Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Redbud Tale: Enduring the Ride

I mentioned in a previous post that I wasn’t well prepared going into the Redbud Ride century.  I just didn’t have the base miles.  I don’t think I was physically deficient however.  Where I fell short was in my mental preparations.  When discomfort sank in, when fatigue swelled and those dragged concrete blocks came back…I just didn’t have the brainy fortitude to labor on.  Well, I guess I did since I finished, but the preparation that affords you a margin of comfort just wasn’t there for me.

That said, I have the background and experience to suffer long in the face of unexpected adversity.  I think that’s why I seek out these types of experiences.  I think that’s why I write big checks for myself without knowing the balance in my adventurious account.  I have a ballpark notion of what’s in the tank but almost always go forth not knowing how the end game is going to play out.  Part of the adventure is figuring out how to climb over the obstacles that are flung up unexpectedly in my path.

An unexpected after-effect of jumping head-first into the Redbud without looking was that the next 24 hours after the ride became an endurance exercise in its own right.  Mentally I had to step up my game to get through Saturday night and Sunday morning.

I didn't even try to keep up with the Freds
Except on descents...
The mechanics were that we were both (Mandy and I) operating on a calorie deficiency by Saturday afternoon.  I was eating strictly from the rest stops, and I was having trouble ascertaining if I’d eaten the right things or often enough.  My choice of a chili dog at the lunch stop aside, I was keeping a steady, but meager trickle of fuel going.  Back in London I felt the spectre of the physiological crash I felt after Leadville.  But only a fleeting hint of it.  I wasn’t empty-belly hungry.  I knew I needed to eat, and on some level I wanted to eat, but I couldn’t get myself excited about putting even free Papa John’s in my belly. 

After the ride we made the decision with Jeff and Casey to meet in Richmond on the way home and have Mexican.  That meant we’d be waiting at least an hour after the ride to eat, but we all felt we’d have better appetites with the passage of a little time.  Jeff and Casey left and we went back to the motel to shower quick, change clothes and load all of our stuff up.  By the time we were on the road I was ravenous.  It’s 50 miles from London to Richmond.  It’s another 45 miles from Richmond home.  Considering we finished the ride at 6:00pm that put us getting home pretty late. 

The drive to Richmond wasn’t as grueling as it should have been.  The restaurant put food and liquids in front of us right away so we could munch on chips and salsa while we waited for the feast to arrive.  Once dinner was consumed my clock was not only ticking, it’s little hands were spinning like an airplane propeller.  I needed to get home before I crashed.  Mandy was on her way down in a death spiral of exhaustion.

Memories of a fantastic ride couldn't wash away the weariness

I’ve driven the roads between Richmond and Stanton more times than I care to try and count in all kinds of conditions.  I hate trying to drive across Richmond.  I hate trying to get out of Richmond.  And what I hate most is getting stuck behind some inconsiderate clod driving 45 mph in a 55 zone and holding a string of other cars hostage to their thoughtlessness.  When I desperately just wanted to get home it seemed like there was going to be a series of obstacles increasing the friction between me and my bed against my will all the way there.  My patience was tested.  My ability to stay alert was stretched thin.  My body and my brain were just finished.  And at that point there were still miles to go.  Those miles were longer even than some of those bike miles we rode out in rural Jackson and Laurel Counties.

Finally we made it home and crashed hard.  We were still hungry, but sleep took precedence over our bodies' need for calories.  Our long Saturday was finally over.

We woke early.  Mandy had a moment of panic worrying about our neglected chickens.  They turned out to be fine, but she was up for the day at 7:00am.  Before church she made us a nice breakfast of fresh eggs and oatmeal.  I had a modest single 16 oz cup of coffee before we moved on to church.  Just about the time the service got started our appetites fired up.  Both of us were ravenous to the point of being dragged into a hangry haze.  Noon couldn’t come fast enough. 

They were pretty fast...
...and somewhat obnoxious

It was then that I realized we were in the midst of yet another endurance challenge.  The clock lagged.  Our hunger and exhaustion became a crackling stream of electricity in our bodies, keeping us from being fully engaged and focusing our attentions on the point in the future when we could find relief from the discomfort.  We were slogging for yet another finish line.

We raced home and devoured the Papa John’s pizza I had carried from the last rest stop to London and then back home in the car.  That still didn’t seem like enough, but we finally had the energy and will to try and behave normally.  Late Sunday after the kids had gone to bed and we were winding down for the night I was again feeling calorie deficient (i.e. “peckish”) and just weary through and through.  The edge had dulled, and I was pretty sure I was finally getting back to normal even if I wasn’t exactly thinking clearly.  But then again, when do I?

So the choice to do a century ride on a cargo bike will be an endurance challenge in itself, but it will also result in a continuing series of endurance events if the right factors are in place.  Taking on these kinds of challenge will condition you for times when life throws unexpected obstacles in your way, and you’ll find—if you keep up a regular regimen of grueling recreational ordeals—that you are better prepared to face down trials and tribulations because you’ve trained for them in more controlled situations where the consequences of getting in over your head are less severe.

Saw a lot of this on the ride.
It was all worth it.

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