Whoo-ee, what a day.
I came pretty close to bailing on the Cinderella Century–the weather report was predicting thundershowers, with a 60% chance of rain, and it poured overnight and well into the morning. I got myself out of bed at 5:30am, and loaded up the bike anyway, promising myself that if it was raining in Dublin when I got there, I’d turn around and go home.
I made it in to Dublin at 7:30am (registration started at 7), resplendent in Little Red Dress and pink cycling jersey. (I had thought about wearing the Little Red Dress without the cycling jersey, but decided it was too damn cold to be showing that much cleavage.) I got lots of comments and appreciative grins for the outfit–as soon as I get a photo of it, I’ll post it in the blog.
Anyway, we got started well, with sixteen or seventeen flat, pleasant miles; the clouds had blown away and the sun was shining. I got into the first rest stop, guzzled down some pound cake, some Fig Newtons, a handful of raisins, and a banana (it’s amazing how hungry you get while riding), and ran straight into my boss’s boss. I’d loaned her a tutu for the occasion, and she was thrilled with it–said she’d gotten an unbelievable number of “Nice costume!” and “Wow! I should do something like that!” comments along the way. (She is now examining my tutu so she can make one for herself. I told you guys that tutus were the fashion wave of the future!) So she and I rode the rest of Cinderella together.
Coming out of the first rest stop, the sun began to falter, the wind picked up, and clouds started to arrive. We rolled our way up some minor hills, then straight into a killer crosswind that gusted in from the left–I thought I was going to be blown off the road!
To make matters worse, the rain began pelting down–hard enough that I wondered whether it was hail–and I had awful visions of staggering into the next rest stop soaked and hypothermic. But fortunately, the rain stopped after a mile or so, leaving only the vicious crosswind.
Then we turned into headwinds. It was blowing so hard that I was in my bottom gear, pedaling with all my might, and still only making 6 miles per hour! It was exhausting, brutal cycling, without even the lift of going downhill after all that “climbing”.
We slowly cranked our way around the hills and up to Lemon Drop Hill, the biggest hill on Cinderella. Now, Lemon Drop isn’t much of a hill–I’ve climbed far worse–but with the wind gusting into our faces, it proved much more challenging. At the top of the hill, I was staggering along, and gratefully took a lemon drop from the guy who was passing them out. That lemon drop was delicious! and kept me going for a good four or five miles afterwards.
After that it was more headwinds, more crosswinds, and more exhaustion. My lower back was getting painfully stiff, and my butt was painfully sore. (It is, alas, not one’s butt that actually gets sore, but the considerably more tender bits that get compressed against the saddle. Ouch.) I stopped several times to stretch out my back and get out of the saddle for a moment.
Just when I was thinking about stopping for a lengthier break, the last checkpoint came up, and I staggered in and nearly fell over. I ate a bagel with peanut butter, a pile of orange quarters, half a banana, and two glasses of lemonade, and after about fifteen minutes, felt better enough to get back on the saddle and keep riding–only 16.9 miles to go!
Thankfully, the last 16 miles were smooth sailing–flat, sunny, no winds–we biked along a beautiful bike trail and through quiet suburbs, and made our way back to the park where we’d started. 65.49 miles, 5 hours and 11 minutes on the bike: Cinderella.
I’m pretty pleased with my performance overall in Cinderella–I did the entire ride and came in feeling like I could do a little more. No knee problems. The butt problem will probably be fixed when my new saddle arrives, which should be sometime this week. I’m more worried about the back, but will talk to my coach about it next time I see him.
But I have now done my first metric century since the knee injury! I’m psyched.