The day before, the same buddy who dragged me through 106.5 miles of ridiculous hell decided to do the ride with me. We met early, planning on getting an early start to the ride since we both had other events planned for the day. However, the ride was a mass start, so we ended up just hanging around, standing in the porta-potty line (500 riders, 1 porta-potty. What?!) and chatting until it started. It was pretty chilly - 40º at the 9:30am start - and I was one of very few people in shorts because I am still being stubborn about buying winter gear.
My goose-bump-y legs!
Warrenton to Rest Stop #1 - 12ish miles
A mass start that spends the first 2 miles on a teeny-tiny trail is not what I would call a "good idea." It was also completely shaded, and I was shivering. A windy down-to-your-core kind of cold. Brrrrr. After the first 4-5 miles, through, the route spat us out onto some less shaded roads, and we started to warm up.
We had no time goals for the ride. Gretchen hasn't ridden for almost 6 weeks - since her 70.3 - and I'm recovering. We spent the first leg chatting and catching up and just generally being social. It had some very tiny rolling hills, but was mainly flat and scenic, and we weren't working hard at all. The first rest stop had a very long bathroom line (everyone that didn't want to wait at the start) so we ended up spending about a half-hour there. All of the rest stops were pumpkin-themed: pumpkin bread, pumpkin scones, pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup! Plus a large bowl of Halloween candy. Yum!
I got a lot of comments on my sweet IU jersey!
Rest Stop #1 to Rest Stop #2 - 9ish miles
This was a quick little trip. Up and over a few railroad tracks, out into some more open country. I ate some bananas and more Halloween candy at the stop, and we were off.
Rest Stop #2 to Rest Stop #3 - 14ish miles
We spent this leg just cycling, a pretty decent 17-18mph pace. I plugged in my (single) headphone, cranked up some tunes and just enjoyed the day. There was a steep climb into the last rest stop, and I started to feel sore and tired in the IT band. I had some pumpkin bread and Gu chomps, and we headed out.
Rest Stop #3 to Warrenton - 10ish miles
This was the leg that made me glad I was doing the 44M and not the 62M. The toughest climbs of the day, which we took slow and easy, but still made me aware of how much climbing strength I had lost of the last 5 weeks. The riders had thinned out pretty well by here, and we just stayed quiet and climbed. When I dismounted at the end, I could tell that I was done. My leg had swollen up pretty nicely, and was a bit cramped.
This was the perfect ride for me this weekend. Just a tad longer and a bit harder than I needed at the end, but enough to make me feel like I'm out of rehab hibernation and back in the real world again. And after the stressful week I had last week, it was exactly what I needed to blow the funk out and clear my head. I drove home happy, sweaty, and tired. Perfect.