I did it. I actually did it. I biked 102.5 miles and raised $2,445 for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
My greatest joy is that I raised more than $600 over my minimum needed and I have all of you to thank for that. I know some truly generous people and I am so grateful to have you in my life.
The Peach of a Century team raised $50,000 to fund research to cure blood cancers. $50,000! As a team we rode 2,200 miles on the event day. Amazing accomplishments all around.
So event day. I won’t say race because it wasn’t. The ride was not timed (thank goodness!), there was no official start time, you just had to finish. I drove down to
Sunday morning I got up at 5:45, got dressed, finished organizing my stuff for the ride (packing snacks, gear, etc). At 6:30 I got some breakfast (bagel, banana and coffee) and then at 7 we all headed to the starting area. After picking up our packets we gathered as a group for some pictures at the Team In Training tent. Around then I really had to use the bathroom but there was a huge line. So me and another participant heard rumor that a few people snuck off into these nearby woods to go all natural. So we did. Yes, I really did. I would have been standing in line another 30 minutes if I didn’t! Check out the pics. You’ll understand.
So we take off around 8am. The first 22 miles were great albeit a little cool. A fog had come in and numbed the fingers quite quickly. It was definitely pretty though. We had done this portion of the route before during a training ride so it wasn’t anything new. At the 22 mile mark was the first rest stop. Again, HUGE lines for the bathroom. Luckily I didn’t have to go again. I rested up a little, chatted with some teammates, the coach and supporters before taking off. The next bit was also pretty comfy riding. There were some moderate rollers but it was up and down so pretty fun riding. I even hit my top speed of 37.1 mph! The second rest stop was at 55 miles. I ate my PB&J along with other snacks. The sun was finally peeking out from the fog and I could tell it was warming up. I checked in with mom (who couldn’t be there to cheer me on due to knee surgery) to let her know I was surviving. It was only 12:30 so I was making pretty good time.
I took off for the next leg of the ride. I instantly knew I was going to be in trouble. I was so sluggish – just on a flat spot! The sun was out in force, the food was settling in and I was tired. I had been fighting a cold and allergies all week and I could see it taking toll. Then we hit the hills. I had been told this was a relatively flat course with one lengthy hill around mile 74. Yeah, not even. The hills hit around mile 61. And they weren’t little. We’re talking STEEP. As steep as the horrid hill of the Eola Hills ride. Yes, I admit, I had to walk a hill. I tried, I really did. But my asthma failed me. Dang lungs anyway. At the top, a large group was waiting for me and another team mate. After a rest we headed down a fun slope only to be hit by more hills. And more. I swear it was never ending. That 22 mile segment took about 2 hrs. There were lots of friendly people on the road giving encouragement as they passed me on the hills. Slightly humiliating but it was okay. I was doing my best – who cares if I had to stop 5 times up a 300 foot hill.
I hit the 3rd rest stop at mile 77. I kept my break short because I knew I had to keep going or I might just quit. I ate some pretzels, cheese and orange slices. Oh, and some macaroons. Those were tasty although quite sweet. I also checked in with mom again and started feeling the tired and pain set in. I was so tired. She reminded me that I’d done 84 miles before so at least I knew I could do that. That was true but it didn’t make me any less tired. So I set off for the last leg. It was only 24 miles. Right? Only 24. I can do that. I biked for awhile with a couple of people from my team but eventually had to let them go on ahead. They tried to wait for me but I was so low on energy I couldn’t keep up. But I pedaled. And pedaled. I hit that 84 mark and thought, I should call for the support vehicle. At least I’ve done what I did before. I’m not a failure. I’m doing my best. But I kept going. It wasn’t hilly – just long, flat, and hot. I was at 91 when a friend texted me asking how I was doing. I was so ready to quit. I told her I had about 10 miles left and she said “you got it girl”. So I kept pedaling. I could get it! It was the longest 10 miles ever. One of coaches drove by to check on people. I kept pedaling. I could have easily thrown my bike in her truck and gone back but I didn’t. Another cyclist was heading backwards on the course at about mile 99. He yelled to me “You’re almost there”. I yelled back “I sure hope so!”. It was hard not to swear at him – he was being encouraging after all.
I rolled in to the finish line around 5:45pm. Yes, I was on the road from 8am until 5:45. The first 55 miles took 4.5 hours and the last 47 miles took 5.25 hours. I was so happy to be done. I called mom and almost started crying. I was so, so tired. Weepy tired. I finished though. 102.5 miles. That was the official course length. My cyclometer only read 100.5 miles I’m sure all my stopping and starting and walking on the hills threw it off. I rested a bit, stretched, had a small bite to eat and then headed home.
For the pictures I took, check out my usual spot: