Yes, that's right: FORTY MILES, PEOPLE!
Actually, more like 41, according to people who have little computers on their bicycles. I am not one of those people.
I know what you're thinking. (I mean, besides how thoroughly awesome I am.) You're wondering what it was like? The answer is: pretty miserable. Okay, not the whole ride. But it was seriously, super-duper COLD and instead of warming up as the day went on, it just got colder. All of me just ached. As usual, the last few miles were the least enjoyable - but since we add 5 miles every week, then this means I'm making progress (i.e. I used to get miserable at mile 25, now the misery doesn't kick in til like mile 36).
To add to the fun, we did the ride in Skokie again - and that's the route where I did my first and most miserable ride, forever known as The Death March. Remember the 17 miles from hell? Well, this time I sailed past that memorable spot 8.5 miles in, where we had decided to turn back because 17 miles was enough. To think that only 3 weeks ago, I couldn't do even 1/4th of what I did yesterday - that's kind of mindblowing. The whole route was peppered with traumatic memories like that. (Yeah, that's right, I said TRAUMATIC, okay, it was psychologically scarring, believe you me.) We stopped at the light where last time I bent over my handlebars and willed myself not to weep, and I gave a silent salute to my old self for not giving up that day. I shuddered a bit as we pedaled past the spot where I was so sure we were almost at the rest stop but it turned out to only be Mile 4 - otherwise known as the place where my soul died a little. Ah, memories.
Anyway, I rode with Coach Bill this time, who was patient with my super-slowness. And it's so sweet, how the team waits for me to get to the finish line, even though it always takes me so long, and they cheer and shout and rattle cowbells as I finally ride in. As I'd spent at least the last 20 miles dreaming of my car's heater, I immediately got in and turned it full-blast. Thirty minutes later, I was technically thawed out, but there was still this deep deep shiver in me - you know how that is, when your organs are actually still cold? But I stopped to get a felafel and could barely order because my teeth were chattering. It was a real lesson in what it means for your body to be Out Of Energy. The chill only went away after I'd eaten.
Which, btw, I had the biggest, fattest, saltiest, yummiest pile of french fries in my whole life. They were better than all the other french fries I ever had because they were totally 100% guilt-free.
Nothing tastes better, man.
Then after mumblety-mumble hours of sleep, I awoke today and was pleasantly surprised to find my legs fully functional. (All my joints were horribly achey and my legs were just dead yesterday after the ride. I really could barely move.) So I took a moment to marvel at my powers of recovery and then baked a batch of scones, and headed out on the bike to the Ladies Who Bike lunch, which is a monthly thing that Dottie at Let' Go Ride A Bike does. It's really a terrific group of women, and I'm not just saying that because they might find me talking about them on the internet. They're so wonderfully encouraging, all of them, and everyone bikes for different reasons and in different ways, but they all seem to do it just because they like it. There's no dogma there, and no judgment. Just friendly fun girl talk and bike talk. I love that they all came over to look at my bike and tell me it seems so nice, and to validate my choice to leave the fender on, and suggest alternative water bottle solutions, and stuff like that.
I don't have pictures from the Terrific Lunch, but Dottie will. Actually, I don't have pictures of anything because I can't find my camera. I had it, and now I don't, and I dunno. I did mention that part of training is my life falling apart, right? Because that's still happening.
After the Lunch of Terrificness, I pedaled myself over to Performance Bike which I have to say -- it's a great bike shop. The guys there are always really helpful and very available and never condescending. Every time I go there, I know I'll get the help I need. Bless them for being so friendly and so reliable. Anyway, I had them adjust my bike seat, which is frankly so painful that I have to ice my hoo-ha after a long ride. (Man, the things I never dreamed this whole endeavour would entail.) I don't want to buy a new saddle until I at least try adjusting this one, since I hear that sometimes it's all a matter of finding juuuust the right angle. So they did that, and we'll see how it works out.
The other Big Thing is that I had them put Power Grips on my pedals. See, I've been trying the clipless pedals and it's not working for me. Which, if you didn't know (I didn't), is a whole Thing in the cycling world. Basically, it's special shoes that attach to special pedals, so that you are attached to your bike. You can click in and out of the pedals with a particular jerk of the foot. Anyway, I've been practicing but it freaks me out and I can't manage it.
So I decided to try these foot straps instead.
Aaaand, I didn't use them at all. They require a certain amount of coordination and practice, too. ARGH. So I just mashed them down under my clogs (not exactly the right footwear for this) and got myself home. I will take myself to the lakefront path tomorrow and give it a whirl. You know, where there are not cars whizzing impatiently by and buses trying to kill me, etc.
Okay, so that was my bike-centric weekend. I'll just say it again: FORTY FREAKIN MILES!
Oh god - that means next week is 45. Please pray for warmer weather. And stronger legs. Thanks.