Posted by: wheelywonka | October 16, 2011

Lessons Learned from Two Days on the Open Road

I just finished riding 130 miles over two days during the 2011 Bike MS: Valero Ride to the River.   I’m a little sore and tired from the experience, but I’ll try to summarize the lessons I learned from this experience before I pass out for the evening.  As a result, this will be an uncharacterisically short blog.

  1. A few weeks ago I wrote about flipping the switch ala the Kobe-Shaq Lakers.  The premise was that I was so experienced at these bike rides that I could just show up with little or no training, and then ride fast and hard with the hammerheads and not feel any ill effects afterwards.  Well, this did not go according to plan.  There were moments over the last two days where I felt some real pain, and questioned whether I could pedal any further.  It was sheer will and determination, plus some oversized ego, that kept me going.
  2. The Wounded Warriors team started both days, and what they do puts my tiny efforts into perspective.  These war veterans with a variety of injuries ride the same course as the rest of us do, but it requires so much more effort and perseverance for them to particicpate and finish.  Their focus, camaraderie, and patriotism is truly inspiring.
  3. My father-in-law Stan rode 103 miles over two days.  This was his 5th year to ride the event, which I know now is something he truly enjoys.  At age 73, the fact that he is still healthy enough and energetic enough to do this is nothing short of amazing.  (The fact that he trains largely on a diet of beer and venison jerky is even more amazing.)
  4. I had some mechanical difficulties at mile 10 of Day 2, which forced me to drop out of a blistering pace line that was blasting across that sweet, smooth pavement on 46 between New braunfels and Seguine.  It took me 20 minutes to find and install a replacement tire, and by then I was trapped at Rest Stop 1 for 30 minutes while the event coordinators were waiting for a dangerous fog to lift along the route.  This forced me into the absolute end of the pack, where the slowest riders were and closer to the turtle than I’ve ever been.  (NOTE:  The turtle is the last SAG wagon that trails the last rider in an event.)   After years of riding closer to the front of the pack, it was refreshing to be around folks who struggled mightily to complete the event.  They did so for a number of reasons – poor equipment, lack of experience, not part of a team, just getting serious about fitness, etc.  Despite this, they all had a fierce determination to pedal every mile in the event that was truly inspiring to see.  I tip my hat to everyone who accepts the challenge of one of these rides, regardless of how long it takes them to finish.  I know I’m paraphrasing – I’m too tired to look up the actual quote – but it’s important for a person’s reach to exceed his or her grasp, because that’s what a heaven is for.  This applies to all things big and small.
  5. More than anything, it is the comraderie on the road that attracts me to cycling.  Saturday night after the team dinner I enjoyed some contraband <insert name of island>  cigars with JT (aka, the Punisher) and JH (aka, Brown Sugar), teammates and friends I’ve been on countless rides with.   As the smoke and the banter swirled between us, it made me realize (again) how much I enjoyed being on one of these rides.
  6. Finally, all along the route there were folks who had multiple sclerosis.  Some of them were in wheel chairs at the rest stops and the start/finish lines, some of them were actually riding in the event.  All of them were so genuinely appreciative of the money that the event was raising, money that one day will find a cure for this disease.  It is the hope of this that has insipred me to ride in this event for 11 years now, and despite how bad my muscles ache tonight, it is the hope that is inspiring me to take advantage of that $10 early bird special to sign up for the 2012 ride…

Wounded Warriors at the start of the Ride to the River

With 73-year-old Stan, who pedaled a very respectable 100 miles over two days, and a had the time of his life doing so

Well, that’s it.  Need to rest a day or so, then begin training in earnest for the Rock and Roll Marathon on 11/13 – just a month away.   I think I’m going to have to train harder for this then I did this weekend’s bike ride – there is no such thing as flipping a switch when it comes to serious fitness, my friends.

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