Saturday, October 04, 2014

The Pineywoods Purgatory 25 mile ride or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Long Distance Bike Ride

After months of not posting I finally have something worth posting about:

A good friend asked me if I wanted to attempt the Pineywoods Purgatory 25 mile ride.  To our mutual surprise, "Yes, I do want to".  I wanted to a lot.  The next day, when I was sober, it dawned on me that I had no idea what I had drunkenly agreed to and immediately began to think of reasons to weasel out (yeah, pretty much what I do when I agree to do things when I'm drunk) and then, I didn't want to weasel out of this.  I did not know if I could do it or what it entailed or...I went through the self-doubt rolodex.

A few weeks passed and I poked around on the internet for reviews of the ride, tips for riding your first 25 mile ride, yadda, yadda, yadda.  98% of what I found was, for  my tastes, useless information. There were articles for cyclists (y'know, people who ride 25 miles as their warm-up).  There were articles for women who wanted to train for their first long ride but who trained and went a gym and balanced bicycling with their lifestyles.  Then last week I threw some numbers around about what I have been biking each week (roughly 35 miles) since the middle of March 2014.  So with maths, roughly 840 miles in six months from my new home to work and back and around town.  Downside is I still smoke like a fish and drink like a chimney but hey, bicycling and new found confidence that I could potentially complete a 25 mile ride without dropping dead or vomiting blood or both.

In the last week people have been asking me, "Why are you riding 25 miles?"  Mostly with incredulity, though I'm not sure if they wonder why someone would ride that far in one go or if they wonder why the hell I would do it (most people seem to think that I hate everything, up to and including most physical activities people think of as "fun").  My initial response was honest and far from snarky, "I never do anything, I've never done anything like this before, and I want to see if I can do this."  Then I would say something snarky to make them feel more at ease.

My friend picked me up this morning at 6:30am.  Loaded up the bikes and gear and drove down to Lufkin for the ride.  Yeah, I was nervous over the last couple of days and last night I asked, "What the fuck did I talk myself into?"  That early on Saturday morning after only a few hours of little kid Christmas Eve sleep, I wasn't nervous I was on autopilot.  He offered much needed advice and suggestions on riding etiquette and cadence & pacing.
Around 7:30am
My biking outfit consisted of khakis (hems tucked into socks ride to work style), Stewart plaid Doc Martens (purchased in 1996), my smelly hat, borrowed bike gloves, new underclothes (second time wearing boxer briefs in my entire life), and an electric blue too-tight shirt I bought from Goodwill last Thursday for $3.99.  Riding a 7.3 FX Trek (gifted back in May '14 by same friend who invited me to this ride).

I joked that if I died, I wanted to have a last cigarette.
A couple of minutes before lining up to set off.  
I have to admit that I felt an old, sadly familiar, Hooligan Youth feeling watching and looking at most of the other riders.  Self-conscious, woefully inexperienced, poor, and not sure if I should really be there at all. Then that surge of, "I'm going to kick ass just out of spite."  Nerves really hit me when  my friend and I got queued up - thankfully near the back.  I didn't have to recite the  "Litany of Fear" but I had to consciously keep my breath regulated.

Then it was time to set off.  I almost hit a firetruck bumper trying to get my left shoe in the strap and not crash into anyone.  Out of the parking lot, took a right, and had some goddamned fun.

I funned all over the place.
I swear to God, I had all the funs.  Except for...well, I can't tell you.
There was one point I had to dismount but other than that I did solid (mostly).  Awesome ride with excellent company.  The rest stops were well stocked and the second rest stop had ibuprofen, bananas, and pickles.

The riders on the 25 ranged from little kids to not so little kids.  Was kind of awesome to catch up to a little kid in full rider gear kicking ass, okay she had two support trucks but still she was beasting. Mother and son in the last third with us, the son was on a Specialized and we hit this hill that suuuuuuucked. He and I were just bitching but fun bitching and picking on one another.  Some older guys (than us by twenty years) who started with us were doing the 50 ride.  Woman at the second rest stop looked at me and said, "You've got the bug now." (paraphrase).  Apparently I shifted into my standard bicycling cussing at one point in the ride, which cracked another rider up.  I also became self-conscious of how I talk to my bike to help me through tough spots.  Hell, I do the same thing in EVE...

Despite being outside of my comfort zone with a completely new experience I had an awesome time. This kind of ride was far different than the aggro-blitz I do to work and back and I always kept that in mind.  There were a couple of points I opened up or was seriously tempted to or give into rage and berserker stretches (like I do normally).

End result.
Yeah, I've got the bug and a goal.  This time next year I want to do the 50.

I'm still gonna smoke a smoke before the ride.

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