Welcome to the 4-H club!

Bicycle races are coming your way
So forget all your duties- oh yeah!
Fat bottomed girls theyll be riding today
So look out for those beauties- oh yeah!
On your marks get set go
- Bicycle, Queen

Well kiddies, my venture into the world of long distance cycling is complete- this past weekend I completed the MS150. 150 miles of cycling through the foothills and mountains of Colorado... 150 miles that taught me more about myself than I've learned since the half-marathon back in January.

Here's my play by play, a few days after the fact. I'll also post up a few pics if you promise to forgive the horrible image quality provided by my cell phone... this is going to be a long post, so grab a lemonade and some popcorn and settle in... here we go. :)

I rode with a team of 4 other women... we were riding in honor of my husband's step-mom, Deborah... a lovely woman who has the dreaded MS. She's amazing, and for her, I'd do this ride over and over again if it meant she'd be healed. My teammates were Sarah (Deb's daughter), Vicki (Sarah's friend), Maggie (Sarah's best friend), Alicia (another of Sarah's friend's), and me.

DAY ONE- 75 MILES- 4h56m

Day one started off uneventfully... we all got up around 4:30 am and got our gear together... though Sarah & I were the only ones raring to go. We got to FRCC and were instantly pulled into the atmosphere of thousands of cyclists and supporters. Amazing stuff... We ate a quick breakfast, and saddled up to go- wave 5. The morning was cool and gorgeous, and initially I stayed with my team, though it became obvious that none of them were fully prepared for the ride. After the first 15 minutes, they gave me their blessings to go on without them, and I was off. It felt incredible to open my legs up and breathe in the crisp Colorado air.

I hit rest stop one, grabbed some gatorade for my CamelBak and pushed off again. This is where it got interesting. We hit our first (of countless) hill... no big deal, right? Wrong. The rider in front of me was an older guy w/MS (riders w/MS wore special jerseys) and his riding partner... not sure what happened, but they both went down, and I was coming at them too fast to stop, so... yeah. CRASH, BOOM, BANG! I went down in a pile with them. I couldn't unclip fast enough, so my bike also crashed with us... I got very, very lucky- a few mild bruises and scrapes, but nothing serious. The other two riders were more road rashy, but again, nothing too serious. I think I was down for less than 3 minutes, before I was saddled up again and riding. The rest of the morning, and through lunch was fairly uneventful- with the exception of someone picking up my gloves (accidentally, I hope) at lunch.

After lunch was a bit harder- the hills got more intense and started hitting faster. Miles 50-60 were brutal- the sun was out full force, and the hills were increasing in grade. Just before Horsetooth Reservoir, my quads said no more, and I had to walk up 25% of the hill- very humbling. The view at the top made it worth it though:

From the top of Horsetooth Reservoir it was a straight downhill shot into Ft. Collins- speedy! At one point I was going almost 36 mph- scary. Crossing the day one finish line made it worth it though... and my body did conk out- I was in bed and asleep by 8:30. Ahhh.

DAY TWO- 75 miles- 5h16m

As soon as I woke up on day 2 I knew something was up with my hands- both pinkies were a bit numb... I shook them out and assumed that I slept on them weird. Got ready for the shower and saw that I was sunburned- so I doubled up on the sunscreen. Got to CSU early and ready for another hard day of riding. I knew this day would be MUCH harder because the elevation gains were all in the first 15 miles of the ride. Oy vey.

(My team had all mentally checked out of the ride by today... one woman even grabbed the sag wagon all the way home (which was fine because her bitching and moaning was on my last nerve)...)

After another quick breakfast, I pushed off on the ride. My legs were a bit tired and took about 5 miles to open up and really feel okay... which was unfortunate because at mile 7 the hills started, and started with a vengeance. The hill that I flew down yesterday afternoon? That monster was the first hill of the day, and I am not too proud to admit that I walked up more than 50% of the hill (I was determined to mount each hill on my own volition and not with the assistance of the sag wagon). I got to the top of the hill and once again was rewarded with the lovely Horsetooth Reservoir. After taking a minute to catch my breath, I pushed off again- downhill, baby, yeah!!

