Last Saturday, I completed my third century ride with Team in Training and my seventeenth event with TNT since I first started running for Kelly in 1999.
Sue, Laura and I headed out for Moab on Thursday afternoon with my Fuji bike safely packed in the trunk. Adam wasn't able to come as he had to work.
Friday morning, Laura and I went out for a quick run where we saw some rocks, red rocks.
Later that morning we had our last workout before the century ride. We did a 30 mile ride where we saw some rocks, red rocks.
We headed off to the the TNT inspiration dinner. There was a slide show that ran continously of our heroes and angels. There were probably 30-40 different pictures on the slide show. The minute we walked into the room, Kelly's picture was the first one we saw.As I was standing in line at the buffet I felt my heart breaking again for Kelly, for Laiken. There were other pictures of young people on the slide show. It is so sad and infuriating at the same time .
The Rocky Mountain chapter was one of six chapters attending this event. Combined the six chapters had raised $350,000 to support the mission of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society!
Saturday morning we gathered in the darkness outside our hotel waiting for the start. We rolled off at 7:05 with a police escort for 125 Team in Training cyclists. It was already warm when we started. That was not a good sign.
We rolled out of town and immediately started climbing. The first part of the climb was fairly flat giving us a chance to get our legs underneath us before the road turned uphill too steeply.
I had a weird conversation with my cycling coach. He told me I was riding my bike like a triathlete. I asked him what that meant. He said I was riding like I wanted to get from the swim to the run. I wasn't quite sure what to do with that piece of advice 45 minutes into a ride I had been in training for five months so I filed it away for the time being.
After the first aid station, I caught up with another group of my teammates and one of our other coaches, so I just tucked in behind the last cyclist and let the coach set the pace for our small group.
We saw a sign that told us the first climb of the day was upon us. The Little Nasty as it is affectionately called or maybe not so affectionately.
I was riding with Andres Pedraza who was a collegaue of mine on the Board of Trustees for the Rocky Mountain chapter. I was riding in front of him as we started the climb up the Little Nasty. He told me he liked having me in front of him as the pictures I had pinned on the back of my jersey were helping him stay motivated. I told Andres I had lots of reasons to be riding. Here are four of them.
My heroes and angels.
Parts of this climb have a 14% elevation grade. Ouch!
I actually got in a good rhythm during this portion of the climb. I was in the correct gear on my bike and made it to the top of the first climb fairly easily.
It was a neat moment for me as I was able to lead Andres on this first climb and was able to get a good picture of him during the final moments of his ascent on the Little Nasty.
Great music, pulling you up the hill.
Who the heck are you?
We left the summit of the Little Nasty and encountered the next sign called Tom's Misery named after a friend of the race director who was quite miserable when he found out he wasn't done climbing and there was much more to come.
We encountered a sign called the Launch pad and then we saw the sign announcing we were about to start the climb up the "Big Nasty".
So our group decided we better commerate this moment in the true pioneer spirit.
Rocky Mountain TNT mocks the Big Nasty!
Like many things in life, the fear I had of being able to climb the Big Nasty were overblown. I didn't fall off my bike. I didn't have to stop and walk. Some of the climbs I had done in Colorado were much harder.
There was one stretch where the road looked incredibly steep and so long. I remember feeling very afraid and I asked Kelly to stay with me during for the rest of the climb and I felt her presence as I have so many times before and we rode to the top of the Big Nasty together.
After the Big Nasty there was still many more miles of climbing to be done. The next stretch was called the Stairway to Heaven.
Finally after 30 miles, we were about to start our first descent. As always, that wasn't much fun for me and was even worse than normal as the road was really torn up and there was lots of loose gravel to try and navigate around. My wrists were aching by the time I finally got to the bottom of this descent. It was quite treacherous, lots of sharp switchbacks and the gravel that was all over the road. What a relief to finally hit a nice long straight section with a nice gentle descent.
When I got to the TNT aid station, I caught up with Andres again and we set off on a long out and back section that had lots of rolling hills and zero shade for 18 miles. It was really hot at this point and it didn't seem like we were ever going to get the turnaround point.
The return part was even worse. The sun was beating down on us. I had to let Andres go, I couldn't stay with him.
When I got back to the TNT aid station, I was in bad shape. I was dehydrated, and think I may have had some heat exhaustion. Looking back now, I realize as hot as it was I had stopped sweating. I felt awful. The people at the aid station were very worried about me and wouldn't let me leave without having someone else to ride with. I sat in the shade for 45 minutes, drank two full bottles of Gatorade.
The last 15 miles were a blur. I couldn't drink any more water. The sun continued to beat down. I couldn't do anything, so as best as I could I pedaled on.
We stopped 2 miles short of the finish line to wait for the rest of our chapter so we could finish as a team.
I sat in the shade for another 30 minutes, one of my teammates gave me the last of her powerade. That seemed to help a little.
Finally we were off and finished the ride as a team.
It was ironic that the part of the ride I was so fearful of wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. It was the last 50 miles of rolling hills and the heat that had done me in.
My Garmin said I had only rode 98+ miles, not 100. I didn't care. I didn't tack on the extra mileage to get to 100.
I got off my bike and walked back to the hotel with Sue and Laura.
I haven't been back on my bike since,