I read every word of your ride experience. What a great record of your ride! In a huge way, it mirrors my own experience riding in my first LAF ride in Austin in 2004. I was one year away from my cancer diagnosis (six surgeries and a really rough chemo experience, complete with a bout of pneumocystic pneumonia). At age 48, I hadn't done any serious road cycling since college. I set out in June with a brand new bike to train for the 100.
The ride in Austin had some rolling hills, nothing much, but at my level of experience they could pose an obstacle. In the preceding weeks I had ridden 86 miles in the HBC Century, and I had done the Fall Tour to Cape May. It was beautiful cool fall weather in the Northeast. What I didn't plan on was the heat and incredible wind in Texas. I had a plan on how to complete the hundred, mileage and average speed required. That was all. This was immediately blown by a very late start on the course. I lost about an hour before even leaving the gate. In order to make up time, I rode my heart out for the first 30 miles, never stopping once. I averaged 19mph getting to the cutoff at around 30ish miles. This was a personal best for me. I'm a middle-aged C rider, and, gosh, was I pumped. The cutoff was closed but I ignored their warnings and continued on the hundred. Then the hills started and the wind shifted. The rest of the day it was in my face. The heat cranked up to around 95 - 98 degrees.
There was wreckage everywhere on the course that day. College boys on the side of the road doubled up with cramps. I kept on pedaling past them, but as the day wore on my average speed slowed down. I had to work all day to try to make up for a deficit of fluids. I hadn't even had a sip of water in those first thirty miles, and I paid for my mistake the rest of the day. But I kept pedaling. The wind got stronger. I have never felt wind like I felt that day. It never quit. It was an incredibly hot wind that only served to dehydrate the riders more than just the heat.
At around 65 or 70 miles, I was pretty much spent, but kept pedaling. More wreckage everywhere. I think the fact that I could still maintain forward motion in view of all those, younger and stronger, who had called it quits, was the only thing that kept me going. Anyhow, at about mile 85 or so I remember looking down at my speed. I was going downhill, into the wind, pedaling and my speed was about 8 mph. I got to the last rest stop at mile 92 at 4pm, with the course closing in 30 minutes. At the rate I was peddling, I knew I couldn't make it in. So, I waited for the SAG wagon to take me in, rather than getting pulled off the course.
The SAG took us in via a back entrance where I met my husband and young son. I didn't ride across the finish line. I didn't get a rose. Even though 92 miles was more than I had ever ridden in my life, it was a huge letdown to be brought in so unceremoniously. I tell you my story, because I insisted this year that riders being SAGGED in be allowed to ride across the finish line.
As I said, to even get on a bike after cancer is a huge triumph. So, Rob, I am glad you were able to ride across the line, be cheered by Family Fish and friends and receive your rose. You are awesome, and I hope to meet you in person soon.
Words cannot express how much Ann's ride, and her advocacy for the riders who are brave in their attempt, mean to me. ANN--you are a gem and YOU ROCK!!!
Pic is of Ann after her 92 mile odyssey, with her husband and son...Rock on, Ann!