My 70 miler was two weeks ago Wednesday. It was a beautiful crisp, fall day - perfect riding temperature. In fact, I was even cold for the first 20 or so miles. I went out with my mom and over the course of the ride we gained 2059 ft in elevation. We stopped every 10/15 miles to eat and had lunch around mile 45. No flats, no problems - just a beautiful day out on the bike.
Fast forward one week later and the story could not have been more different. Samantha came down to the bay area and we did one of our last, and longest, training rides together for Foxy's. On the schedule - 80s miles. Luckily for me, this past summer has been on the cool side and I have loved every minute of it. However, last week I think summer wanted to stick us with one last week of crazy hot temperatures - in the 100s. The high temps were supposed to last through the weekend but we were supposed to see a cooling trend by the middle of the week, however, as the week progressed, the high on Wednesday slowly crept up from 75 to 80 to 85. However, due to our work schedules there was nothing we could do - Wednesday was the ride whether the weather cooperated or not.
- Temperatures over 100 degrees
- Over 200 oz of fluid consumed
- 2 flat tires (both on MY bike)
- 9 hours out on the road (only 5 1/2 actual riding time) due to the heat
- A coke slurpee and fritos
- Being so delirious all we could do is laugh
- One mini, dramatic meltdown under a tree on the side of the road by me and one kick in the butt comment by Samantha
We got on the road around 9AM - it was hot but our legs were fresh, water bottles we top full of ice cold water and we were optimistic. Due to the heat and the distance, we decided to stop every 10 miles to refuel.
At mile 18 we stopped to use the bathroom at a Jack in the Box. I was carrying two bottles on my bike, one with water and one with NUUN (which by the way, I just discovered the citrus fruit flavor and it is amazing!). This was the first bottle re-fill - at mile 18!!
We were on our way out to Livermore at this point and I am SO THANKFUL we started with this section of the ride first. While we passed by some beautiful wineries, the entire section of this part of the ride was in the sun. There was not an once of shade and it was already 90 degrees out.
We hit our first big climb of the day here. There was so much heat coming off the road that it looked like pools of water in each small crest in the hill - it was torture since at that point all I wanted to do was be in a pool surrounded by ice cold water. Once I got to the top I pulled over and snapped this picture:
Even the cows were smart enough to know it was too hot to be outside! As I was putting my phone away a Caltrans guy who was out working on the road asked me what we were doing there. I told him we were out for a training ride. He asked me how much farther we had and at this point I answered 65. He looked at me like I lost my mind and truthfully, I didn't blame him.
Around mile 30 after tackling another hill we stopped for our 10 mile fuel break. I was already out of water again but luckily Samantha had a camel back in addition to her water bottles so I was able to fill up half of one of my water bottles. Samantha had also brought dill pickles - the most ingenious biking snack ever! They had had them out at one of the rest stops during the Memorial Ride and I thought it was a great snack to bring. While I love my GU and Powerbar Gel Blasts (side note - they brought back COLA - my absolute favorite) sometimes you just want some real food.
With our eye on the prize (a Starbucks in 10 miles) we cranked out another hot 10 miles. Once at Starbucks I filled up both bottles again with nice ice cold water and slurped down a venti black iced tea. I have just recently replaced my old water bottles with new, pink Polar Insulated water bottles, which have been wonderful at keeping my water cold on long rides but even insulated bottles couldn't keep water cold too long in this heat. We ran into another cyclist who told us that the temperature coming off the road was 102. The air temperature was about 95. He was just finishing his ride for the day and asked us how much further we had - 40 miles at this point. He too gave us the "your crazy" look and again, truthfully I did not blame him and had been questioning my sanity for some time now.
Around mile 46 as we were about to cross a street when I spotted a 7-11. I asked Samantha if she wanted to stop - sure it had only been 6 miles but at this point it felt like 20. We went back and forth and finally decided why the heck not. As soon as I walked through the door and felt a cold blast of air on my face I knew I needed two things - a coke slurpee and fritos (oh and to top off my water bottles but that goes without saying).
It was pure and utter heaven. I didn't finish the chips but the salt was just what I needed. I had been drinking so much water and ran out of NUUN a long time ago I was afraid I was depleting my body of electrolytes. At this point Alisa had sent me a text asking how we were doing and it was a nice little boost of encouragement. Although at the time I think I might have mentioned something about riding my bike straight into the pool when I got home and how death might feel better than this ride - did I mention it was hot? Next stop lunch!
During the next 5 miles I looked at my Garmin and saw I was going 8.5 mph - 8.5!!! I was pedaling with everything I had (mind you this was also a flat road) and all I could bust out was 8.5! I saw a shady tree and told Samantha I had to stop, dropped the bike, threw the helmet and collapsed onto the grass moaning something to the effect that I couldn't go on (yes, I might have been a teensy bit dramatic). My house was literally up a huge ass hill and around the corner - we could do this another day - we were crazy - this might have been the dumbest/hardest thing I had ever done - let's just stop. Samantha calmly told me that if I stopped she knew I would be really mad at myself for giving up and that we could do this. Sometimes the truth is ugly and she was right. I peeled myself off the cold grass, got my butt back on that bike and we were off again.
Of course, the day wouldn't be complete without a flat tire and about 5 miles after my meltdown that is what I got.
Finally, we rolled into lunch (dinner? linner?) around mile 58 and 4:00 pm. It was glorious.
The last 20 miles were more shaded that the first but iPhone still said it was around 101 degrees out. We rolled into another Starbucks for a bottle refill. We passed many chipper, smiley cyclists who were probably going out for a ride after work who smiled and waved at us. I hated them.
When I planned the route I saved the hills for last as we probably covered most of our elevation in the last 15 miles. In keeping with the theme of the day I got another flat within 5 miles from home. Luckily Samantha let me have her tube since I only had one on me and used it with the first flat. At this point we were just hoping to get home before dark.
During the last mile I thought my tire went flat again. I think I mumbled something about it to Samantha but I was on a mission and even if I had to roll that bike I was not stopping for anything (and as it turns out it was just my imagination - I was delirious). As we rolled into my house around 6:30 the sun had started to set and a light breeze had picked up - isn't that how it always goes?!?
BUT we rode 77 miles, in 102 degree heat in 5 1/2 hours and climbed over 2,400 ft in elevation and lived to tell about it!
This was one of those days that screams "you had to be there." I wish I had the words to explain how hard this was - by far the hardest physical thing I had ever experienced. Even harder than Breakaway (which I plan to redeem myself with this weekend - details to come). All Samantha and I could say to each other was that we were crazy - we couldn't even cry - all we could do was laugh.
Foxy's has just over 2,600 ft of elevation gain and hopefully, if the last few years are any indication it won't be as hot. However, if it is we will be prepared.
I am so glad I did not give up. When I finished I was beat, tired, sunburn, thirsty but I also felt bad ass! As much as it sucks while you are out there it is training rides/runs like this that test your limits and make you a better athlete. It is amazing what your body can take - both mentally and physically. I now have no doubt I will finish Foxy's with a smile on my face!