Wednesday, October 2, 2013

One Tough Weekend; Chapter Two


Chapter Two:  The Chile Pepper Challenge (ain't that spicy after all)

I have wanted to ride in the Chile Pepper Challenge ever since I bought a bike over three years ago, but something always comes up.  Work, deployment, field training, meteor showers, evil undead walking the earth, you name it.  I thought this was the year.  Which, it kind of had to be since we're leaving El Paso in April.

I signed up for the whole enchilada, the full monty, the entire 100 mile ride.  I figured that if you're going to do it, well, do it all the way.

What I hadn't expected was that a major event at work would try to intervene.  And it didn't help matters that the Iron Soldier Sprint Tri was the day prior.  No one has ever accused me of suffering from an abundance of good decision making.  They have, however, called me masochistic and a little bit crazy.

After finishing the triathlon on Saturday, we hydrated and tried to eat healthy.  Okay, so maybe the Taco Bell for lunch wasn't a good idea.

Earlier in the summer, I rode my first standard century ride in the middle of the Death Ride Tour.  Day Two of the Tour and I found myself on a 111 mile ride that started at over 7,000 feet elevation and topped out at over 10,000 feet in the first 5 miles.  I figured that a 100 mile ride, with a lot less climbing, lower elevation, and not following a 73 mile ride the day prior, would be much simpler.  To make sure, though, I kept increasing my mileage on the weekends until I finished an 86 mile ride the Sunday before the Chile Pepper.  I thought I had prepared as best I could with the limited amount of days I could ride each week.

29 September was the first day of fall.  And nature decided to show it by dropping the temperature down into the 50s for the start of the bike ride.  I'd been training all summer for warm weather, learning how to keep my body hydrated in 90+ degree temps.  Didn't do me much good today.  It was 20 miles before I started to get feeling back into my hands and feet.

Almost too cold to smile.
I took off with a quick group that seemed to be averaging about 22mph.  I figured that was a speed I could manage without bonking out of the ride, and it would get me to the finish line with just enough time to change for work and take off.  There was a group of EP Cyclists (local club) that were driving the train and not letting anyone else near the front to pull the double paceline we had going.  I would normally have been just fine with that, but their pace was a little erratic and they imploded on every hill and tight turn.  We stuck together over the first two major climbs until the water point at mile 40.  That's when I found another group that was about as fast, and could stay together much better.

And that's also when I started to realize what a bad mistake it was to try and juggle both a major work event and major athletic event on the same day.

Mile 40 - boss calls to make sure everything is still good for the afternoon.  Yes boss, everything is still on track.

Mile 47 - text message about afternoon timeline.  Yes, everything is still on track.

Mile 62 - deputy to my boss's boss calls.  Mouthful of peanut butter bar and breathing heavy.  Yes, everything is still on track.

Mile 73 - chaplain calls.  Panting and keeping a 23mph paceline going.  Yes, everything is still on track.

We hit the 2-mile sign post when the guy that had just taken lead pulled out to the side.  Apparently, he'd had enough and couldn't pull anymore, which was too bad since he and I had done most of the work over the past 30 miles.  I took the lead and dug deep inside to find enough strength.  I'm not the strongest cyclist, but with a mile to go I started to surprise myself.  Maybe it was the proximity of the finish line, or maybe there was a magical tailwind that I hadn't noticed before.  I started to kick up the pace from 21 to 22mph, then 23mph, then 24 mph, and then I looked down to see 25mph flashing on my cyclocomputer.  We raced around the last long curve to the finish line where I skidded across, both hands tight on the brakes to keep from ramming full speed into the back of a pick up truck.  Not the greatest traffic control at the finish line.
Not the smartest move on gravel, but I was pretty excited.
Post ride, waiting for a burrito and some horchata when my boss's adjutant calls.  Yes, everything is still on... wait... everything just moved up an hour.

Drink water, beg Charla to drive like a crazy person (easier than it sounds), drink water, get home, drink water, shower, drink more water and show up just in time to major work event.

Chile Pepper Challenge 100 mile ride, done!