Apr. 12th, 2013

rhiannonstone: (bike)
I'm not very good at trying something I know I'm going to fail at. I'm (kindasortamostly) okay with failing something I tried my best at, because that's how we learn, but if there's something I'm reasonably certain is beyond my abilities, I just won't do it, at least not until I've gained the skills to try.

Which all seems very reasonable, but at some point last year I'd decided that 2013 was the year I was going to try for a metric century, and I registered for the Cinderella Classic. I hadn't done much riding between November and January due to weather, travel, and illness, but I put together a nice training schedule, and between that and having conquered a 50-miler last year, I had no doubt that I'd be able to ride 65 miles by the beginning of April.

And then there were many weeks of rain, and more illness, and lots of distractions.

I still managed to get in a bunch of riding, but not nearly as much as I needed to, and certainly none approaching the distance I was hoping for. I joined a fun-sounding ride with a local cycling meetup a few weeks ago because sometimes I ride better when I'm chasing others and thought it would help me get in some miles, but between a mechanical and tactical error at the beginning of the ride I never quite recovered from (toughing out a steep hill climb without the ability to shift into the lowest gear? Really dumb!) and much of the rest of it being hillier than anything I'd done since the fall, it did not go well, and I trailed way behind everyone else. I was determined to try to finish anyway, but after waiting for me to catch up on a challenging-for-me climb that wasn't nearly as challenging as the one coming up, the ride leader kindly and firmly directed me to the bail-out point. On what was supposed to be a no-drop ride.

After that disheartening experience, and with only couple weeks to go before the Cinderella, I was ready to call it off. Not even trying would suck, but I wasn't even close to the shape I was in last year, and there was no possible way I could get there in time for the ride. So why do it and embarrass myself? What's the point of starting a ride I know I can't finish?

I talked with my partners about it, who said they'd support me no matter what. I angsted on AskMetafilter about it and got a resounding chorus of "go for it!" Most helpfully, though, I talked with [personal profile] gayathri, who was also registered and also hadn't gotten in the training she'd wanted to yet. We both recognized we might not be quite prepared for the full metric century, but after chatting decided we'd go to just have fun and go for a ride, and let the SAG wagons take us back whenever we decided we were done.

So I rode, and had a great time. There was a little bit of struggling on the hills, and some annoying headwinds, and a minor injury that turned out to need more attention than I gave it, but there were also some really fun descents and I kept up a great pace in the flats. And at the halfway point, ~32 miles into the ride, G & I both decided we were done. And it was okay! I did think Real Hard about trying to go farther, and mayyyybe I could have done it (just 13 miles to the next rest stop!), but I knew I'd feel awful, physically, if I pushed myself that hard. And since I biked to and from BART as well, I ended up getting in a bit over 40 miles all told. So I feel pretty good about it. I'm really glad I didn't quit before I'd even tried, and I'm looking forward to trying again next year--with considerably more training and preparation. :) And a costume! Everyone was dressed up all girly and princessy--with all the plastic tiaras, pink dresses, and feather boas it looked like a giant bachelorette party on wheels--but I didn't really bother (other than a failed attempt to attach my tiara to my helmet without damaging either) because I wanted to focus on the ride. Next year, though, I'm thinking superheroine.


I've still got plenty of 2013 left in which to complete a metric century. The Rapha Women's 100 looks interesting, especially since it's a thing where everyone rides on the same day rather than a big group event with a set course, and once I'm done with the 50-mile Tour de Cure next month, I may start planning for that. In between a few short tours, that is, because I am super-excited about putting my rack back on my bike and heading off for more bike camping.


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