As I was leaving work last night, I sent my friend Val a text message.
“I can’t decide if I want you to talk me into or out of starting the century ride at 10 pm.”
Now, on the surface, this may have sounded ridiculous.
But hear me out —
(1) It was only 7:30 PM when I got in my car. That meant that I was on my way home two hours earlier than anticipated.
(2) Our first race of the season – just six weeks away – is going to be a fast-paced 28-hour event in Shenandoah. While I feel reasonably confident that I can tackle the distance, in reality, I’ve only actually done four overnight races (admittedly, one of them was three days long), and I still feel like I can use all the sleep-deprivation training I can get.
(3) Brent’s out of town, so there was no one I’d be disturbing by blasting the television.
(4) The thought of a totally free Saturday was really appealing.
So when Val, ever the enabler, wrote back with, “Do it!” that was really all the encouragement I needed to put my plan into action.
I stopped at the grocery store to stock up on diet coke (I actually wanted diet mountain dew, my caffeine of choice during night racing, but they didn’t have any bottles of it), loaded up the DVD player, and hopped on the bike just a few minutes before 10.
Bright eyed at the start (sorry for the blurry pictures to follow - a self-portrait from a smart phone does not an artful photo make... and don't mind the magazine - I started getting a free subscription to Shape a couple years ago and it never stopped! I actually didn't even open it during the ride.).
The biggest problem with riding through the night (aside from not going to sleep until 4:00 in the morning) is that the things that might serve as distractions during the day – people watching, emails and blogs, chatty husbands – are non-existent when you begin when everyone’s either out or going to bed. So, I was all by my lonesome in the darkened upstairs office, my only company one of the most underrated shows in television history.
My view for the next 100 miles
I alternated the ride between a tough hour of hills and intervals and a half hour recovery as I became reacquainted with the Pryors. I’d intended to vary the entertainment, too, but seriously – teenage angst, family drama, Philadelphia trivia, and 1960’s political turmoil, all wrapped up under the banner of American Bandstand? What more could you ask for?
In general, the ride went pretty smoothly. I pushed hard and felt strong, and most of the hours flew by.
Sure, there were moments where I felt like this:
Two hours in, I almost called it a night.
But just as many like this:
Channeling my inner-Marvin Gaye. I may also have rocked out to Bob Dylan, Jay and the Americans, the Beach Boys, and the Angels. Thank goodness the curtains were closed.
With a day’s worth of food in my stomach at the start, I actually didn’t feel the need for much replenishment. I mostly stuck with pretzels, water, and diet coke, though at 1:00 AM I pulled out my newest secret weapon – the cliff bar I’d stuck in the freezer at the start of the ride.
I inadvertently discovered these when Brent and I hiked Mount Greylock over the holidays. They’re way better cold, and it takes several miles to gnaw your way through a whole one. Great way to pass the time!
When I came back up from the kitchen, I found this scene in our bedroom:
Guess he couldn’t handle the excitement.
I finished the ride at 3:30 AM, spent some quality time with the foam roller, (perhaps stupidly) opted for a quick shower over an ice bath, and fell into bed a couple minutes after 4 o’clock. I woke up at 8 AM feeling as though my stomach was eating itself, and now, a giant bowl of oatmeal later, I’m back on the couch, ready to tackle Disc 3 of American Dreams.
Not a bad start to the weekend.