I’ve got two words to describe my very first fondo: No pressure.
Unlike my running races, I wasn’t filled with nerves souring my belly, there weren’t anxious butterflies keeping me up all night, no stresses, no worries, nothing. The only goal I had going into the Living the Dream Fondo was to not be the last person to cross the finish line.
Sure, I hadn’t ridden 56 km in nearly two years, and sure, my butt would likely suffer as a result. Sure, I had never ridden in a pack before, and sure, I’d seen the nasty mash-ups on big-time races. Sure, I had absolutely no confidence in changing a flat tire, even with the Tire Repair session I recently attended. And sure, maybe the concern in Big Ring’s eyes should have struck a flurry of worry in me when he handed me his patch kit and I, with my own bewildered look, replied: What the heck do you expect me to do with that? But no, there was none of that.
This fondo was all about having fun!
I arrived at the start about a half hour early to send off my favourite hill-training hero for the 100 km distance. This chick is freaking amazing. Not only does she kill hills, she’s also Queen of the Bike too. Pretty sure she was the first of her group to cross the finish with a 3 hour 10 minute time!!!
For the first few kilometres of the ride, I held back. I wasn’t sure how this whole grouping thing would go and I wanted to gauge the other riders before I started making any moves. I soon hooked up with two other girls around the same pace. I figured, seeing as how I don’t know how to read maps, had no cell phone access, no idea where this course was going, and was sure, knowing my history, I would get lost, it better to have three sets of eyes checking the signs to ensure I get to the finish line.
Photo (mid clip-out) courtesy www.livingthedreamride.org
At about 15 km, we approached the first rest stop. This was not your typical rest stop. Yes there were bananas and bagels, but there was also pineapple and chocolate, hand sanitizer, Advil, and even, ahem, feminine products. There was a red carpet upon approach with the sign You are Oscar worthy And in the port-a-potties, a huge bouquet of flowers in the urinal, and on the door … GEORGE!!!
The 25 km distance from the first rest stop to the next one was where the hills came out to play. And while I love hills for running, I’ve never been a huge fan of them for cycling. I always feel like I’m going super slow, and that it takes forever, and that my lungs are going to heave right out of my chest! And so, when I saw the long, winding hill on approach, I was like, okay, here we go, see you later girls, hopefully I’ll be able to catch up…
But wait, just hold on a second here, my legs were moving at a good clip, my Garmin speed wasn’t dropping down to a near standstill, I was climbing that hill, I was passing a couple of the cyclists ahead of me (two of them dudes!), I still had my lungs intact, so much so, I was able to encourage a girl who had paused halfway up the hill and was trying to get started again. (Never do that!) I felt great. And you better believe I gave Holly Goquickly a loving pat, knowing her carbon-fibre goodness was hugely responsible!
When I crested that hill, I felt like I was on top of the world. All around me was a spectacular view of trees, mountains and luscious farm pastures. And I so wished I was more courageous on the bike, brave enough to pull out my camera and snap a photo of that beauty, but alas, with the wheels still moving I knew there was no way my shaky confidence would attempt such a thing
Photo courtesy www.livingthedreamride.org
Coming out of the second rest stop, I got caught behind a super long line of vehicles making a right turn. And because there was no shoulder, and I’d already seen a jerk-face driver, I felt more comfortable holding back. Unfortunately, because of doing so, I lost my cycling companions. I thought for sure I’d hook up with them again shortly, given that it wasn’t that long of a wait, but I never did. At the time I thought, holy hell, they must have majorly jacked up their speed, but I later learned they made a wrong turn and significantly cut short their distance! And so, for the remainder of the ride, I was alone.
It wouldn’t have been a huge deal had there been more signage, and for that matter, more volunteers, but there were not. The signs of earlier, which seemed to be positioned every mile or so had pretty much fallen off the map. I saw one sign on a long country road (Keep on moovin’!) and that was pretty much it.
When I spotted the third rest stop, I figured I’d keep going. I felt great and I was pretty sure I only had about 10 more kilometres to go. Big mistake. HUGE mistake. Remember that statement about my tendency for getting lost? I got lost! I ended up at the approach for a highway and started to think I hadn’t seen a sign in a really long time, and surely they wouldn’t want me to get on a highway would they… would they? I pulled out the map for the course, that I thankfully had packed at the last minute, which listed all the street names on the back. And yep, sure enough, I was on the wrong bloody street! Apparently I was to loop around the rest stop – not go straight through! Oh crud.
My confidence was now shattered, and with the lack of signage, the lack of cross roads, the lack of any other cyclists around, and just a long lonely road ahead, I kept stopping every two seconds to pull out the map, which did me absolutely no good without any cross roads for reference. After what seemed an eternity, I finally came to the end of the road, and discovered that I had been going the right direction after all. I turned left and seconds later I was making a hairpin turn – where my bestest cheerleaders were waiting for me!!! – down into the finishing corral.
Another red carpet welcomed me at the finish, with a group of firefighters, who were actually in uniform (this is where NWM goes wrong) handing me a pretty, white ribboned, robin’s egg blue box!!! Best medal EVER!!!
Prettier than my NWM necklace
- 7:50 a.m. BG before: 10.8
- Temp. basal: none
- Carbs: none; had breakfast one hour prior
- Distance: 59.90 km
- Average speed: 23.5 km/h
- Time: 2:27:38
- 11 a.m. BG after: 7.9
Stay tuned for my next post on the diabetes aspect of the fondo.