I debated about it all week, but on Thursday night I signed up for my first 'real' bike ride and picked up my packet on Friday. Then, I talked to a friend who rides a lot and asked her to join me. She was already planning on going and said we could ride together. She'd planned on riding with her husband & their friend, but no one could carry 4 bikes. So, we split up and their friend, M, went her husband and my friend rode with me.
We left very early because they'd done the ride before and knew traffic would be bad. We got there easily and had plenty of time to stop by the bathroom & get some breakfast. I first tried a breakfast taco, but I really don't like those and only could eat a few bites. I then had some oatmeal, but I didn't see any sugar and it was so bland! My friend then showed me where the sugar was & it was great! I also had half a large banana and had already had some food on the drive.
I was pretty nervous about the start. It's a lot more dangerous starting with all those bikes than with runners! The other 3 ride faster and started on the wave in front of me. I thought it'd be easier if I just did this on my own and didn't worry about my friends having to watch over me. I stayed to the far left, and took off with the crowd. It was actually not so bad!
I ended up being at the end of a wave, which was unplanned but I really liked. For the first few miles, I pretty much kept a little distance between myself & the back of the wave. I wasn't really interested in being surrounded by bikes!
A little before mile 3 everyone started yelling "slowing" and then "stopping". We could see an ambulance up ahead and knew that wasn't a good sign. The ride marshalls had us walk into the grass quite a ways before the ambulance. Most people were carrying their bikes and I tried for awhile, but then decided it was too tiring.
As I got closer to the wreck, I really started thinking that it could be my friend who had been in the wave before me. I was praying and thinking "Please, not her!" I saw they had someone on a backboard, but couldn't remember what my friend had on. As I passed, I realized it was the other friend... M! The one who'd rode with my friend's husband! Oh, no!!
I walked up and asked if I could talk to M. The EMT's encouraged me and said no one else had known her. I talked to her. She had a whole in her glove and a knuckle was bloody. And, she was holding her left shoulder. I didn't see anything else. I talked to her and she didn't know who I was. I told her we'd only met that morning but I was E's friend. She started crying and held my hand and told me she was scared and didn't know how she'd got there. I told her she'd be OK, that I'd be praying & try to contact E & her husband. I asked if I could call anyone and she said "no." I stood by until the loaded her in the ambulance.
I texted my friend - I didn't have her husband's number. Then, I headed off at a pretty good rate. I was praying that I could catch up with my friend at the 1st stop. But, they were probably far ahead. I'd been slowed by the walk and then I'd stood by for probably 5 minutes or so.
I got there and coulnd't find them but saw a ride marshall and talked to him. He'd actually been one of the first on the scene! As I pieced together the story from him & from my friend's husband who later talked to M, I found out that: someone else had fallen down & M had wrecked into them. Surprisingly & sadly, though M was injured, the other rider got back on their bike and took off! They found another driver's license next to my friend and I guess they think that is the other person's. I was shocked someone would do that!
By this time, I was still upset and wondering if I should just go back to the car, but decided to press on... and slow down as I'd been pushing myself to try and rush to the 1st stop. I heard from my friend at the 2nd stop. I didn't get much info then, but later learned the following: her husband had been having knee problems very early on and was already at the start when she contacted him. So, he got to go straight to the hospital and be with M! Isn't that amazing? And, the news on M: she broke her shoulder (not sure what bone) and will be out about 2 months. (Though she'll get a 2nd opinion from a sports doctor this week.)
Back to the ride:
So, the temp was about 50 when we started and near 60 when we finished. I wore bike shorts with capris over them, a bike shirt and my wind jacket with removable sleeves. It was totally overcast (except for a brief time when the sun tried to break through) and winds were 10-15 mph, so I also wore my 'beanie' to protect my sensitive ears.
For most of the ride, the wind was at our side, and yet it felt pretty powerful to me! Most of the ride was flat with only 4-5 decent hills. (And those are Houston hills... so not that bad for many of you.) We only had about 2 miles with the wind at our back, and that was AMAZING!!! And, we had from about mile 40-43 with it in our face, and that was HORRIBLE!!!
On the main sections, when the wind was at our side, I was riding at about 12-15 mph. When the wind was at our back, I averaged 18-22. And, when it was at our face, I could only pull about 9!!! At one time, going up a hill with that wind, I dropped down to 7!!! And, at another time, I stopped pedaling and was afraid I might end up going backwards.
There were 4 stops with great food and I stopped at each. I had oranges (sliced), banana pieces, cookies, peanut butter carckers, a granola bar... I didn't drink enough. I was afraid to drink much while riding as I'm still a little unsure of my abilities. I need to make sure and drink more.
I met another lady at the 2nd rest stop and then we hooked up at the 3rd and finished the rest of the ride together. For about 10 miles we were able to ride side by side and that was the easiest part of the ride... I think because we were chatting & forgetting our pains!
Different parts of my body hurt at different times, but I was thankful not to have any nagging pains. Today, the only thing sore is my SEAT! I feel terrific! And, I'm already looking at next weekend's ride where I think I'll do 45 miles again (well, 46.5).
I love BIKING!