My first place finish was less about me putting in my best month ever, because September was only my second best month ever with a total of 676 miles for the month. It had more to do with others cutting back. In August I finished with 684 miles and that was only good enough for 11th place in Michigan – either way, first is first and I’ll take it. Nationwide the same held true. Of the more than 30,000 riders taking part, I finished 137th (top 0.00456%) for September. In August my 684 mile month was only good for 630th place. However you slice it though, there’s not a whole lot of traffic on that extra mile and I put mine in. I’ve got one more Century this coming weekend before I start ratcheting back my miles for the winter… That’ll mean fewer trips to the fast food joints, no more candy and other treats, and some spinning in front of the big screen. On the good side of that, it’ll also mean more time on the mountain bike. It’s been a great year on the road, but I’m looking forward to a little trail time before the snow flies – followed by a great Thanksgiving weekend up north at the in-law’s house and some good ole dirt road riding. No rest for the wicked.
I almost turned around right there, four miles to go to Midland. I should have…
I pulled into Midland a bit before noon, 54 miles in a bit less than 3-1/2 hours overall and I was tired. Not, oh this next 54 miles is going to hurt, tired, I was already hurting. I was in for a gut check. I stuck to the one Gu so I could save the beans for the rest stop in 20 miles. I sat on a park bench and sucked out every last drop from the foil bag and drank a bottle of electrolyte infused water before snapping a picture, clipping in and heading out.
I pedaled easy, into the wind, head down, neck hurting (I need to get into a bone cracker – BAD!). Five, ten, 15… I’m as hungry as I can ever remember. I pull over and sit on a bench to eat a bag of beans, five miles early.
I stopped again five miles later. I’d have gnawed on my arm if I thought it would have done any good. At the rest stop, 75 miles in, unable to turn my head from side to side and hungry enough to eat the ass end out of an elephant, I called Mrs. BDJ for a ride. She didn’t answer so I sent her a text and kept going.
I made it to Clare on fumes. My arms were numb, I was dizzy and couldn’t think straight… Faced with the thought that I was going to ride the last 22 miles, I did what any sane guy would. I drove my bike through the drive thru at Burger King and got a Whopper, fries and a big, fat Coke. I was too small on my bike to trip the sensor at the drive thru speaker so I pulled up to the window – you should have seen the look on the girl’s face when I pulled up – she actually asked her manager if it was ok to take my order… It was priceless. I ate it so fast I hardly had time to taste it.
As soon as I was done, not wanting to prolong the agony any longer than I had to, I got moving again. Now I was heading north. The wind was shifting from NNW to WNW so I was still into the wind, but not quite as bad as the last 31 miles. 20 miles to go, 19… Then I hit the hills. The first one was a doozy. It took a while but I made it to the top. 18 to go, the wind was so strong I had to pedal to keep 20 mph going down the hill. I can remember thinking, “this just isn’t fair. 17…16, another climb, worse than the first. I was in my granny gear, trying to ignore my throbbing neck. 15 miles to go, 14, 13… I was averaging about 13 mph with the wind and climbs. Then my wife finally called. I could have muscled the last ten out, that Whopper did wonders, but I was cooked and I wanted to be done so I asked if she’d pick me up. She showed up with ten miles to go, and my God was she a sight for sore eyes.
I’d walked out the door knowing I’d be into the wind for the second half. Note to self: Next time, head into the wind first when riding solo.
93.5 miles. 122 points ahead of everyone else in Michigan for the National Bike Challenge. If anyone can top that, they can have it. I’m taking a day off.
I wrote this post on Sunday morning but for some reason my WordPress App ate the second half of the post. I was able to retrieve it as it was written by going back through the post’s updates on my computer this morning. As it turned out, I didn’t quite take the day off yesterday. I went for a nice little two mile ride around the campground with my wife and kids and it was priceless. I so love riding with my family, and my mother-in-law went too.