I always open my bike season with the same out and back ride to Berry's Store in the West Forks. It is a rolling scenic ride along the Kennebec River on Route 201, with the occasional log truck flying by just to check out how you balance in a wind tunnel and keep you on your toes.
The first time I did this ride (3 years ago now), it was a big deal for me. I had just learned to ride a bike (I know, it is crazy), and I was barely comfortable on my new bike. It was my first time riding on a road with cars on it, my first time riding more than 5-6 miles, and my first time riding alone. Each hill was a challenge, I was terribly inefficient, clumsy, the cars really freaked me out, and it took me 1 hr 20 minutes to ride 16 miles.
At the time, I was thrilled. I went down to my man John's office and told him what I did. I called my parents, my friends, I was pretty impressed with my bad self and my little 16 mile victory. I signed up for the Trek Across Maine that day, a 3 day 180 mile charity bike ride from Bethel, ME to Belfast, ME. I figured if I could go 16 miles in one day, then I could surely go 60 miles a day for 3 days. After all, I had a month...well, 3 weeks, to train.
Obviously, I am not really afraid of failure or embarrassment. What scares me more than anything is not trying, not toeing up to that starting line to give it your best shot, then wondering your whole life if you could have done it. I just don't want that monkey on my back.
I am not sure why I am wired this way, and my eternal optimism tends to grate on those whose glass is perpetually half empty and like to talk about what they (or I, or anyone) can't do instead of what they can do. So when my friends said they thought I was crazy to think I could do the Trek after only riding a bike for a few weeks, I nodded, thanked them for their opinion, then politely ignored them (I had already signed up anyway). That Trek Across Maine was awesome, so was the next one.
This year, Wednesday, March 17 was opening day - a new record in Caratunk, Maine, let me tell you. Usually right about now is when I start losing my sanity after 5 months on the trainer. How can I describe this ride?
Heaven actually. My toes are tingling just thinking about the awesomeness of that bike ride. It was my first time out on my clipless pedals and aerobar (away from the safety of being locked into a trainer). My start-up and clip-in is anything but pretty, but once I got going, I loved it. I even remembered I was clipped in at the stop sign and actually unclipped before I tipped over.
The ride took me just under 50 minutes - much better than my first time 3 years ago, that is for sure. Thank you Coach Troy for the bi-weekly beatings you provided, it was worth every second. I have a way to go to get to where I want to be, and am thrilled that I get to get almost an extra month of outside riding in to build on my base and plan to put on some big miles before the year is out.
As long as mother nature cooperates, that is. Right now, it is spitting snow.