The last three weeks have been kind of intense and really busy. The semester at the JC is coming to an end, so that means I have frantic students trying to finish their papers. Some students have even been brought to tears with the pressure they feel. I honestly don’t remember ever having that much anxiety at the end of a school year, but it has been pointed out I was never a normal student. End of semester papers gave me a rush – a feeling of excitement that nothing else ever did. However, that feeling of excitement from school has been replaced with the feelings I get while having a good swim, ride or run. And for me, the last few weeks have been filled with great and exciting rides.
7 May – My friend Julie and I did a 30 mile ride before heading out to volunteer at the Santa Rosa Cycling Club’s Wine Country Century lunch stop. Our ride was great (we accidentally fell in with the WCC riders, but that was OK). We did 30 miles in exactly two hours, which meant we averaged 15 miles per hour. Knowing that I could average 15 mph with climbing made me feel pretty confident. We were feeling pretty fantastic about ourselves as we headed up to the lunch stop.
Working at the lunch stop was so much fun. I have volunteered for events before, but there was something different about this one. Our job was to make sure the sandwich makers always had supplies. That entailed schlepping meat and cheese and carrying pickles in my hand. It was a great time. All the riders that came through in my 3+ hour shift were in great spirits and very happy to see the delicious food we had to offer.
14 May – Part of the reward for volunteering for the WCC is that the next weekend volunteers get to do the exact same course fully supported. So, I rode in my first Metric Century (approximately 65 miles). It was a cold, cold day…I don’t think my hands and feet ever warmed up. But, it wasn’t raining and I was happy for that. I have been on a lot of the course before, whether it was part of the Barb’s Race course or the MS Waves to Wine course, so there wasn’t much new. However, when riding in Sonoma County new isn’t what matters, because every turn there is something beautiful to look at. We ended up going 67 miles in about four hours and 40 minutes…we averaged just under 15 mph on that ride – even with climbing. Confidence building, but getting shaky as the next ride loomed in front of me.
21 May – What I rode on the 21st was by far the hardest ride I have ever done. It was another Metric Century. Well, it was actually 105K (69.6 miles). It was the inaugural Sonoma County Backroad Challenge and they weren’t messing around…it was a challenge. Not only were headwinds a little on the crazy side (getting worse as you neared the coast), but every epic hill cyclists talk about in Sonoma County was on that ride. We kept hearing about the backside of the Marshall Wall and Wilson Hill, but no one bothered to mention we would be climbing up Franklin School Road. Basically, FSR consists of three successive hills, each one steeper and longer than the previous.
I went into the ride on Saturday not feeling wholly confident about the Wall…that confidence was shaken even more while climbing FSR – in the middle of the third hill I had to stop and catch my breath and wrap my head around what I needed to do to finish the climb. I knew there was no walking in my future, so I had to mentally get myself prepared for the rest of the climb. Stopping was hard for me because I am not a person that stops in the middle of a climb. So, needless to say, my confidence was close to nothing by the time I hit the rest stop before the Wall.
It didn’t help when someone I knew at the rest stop pretty much said if I didn’t like Franklin there was no way I was going to enjoy/make it up Marshall. Um, gee, thanks for the pep talk. Julie and I left the rest stop, both feeling sick to our stomachs with doubt. But, ride on we did…here is the crazy thing, when I made the turn onto Marshall, I just told myself to do what I could…traverse if necessary…stop if necessary. Stopping or not, I was going to make it up that hill. Well, make it I did…no stopping, no traversing,
just riding strong and hard. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t as hard as it had been built up to me or in my own mind. Confidence regained. Wilson Hill…confidence maintained.
There were moments in that ride that I honestly thought about quitting. If Julie would have said, “Let’s SAG in” I would have in a heartbeat. My whole body ached. I was wrecked physically, emotionally and mentally. But, ride on I did. I wasn’t going to quit. I am glad I didn’t quit. It was truly a gorgeous ride – the day was beautiful – the people on the course
and the people who volunteered were cheerful, motivating and inspiring. It makes me feel so grateful to be a part of that community. Really, these last three weekends make me feel so appreciative not only for the people in my community, but for the beautiful area I live in; an area that challenges me physically, mentally and emotionally, but pays me back with its grandeur.
Our ride time was five hours and 15 minutes…we averaged just over 13 miles per hour – not bad considering the amount of climbing we did.
Throughout my training, my confidence in myself is going to fluctuate – that is a given. There are easy days and there are hard days. My confidence fluctuated up and down throughout the 69 mile ride on Saturday, but I ended it confident knowing that the next challenge in front of me, no matter what it is, will be met head on, with no giving up.