Last year was the inaugural Lemon Ride and it was very fun. I rode with my friends Ultra P and G-Dawg on the 50 mile route – Ultra P smoked G-Dawg and I within the first five miles and had waited about 45min by the time I rolled into the finish. Ultra P is an ultra runner and a very fast one at that. I decided then to do the Lemon Ride again.
This year I’d signed up for the new metric route but soon realized my daughter needed to be at camp that same day – no time to drive an hour, ride for 4 or so, drive an hour home, shower and get her to camp in time. So I did what any other cyclist in this situation did – I registered my daughter and switched to the 4 mile Family Ride.
I’m so glad I did.
In going on the Family Ride, we had the privilege of riding with the families of little Heroes. Each little Hero had a yellow flag attached to their ride – siblings had blue flags proudly displaying their Super Sibling status. Two of the largest “teams” were on the family route – the Fightin’ Fitzgeralds and Team Declan.
Riding with these families, friends, and supporters of little ones and their families as they fight pediatric cancer (and honor the memory of little ones who fought valiantly but lost the battle) was beyond humbling. I am so thankful that my family has been thus far untouched by the ravages of cancer – but I am proud to support Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and their continued and tireless efforts to uplift and support these little heroes and their families. It was so inspiring to ride with these heroes and their families.
Four miles went very quickly – so quickly my daughter thought we’d only gone a single mile. Next year we’ll ride the 12 mile route. We opted to skip the catered lunch (almost an hour wait from the finish of our ride to when lunch was being served) in favor of grabbing a few snacks and heading back home. We still had camp to get to.
Today was proof that the most awesome rides are not always the farthest or the fastest – they are the ones that touch our soul and inspire us to help others in our community.
When we last connected, dear reader, I was troubled by my health issues. The good news is I connected with my nurse practitioner and she agreed I’ve done everything I should, wrote me a script for full-strength acid blockers and told me I should see a GI doc if I don’t feel better in four weeks.
Of course, I was thinking “dude, if I’m not better in four DAYS there are going to be issues.”
The good news is the full-strength meds have worked. I don’t have to think about WHEN I eat anymore, although I am still careful about WHAT I eat. I’m off coffee until I’m done with the four-week course of meds. I’ve noticed some positive things since kicking coffee to the curb in the last month but I do miss it terribly.
But this is not why I am blogging, although thank you for asking about my health.
No, friends I am going to tell you about the most epic thing I’ve done yet on my bicycle. I rode 150.4 miles with my friends in one day.
I didn’t train very well for this ride to be totally honest. In fact, I had only ridden 143 miles this month over four days. None had been more than 60 miles or so. Lots of reasons why not but none of that matters the morning of your ride. I will note that my brain was totally all over this ride. I was so pumped thinking about it. There was very little doubt in my mind that I couldn’t accomplish this epic journey bicycling down the Shore.
Friday morning, I left my house about 6:30am and met my friends Howard and Ken at Ken’s house. Ken and Howard are preparing for a 7-day bicycle tour in upstate New York next month so this is a perfect training ride for them. Ken was even riding his commuter with a pannier (which I stowed my sunscreen, trail mix, and ziplock full of extra sport nutrition items) and trunk bag. Strapped to my top tube was a day’s worth of Cliff, Honey Stinger, and SportBeans in my Serfas Stem Bag that I won from All Seasons Cyclist’s blog contest. Shortly after arriving at Ken’s, the three of us set out to meet up with our other intrepid friends Andy and Rebecca, who are training for a 4-day charity ride in central Pennsylvania, closer into the City.
We met up, we crossed the bridge (RIP, Howard’s bar-end mirror that fell into the Delaware), and pedaled into New Jersey.
Everyone says it and you don’t really get it until you experience it:
Long bike rides are just a mind game. The first 50 miles were by far the hardest part of this journey – but not because it was a terrible grind or hilly or anything. Only because you have more miles in front of you than you have behind you. We stopped for lunch around mile 55 and celebrated that we had “only” 95 miles left to go. Break it down even further: we had rest stops about every 25-30 miles – mostly because we were pedaling through sparsely populated farmland.
