This past Saturday, our team had our half century test - 50 miles in under 5 hours.
The week before, we had done essentially the same route minus 1.5 miles. My ride group at the time had finished that in about four hours, so I thought that I was in pretty good shape for this test. I ate pasta the night before, slept for almost 8 hours, and made sure to eat some oatmeal for breakfast before leaving my apartment. On the bike, I took extra care to keep drinking water and eating food. Despite getting a flat and having to call SAG for a rider who unfortunately had knee pain, I felt incredibly optimistic during the first part of the ride.
However, when we hit the rest stop, we realized that we were cutting it incredibly close on time. We had 22 miles left to be biked in about 2 hours and 15 minutes. I'm pretty sure we didn't even spend 5 minutes at the rest stop because I only had the chance to eat one doughnut hole and grab some Clif Bar products to go!
Once we got back on the road, we were hit with a headwind. Our group tried to consistently switch out who was leading, but in the end we fell into one formation for most of the way back once I started gapping on every uphill and needed to be drafting behind someone. I told myself that I'd keep pushing because we couldn't stop; there was no time. I was going to be okay.
But it became increasingly apparent that I was not going to be okay.
While I was on the bike that day, I tried to remember that no matter where I cycled to, I would always carry my family and friends in my heart (as cheesy as it sounds), but it wasn't actually them that allowed me to push myself on the way back. I had woken up that morning to a short encouraging message from a 2017 rider, and it was this message that popped into my mind right as I felt like I would not be able to go even one more mile.
"Just remember, you can stop but you can’t quit".
When our group stopped at a red light, I turned and told them that we had to pull over and let me eat something. I ended up taking two strangely delicious orange-flavored Clif Bar Shot Bloks (gummies with electrolytes, sugar, and caffeine).
As we made it back to familiar territory about 3 miles out from campus, a strange sense of calm settled over me. I told myself that no matter what the result, I had pushed myself today, and I could only improve from here.
We made it with 3 minutes to spare.
Miles ridden: 815
Fall count: 10