Tuesday, April 29, 2008

60 miles….through sheer force of will…

Have you ever met one of those people that, through sheer dogged determination, has risen above their situation and succeeded despite the fact that every card is stacked against them?
My buddy Jerry and I met my sister Maureen, her friend Carolyn and my brother Bob up in Chico this past Saturday to ride the Chico Flatflower 60. It’s one of the routes on the annual Chico Wildflower that, as you can imagine, is flat and goes for 60 miles.
Now, Jerry and I are pretty avid riders, my sister Maureen hasn’t really had a chance to ride much since it’s been snowing in Tahoe, but she plays tennis and goes to spinning class so the 60 was nice and easy for her.
Bob, on the other hand, has not really ridden a bike any distance since he was a teenager. So for him, this was a huge undertaking.

The original plan was for Jerry to ride with us, which I talked him in to with the promise that it was all flat and the pace would be relaxed. Afterall, we had done 44 miles and 5200 feet of climbing the day before.
Little did I know, Carolyn wanted to do something a little longer and tougher, and, being the gentleman that he is, Jerry didn’t want her to have to ride alone so off they went looking for about 70 miles and some hills to climb.

Our ride started out gorgeous. Clear and cool. We headed out of the fairgrounds and into the orchards in the surrounding area.
The roads were flat, the wind was light and we saw few cars. The first miles went really easily and before we knew it, we were at the first rest stop. The other nice thing about this ride (in addition to being flat) was that we had nice long straight stretches with no turns. Between the first rest stop and lunch I think we made a total of two turns. With traffic being so light we were able to ride 3 abreast and chat almost the entire time. It was great catching up after not seeing each other in a while.

Lunch was delicious and when we found out we were at mile 30 instead of 22 as Maureen’s odometer said, we were very pleasantly surprised.
Of course from there, things get a little tougher. The wind picked up a bit, it was getting warmer and Bob was starting to feel the effects of his 40 years of bicycle-avoidance.

First, he was just tired, then, he started to cramp. We gave him some e-gels, Gatorade and a salt tablet. (better cycling through modern pharmacology)
He felt better for a bit but you could tell he was getting tired. Still, every time we asked if he wanted me to get the truck he’d grit his teeth and say, “no, I’m going to finish” and on we’d go.

Of course Maureen, whose optimism and cheerful attitude were wonderful, had lost all credibility by proclaiming “we’re almost there” continuously for the last 4 miles.
I think it really hit bottom when we looked back and Bob was nowhere to be seen.
Maureen and I pedaled back to find him on his back in the shade of an orchard with his bike propped up nicely against a tree.
With less than a couple miles to go, Maureen started to “encourage” Bob a little more forcefully that he needed to get back on the bike.
So, with a couple thousand pedal strokes to go, Bob re-mounted and we made it through town and back to the fairgrounds, 6+ hours and 63 miles after starting.
We stowed the bikes in the cars and went to celebrate our accomplishments. They fed us tri-tip and salad and sweets and we washed it all down with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Except Maureen, she had a ginger ale.

We finished before the worst of the heat, but Jerry and Carolyn must have been dying at the end as it was 96 when I rode past the bank around 1:00 pm.

All in all a great day and can’t wait till next year.(hopefully Bob will get on the bike at least once between now and then)

1 comment:

maureen hjelte said...

Great time was had by all. The best of company, food and play made it an amazing weekend. Your older and slower sister. Let's do it again soon.