Long bike rides necessitate eating on the bike. Humidity was low but it still got up into the mid-80s with brilliant sunshine. We were blessed with a few shaded roads but many more were out in open blueberry farm country. I forced myself to eat something every 10 miles or so and drained most of my water bottles to keep from bonking or cramping. Lunch was half a turkey wrap, a few fries, part of a pickle, and a Pepsi. At a gas station stop in the middle of nowhere, I picked up a Coke that I carried in my jersey pocket for the rest of the day. Later on we took a break at a Wawa and I split a hoagie with Ken (whole wheat shorty, turkey, provolone, lettuce, tomato, pickles, little mayo, yellow mustard, oil and vinegar, salt and pepper – Super Yum).
Long rides are only better with friends. Everyone had someone to ride and chat with. No one was dropped. Everyone regrouped at key rest stops. Singing songs about falling in love on the way to Cape May or bitchin’ Camaros. 80s rock ballads. We had it all – and the miles rolled on by.
Long rides mean metering your energy. I feel I did well but one can tell I hadn’t trained: my initial rolling speeds were 18-20 mph; around mile 108 they were down to 16-18 mph; the final 20 miles were 13-16 mph. At a certain point the pedals just keep turning as you watch the odometer tick off the miles. I was tired as we left mile 130 – I downed a Cliff Energy Gel but 10 miles later I was running out of gas. I am very thankful for Howard and Ken sticking with me. I had a few more Cliff Gel Blocks left so I downed those and was able to finish out the day in positive spirits.
One of my favorite moments: we were stopped at a light in Ocean City, maybe ten blocks from the end, and Howard looks at me and says “Have you been drinking?’
My first thought was “when the hell did we stop at a liquor store?” so I said “No, of course not.”
I panic for one second thinking my speech must be slurred or something.
Then my brain went “UM – DUH. WATER.” So I said “Oh wait – YES. Yes I have – my bottle’s almost empty.”
We rolled up to the B&B we were all staying at around 8:20pm. I proudly announced “To all the haters, SUCK IT! That just happened!”
Yeah. Stay classy, Laura.
Cathy (Ken’s wife) and my own family had just pulled up. We got checked in, I showered and changed, and then joined my fellow riders on the porch for some of the best pizza I’ve ever had in my life. Crashed in bed by 10:30pm.
And that, my friends, is how I spent the longest day of 2013.
I then spent the next day walking around the boardwalk, relaxing on the beach, and generally having a great time with my family. I felt no guilt about the funnel cake or gelato or fudge that I ingested. I was pleasantly surprised to only feel marginally sore in my quads and minor soft-tissue swelling on my sit-bone area (another topic for another post). More than anything though, I felt tremendous happiness at our accomplishment. Certainly the longest single-day ride I’ve ever done.
Yesterday I rode out with my fellow Sturdy Girls to get lunch at a farmer’s market in Doylestown. The weather was overcast and a touch on the chilly side, a sharp but somewhat refreshing reminder that summer is waning. The ride was about 52 miles and predominately flat, save a really nice, steep hill on Alms House Road and the rollers I decided would be a fine idea to ride on the final 3 miles home.
A couple milestones occurred on this ride:
1. The realization that 50miles used to be something to train for. Now it’s just a jaunt to get coffee or a sandwich – a leisure weekend ride with friends.
2. My bike computer’s odometer rolled to 701.
701 since the first week of April. This is huge!
My total for the year thus far is 977.6mi, including rides on Buzzkill (Heavy Bike has been named!) and a rental Scott CR1.
My goal for this year was originally 1,200mi – averaging 100 miles per month – and I’m well on track to meet this goal. I can’t wait to see my odometer roll over 1,000 mi too. I wish I could share with you exactly how awesome riding my bike makes me feel – there’s no rational reason to love it this much.
