The 2012 Tour de Mom "Accidental Century" Report

The start of the ride - I'm in the red jersey and my friend is in the green

I was so excited for Sunday’s 77-mile Tour de Cure ride. The weather looked perfect . I was ready to see my favorite cycling people. I raised my $500 goal for the American Diabetes Association. And my weight and blood glucose were the lowest they’d been in . . . well, years.

And then it happened.

As I was checking my tire pressure and taking my bike off the car, I realized that my chain had come off.

On the morning of my last charity ride, Ride4Ronald 2011, I dropped my chain. And I proceeded to complete the ride – with no injuries, despite a pretty bad crash and a tangle with the saddle sores from hell.

So, this ominous chain-dropping could only mean that badassery was about to commence.

 Or something like that.

There were so many groups I could have ridden with, but from the very beginning I got thrown to the front of the group with the crazy fast people. You know, the same guys I follow on the Murdolator rides and try not to get thrown off their back wheels (but always fail). They were doing their 28-mile pace. At the start of a 102-mile ride.

WTF are these guys on?!!?

How in the HELL am I going to ride 77 miles at this pace?!!?

5 miles, 10 miles, 20 miles passed. I kept thinking I would eventually get dropped back with my other friends.
But – and this is something you know if you’ve done a lot of group rides – I couldn’t get off the train. It was like being sucked into a whirling vortex of whoosh. “You might as well face it,” yelled my cycling mentor from the front of the vortex. “You’re in with the group that’s doing 100, so you’re doing 100.”

She had to be wrong.

My legs yelled at me. I recovered. My heart rate complained. I recovered. We passed the first SAG stop. I looked down at my computer and it cackled at me: Hehehehe, 22 mph! You can’t do that for 100 miles, you silly bitch. You can’t even do it for 77!

Side note: when did that damn thing get so mean?

Where is the turn for the 77-mile ride? And where are my less-crazy friends who don’t want to whoosh for 102 miles?

How in the HELL am I going to ride 77 miles at this pace?!!?

Wait a second. There are some other cyclists going straight when we went left. Did they just make a wrong turn?

Nope. I was the one making the wrong turn. I was on the 102-mile route, which did not re-join the 77, the 62, or the 50, until the very end of the ride.

Holy crap.

Judi was right.

I had been sucked into the whirling vortex of whoosh and there was no getting out.


I had suspected I'd get roped into riding the entire 100 by two of the guys I ride with (which I could have fought), not by accident.

How in the HELL am I going to ride 102 miles at this pace?!!?

And, from out of nowhere, a little voice in my head whispered these seven words: you’re so much stronger than you know.

But I wasn’t ready to believe it.

Sometimes when I ride hard, my left knee gets kind of tweaked. And I was not riding easy, so by mile 30 the knee was SCREAMING. It felt like it needed to be stretched really good, so I spent miles 38 through 50 trying to relax it. Around mile 55 I was able to take some ibuprofen, stretch and get some solid food and I was back to normal.

Then it dawned on me. I only have 45 miles left.

That’s like, my regular Sunday ride.

I got this.

I’m tired, but I got this.

It started getting windy. And I lost track of how many more times I thought to myself, oh my God, I am going to bonk and get left out here to fight this wind alone.

But I didn’t. Every time I’d feel like I was going to lose the group, I would push a little, stay on, and recover. The voice in my head kept saying you’re so much stronger than you know. By this time it had totally replaced the one asking how in the HELL am I going to ride 102 miles at this pace?!!?

You’re so much stronger than you know.
You’re so much stronger than you know.
You’re so much stronger than you know.

The bonk I expected? It came. But my riding partners were so steady and measured in their cadence and pace that it didn’t come until mile 100-101, and by then all that was left was to bring it home.

I was feeling a little queasy, but I’d just ridden 102 miles.

At almost 20 mph.

I'd beaten my first century by an HOUR - I was 3.6 miles per HOUR faster.

You couldn’t STOP my swagger.

Back to reality and the workweek, and three things became evident: one is that I had inadvertently used my own personal no-fail strategy of undertraining. My body responds very well to it. I usually work out a good bit less than my peers training for similar events, and it always spells success for me on the day of the event. I have fewer injuries and I feel mentally fresher.

The other is that, if I can go that hard for 102 miles, maybe I am not pushing myself hard enough for short rides. So I need to start addressing that.

And the final lesson I took away from my Accidental Century was this: in life, as in training, there will always be rough spots. The more we experience them, the more we learn the difference between when to push through them and when to give up. My goal now is to look at every challenge thrown my way when I’m NOT on the bike, and remind myself:

1. The only way through it is through it
2. You’re so much stronger than you know

Instead of song lyrics this week, I’m leaving you with some words from Muhammad Ali. May your will always be stronger than your skill.

"Champions aren't made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them A desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last-minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill."Muhammad Ali

6 tidbits of wizdom:

Alili said...

Holy Sh!t! Way to crush it!

Wes said...

yea yea yea. nice work MAJ. You took a big bite out of the Oliphaunt, and you didn't even choke on it. You swallowed it whole, and then smiled. Keep up the great work!

CautiouslyAudacious said...

Wow great pace and miles way to dig deep!

Karen said...

Nice riding MAJ! Insane!!!!! :)

B.o.B. said...

hot damn girl! you are an inspiration to me! man, i so needed to read this. i keep seeing so many people talk about how they just ride centuries all the time and NBD. thank you for being real and showing that it's possible!!! congrats girl!!! and THANK YOU!

The Original MAJ said...

Thanks gang!

And B - I hate it when the guys I ride with act like you can just pull a century outta your butt. I can't! That's fo sho!