The Best “Bike” Day Ever!
I went back and read the most recent blog that I wrote five days before the Fondo. I was a mess. I didn’t feel ready. I felt I’d lost valuable training time the few weeks leading up to it and didn’t think I had it in me to go the full course; 103 miles. I road this ride last year. I knew how hard it was. Last season, I was on target with training. I followed the calendar for the most part, and didn’t miss any Saturday rides with the team. I was prepared. And even with all that preparation, bad weather and unforeseen circumstances made it one hell of a brutal day on the bike.
This year, I had road blocks during training. I missed a few Saturday team rides early in the season and I wasn’t as motivated to do the midweek training on my own. It isn’t easy to get on a bike after work and ride 40 miles by yourself, and then later in the season I had to stay off the bike to heal (as you know if you read my blog). Suffice it say that in addition to me not feeling physically prepared, it was also my own head that was getting in the way.
By Saturday, I pulled it together and got my head on straight. Early in the ride, I was weighing everything happening within my physical self as I peddled along and I was feeling nothing but ease. I was calm and I felt strong. There was no discomfort anywhere. I payed attention to my stamina, my legs and the parts of me that sit on the saddle and everything felt perfectly fine. It gave me the confidence boost that was needed, and we were going to have good weather! I began to take in the scenery, breath the fresh air, and relax.
Everything was in sync. I’m not saying it was all easy. The climbing on this ride is as tough as it gets and it doesn’t let up. You are on your bike all day (10 hours) and one of the toughest climbs comes at mile 75. This ride shows you what you are made of. Apparently (as my coaches tried to convince me during the weeks leading up to the ride), I was ready. I had one of the best days on the bike that I have ever had, and so did my group. We started together and we finished together. There were no major mechanical issues, no bonking, no hold-ups. It was damn near perfect.
A true testament to the expertise of my head coach is realizing our strength during this kind of ride. I can’t begin to tell you how satisfying it was to see myself and my teammates climb for miles on end. We stayed on our bikes, past the ill-prepared souls that were walking. While I felt bad for the people who had perhaps taken on more than they could handle, it made me realize how properly trained we were. Our coach knew what we needed to be doing to get us through a ride like this. We climbed mountains all summer long, all over the San Francisco Bay Area. We weren’t the fastest, we were nowhere near among the first that finished, but we stayed on our bikes and finished our ride. Two of the girls on my team had never cycled until they joined Team In Training. Watching them motor up Coleman Valley Road (super steep) like they’d done it a hundred times put a huge smile on my face.
I can’t say enough about my group. There were eight of us and for the last half of the ride our head coach joined us. They were my strength. There is some very special bonding that happens during the training season. Knowing my challenges this season, my head coach came up to me after the ride and said, Jodee, it was a joy to see you out there having such a good day. That was the icing on the cake. My time was certainly better than last year, but it remains to be seen whether I will again get an official DNF (Did Not Finish). I finished last year, but it was over an hour after the Finishing Line that tracks your time had been removed. This year, we were close, though it may again be a DNF. But this year, I really don’t care, because I realized about half way into it that the time doesn’t really matter when you know in your heart that the goal you set for yourself will be realized. What mattered was that we were there for each other and we finished our ride happy and strong.
Thank you to everyone that supported me. The San Francisco Bay Area TNT Cycling Team (roughly 70 people) raised over $206,000 for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society this season. So many of you contributed to that. Aside from that, so many of you also offered encouragement and words that were needed just at the right time. I am so grateful for the people in my life that continue to make me realize how truly blessed I am. I love you all.