I had such a WONDERFUL time on my first Century Ride this past Saturday as part of the Multiple Sclerosis CitytoShore Fund-raiser. My Team Captain and I cycled from Cherry Hill to Ocean City, NJ which included an extra 25 mile loop so that we could rack up 100 miles on Sat. followed by another 75 miles on our Sunday return trip to Cherry Hill.
Here's the tune running through my mind as I was gearing up for this event:
Our early departure Sat. @ 6:30 a.m.:
How many cyclists were there for the event...? Over SEVEN THOUSAND cyclists of ALL stripes! I loved the name of one group: CyclePaths...and am happily snatching that title for myself! :
My worries about zigging where I should zag and inadvertently colliding with others, despite the numbers of cyclists, were groundless...everything went SO SMOOTHLY!
The weather was PHENOMENAL...85 & sunny on Sat., 75 & partly sunny on Sun.
There is something so vibrant and soul-shaking about witnessing such vistas out on the open road moving miles and miles on the power of one's own legs, sailing right by gas stations, untethered by the pumps...a sense of freedom, power and belief in oneself coupled with the sun, wind, aromas of the open land and good will of the cyclists and the community which welcomed us with open arms...just had me filled to bursting, goosebumps rippling through my body. This must be the cyclist's equivalent to the "runner's high!" What a heady mix!
While approaching the two bridges to Ocean City I resolved to try something I've been envious of ever since seeing another cyclist doing this earlier this year: whipping out my camera and snapping shots while riding my bike. I didn't think I'd be coordinated enough but thought, "what the heck? at worst I'll just have some bum shots to delete!" Turns out I got a few nice ones of the land and water sprawling out around the bridges, plus I did something else I hadn't done before: Took a shot of myself while riding on that gloriously sunshiney hot day:
The organization of the ride was excellent as well with many volunteers helping to direct traffic so that riders would safely navigate intersections. The community was so supportive as well, with folks out on their lawns applauding and cheering us along, encouraging us to be sure to come back again next year. There was nary a single unpleasant encounter with a vehicle, no honks or hoots of harassment.
One fellow had his house all done up in Halloween Horror style and dressed in goulish mad slasher cowl, hood and mask thrashing his long gray plastic knife at us as we rode by.
There was a beautiful 85-year-old Japanese woman on the ride with her single-speed bike. I asked if I could take her picture and she agreed. I told her she was my HERO! I want to be like HER when I'm that age!
We later discovered that she was a MASSAGE THERAPIST! She had inquired of a fellow why he rode a recumbent bicycle, thinking that he was crippled or deformed in some way. He explained his history of back trouble which wouldn't allow him to ride a regular bicycle.
She instructed him to sit down and proceeded to work her magic on him:
I don't think he's ever felt so fine!
My riding partner had been having trouble with some back pain between her shoulders and this lady was all too happy to cooperate! What a tiny powerhouse she was! Worked all those kinks right out! She shared how she has limited her practice to working in a hospital only with cancer patients. Such a kind, caring soul!
Here's a few more pics to give you an idea how many cyclists were EVERYWHERE...these are from the various rest stops:
A little line-dancin' fun to the pumped up music courtesy of the DJ's at each rest stop:
The support for riders was excellent as well. My riding partner had a flat during our return trip on Sunday and although we were FULLY PREPARED to deal with it (thanks to our crash course on changing flats from a fellow bike club member!) there was a support van immediately present, hopped out, changed the flat, no charge, no muss, no fuss and we were on our way! I can't recommend this ride highly enough to anyone / everyone! We're hoping to do it again next year and would love more company!
I've posted a couple videos from the bridge outside Ocean City. One as we entered on Saturday afternoon and the other as we departed early Sunday morning:
I have to confess that right up until I hit the 80 mile mark on Saturday I've had this niggling, nasty little voice of doubt eating away at me: "are you REALLY up for this? do you REALLY think you can nail a HUNDRED miles? you probably won't even be able to WALK after doing THIS to yourself!"
But at the 80 mile mark it dawned on me: I was feeling pretty fine! Not only was I going to do all 100 miles, but I would do them and feel GREAT!
Those final 20 miles on Saturday were some of the sweetest I'd ever had on my bike! I just squashed that nasty little voice FLAT! As we approached Ocean City I could begin to detect the scent of salt water in the breeze. Soon we began to see marinas and little harbors and inlets. Anticipation was busting out all over! Along with that earlier song thrumming through my brain and making me bounce along at times on my seat, a couple others revved my engine and powered up my legs and arms:
I was BURNIN' for that CENTURY!
There were signs along the way with quotes from some rock / pop songs which were intended to rev us up. AC/DC...? nah... Ozzie? no thanks, but hey, THIS one will bring me right on home!
I saw a number of cyclists shaking their hands at times during the ride, trying to deal with numbness. I remembered: oh, yeah *I* used to have that problem! No more! Also: don't know whether to chalk it up to the different seat I swapped mine out for or the greater care I've been taking to ride lightly, standing often, but: no troubles down there! No numbness! Sit bones a tad tender but nothing I can't deal with! Been stretch, stretch STRETCHING those muscles to avoid any significant soreness and must say I'm feeling pretty darned GREAT!
Here we are Sunday morning on our departure from Ocean City:
Breaking through to my century was such a LIBERATING, EMPOWERING feeling! I feel like, okay, let's hop on my bike, spin the wheel and go wherever I want to go! The SKY'S the LIMIT!
So my hat's off to EVERYONE in my SparkFamily for all your support, pats-on-the-back, caring kicks-in-the-pants and for being there through thick & thin! This just wouldn't have been possible without you!
Somehow I have a strong intuition that TRAINOF4 may have had a hand in this past weekend as well and thank her for being there too!
With our certificates of completion (yeah, me, with the upside-down certificate...lol!):
Keep Runnin' Down YOUR Dreams People! It's such a SWEET, SWEET Deal!