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Triathlete Blog

Building Character

By August 3, 2008July 6th, 2015No Comments

Once again the morning started at the glorious pre-6 am time of 5:26. I never wake up this early and there is good reason why. No matter how much coffee you have before 6 am it doesn’t negate the fact that it is still before 6 am.

We did a fly by at Chris’ parents house where we literally threw Boss into their home, closed the door and took off. Oh, I did take a moment to write a note in Boss’ perspective that he would need to be watched all day and fed. Chicken and pumpkin if they wanted to know his request.

Drove west towards south Naperville for an organized ride. Yes, I believe Rachel Ross experienced her first organized ride today.

So it’s a ride.


Where you pay money?


To ride with other people.

Yes. I know, I know. It makes no sense that you would pay money to ride your bike on public road. However, when you find yourself at mile 71 with no will to live you will be grateful for the two high school kids sitting in lawn chairs watching the Gatorade jugs at the rest stop. You will look at the peanut butter crackers and think come here crackers and bring thee legs life again. It’s worth the money. Trust me.

I do believe Rachel and Marit would be one celebrity smackdown match that I would like to see. Because these girls can talk. I’m trying – trying – to put my heart rate into the correct zone and Rachel is telling me about her run last night where she was watching soft porn at the state park. Meanwhile, I’m also trying to hang on Chris’ wheel because I realized with the wind today that might be our only hope for survival past 30 miles. And Rachel chats away. I love it! It’s like running with Marit except there are wheels involved.

We chose the 85 mile route, Chris chose the 102. As soon as we were rolling along I realized wait, I know this route. I have done this ride before. Yes, flashback 2 years ago when training for Kona and the day when I thought I was doing 85 miles and the ride ended up being 92.

That ride.

So I got a little scared because there is a BIG difference between riding 85 and riding 92. Like 7 miles. And once you get beyond 80 miles you do know that every mile feels like 2. So we are really talking14 miles extra. But I had hope today that it would be just 85. And I figured with proper pacing we could get this done in a little over 4 hours – which is how long we were supposed to ride.

Estimations like that – however – are never the case.

We are riding along and Rachel is enjoying the best of Illinois’ wildlife. Except she is viewing most of it dead. She asks me to identify the road kill and then points out the porn park as we actually ride by it. I have convinced her to hang on to Chris’ wheel because as she realized – there is no draft behind my wheel. None. You are in a sad, sad place if you are taller than 62 inches and trying to hold my wheel. Trust me.

We stop at a rest stop and Rachel announces she would like to ride her own pace. At first I say ok but then as we pull away and realize that the route is not well marked and she is surrounded by corn…well, I got a little scared for her. I didn’t want her to be taken away by the Children of the Corn. You know they live out there. You know they do.

Chris and I rode on – making our way along this comedy of an “organized” ride. This was the most disorganized ride ever. Seems that for Saturday night fun in Somonauk the local teens or hooligans go out and remove the TURN HERE or STRAIGHT AHEAD signs from the side of the road. So after about a dozen wrong turns and misroutes I start to realize that riding 92 miles might very well happen today.

We reach 60 miles under 3 hours and my wheels start to come off. Things were going well, quite well, but then perhaps it was the long run yesterday or the 500 miles on Ragbrai hitting me but my wheels came O.F.F.

Do you know this feeling? The feeling where you start to fear for your life being left alongside the road with no fluids, heavy legs and sitting in sweaty bike shorts wondering how far of a walk until you get home? That is how I felt. I stood at the rest stop wondering how I was going to ride more and then Rachel shows up. I am glad to see she was not abducted by the children of the corn. She mentions something about a near death experience with a Clif Bar and no water. I feel for her but it could have been worse. She could have been taken hostage by the Blue Man (you must see Children of the Corn).

We leave a bit later and I tried to hang on to Chris’ wheel but he just kept pulling farther away and my legs hurt so bad trying I actually groaned. And I don’t usually make noises when I ride. So I faced the fact that I had nearly 30 more miles to go. Into the wind. This could take 90 minutes or this could take 2 hours. Either way it was about 90 minutes more than I wanted right now.

Around 66 miles I ride up to two women. They are also lost or confused. We see a man ahead on a bike and pedal like hell towards him. I ask him where he is going and he says “to the church.” So much for pedalling like hell. We’re going to church. Good. Take me there. I need to pray for my legs and that I find my way home. Turns out the church was really a rest stop. I stop, drink, eat some crackers and look at a map. There are 20 more miles to go. I am at mile 71. I am going to ride 91 miles today.

And what can you do? Nothing really, but ride. I pull up my big girl pants and continue to ride. I watch the miles click off slowly, slowly and finally the computer turns to 91 miles and I see the school where we started. Funny thing is that they actually had a sign at the school that said RIGHT TURN. Nice work – we clearly needed that sign there.

The good news is that it took me less than 4 and a half hours. The bad news is that I still had a 40 minute run. And my legs felt like Ironman. I might as well be training for Ironman at this point. I’ve gone far enough! The first 10 minutes were not the pretty. The next 10 were ok. The next 10 I picked it up and the last 10 I made hard. Oh that felt good to dig deep and find something in those legs that I pronounced dead about 2 hours ago.

Chris returned finally from his 102 mile ride. Turns out it was 108. Rachel ended up riding to her parents house. And the moral of the story is that no matter how much money you pay for an organized ride there will always be disorganization. There will always be more miles than you pay for. But in exchange you will build character for the extra 6 (really 12) miles – this character will make you stronger in your legs and head. It will hurt. Yes it hurt but it all got done and there’s something to be said for sticking it out, finishing up and actually making pretty good time.

But back to character. That’s just what I needed today. And to think – all I wanted really was more coffee.


For the record, Rachel – I have recorded some wildlife sightings from today:

1 opposum (dead)

1 chipmunk (deceased)

1 squirrel/chipmunk blend (could not be identified)
1 raccoon (decomposed)
1 vole (not in a good place)

1 mongoose….just kidding on that one
2 legs (belonging to elizabeth & definitely done)