IM Louiville

IM Louiville
Bikes racked at Ironman Louisville 2010

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Horribly Hilly

I can't imagine anyone welcoming the sound of the alarm clock at 2:45am, even if they were going on vacation. Well, I wasn't going on vacation this particular morning. I was headed up to Blue Mounds, WI to participate in the Horribly Hilly Hundreds bike ride. There are 2 options, the 100K or the 200K. When I signed up for the ride, I eagerly signed up for the 200K, vowing to be strong enough to tackle it. But as the days passed, I began to wonder why I even signed up for this ride. I mean, not ONE of my races for the rest of the year has any hills to speak of. So long ago, I decided that 100K would be quite enough for me.

I met up with all the SCTC'ers: Brett, Tom, Chris and Laura. Charlie and Sevy were expected, but hadn't called anyone and we were well past the scheduled start time, so we wandered off to the start without them. There is a very long, somewhat steep downhill one must ride down to get to the start of the event. I remember my first time doing this ride that there was NO WAY we'd have to ride up this awful hill. But this time, I knew...better save some for the end.

It was about 70 degrees at the start and the fast downhill gave me the chills. No sooner do we turn the first corner and the ascent begins! It's all coming back to me now, around every corner, there is an uphill. So would be the theme for the day.

Just as I remembered, there really are no flat sections of this ride. You're either struggling, gritting out a long, slow incline, or flying down a hill at speeds that can make anyone a little nervous. Each time I came upon an incline, I practiced shifting down before my speed dropped too much. And every time, I ran out of "easy" gears, my speed would decline and I would begin huffing and puffing to climb up to the top of each ascent. My riding partner for the day, Whiz, was struggling right along with me and I could hear her breathing just as heavily and she'd let out the occasional grunt, especially up the most grueling of hills.

The steep hill up to the first SAG stop was miserable. As we slowly made our way up to the stop, we saw all the rest of the SCTC'ers cruising on down, going too fast to even recognize that it was us on our way up. I could barely yell hello to them as I needed to conserve all my energy for this brutal nuisance of a hill. And this was just 15 miles into the ride! Heck yeah, we can do this just 3 more times!

As the temperature rose for the day and the sweat poured down our faces, we continued the journey, all the while I was counting off the miles backwards in my head. "OK, only 42 more to go...OK, just 40 miles left..." I've done it before, I can do this again. This year, however, I used a road bike instead of a TT (or triathlon) bike. And in my mind, either I was more prepared for the day having done this before, or the road bike made the ride considerably easier. I only HAD to get out of the saddle twice the entire day.

We were running out of fluids quickly now and I reminded myself to conserve until the next rest stop. The last place we stopped was simply a picnic bench in front of a residence with a hose running out from the house with a sign saying "This is your LAST CHANCE for water." Whiz and I didn't miss that opportunity! We were determined to get this ride over with. I knew the end was near as I had stopped at this same picnic bench to refill my water bottles 2 years ago.

Before I knew it, I was turning right into the Blue Mounds picnic area where the ride started. I cringed as I realized the end was near, as was the most difficult climb of the day. I hunkered down in my seat, shifted down into the easiest gear I had, put my head down and focused on keeping forward momentum. This part nearly made me cry 2 years ago and this day, I was not about to let it get the better of me. I pushed on, slowly but surely at an embarrassing pace of 3.2 mph, veering around many cyclists turned walkers. Oh believe me, it would be so easy to walk up that last hill. But I cannot. MUST....GET....UP....UGH....THIS....HILL....I...CAN....DO....THIS...OMIGOD, IT'S SO HOT....KEEP...GOING....ALMOST...JEEZ!...THERE....

Then there were spectators. This year, there were no encouraging words scribbled on the pavement. I was bummed as they offered me much motivation 2 years ago. So I kept on, cranking, pushing, breathing, sweating, cursing, fighting back tears, shooting daggers with my eyes at the people cheering us on...I mean hey, it LOOKS a lot easier than it really is and I'd much rather have been one of those cheering spectators at that moment!

Finally, I saw it. The finish line. I could hear the woman with the bullhorn, cheering us on, encouraging us to finish this ride PEDALING. I saw Chris on the sidelines offering encouragement and I could only muster a small smile as I continued to torture myself up this obnoxious hill. WHY again did I sign up for this?? Just a few pedal strokes later, that was it, I crossed the finish! I stayed in the saddle for that entire last climb and the only time I felt the need to almost clip out was when a cyclist-turned-walker jetted out in front of me and almost made me lose my balance. And another year of HHH goes down in the record books. Wish I could say, "Cool, can't wait for next year!" but eh, not so much.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice ride MJ! Sorry I missed you at the end.