In other news …
I’ve been conversing with the proprietor over at Sip, Clip, And Go Coffee and she’s got me wondering about this madness known as cyclocross. I did a little snooping and it looks like there are quite a few local events being organized for the upcoming season. Hoping to maybe check out a race. One even had a women’s novice ‘cross clinic for the two hours leading up to the race – Free! I would totally go except I don’t have a cyclocross bike and am already riding another event that day. Will need to keep my eyes on the races and check it out before making any decisions on potential investments.
This past Sunday I had the pleasure of participating in The Lemon Ride in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, benefiting Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation in the fight against childhood cancer.
From their website: An uncharacteristically cool and temperate July day greeted nearly 300 cyclists who tackled one of three scenic courses throughout Bucks County in the first annual Lemon Ride Philadelphia presented by Volvo and benefiting Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. Thanks to the support of riders, sponsors and supporters – the inaugural Lemon Ride held on July 22, 2012 raised more than $50,000 in the fight against childhood cancer.
I rode with a coworker’s husband and his friend, hence our team name “Perfect Strangers” since we’d never met before that day. The weather was perfect – partly cloudy and low-80s. Two rest stops over the 50 miles – at 17 and 38 miles – helped the miles go quickly. Lots of hills – RideWithGPS pegged it at 3100+’ with MapMyRide pegging it at 1690′, not sure why the discrep – that my calves and quads are feeling today. I rocked the hills pretty well – I’m getting better at my climbing skills. I would love to have been able to attend the Climbing Clinic my local bike club hosted this month … hoping they will hold another this fall.
My favorite part of the ride was when I inadvertently dropped Glenn, my coworker’s husband, and Dan, an older guy on the ride, on a hill. I kept pedaling and came to a long, gentle, rolling descent. About half-way down, Glenn and Dan go whizzing by me with a “Well, hello there!” So I gave chase, getting low in my drops and pedaling furiously, maintaining 25-30mph for about 2 miles (with the help of gravity, for sure). So much fun to ride so hard after the guys.
I felt bad about dropping Glenn and Dan but let another rider draft off me for the last 10 miles … so we’re even?
I finished with a new personal best over 50 miles: 3h 44m 38s. I was hoping to get down to 3h 30m, but that will have to be next time.
* * * * *
This is also my first ride using bike shorts the way G-d intended: sans (under)pants. Blame it on my conservative upbringing or just a hesitation to be out in public without “unders” (as my niece calls them). I also used booty cream (Chamois Butt’r) for the first time. Very interesting experience but very positive. I had to Google how to use the cream – where does it go? how much? on the shammy or on me? or BOTH?? – but now I’m not sure I can go back to riding WITH unders!
Very much looking forward to tomorrow’s recovery ride … see you on the road!
When you ride at an average of 10 mph on your hybrid with your kid.
Yesterday my oldest son and I drove an hour northeast to participate in Cycle Bucks County, a non competitive, organized fund raising bike ride presented for the benefit of Doylestown Hospital and Girls On The Run. Because my oldest rides a mountain bike, I chose to ride my hybrid to better match his speed and exertion level. I pre-mapped the 25 mile route (based on the previous year) and noticed the first 15 miles looked like rolling hills with a nasty hill right before the rest stop. The last 10 miles were flat along the Delaware River as it divides Pennsylvania from New Jersey.
Turns out I was slightly off. Check out the final route over at MapMyRide. There were four big hills that many participants were walking. Some were lamenting their compact cranks and other extolling the virtues of their triples. This hill in particular just kept going UP … but this was the one that had a few people just turn in their numbers and head home.
My son and I were the only ones we saw on non-road bikes, which really makes me that much prouder that we finished with a ride time of 2 hours and 40 minutes (about 3 hours total time including rest breaks). He’s becoming a solid cyclist (didn’t train for this ride – just did it and ended up tired but happy with the ride overall) and I think it’s time to change out his equipment for a road bike now that his mountain bike doesn’t fit him anymore (he’s now 5’10” and growing). I have been training and the ride was an enjoyable saunter through the countryside with my kid.
We also saw a tiny fox towards the end of the ride – he was so timid and apprehensive. We stopped and allowed him to run by us at a wide berth.