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One Helluva Ride – It’s Aptly Named…

July 2014
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I participated, along with close to 1,500 other cyclists in One Helluva Ride yesterday. The ride goes through Hell, Michigan (look it up, it’s really a town in Michigan) and thus, the name. This one is known to be a tough hundred miler… It shouldn’t be too surprising, as the name alludes to, it’s hot. What is surprising is that this is NOT a flat and with the exception of yearly trips down to the mountains, all I know is flat. In short, One Helluva a Ride is aptly named.

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I headed down early, left the house early enough that I’d have an hour and fifteen to spare. The moon was out and it was 65 degrees, heading to just shy of 85 and with rain expected in the afternoon, humidity was pegged. I stopped by a Mickey D’s for a quick on-the-go breakfast…

I arrived plenty early and there were already bikes everywhere

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The goal for today was to take it relatively easy. My buddy Mike was tired, Chuck was just coming back from a cold, so that meant I’d be the domestique for the day.

The first twenty miles went by exceptionally well, enough that I got a little cocky. Once we got out into the boondocks the rollers started. Then they turned into hills, then climbs.  Even though they were tough, the ride was quite breathtaking – including about four miles through a perfect tunnel of trees:

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By the time we hit the metric century mark I was hurting. At 65 miles we pulled into the same state park that they held my wife’s triathlon at for lunch.

Chuck was in trouble, Phil was hurting and I was in rough shape from spending too much time up front at 22-25 mph though I felt I could go after some food. Just a simple turkey sammich lunch but I needed the food and it was good. After eating and on the way back to the Gatorade line I heard a woman behind me talking to another about how she couldn’t do more than “x” miles on a ride because she couldn’t help but listen to her “inner voice” tell her she couldn’t do it.  I love people who call this negative Nancy their “inner voice”.  I turned around with a smile on my face and I ask,

“Would you like to know how to beat that”?
She responds, “What”?
I say, “That voice that tells you ‘I can’t'”.
She says, “yeah”.
I jumped in…”You need to learn two words and please excuse my language but they’re “Fuck” and “You”

I went on to explain myself succinctly and you could see the light bulb appear over her head…  It never fails to amaze me how many people think that inner voice must be heeded, even respected.  Early in sobriety they teach us that the “inner voice” needs to be kicked around rather than respected.  Look at it this way, if someone else spoke to me the way my “inner voice” does, I’d kick their ass so why, for the love of God, would I respect that?  The idea that “I can’t” get beyond a certain distance is almost entirely mental.  The notion that I can only ride so fast, within reason, is mostly mental.  I can go a lot harder than the committee would have me believe.  I squash that negativity because I’m a lot stronger than I’m usually willing to give myself credit for.

So with that, Mike asked if I’d be up for taking a shortcut for Chuck.  He was fading fast so Mike asked if I’d stick with them if they knocked ten miles off.  I decided I would hang with my friends to help rather than ditch them for my ego’s sake just to be able to write here that I did the full hundred.  I did my best to pull as long as I could, often taking two or three miles up front per turn and did a much better job of taking it a little easier on the hills so our little group was actually able to stick together (though Phil did ride me a little for wiping him out after a hard, slightly downhill, three mile pull where we were topping 25 mph).

We pulled into the home stretch with 90 miles and almost exactly 4-1/2 hours of ride time, a 20 mph average.  I am supremely happy with this, considering the degraded nature of our group, all of those damned rollers and the fact that I spent so much time up front…  There was enough climbing that I had to use the cruise control for the ride home to keep from cramping up (completely hydrated, well fed and plenty of electrolytes added – I simply worked hard).

Oh! I almost forgot… When you’re putting out max power, you hit a rest stop and you’re standing there wondering what to grab… Try a nectarine if they have them.  I like peaches as it is, but nectarines are simply amazing as cycling food – I ate three and simply put, they made me feel a lot better.

So, a 16 mile ride today (later on, after noon but before the Tigers game) will cap off my biggest single week ever at 225 miles.  I’d planned on being at 250 but I knocked 15 miles off of Friday’s ride to let my legs recover (and I’m infinitely glad I did) and I’m cutting today’s ride a little short because I’m beat and I can feel it.  Still, I’ll be 17 miles over my previous best week and the level of effort for the week was absolutely best ever in my life.  Seriously.

One final note on a new pet peeve:  Guys wearing their long hair in a bun.  Yes, you look like a girl, only ugly and that facial hair scruff does help differentiate the fact that you are, in some form, a male but geez Louise, you look stupid.  Cut it out.  Nobody, no matter how much money you make – as if that had anything to do with anything – can pull that off.


8 Comments

  1. phoenix42013 says:

    You make me want to try biking again!
    I thank you once again for your support! I nominated you for the Liebster Award. You can find the info here http://wp.me/p4JtWx-97! Congrats! -Phoenix

  2. Sounds like a rough but satisfying day, one of those “I conquered it” rides. Had plenty of those over the years. 20 mph average is nothing to sneeze at on a tough day.

    One of my favorite Michigan rides (not organized) was a ride with friends from Harbor Springs up to the bridge, then back. It was part of a three day guys weekend where we go up and do nothing but ride until we are ready to puke, then ride some more.

    Ever hear of “The Assault on Mount Mitchell” ride? I have done it three times and it’s a booger, especially for flatlanders like us (I live west of Chicago). The ride starts in Spartanburg, SC and goes to NC, finishes on the Blue Ridge Parkway at the top of the highest point east of the Mississippi, Mt. Mitchell. I don’t remember the total feet of climb and the grade percentages, but it is TOUGH.

    • bgddyjim says:

      I have heard if Mount Mitchell and I’d love to get down there to do it at least once… As far as cycling in the northern half of the lower peninsula goes, it is awesome – lots of wide shoulders. My big “gotta do it” ride up there is the tunnel of trees along the coast by Traverse City. I’d also love to hit the UP for a week, get into some real climbing in the home state.

  3. Never really thought about what I would do if someone talked to me like my inner voice sometimes does, but you are right, I’d probably beat them up! Sometimes it can be your worse enemy. This post totally got me pumped for the century I want to do in my area called the Highlander Cycling Tour…their century distance is called Quads Hilla, hahaha. Good job out there!

    • bgddyjim says:

      Thanks and good luck.

      As far as the inner voice goes, that simple notion saved my bacon. I never thought about my own mind like that, most don’t, as if that voice were separate from the whole, that it can be ignored – or better, put in its place.

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