Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Off the Couch!

Did I mention that my wife rode her second ever century ride with almost no preparation?  Yeah, she’s amazing that way!

She’s tougher than she gives herself credit for, and more so than I usually credit in my blogging.  It’s not that I don’t see it, but that I’m not comfortable delving into such personal elements of someone close to me. Sure, fine, I’ll tear Jeaph apart like a starving hyena tears apart the weak wildebeest, but I just can’t pry into the psyche of my wife and expose all of the skeletons in her closets.  She knows where I sleep.

I do want to say that she’s struggled over the past few weeks with debilitating tendinitis in her Achilles.  After her school year was over and the days got longer and warmer she started running more.  And the more she ran the more pain she had.  Knots developed on both of her heels.  And after a little research she came to the conclusion that she had Achilles tendinitis.  I know tendinitis.  Elbow tendinitis shut me down as a boulderer.   It was a major contributor to my 2006 to present climbing hiatus.

She wants to run.  She’s signed up to run the Iron Horse again this fall.  But running causes pain.  So she would walk instead.  But walking isn’t running, and walking still caused pain.  It was getting her down.

Since the Redbud Mandy’s not ridden much long distance at all.  She rides to town and back frequently which is a four to five mile round trip jaunt.  So it’s not like she hasn’t touched the bike, but she’s not been getting out even on regular 20 mile rides, much less anything closer to 100.  I know she and I and Casey did the Gorge Loop in early May.  Other than that I’m not sure if she got out much.

We were signed up for the Preservation Pedal.  She’s also signed up for the Kentucky Century Challenge.  Mandy and I (and Jeff and Casey) rode the Old Kentucky Home Tour last fall for my final KCC ride and her first ever century ride.  Last year the entire Powell County cycling community was in much better shape.  We were riding like cats and dogs rain.  Anyway, we’re signed up for the Century Challenge and since we skipped the Horsey Hundred the pressure was on to do both the PP and the upcoming Hub City Tour in September to get our jerseys.

There wasn’t much talk ‘round the Chainring dinner table about the lack of miles being ridden in the weeks leading up to the recent century ride.  I just took it for granted that I could grunt through whatever life threw at me that day.  I’m kinda old hat at this now.  I forget that even though Mandy has been caught up in all of this century and racing culture over the past few years she’s not really been riding all of the rides I have.  I didn’t consider her preparedness for the Preservation.

I think she may have mentioned on Friday night that she hadn’t ridden at all to get ready for the ride on Saturday morning.  I’m pretty sure I brushed it off and figured she’d do well anyway.  I’m overly confident in the ability of others that way.  But even in my over-confidence I underestimated my amazing wife.  I just believed she’d fake it.  But when it came down to it she had to fight through some tough physical and metal terrain.

We were nearing the end of the Red River Road section of the route on Saturday.  A third of the way up one hill, as I was telling her about an amazing leap I saw a deer make over the road at that particular point on a previous ride, I realized she wasn’t listening.  And when I stopped talking and looked at her I also realized she wasn’t having much fun.  She unclipped and stopped her bike.

“I don’t feel so good,” she said.  And she didn’t look it.  We weren’t far from Trapp, but we still had one last hill to climb to get up to the relative flats of KY 89.

“If you can make it a little farther I’ll buy you an Ale-8 at Fox’s,” I encouraged.  It was hollow on my part.  She’s not as easily motivated by sugary drinks as I am and both of us knew one boost of sugar and caffeine alone wouldn’t carry her for almost 70 more miles.  I knew what was wrong: neither of us had eaten a substantial breakfast and she was fast approaching a bonk.  Sucking down a pop at Trapp would only delay the inevitable.

She pedaled on out of the rugged Red River terrain and we coasted into Trapp where I bought the promised Ale-8.  We had a few miles to go at that point to the next rest stop, but it was significantly easier if not exactly mundane.

I coaxed her on and she seemed to be feeling somewhat better.  At the halfway point we managed to eat real food and get a good rest.  Plus running into the Tomahawk always boosts the spirits.

From that point on she rolled steadily toward the end of the ride.  I worried about her, but she had it in her the whole way to finish.  She’s come a long way in the years we’ve been together.  I’m not saying she didn’t have it in her way back when, but we had some epic hikes and bike rides that I was unable to help her work through.  Sometimes I expected more than she could deliver at a given time.  It took a long time before I was able to accurately ascertain her potential enjoyment level in a given activity. 

I guess in a sense I’ve come a long way since we’ve been together.  Pacing is a good thing.  I didn’t always know that.  Maybe I learned it two sentences ago.


Deep down I think she does enjoy a good sufferfest as well as the rest of the PoCo cycling contingent.  She’s good for a surprise or two out on the bike too, sometimes going farther and faster than even she would guess.  That’s one of the things I love about the bike: it brings out inner strength.  And that’s one thing (among so many) I love about my wife: she has a deep inner strength that I rely on more than any other. 

Correction: my wife has ridden a total of three centuries this past year--the Old Ky Home Tour, the Redbud Ride, and the Preservation Pedal.



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