Tuesday, July 17, 2012

100 km Hill Ride in Rural Pennsylvania: The Secret Training Files

These hills on which I currently undergo my secret treneng, are in the region of Pennsylvania that was the training ground and from whence were launched the careers of cyclists like Floyd Landis, who went on to win the Tour de France in 2006. That he was stripped of the title for doping does in no way take away from the hard fact that these hills are real. And to mere mortals (like me), these hills are painful, but in the nicest way possible.

Two weeks ago, chillaxin over dinner with Spencer, for no reason, a string of words flew out of my mouth that my brain didn't really authorize:

Grace: "Hey, can we go for a 100 k ride?"
Spencer: "Erm, ok......."
Grace: "Really?"
Spencer: "Ya"

I guess I have been subconsciously marinating the idea of riding long for a while. Just to see how it would go. The previous week's 40 miles (64 km) on the Rails-to-Trails (Freeport-Butler-Freeport) kinda made me hungry for more. We made frequent stops to eat, including a full-on sit down meal of steak and eggs at the golf course restaurant along the way (how convenient hehe). My favorite part of exercising is refuelling! Sometimes I think I exercise just so I can eat stuff that I like :p.

Refueling at the Serene Valley Golf Course along the Rails-to-Trails the week before

Leisure ride with rellies on the Rails-to-Trails the week before. Be not deceived by the kids' charming smiles - they are serious runners as is their dad. Jacob, 15, runs 17 minute 5 ks, while his sis Lexie, 10, finished her most recent half marathon in under 2 hours :O 
Anyway, back to the 100 km ride.We parked at the Park-n-Ride at Northpointe and rode 20 miles a pop, returning to the Mothership to refuel and hydrate.And it wasn't on the relatively flat Rails-to-Trails but on lovely backcountry roads going up and down hills and rolling farmland. We passed acres and acres of ripening corn, wheat, potatoes and other foods perfect for carb-loading.

Wait - is that a glove next to that monstrous rat snake? Er yeah.
Thought it would be a good idea to put something next to the fella to show how big he was.
So I used my glove. Smart hoh? Then the fella dun wanna move. :p
The Hills. No avoiding them. In PA, there really isn't anywhere you can ride without soon coming up against a Hill. I really don't mind hills. I had my first taste of hill-climbing at the Laguna Phuket Triathlon with their super steep neverending (to me, at that time) hill section and got through it okay. The only thing I'm a bit scared of when riding uphill is cramping or hitting the wall and being forced to make a sudden stop, and not being able to clip out on time. Mostly, I like the labor of going uphill. I embrace the ache in my quads, hamstrings and lungs. I remind myself that, in finally regaining my health after struggling with illness for half my life, I will never ever complain about exercise-induced-discomfort. I count it one of my great pleasures to be able to run, cycle, swim, and do anything physical. (By the way, after half a year of plantar fasciitis pain, I am able to run again - more on that next post!)
Feels painful (in a nice way) just looking at this.
However, I am quite terrified of Down Hills. I am especially afraid of going down any hill where I can't see what lies ahead around the corner. My descents are verrrry slow because I put my death-grip on my brakes and inch downwards, praying non-stop please God keep me safe.... I think I am getting better though. :)

Another of the many hazards faced by cyclists.
I was *this close* to being run over by Bambi a little further up the road.

Aside from the 1 hour break we took for our chiropractor's appointment (Scott Mills, excellent chap), the stop-by at Mom & Dad's to kidnap Ariana, and refueling pit stops, we were on the go from 11 am to about 8 pm. We completed 104 km and climbed 6161 ft (1878 m) in just under 7 hours.
Part of the ride. PA is all hills. 

I think before I attempt to ride 160 km (century ride), I'd better get in more practice so I can get a wee bit faster. Hills, here I come!

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xo Gracie

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