Anyways, some friends and I had made plans to go up to Madison to do a long bike ride over the weekend. I had been looking forward to this weekend and ride for a couple of months! It was a chance to get away, hang out with some really cool peeps, get in a nice, strong ride and then hang back and enjoy the city of Madison, WI. Even got to bring the baby with us!
We pulled into the parking lot of the bike shop at about 4:57pm. Shop closes at 5pm. I run to the counter and ask the guy for the goods. He smiles and proceeds to ring me up. Just after me, a family of 5 walks in and starts perusing the bike selection. The younger of the 2 workers shakes his head and mutters "Why does everyone have to come in just when we're closing???" I smile at him and explained how I really hurried to get there. I don't think he was referring to me, though. I made my purchase and was out of the store by 4:59pm.
Check in the hotel, one of those Extended Stay places. They're the best. You get your own fridge, stove, microwave, the works. BONUS: They accept dogs. My phone starts ringing as others pull into town and we begin to make dinner plans. We hit a nice little pub in downtown Madison. We had a considerable wait, but it gave us all time to chat, laugh and pretty much make fun of one another. Dinner was excellent and I'm surprised we didn't get kicked out of the restaurant for throwing things across the 2 booths we were seated in. I think we were worse behaved than the college crowd!!
Off to bed, we had a long day ahead of us. We met in the hotel lobby in the morning and the riding crew headed out to breakfast. Those non-riders (spouses and significant others) were afforded the luxury of sleeping in! Breakfast was again a great time with much chatter and laughter. The server even broke down everyone's order to separate checks! Hey, we were the only ones in the restaurant, I guess he had time.
It was a bit chilly once we parked and got out of the car. Of course, in my haste to pack, I neglected to bring armwarmers. Well, the forecast was calling for mid to upper 80s, so I just hoped I could go with the plain old jersey. Sure, I'd probably suffer the first 20-30 minutes, but I guessed I'd be OK later on. Everyone checked in, filled their tires, gave the bikes the once-over and we were on our way!
This ride is a little deceptive. The first few miles are downhill with maybe a few little rollers. It was cool and I had goosebumps, which I was confident would be gone once we hit the first climb. I spent a little time riding with each person in the group, talking a little bit, just enjoying the day. It was fun to be out there...just riding, no real agenda. Without warning, there it was, the first climb. The crew became silent, we all shifted down to easier gears and started breathing heavy. I was pretty happy I brought the Merlin...much, much easier to use for climbing.
So this is basically what went on for the majority of the ride. Sure, there were a couple of great descents. In fact, on one of the steeper ones, there was a guy laying on the side of the road getting medical attention. Broken collarbone. I know I shouldn't break into turns on the downhill, but I get nervous and seeing this only freaked me out more. Better to be cautious, albeit a little slower, but be able to ride the next day. After all, this was just a ride, not a race.
The last couple miles of this ride is downhill. You can almost ride the last 2 miles without pedaling...almost. The finish came quickly! We all packed up the bikes and walked down for the post-ride spread. It was an absolutely beautiful day for a ride...warm, not too humid, sunny, not much wind, and it all seemed to go by much, much too fast. We sat down for a great little lunch and shared more stories and just got to enjoy each other's company for just a little bit before it was time to head out.
Looking forward to doing it again next year!