As we went to get our registration worked out, Shad was visibly squirming from the overwhelming amount of estrogen in the air. He said, "Now I know how you wives feel when you come to our mountain bike races!" He took our "before" picture (Chris, the lucky dog with the bike store connections, scored a road bike for the day from the shop where Shad works.)
It was very cool to be around these hundreds of women with a common interest and goal. And of course, the Little Red Riding Hood wouldn't be complete without the Big Bad Wolf riding around!
I wanted to take a picture with him, but I could tell Chris was feeling that she had to draw the line somewhere!
The ride was beautiful! I didn't take any scenery pictures this year. Two years ago when I did the ride I was alone and I started late so there weren't many other riders around. I didn't feel like I was holding anyone up if I stopped and took photos. But this year we were right in the thick of it. Plus Chris and I were too busy blabbing to stop for silly photos! Here are a couple from last time so you can see what it looked like.
The course is almost completely flat and winds through cow and horse pastures with beautiful views of the mountains. I've been used to riding on hills and pulling 80+ pounds in the bike trailer so I was feeling light as a feather!
A long ride like this one is so much easier when you have a riding partner! It was so fun talking with Chris. We usually only see each other at family birthday parties and there just isn't individual one-on-one time to sit and really talk. I love my cousins! I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and she was telling me how her husband isn't that close with his extended family because he didn't grow up around them. I thought about my family and how we never lived near extended family because my Dad was in the Army, but somehow we managed to have a fairly close relationship among the cousins, and that has only increased over the past several years now that we all ended up in Utah.
The first stretch of the ride, about 23 miles, went pretty quickly. We averaged about 13.5 miles per hour and were pretty comfortable with each other's pace. After the ride Dan asked me how Chris did, if she wanted to go faster or if she seemed tired, and I said, "You know, I never thought to ask her. She just rode with me and didn't look winded and didn't try to pass me or anything, so I think we were pretty compatible." So Chris, if you were wishing you could go faster, just have pity on the girl on the mountain bike. Maybe by next time I'll have a road bike and we can go faster! At 23 miles we stopped at an aide station that had food and water. Dan has tried multiple types of nutrition for his endurance rides, from PowerBars to Shot Blocks to homemade energy drinks, and after all the experimenting he swears by peanut butter and honey sandwiches. I carried one in my jersey and ate it at the aide station.
That was the best freakin' PB&H I think I've ever had!
Here's Chris at the rest stop looking very yoga-ish (yes, that's a word!)
Before we remounted our bikes we had to take the token self-portrait.
Sookie! Lookin' hot!
The bike wasn't feeling so comfortable after that rest! My legs were fine and the balls of my feet (which got really sore from pedaling the last time I did this ride) were fine, but my butt was hating it! I found myself actually wishing for hills so I could get out of the saddle to pedal for a minute or two. I tried putting my bike in its highest gear to stand and pedal, but it wasn't very effective since mountain bikes aren't really geared high enough to get enough resistance doing that. As we approached mile 30, Chris and I both commented that our necks were getting sore and I just kept trying to pedal standing up to give my hiney a rest (did I just say hiney? Yep, sure did!) I was like, "Man, I'm glad we didn't try to do the 68 miler!" A couple weeks before the ride, Dan put his bike computer from his old mountain bike onto my bike. The computer shows your mileage, average speed, and ride time. He thought it might need a little calibrating since I was running narrow road tires and he had it set up for chubby mountain bike tires. Soon after the only climb (and a welcome one at that!) I checked the bike computer and we were at 34 miles. In about half a mile there was spray painted on the road "1 Mile to go- Party Time!" Oh, that was the pleasantest of surprises!
With renewed spunk we rode hard to the finish and were greeted with congratulations and glasses of champagne (Ok, Martinelli's, but it was the thought that counts!)
Our total ride time was 2 hours and 40 minutes. After changing out of our bike gear, we took our self-righteous fitness pride and pigged out at the lunch table. Chris had an interesting tidbit to share about watermelon; you'll have to ask her about it sometime!
We parted ways to head home. And wouldn't you know it, I hit a 45 minute bumper-to-bumper traffic jam from Ogden to Farmington. I was like, "You've gotta be kidding me! I'm too tired for this!" But it did keep me awake. When I finally got home, I plopped my butt on the couch and basically stayed there for the rest of the night, rotting my brain. It was good.
In Chris's blog entry about the ride, she said that she wasn't sore the next day. I really wasn't either and Dan said that is a definite sign that we should have done the 68. He was like, "You should be looking at those stairs and wondering if you can even make it up." We both did the 38 with relative ease, after little training, so I think we will challenge ourselves to do the 68 next year. Tonight while we were out on a little walk Dan said he wanted me to ride the ULCER, a 100 mile ride around Utah Lake, with him in August. I said, "You have a lot of fun with that!" My butt is going to need a lot more time in the saddle before I could even consider riding my bike for 8 or 10 hours!
The Little Red Riding Hood was a great experience. I feel a sense of accomplishment (even though I can climb the stairs with ease), like I did something for myself, and it motivates me to keep riding my bike.
Thanks, Chris, for being my partner. We are Women, Hear us Roar!