Yesterday I was brave. I confess, I am a bit of a penny pincher these days and I my bravery was motivated in part because I had already registered to ride, meaning, I had paid the fee, better show up.
The weather wasn’t good, and that’s putting it mildly. Granted, it wasn’t snowing, and it wasn’t freezing. It was raining, not a solid downpour, just a solid non-stop wet sprinkling. And the temperature was 38 degrees Fahrenheit, and that was minus the swift and serious wind.
I had signed up to ride in the Minnesota Ironman bike ride, which is NOT a triathlon. It is a fifty-year old bike ride intended to kick off the cycling season here in Minnesota. I’ve done it a few times and never once has the weather been good. This year was my third attempt and I prepared the whole month of April.
Meaning, I upped my attempt to make sure my gear was ready. I purchased winter, waterproof cycling gloves. Remember I’m a penny pincher, so I was quite happy that I found a great pair at REI. I own cycling specific jackets, expensive jackets, from a top-line cycling gear company who shall remain unnamed. Both previous years I’ve done the MN Ironman, I got soaked to the skin. Not good with such expensive rain gear.
Someone told me about a Minnesota rain gear company called O2 (you know, O2 meaning water!) So I looked them up and I found the original rain jacket and the original rain pants on Amazon. Grand total for both was $59.77. LOTS less expensive than my high-end rain gear!
Here they are in case you want to get them too! I can attest, they WILL keep you dry!
I also made sure I found my rain booties from Pearl Izumi. I found plastic bags to put over my liner socks AND my wool socks I would wear. I found my warm cycling pants to wear over my cycling shorts. I found my long sleeve cycling jersey and my long sleeved GoreTex cycling jacket.
Best of all, I found my super big under seat cycling bag. Cool cyclists have the smallest bag possible under their seats. I lost ALL cool-factor with this ginormous bag! Who cares! Not me, as I had room for the jacket and cycling pants, plus my spare tire and a few tools, plus extra snacks, just in case the food at the rest stops sucked.
Oh, and I also had cycling bands to hold the wide legs of the rain pants close to my leg, so as not to catch in my bike chain. Safety first!!
Sunday morning dawned bright and early. I got up, fed the dog and cat, fed myself some oatmeal with protein powder (the vegan kind) and took the dog for a walk. Yup, I noticed that is was COLD. I considered not driving the 45 minutes to Waconia where the ride started and finished. My penny pincher self kept reminding me to at least go get the t-shirt I had paid for. I packed up my gear and got my bike into my new 2013 Honda Fit and headed west to Waconia.
Here’s the other part of this story. I was going to ride by myself. The last two attempts to ride the MN Ironman, I had compatriots to ride with me. Not this year. Everyone had opted out. Smart people.
I figured I would meet people, or I wouldn’t. At the bare minimum, I would be on a supported route, which provides security. I enjoy riding by myself. I don’t love talking when I’m riding. I view long rides as meditation. I like getting into my body and into the groove of the scenery. I like paying attention to my breath and my heartbeat.
I give BIG kudos to the MN Ironman organizers. A few highlights:
- The route was well marked! They had zip tied the bright yellow route marker signs to sturdy poles. The wind could not blow them over or around.
- I saw a number of SAG vehicles, which again provided a sense of safety.
- There were lots of sheriff people at all the busy intersections.
The one bummer was that Rest Stop #1 came at mile 23!!! That was a LONG time to ride before being able to pee and stretch! By the time I got to Rest Stop #1, I had on my rain jacket and I was starting to get a bit wet on my long tights. So I put on my rain pants and I put on my Jaand helmet cover. I already had on my ear warmer and my rain hood under my helmet, plus I had on my neck warmer and my plastic bags and bootie covers were solidly in place. I was BRIGHT yellow! Uber visible.
At mile 33, I wanted to give up. I was tired. The constant headwind made it impossible (for me) to go much faster than 10 miles per hour. That’s slow for me. Since I’m training for the 100 mile Tour de Cure Twin Cities on June 3, 2017, on the agenda for April 30th, was to do intervals. I was doing those! Into-the-wind. I watched my heart rate go soaring up, and I held the higher heart rate for 20 to 30 minutes at a time, as was advised by my coach. I just wasn’t going very fast. And I was lonely.
So, I noticed how tired I felt. I noticed how lonely and alone I felt. I allowed the feelings. I breathed into the difficulty of the feelings. And I kept pedaling. I felt the cold rain hitting my face. I let a few tears fall down my cheeks.
This desire to give up felt like living with a chronic disease. In my case, type 1 diabetes and two rounds of breast cancer. Relentless. No rest. A big horrible grind. Never letting up.
I reminded myself that I had it better than a lot of other people. I could ride my bike. I was dry. I was warm. I was strong. I was alive.
A beautiful bird flew near me. And I could hear frogs chirping. Suddenly I realized I wasn’t alone. I was and am connected! That brought a burst of joy to my heart! And I started smiling and feeling delightedly hopeful and happy!!!
I picked up my finisher t-shirt and headed to my car. Driving back home I was smiling and joyful. Now I’m gearing up for my next big ride, which will be on my birthday. Likely I will ride 85 miles! All in preparation for the Tour de Cure Twin Cities.
I’ve survived nearly 36 years with type 1 diabetes, and every day I have the opportunity to keep going. I would love it and be very grateful if you would contribute to my campaign. It would be a vote of confidence and a reminder that I am not alone. Here’s my page: http://main.diabetes.org/goto/mariruddy36
With gratitude and love,