I haven't spent a lot of time talking about this, but my big goal coming up is to do well at the 112 mile around the island bike race that is coming up in 5 weeks. And, um, since I haven't ridden more than 60 miles since, um, I don't know when, I figured it's time to up the distance a bit. So I set out for a 95 miler today with the group.
I've been riding a decent amount, mostly road bike, lots of hills, but all alone. So I felt sort of unsure about where my fitness actually is. I mean, I've been feeling good, but maybe I've felt good on my bike rides because I haven't been pushing that hard. That can feel good, you know. I guess my point is, without a power meter (bummer I don't have one) and without people to push you, who knows if your hard is really that hard? I think it's hard, but... you get the picture.
It was windy today. Really windy. And it was wet. We rode in and out of rain for the first 2-3 hours of our ride. Ugh. I was not happy. At our first stop I looked at Sandy and without smiling said, "This feels like training." You know, sometimes long bike rides are just awesome and it feels like you're doing it because you just love it, and other days it feels like you just have to freakin' put the time/distance/effort in. Today felt like the latter.
So eventually we got to the bottom of Pineapple Hill. I didn't mention this earlier, but there was this gal, Jane, who showed up to ride with us today... she came out once last year (from CA) and rode with us too. I remembered her because she pretty much just kicked all our asses and then went home without saying a word. Well, welcome back, Jane! It did not come as a surprise that she would dictate the pace up Pineapple Hill. And she did not wait. Right from the bottom she just put the hammer down and started climbing.
I had one of those moments... decision time... Are you coming or not??? And the answer was... YES! I'm IN. I wanted to play with Jane today. So I did. (Turns out I was the only one of our group who wanted to play so it became a mano-a-mano duel up the hill.) At that moment I was wishing hard for my road bike (Jane was on a road bike, I was on my TT bike) but wishing doesn't magically change the geometry of your bike so I just had to deal with the cards I had. Every steep pitch we hit, Jane would gear down, stand up, and just HAMMER. Man she had some power. I hung right in there with her though, amazed at myself and wondering who's legs I must have borrowed today?? I was psyched to be doing this today though. You know, I really wanted to test myself a few weeks ago at the Pineapple Hill road race, but I didn't get to that day because of race tactics... so in my own mind (not sure if Jane got the memo?) today became my Pineapple Hill Road Race!
It turns out, Jane must have gotten the memo because I swear, she was doing everything in her power to drop me. And eventually she did. I'd like to say that I could have stayed with her if I would have been on my road bike and able to stand up and climb like she could (that just doesn't feel the same on my TT bike), but who knows? Anyway, I kept the pressure on even after I lost her wheel and caught her again once the road turned a little flatter. Sweet. Hey Jane! I'm baaaack. I'm sure she was thrilled. Lol. She hammered all the way through to the top of the hill with me on her wheel and then without a word we just settled into a more normal pace and continued the loop.
We regrouped at the 7-11... faced a wicked headwind for the next 40 miles. Joy joy. I was sure I was going to have to pay dearly for that big climbing effort and was really NOT looking forward to the trip home. Its hard enough when you're fresh to battle that wind. But when you haven't been riding long and you just spent all your energy on the climb, well, I was bracing for ugly. I was cautious and sat in a good draft for the next 90 minutes or so. Jane did the same- right on my wheel. We let the boys do the heavy lifting into the wind.
Until... we got to about 15 miles from home and that's when we hit some little rollers. Little rollers that can feel like mountains if you're hurting... but you know what? I was not hurting. I felt fantastic! Not sure where this came from, but I was going with it. I waited until we got to the first little incline and then I attacked my little group. OFF THE FRONT! Woohoo! I laid it all out there and after coming down the hill on the other side I glanced back and saw that I had actually dropped Jane. Must have caught her by surprise. Awesome. But I sat up and waited. I had no interest in riding home alone- I wanted to play with Jane some more, and now that I'd played the first hand, I knew that she would throw her money in too... She just seemed like that kind of rider. And I was right about that. Holy hell that woman can attack up a hill! Oh my. We hit some more little rollers and she just geared down and went for it. I knew this was coming so was prepared every time and matched her up every little incline. It was awesome!
It was just the two of us at this point again... I know these roads a lot better than Jane did (obviously since I live here and she does not) so I knew where the final little climb was... she started going hard up it but she was on the tired side of things b/c she'd been pulling for a while and it was still very windy... I felt super and thought that *maybe* I could get around her on this final climb but wasn't sure... and didn't want to be rude about it since she'd been pulling... but then you know what? Jane is the type of rider who would respect me more for throwing it at her so that's what I did. Max power output coming from Michelle! Man, I laid it out there. Jane followed of course and then I just did not let up for about another mile until we hit some traffic and the ride was pretty much over because we were just a few miles from home.
Phew! How fun was that? Jane and I don't know each other really at all. In fact, I don't think she ever even asked me what my name was. But as we were soft pedaling the last bit of the ride I said, "I really enjoyed riding with you today." And she replied, "Likewise."