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45 miles on a bike... the good... and the bad...

Sunday, February 10, 2013

I debated about it all week, but on Thursday night I signed up for my first 'real' bike ride and picked up my packet on Friday. Then, I talked to a friend who rides a lot and asked her to join me. She was already planning on going and said we could ride together. She'd planned on riding with her husband & their friend, but no one could carry 4 bikes. So, we split up and their friend, M, went her husband and my friend rode with me.

We left very early because they'd done the ride before and knew traffic would be bad. We got there easily and had plenty of time to stop by the bathroom & get some breakfast. I first tried a breakfast taco, but I really don't like those and only could eat a few bites. I then had some oatmeal, but I didn't see any sugar and it was so bland! My friend then showed me where the sugar was & it was great! I also had half a large banana and had already had some food on the drive.

I was pretty nervous about the start. It's a lot more dangerous starting with all those bikes than with runners! The other 3 ride faster and started on the wave in front of me. I thought it'd be easier if I just did this on my own and didn't worry about my friends having to watch over me. I stayed to the far left, and took off with the crowd. It was actually not so bad!

I ended up being at the end of a wave, which was unplanned but I really liked. For the first few miles, I pretty much kept a little distance between myself & the back of the wave. I wasn't really interested in being surrounded by bikes!

A little before mile 3 everyone started yelling "slowing" and then "stopping". We could see an ambulance up ahead and knew that wasn't a good sign. The ride marshalls had us walk into the grass quite a ways before the ambulance. Most people were carrying their bikes and I tried for awhile, but then decided it was too tiring. emoticon

As I got closer to the wreck, I really started thinking that it could be my friend who had been in the wave before me. I was praying and thinking "Please, not her!" I saw they had someone on a backboard, but couldn't remember what my friend had on. As I passed, I realized it was the other friend... M! The one who'd rode with my friend's husband! Oh, no!!

I walked up and asked if I could talk to M. The EMT's encouraged me and said no one else had known her. I talked to her. She had a whole in her glove and a knuckle was bloody. And, she was holding her left shoulder. I didn't see anything else. I talked to her and she didn't know who I was. I told her we'd only met that morning but I was E's friend. She started crying and held my hand and told me she was scared and didn't know how she'd got there. I told her she'd be OK, that I'd be praying & try to contact E & her husband. I asked if I could call anyone and she said "no." I stood by until the loaded her in the ambulance.

I texted my friend - I didn't have her husband's number. Then, I headed off at a pretty good rate. I was praying that I could catch up with my friend at the 1st stop. But, they were probably far ahead. I'd been slowed by the walk and then I'd stood by for probably 5 minutes or so.

I got there and coulnd't find them but saw a ride marshall and talked to him. He'd actually been one of the first on the scene! As I pieced together the story from him & from my friend's husband who later talked to M, I found out that: someone else had fallen down & M had wrecked into them. Surprisingly & sadly, though M was injured, the other rider got back on their bike and took off! They found another driver's license next to my friend and I guess they think that is the other person's. I was shocked someone would do that!

By this time, I was still upset and wondering if I should just go back to the car, but decided to press on... and slow down as I'd been pushing myself to try and rush to the 1st stop. I heard from my friend at the 2nd stop. I didn't get much info then, but later learned the following: her husband had been having knee problems very early on and was already at the start when she contacted him. So, he got to go straight to the hospital and be with M! Isn't that amazing? And, the news on M: she broke her shoulder (not sure what bone) and will be out about 2 months. (Though she'll get a 2nd opinion from a sports doctor this week.)

Back to the ride:

So, the temp was about 50 when we started and near 60 when we finished. I wore bike shorts with capris over them, a bike shirt and my wind jacket with removable sleeves. It was totally overcast (except for a brief time when the sun tried to break through) and winds were 10-15 mph, so I also wore my 'beanie' to protect my sensitive ears.

For most of the ride, the wind was at our side, and yet it felt pretty powerful to me! Most of the ride was flat with only 4-5 decent hills. (And those are Houston hills... so not that bad for many of you.) We only had about 2 miles with the wind at our back, and that was AMAZING!!! And, we had from about mile 40-43 with it in our face, and that was HORRIBLE!!!

On the main sections, when the wind was at our side, I was riding at about 12-15 mph. When the wind was at our back, I averaged 18-22. And, when it was at our face, I could only pull about 9!!! At one time, going up a hill with that wind, I dropped down to 7!!! And, at another time, I stopped pedaling and was afraid I might end up going backwards. emoticon

There were 4 stops with great food and I stopped at each. I had oranges (sliced), banana pieces, cookies, peanut butter carckers, a granola bar... I didn't drink enough. I was afraid to drink much while riding as I'm still a little unsure of my abilities. I need to make sure and drink more.