That thrill was short lived as I quickly saw that an even BIGGER hill lay before me- what the hell?? Again, I pushed up the hill as far as my quads would allow, and ended up walking up about 30% of the hill. I was rewarded with this view at the base of the hill:

YEAH! Rest stop one! Woo!! I have to admit that I was really exhausted by the time I hit this stop... stayed about 15 minutes to catch my breath and gear up for 4 more hours of riding (ish). I pushed off again, and while there were a lot more hills, I was able to power through each one. Day two felt harder and much slower than day one- and the big change was NO cloud cover at all, so the sun was beating down on us without mercy.

I made it through the next rest stop without issue.. mostly. The chafing at this point was getting quite painful- despite copious use of Chamois Butt'r. I scooped out a bunch of Bag Balm from the medical tent, slathered it on the nether regions, and pushed off yet again. About 3 miles past the rest stop the inevitable happened- I got a flat tire. Time to test my roadside repair skills! I got the tube changed without issue, and had some assistance from one of our road angels- he had a pressurized pump that filled the tire in about 2 seconds- no exaggeration.

After another few hours of riding, I finally hit the lunch stop... 55 miles in- 20 to go! YEAH!! Ate a quick lunch and sat for a few and watched the Irish Step Dancers who were entertaining us. At this point it occured to me that, despite 3+ hours of riding, I hadn't peed yet. I knew my kidneys would be screaming sooner rather than later, so I hit the port-o-lets... um... yeah. I think I scared the other cyclists with my out and out scream. Let's just say that chafed skin + pee is a painful combination. *insert real tears here* I went back to medical and got 800mg of Motrin, sunscreen (which I faithfully applied at each and every rest stop), and more Bag Balm. After making the appropriate applications, I was off for my last push... excited, but ready to be done.

By this point in the ride, my legs were tired, and mentally I was starting to feel the push of the past two days. I know that so much of endurance is mental, so I started singing to distract myself (no iPod for 2 days was a big change for me). Before I knew it, I could see the familiar sites announcing Denver. YEAH!! The last few hills were brutal, and I had to stop a few times to allow my quads a chance to rest. I did freak out on my last stop since I found out from a volunteer that I had stopped at mile 66.6. YIKES!

The final 5 mile push was mentally hard on me. I wanted to finish strong, and make myself proud. I knew that there were many people rooting me on, and I refused to let them down, so I pushed with my last bit of ooompf. Finally- 1/2 a mile to go and ALL downhill! FRCC was in sight, and I knew I had done it. The tears started flowing, and I let the bike carry me through.

Day two can be summed up like this: hills, heat, humidity- hell. Welcome to the 4-H club, kiddies!

But... pride! My first cycling medal:

So what did I learn? NEVER, ever underestimate the power of chafing... two days later it's still punishing me. Never underestimate the power of the sun- I am burned all over despite a lot of sunscreen, and my jersey riding up my back left me with a bright red smiley face just above my butt. Nice! Never underestimate the power of a stubborn ass personality- I think I would have died before DNFing this ride. But most of all I learned that I'm a lot stronger than I give myself credit for... and while it will be nice to shift my focus back to running, I will be maintaining my conditioning on the bike... I doubt I will ever be 'alithecyclist', but I will definitely be doing this ride again next year... you guys up for sponsoring me again? ;)
4 Responses
  1. Michelle Says:

    Ali awesome terrific amazing ride! I am very proud of you and your accomplishment. WAY.TO.GO!


  2. What a great post and an awesome ride. The finishers medal is cool too. So far all I've gotten for my bike rides is a stupid patch. I know, right?

    Cycling is just like running. Peaks and valleys, one minute you feel like you've got it made and the next minute you HATE everything.

    You did great and I am sure that you'll remember this for a long long time. More importantly, the people who you were riding for will remember your efforts and how you touched their lives.

    Oh, and you ROCK!!

  3. Gina Harris Says:

    I'm just SO impressed that you can ride so far. I'm not a great bike rider at all. You are an inspiration!

  4. Iris & Lily Says:

    I give you so much credit for even starting this ride! Wow! You've inspired me to ramp up my cycling for my triathlon training.
    I don't know if I would have continued on after crashing. That's my biggest fear on the bike. So impressive! And a great post. Fun reading.