What a cyclist dreams (has nightmares about): getting up too late and being one of the last riders to leave the starting point, forgetting to pack proper cycling clothes, bike mechanics laughing at her. Oh, yeah, and the good part of the dream: I bought a chain tool for measuring chain wear from a Century Cycles mechanic while on TOSRV.
I had these dreams on and off all last summer, even when I wasn’t riding TOSRV. Maybe it’s not always TOSRV, but some other nameless long ride where I have to start at a certain time in the morning or else I will run late all day. You laugh, but running late on a long ride could mean that you arrive at all the rest stops when they’ve closed down (thus no food, no water refills, no rest) and, the less scary but more ego-crushing, you’re one of the last people to amble, like an amateur, across the ending line.
It’s not a race, but in your mind, you don’t want to be last. No one wants to be last except those whose only goal is just completing it–no matter how late. I prefer to arrive at the end of any ride in the middle somewhere. I’m not the fastest and I’m okay with that; I don’t want to be the slowest. On a ride like TOSRV, though, it would be impossible for a rider of my level to be last. There are people on TOSRV who don’t, for reasons that defy logic to me, use road bikes. I know personally that it would be extremely hard to do 100 miles on anything but a road bike given the kind of natural speed it gives you. Without work, on a flat road, I can easily ride at 15mph. On my hybrid the same amount of effort on the same type of road yields an easy 12mph. That’s a huge difference over a long ride. But I could still complete 105 miles in a reasonable amount of time on my hybrid.
Even crazier are those people who ride TOSRV on mountain or trail bikes. I haven’t ridden a trail bike in awhile, but I’m pretty sure the same effort exerted in the example above would be lower than the 12mph obtained on my hybrid. Now we’re talking about a ride going from 6-8 hours to something like 10-12. No way!!
There are some people on TOSRV who ride really old bikes and carry everything but the kitchen sink with them. I kept seeing this older woman on a bike that looked too small for her riding in jeans and a few layers of sweatshirt. She had a basket on the front of the bike which contained a lot of stuff in plastic shopping bags, and in the back she was trailing two gallon jugs of water. Like the kind of plastic jugs used for milk. To each his (or her) own, I suppose. Far be it from me to be a bike snob. I suspect some of these people only do one ride a year and it’s TOSRV, so more power to them! I just would prefer not to ride something that couldn’t get me there in 8 or 9 hours. (Thus my love of rode bike!)
Anyway, in my waking hours, I realize how ridiculous my night terrors about TOSRV are. First of all, I would never forget to pack cycling clothes for a cycling event. Well, maybe I shouldn’t say that; last year on the MS 150, I forget to pack a pair of bike shorts for the second day and had to wear the ones from the previous day. Yuck. Still, I doubt I would ever forget to pack any cycling clothes! Secondly, on rides of this nature, excitement drives me to get up at the right time. Okay, except for the second day of TOSRV when I had trouble motivating myself to face a day of rain. Still, though we left a little later than the main group, we were definitely not the last. I have to admit, though, that as I was running around in a grocery store looking for aspirin (to numb my legs) the morning of TOSV, I did panic a little about being the last ones out, kind of like in my dream.
So. The TOSRV freak-out is beginning, here in the last days of January when the ride is still 3 months away. I’m not even sure why it’s so important to me that I freak out. It’s just a ride, for godsakes. I’m going skiing tomorrow at Seven Springs. I don’t even need to worry about training for TOSRV just yet…