I met another lady at the 2nd rest stop and then we hooked up at the 3rd and finished the rest of the ride together. For about 10 miles we were able to ride side by side and that was the easiest part of the ride... I think because we were chatting & forgetting our pains!

Different parts of my body hurt at different times, but I was thankful not to have any nagging pains. Today, the only thing sore is my SEAT! I feel terrific! And, I'm already looking at next weekend's ride where I think I'll do 45 miles again (well, 46.5).

I love BIKING!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Intense story. I hope your friend is now well and back on her bike.

    Congrats on the long ride!
    2932 days ago
  • BUTTERFLY-1976
    Sounds like a great event..besides your friends getting hurt.

    The nerve of some people, to just to get up & leave like that. Last year at the start line of an event, a couple of bikers were playing around & the girl ended up swerving her bike, causing my friend swerve & wipe out. Her face & hand were bloody & the girl stopped & said 's**t happens.' Couldn't believe it!!

    Last year different 2 day event I did..at the dinner they announced 'never play around on your bike, especially when there's lots of other people around.' I guess a couple where playing around & he lost control of his bike & flipped. Cracked his helmet open & was ambulanced out.

    Can't wait to hear how your next event goes!

    Biking is a great, fun activity, but your really have to be cautious of others.
    2945 days ago
    So sorry to hear about your friend's friend, but it sounds like you had a great ride. This was such an interesting blog!
    2946 days ago
  • BOBBYD31
    nice to hear you got a good ride in, sorry to hear about your friends, friend hope she is ok. i did my first century ride last june so i know what you mean about different parts hurting at different times
    2946 days ago
    I'm with you on sticking to myself at the back of the pack on large rides. People go out too hard and aren't really concerned about others. So sorry for your friend. I hope she will recover quickly. All in all sounds like a great experience with perfect weather.
    2946 days ago
    Very cool and what an adventure; wrecks and ambulances, wind and hills. Way to persevere....when's the next big ride!
    2946 days ago
  • no profile photo CD13342094
    Wind is terrible, but remember it can be your friend, too. I live in a fairly windy place. My commute home almost always requires battling the wind. Most of the time, it's coming from about 30-50° to the left of me. It's not blowing straight into my face, but it's creating extra drag on the spokes. When it's a 20-25 mph wind, it's like riding through mud. When it's a 60-mph gust, it nearly blows me off the trail.

    As much as I grouse about the wind, I know how much stronger it makes me. Riding into the wind is like riding uphill. It really will make you stronger. There's a reason Belgium, a country as flat as can be, produces such great cyclists: it's REALLY windy.

    So, if you have a choice, always start the ride with the wind in your face and end the day with the wind at your back. You know how wonderful a tailwind feels!

    As far as crashes go, I've hit the tarmac a few times, but I've never suffered anything worse than road rash. If you continue to run regularly, your bones will stay fairly dense, which makes it less likely you'll break one in a crash. Cyclists are prone to broken collar bones, so I accept that a bad crash will probably result in me breaking mine. But keep your eyes open, and if luck is on your side, you'll never have a bad crash.

    One last tip: limit rest breaks to no more than ten minutes. I learned that the hard way once. I was having a great ride, despite a sinus headache and despite the fact the ride was through pollen-rich cherry orchards and newly-mown hay fields. I took too long of a break at a rest stop and then found I just couldn't get my legs back into the ride. That hasn't happened again since I started taking very short breaks. I top off my bottles, grab a quick snack, stretch my back & ITB, and then I'm off again. I'm still slow as all get out, but at least I'm having fun!
    2946 days ago
  • BILL60
    Way to go!! I'm proud of you. You appear to have learned many lessons from that first ride. Good luck on your next ride. You'll be ready for the Katy Flatlands 100 in July. So happy with your very last sentence, "I love BIKING!"

    2946 days ago
    So cool to hear your enthusiasm! Smart thinking with such a crowded ride to just lay back and put space between you and other riders. I'll never forget a harrowing ride through Central Park in NYC on the Five Borough Ride with THOUSANDS of riders swarming through the city. The path through Central Park was SO narrow! I took one little tumble at one point when my bike at a slow speed bumped into another. Thankfully it didn't chain reaction into others falling, just me and no scrapes.

    Whenever I hear about a crash I like to find out how it happened and think about how it might have been avoided and learn from others' mistakes.

    Very cool to hear about your upcoming ride!


    2946 days ago
  • no profile photo BIGDOG18
    2946 days ago
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