THE TRAINING ROUTE
- Today’s ride was the “Near Century,” 90-mile ride. It felt a little like the movie “Groundhog’s Day,” with once again getting up at 5:30 to be at the starting point at 7AM. It was overcast, and just a little drizzly when we finally rode out at 7:55AM.
- Robert drove out with me today as he was driving one of the sweep vehicles today.
- On our way, Joe called to say that he had decided to take the day off. I must say I was surprised, but I totally understood, especially after his discouraging ride on Saturday, and explaining that he really needed a day off with the amount of work he’s been doing, and his schedule in the upcoming weeks.
- Before we rode out, as folks were arriving, Robert and I both wondered aloud, “Wonder where Michelle is.” You remember, Michelle? Asking for directions to “Rosie’s,” and the “lost rider” I found? Little did we know that tomorrow we would receive this e-mail:
Michelle was on a training ride by herself yesterday on Hwy. 1010 when a car hit her – a hit and run. She is in ICU at WakeMed, but is doing well and will be transferred to a regular room later today.
She has a broken collarbone and a lacerated liver, but is feeling very little pain right now because they are giving her morphine. Her shoulder is scraped up, as well as her knees and thighs.
Katie and I just went over to WakeMed to visit her, and she was smiling and cracking jokes as always! She should get out of the hospital by Friday if all goes well.
As you can imagine, she is very disappointed that she will not be able to do the ride. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.
WHAT I LEARNED
- That this route was devised such that you could do a 50-mile ride, a 80-mile ride, or a 90-mile ride.
- That you can actually patch tires, not just tubes! One of the riders, thankfully not Joe or me, got two holes in his tires, and patched them. He ended up doing the 80-mile ride today, which I thought was pretty impressive as the patching was done on the way out, at the beginning of the ride!
- My rear tire needed air after about 35 miles. By the time we reached the halfway point, I decided that it had a slow leak, and that I would change it during our “lunch hour” at Lake Gaston. Not really something I was looking forward to doing during a break that I was so looking forward to. I was glad to have the sweeps along to get some air along the way until I could change it.
- How much thinking time you have on a 90-mile, 8-hour ride! I passed two cemeteries along the way, and as I passed each one I found myself looking across all the gravestones wondering, “How many beautiful boys in this cemetery died of AIDS, and of those, how many died alone?” At another point, I came across a dead dear on the left side of the road. A huge vulture landed not 20 feet in front of me to feast. I wondered, “What, if anything, would make a buzzard chose a bite of live, human flesh over dead, animal gut?” As I approached, it took off languidly, and that was answer enough for me.
- The pride of doing such a long ride. While we were waiting in line at Lake Gaston, in the little marina food joint, several people asked us about our riding. All were impressed with the endeavor and the commitment the riders were showing toward it.
- How appreciative a bunch of riders can be over a bunch of bananas. Robert and I brought about 35 bananas to have in the sweep car. A banana is the first thing folks will reach for if they start cramping up. As a rider, you like to have one or two, but they are a pain to carry along with you. So, knowing they would be at the pit stops was really appreciated. In fact, it was such a popular idea, that at the halfway point, Robert ducked into a grocery store and bout about 25 more!
- What the human body can do once it sets its mind to it.
- My back hurt just a little after riding for just about 7 hours today. I can’t believe that my butt still doesn’t get sore. I do not have any padding in my pants, nor do I have a padded seat. Amazing.
- My thighs were a little sore toward the end, and I was, in general, just weary! I took an ibuprofen as soon as I finished. Several people took some at the halfway point.
HOW I FEEL
- I started the return trip with a new tube in my rear tire, and my sites at the end of the ride. Several times during the ride back, I visualized what it was going to look like and feel like when I pulled back into our starting point later that afternoon. One time I cried with the anticipation of pride and accomplishment that I would feel. And I thought, “Crying is one of the greatest gifts of coming out.” I used to do a lot to hide my emotions, with not crying certainly being one of the biggest ones, in fear that people might think I was a “sissy” or a “fag.” What a wonderful feeling to be able to just be. And I thought, “Thank God I didn’t spend my entire life being someone I wasn’t.”
- I relish the feeling of finishing this ride! Robert made sure he was back to see me come in. I got a big hug, and as he told me how proud of me he was, I teared up. It felt so good. It was 4:20PM. Long day!
- I now have no doubt now that I can do The Ride. This is the most physically challenging thing I’ve done in my 45 years on the planet.
I finished the ride at about 4:20 this afternoon. What an incredible day.
We stopped at the Pizza Hut on Western Blvd. on the way home and had a pepperoni pizza and a salad bar for dinner.
Once home, I took a hot shower, and then an hour nap. Robert napped with me.
We woke up just after 8:00, and T.J. was parked on the lawn, and had the stereo pounding. He left after a little while.
Robert decided to leave in case T.J. returned. I worked on catching up this journal, was going to do my training ride journal, but decided at 11:15 to do that tomorrow instead. It's been a long, exhausting day.