Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tour de Awesome

Terri and I just arriving!
Well I survived my third time biking the Tour de Shore from Philadelphia to Atlantic City. I may not have kept up with my riding buddies Terri and Jeff (who finished faster then last year you go guys!) but hell I got that shit done.

For barely training at all this year, I finished in about the same time I did last year. And I trained pretty hard last year considering the debacle that was my first year riding. I was thrilled to say the least. My quads disagreed immediately following the ride. However I must say that this is the least sore/recovery time I've needed in all my rides. I'm two days post ride and feeling quite fine. It's amazing how many times I wanted to just quit and I can see now what a mental struggle competing against the voice in your head is; your body is fine to keep going but you have to be able to silence that little voice inside your head encouraging you to quit.

Terri, Jeff, and myself aka
 the crazy people who do this year after year
Lots of things I learned from my past experiences made this third ride better. For one, the camel back water pack is essential. I packed an extra frozen Gatorade in that as well, and a half frozen/cold one on my bike. Those made all the difference in keeping me hydrated. I was truly lucky in that the weather was overcast and cool for July which improved my timing immensely. The day before I decided to charge my old school iPod (I'm talking click-wheel technology what what!) and use that to listen to music on my ride, as I figured I'd keep my phone on me as a backup/just emergency use. Riding to music the whole way definitely helped keep me motivated.

The hardest stretch for me was after I hit the 30 mile mark. I made it feeling great from Philly to Hammonton, and stopped at the second rest stop to refill my supplies and get some fuel in me. From there you get on Moss Mill Road and ride it for what seems like an eternity. For me it was hardest getting from there to the 4th and final rest stop before entering Atlantic City. As I said, I didn't keep up with my riding buddies but had my headphones in so I never minded riding alone. But then your quads start burning. And your 'seat' hurts. I'm not talking uncomfortable, I'm talking am-I-sure-I'm-not-permanently-damaging-something? hurt. And that voice in your head pipes up, 'You know you can stop and get in a support van and they'll take you the rest of the way';  'You don't need to do this'; 'Why are you even doing this?'; 'This hurts, my seat hurts, your quads are cramping. Just stop now';  'Why am I here?'

Luckily, I had many factors that helped me push through. For one, my fellow riders. It's almost like people would pass me and could see the thought bubble above me processing the idea to call it quits. People would pass me and ask 'how you doing'? or 'hang in there you're doing great'. Or I'd overhear other's conversations and they'd make me laugh. One in particular was a gentleman telling his friends how he was coaxing his hamstrings to just 'make it through this!'  Just little words of encouragement like that gave me the pep I needed to push those thoughts out quitting out of my head.

At one point before the 4th rest stop I was about to throw in the towel, and then I saw the 1 mile to the rest stop sign (sidebar, kudos to Tour de Shore for having those mile markers this year). It was all I needed. How could I face everyone waiting at the end for me by coming out of a VAN? I'd be disappointed in myself, and although I know my friends and family would support me no matter what, I'd be embarrassed to say I had to stop.

When I got to the 4th rest stop and they kept encouraging us that it was only 13 miles until Atlantic City.  I was pumped. How could I quit now I'd made it this far? I changed my playlist to get my motivation going, and rode those 13 miles into AC. You know what's fun when you're exhausted and drained? The wind blowing off the ocean AGAINST you. Oh yes, it was a glorious, against the wind 13 miles. But my main accomplishment this year is the bridge leading into AC.

You are spent. Your quads are cramping. You are mentally and physically fatigued. And your last major quest is having to pedal up a bridge to get into the city to your final destination. It's literally torture. I had hopped off my bike and walked up this final mountain the past 2 years because my legs wouldn't support me to pedal up it. This year, I RODE OVER IT. I had all intentions of hopping off my bike again and walking it. But no. This year there were other riders with me. This year I wasn't alone on the bridge. This year I made it up and over even though my quads screamed at me to stop. I was elated. I pedaled as fast as I could to get to the finish to see my family and friends waiting for me.

Literally after stepping off my bike.
Which is why I look like I might die
Overall I was so thrilled to do this ride again. I learned so much about myself. About how even though I didn't train as much as I should have, by keeping up with my overall fitness and losing weight from last year, those were the main contributors of my successful ride and quicker recovery time. I learned how that little voice in your head really likes to fuck with you. That voice wants you to quit and just give up when the going gets tough. But when you're able to push past it, it's amazing how well you can do.

I'm planning to start training for my half marathon starting this weekend. I'm going to remember just how nasty that little voice can be, but if you just push through you can squash it and accomplish feats you never thought you could. 

There is nothing flattering about bike shorts people!


  1. I love you and your crazy abused bike-shorted ass! I think I'm subscribing to insanity and doing it with you next year!

    1. It totally looks like I'm wearing a diaper so GREAT TIMES. That would be so much fun!! Plus we live close enough that we can ride (drink) together <3