Circumstances have been wrecking our training schedule, so we had to take the leap this morning. We hadn’t yet come close to our goal distance and we were running out of time: The Dehydrator is next Saturday. Rather than over-train trying to step up incrementally, we decided to just go out and see if we could do it.
As it turns out, we can.
Temperature: 86 degrees
Wind Speeds: 6-10 mph
Humidity: I Forgot to Look (Ultra Sweaty)
Ride Status: 23.1 miles completed with 517 feet of elevation gain
I hauled my carcass out of bed at 6:00 for breakfast and coffee before we hit the road at 7:30. It was a gorgeous morning with light winds and light traffic. People either waved at us or just cruised on by, and we only had one instance of Heart Attack by Dog. They didn’t come outside of their fence; they just scared the crap out of me because I couldn’t see them in the tall grass until they decided to sound off. My legs held up a lot better than I thought they would and I was able to keep up with Brian.
All in all it was a fantastic ride. Here are a few of the things I learned today:
- Bananas are magic energy-regenerating food.
- Sunblock is a good idea even at 7:30 in the morning.
- Body parts have just enough malevolent sentience to actively punish their owner. I’m looking at you, quads.
- If you breathe correctly, you will eat bugs.
- Fear sucks, but it is manageable.
Today was a big day for us because of the distance, but it was a bigger day for me because of the fear. I’ve talked before about my pants-wetting terror of chasey dogs, but I can’t say where it originated. I just know that it makes me lose sleep before every ride, especially when we’re going on a new route with an unknown Dog Quotient like today. The fear doesn’t suck all of the joy out of the riding experience, but it definitely diminishes the fun.
Knowing this, I went into this ride intent on reducing the joy-sucking factor by sheer force of will. My friend Ang’s voice echoed in my head. “Use that 10-lb brain of yours!” I decided her voice was right. If I can take the scare out of a horror movie by over-analyzing it (and I can, just ask my sisters), then I could certainly do the same thing on a bike ride. How?
I thought about what would happen if a dog actually got me. I’d probably get knocked down and chewed on. Brian would kill it before it did life-threatening damage and then we’d be on our way to bandages. Would I be hurt? Yes, but when I thought about it I realized that I’m not afraid of pain anymore after what we went through last year. Pain sucks when you’re in it, but it does pass and then you get on with your life. There is no reason to be so afraid of these dogs.
Once I hit this realization (about 7 miles into the ride), I was able to relax and enjoy the experience a lot more. I’ll always have concerns, like being pancaked by texting drivers or terminally unhappy jerkbags, but I think I’ll finally be able to get over the dog thing. That is huge. One less anxiety in my menagerie is such an enormous victory. It’s an important step towards a better me.
As for the 25-mile Dehydrator, whoever mapped out that route chose well. It’s beautiful, the hills are challenging, and the chasey dogs are mostly small. Mostly.
I’m looking forward to next Saturday.