About a year ago, I decided to start training for a one day, 204 mile bike race from Logan, UT to Jackson, WY. It is an insanely difficult ride and so my original plan was to ride in a relay team the first year and solo the second (here’s where I shared this goal). Somehow my hubby convinced me that if I was going to do it, I should do the entire race. Something he greatly regretted last Saturday on race day.
I love to bike but the last time I biked a century was 10 years ago. I bike for fun, not to accomplish a goal. I was in good shape, but certainly not the kind of physical fitness level needed for this type of endeavor and I am a grandma. That means I’m old and should start knitting. I just didn’t get the memo in time.
Over the past 11 months, I have trained in the rain, snow, wind, hail and heat. I biked before it got light in the morning and as it was getting dark at night. I also have had a much busier year than I anticipated with my mortgage production and coaching. Through all of this, I worried that it wouldn’t be enough.
Last Saturday was race day and 6:21 a.m. was our start time. That gave us 14 hours to finish 204 miles over three mountain passes for more than 7,200 in elevation gain. I’m not sure I know how to put that much climbing into perspective if you haven’t experienced it. I certainly didn’t understand what it meant. At the end of the third climb, I was literally shaking from heat and exhaustion. We still had 96 miles to go but I thought it would be easy; mostly downhill so how hard can that be? I didn’t anticipate the 50 miles of headwind and that my fatigue would slow us down even further.
The final 47 miles before Jackson are through Snake River Canyon and the views are breathtaking. We started this at 6:30 p.m. when the light was fading. I knew we couldn’t get to the finish before dark but I also couldn’t give up. It was too beautiful and I had worked too hard. At 8:30 we were 23 miles from the finish and we hit a road narrowed for construction. It was VERY dark and there was quite a bit of traffic. Deciding to stop was devastating for me, but it was the right decision.
As I have been recovering over the past few days, I’ve been pondering the lessons learned through this experience. Here’s my top five.
It’s ok to dream big and fall short. This was probably the hardest for me. I felt like I had failed, when truly I had succeeded at something huge. Not many people can bike 181 miles over three mountain passes.
Accountability is important. I told EVERYONE about my goal. About four weeks before the race, I was discouraged and ready to back out. My daughter said “Your 2 year old grandson even knows what you are doing and believes in you. You can’t quit now”. Lots of people were cheering me on and that helped me stay the course.
Connecting is priceless. My husband and I spent an enormous amount of time training and talking about the race. I also got to know other bikers during the many organized rides and made new friends. This enriched my life and for THAT I will forever be grateful.
I can do hard things. I use to think a century ride was difficult. I’ll take that any day now. Easy-breezy. Once you do something hard, other things become easier. Our bodies (and minds) have the ability to adapt and expand to situations.
Life is short. Maybe it is because I am almost 50, but I find myself very focused on creating memories. Yes, things are nice but I would rather have 14 hours on a bike than drive a Porsche. Call me crazy, but I’m ok with that.
Now the big question is whether or not I will do this next year and try to complete the race. I’ll keep you posted!