At one time, I kept a detailed journal of all rides, races, finishing times, heart rate stats, weather, general notes about my cycling and running experiences…you name it, I recorded it. This was well before such tools as Garmin, Strava, RideWithGPS, etc.. Now keeping track of your performance is easier than ever, yet, I no longer have an interest in such things. That is, until I started training for Mountains of Misery 2014 (affectionately known as MoM).
Suddenly, I wanted to know that my training is working, that I am riding faster, climbing harder. I wanted to know that I am ready to meet the finishing time goal that I set for myself when I registered for MoM. And so, I created a training plan that required that our training team, Misery Loves Company, “ride your own ride”. Meaning that I would sacrifice the social element of leading rides for the structure and discipline of a strenuous and demanding training schedule.
This plan was put to the test when the team tackled the seriously steep Mt Hebron climb for the first time. Torn between riding on to the finish and staying put at the top of the climb, I chose to stay put (along with Tom) with authentic Italian cow bell in hand and tears in my eyes, I watched as each team member summited. After all, this is why I do what I do…why would I skip out on the opportunity to see success in action?
A couple weeks later, the Team met again at Tour De Lure. The 10th Annual Tour de Lure was better than ever. Great support, perfect weather, challenging route. While it falls early in the cycling season, it is perfect for those who are training for a late spring or early summer challenge century. So we set off with a buddy system plan of action. We were going to pair up with a team member of similar strength and spend the day supporting one another.
The best laid plans of mice and men…you guessed it, we kept regrouping at the rest stops, socializing, cutting up, and generally having a good time. A “good time”, but not a best time. One priceless moment came when, while breaking at Rest Stop 2, I noticed a van that pulled up quickly. Out jumped two women. One went to the back of the van to unload a bicycle and the other opened a side door to reveal…a celebrity? Not exactly, but close. EK Morley emerged from the van after having taken a lift to avoid the Stone Mountain climb. At the young age of 83, EK still rode more miles in one day that most people you know. Besides, he is so charismatic it’s not surprising that he charmed the SAG drivers into giving him VIP treatment.
And then there was the cookie incident. Rest Stop 3 had the most awesome display of homemade cookies I had witnessed since well before David and I started cutting back on carbs in December 2013. While the cookie that I ate tasted awesome in my mouth, my body was repulsed by the sudden introduction of white flour and butter. After the ride, I nearly vowed never to eat another cookie in my life. I say “nearly” because my experiment with giving up alcohol for lent has provided some valuable life lessons and I didn’t want to act to hastily with something as loved as cookies.
As we neared the finish line, PJ urged me to finish strong…and he promptly dropped his chain. Ruthie, looking like a million bucks, greeted us at the finish. Eric locked his keys in his trunk. David suffered from cramps. We had an amazing dinner with Martin, Helen, PJ and Andi.
What do you think I will remember about this experience? My heart rate, my average speed, my finishing time? Did I improve my time? You bet I did! Actually, I had the best time ever.
Am I worried about being properly prepared for Mountains of Misery? Not at all. My training is going well and I am feeling very strong. I plan to ride hard, laugh lots, wipe tears, climb like my life depends upon it…make memories. Join me?