I’m happy to report that I was not nearly as neurotic as the last time. I did not read an entire book on cycling nutrition or lay out my outfit the night before. I was coasting on the high of having done a hard thing once — a second time could only be better, right?
Wrong. As fate would have it, Saturday morning was essentially a time warp to late October, so it was cold and windy. Really windy. So windy that I basically lost my will to live approximately 47 times during the ride — because there’s nothing more demoralizing than riding 100 miles with a killer headwind.
Wait, I take that back. What’s even more demoralizing is riding 93.8 miles with a killer headwind, stopping for water and telling yourself “hey, I only have 6.2 miles left to ride!”, and then realizing twenty minutes later, that you forgot to start your odometer again, such that the only way to get your computer to actually say “100 miles” is to ride an extra 5 miles with the odometer actually running.
The wind wasn’t the only difference this time around. The group was also different. The folks from the last ride, who were “competitive and kind of fast, but really nice” were nowhere to be seen; instead we had a group of guys who were competitive and definitely fast and possibly not even that nice.
We rode out to Sugarloaf Mountain, a prominence that in the presence of any real mountain would be only a molehill (seriously, the peak is only 800 feet above the surrounding countryside). The route took us through familiar territory. Lush Maryland farmland, about as picture-perfect an image of rural Americana as you can imagine; complete with vast white-fenced pastures, blowing grainfields, and giant red barns next to pretty white farmhouses. Not that I have any pictures to show — if you ride to the top of a “mountain” with a bunch of tri guys, be forewarned that they will not stop at the viewpoints for photos.
It was a hard ride, and I really struggled to keep up. The wind was a major culprit, as was my knee, which started to hurt about half-way through and diminished the power and efficiency of my stroke. It would have been difficult to keep up with the group under the best of circumstances; these less-than-best circumstances made it even harder.
BUT — I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — I can do hard things. So I knuckled down and kept pushing through. I tagged along well enough that we ended the ride more or less toghether, and I had the satisfaction of seeing that dial tick over to 100 yet again. Woohoo!