Today was the most intense ride of my life.
We arrived at the group ride and Marit looked scared. I realized the one thing that quiets her down - fear. We both realize that we are 2 of 3 women at the ride. We realize that some guys are riding on race wheels. We realize that we might be in over our head and over our Palomar trashed legs. But we also realized we wanted to ride.
Before the ride, I gave Marit two rules; no coasting in the group ride and shift smooth to avoid any delays. I forgot the third rule of group rides - find the tallest guy in the pack and get small behind him.
So I did.
And got pulled along for the first 30 minutes, working hard up the hills realizing my quads were left yesterday at the top of Palomar but their refusal to go was not a choice. They were going. I was going - with or without them today.
30 minutes and the pace picks up. The climbs get bigger. The boys get quieter. A few uphill attacks. And then the Elfin Forest. A surge. The group strings out. Chris is on the back of the first group and I am trying to bridge. He tries to bridge me but my quads will not go. But I nearly soil myself in glee because I realize that I was trying to bridge to the front group of the ride. For that I am proud.
Even when dropped you don't back off. You hammer like hell. I did. Through the forest I descended hard and fast around the twists and curves sweeping up a few guys. I didn't let the pace up. I was huffing hard. My quads were ready to die. Three more miles to go. At most 10 minutes. I can do this.
I arrive at the church where the group waits up. I never got caught by anyone behind. I am so happy by this. The little victories that make me proud. Chris tells me those were the most intense 2 minutes of his life.
Yes, that was how long he hung on before he got dropped. Wow, I realize when Chris gets dropped the group is hard core. He tells me there were some Pro 1/2 guys in the group and I realize this is the most intense ride I have ever done.
Mac Brown pulls into the lot. Then cycling legend John Howard.
Marit arrives, "Liz, there were tears." Marit cried. I call her a champ and tell her she has found her breaking point. I am so proud of her today.
We take off towards Rancho Santa Fe. They hammer the hills and I am hurting to keep up. A man comes from behind and pushes me up the hill. He tells me to keep a steady pace. He gives me a giant push and then catches his own breath. Then he pushes me more. We hit the descent and he tells me to go a moderate tempo to catch the group ahead. But then gravity gives me up. I am quickly outdescended and watch the group pull away. No amount of heavy work or breathing will catch me back up.
I realize that I stayed with the group for 90 minutes. I could have sat back and cruised in but my punishment for falling off on descents was to climb the rest of the way in my big ring. Killing my glutes.
That was damn fun.
Back on the coast, into the wind and then to the bike shop. The ride is done. I convince Marit we need coffee before we need a T-run. Then together we rode easy back to Brad's. The t-run was a downhil then uphill hard run. Then we were done.
Actually our legs are done. Our hamstrings and glutes are done. The feet. The head. The backs, arms, and quads.
Done, done, maybe even DOA.
But you know what - I would go out tomorrow and do it again. And put sand in my bottles and a gorilla on my back so the next time the group descends I can hang on.
The rest of the day we will recover. And eat. And tonight there will be cake. Oh yes, there will be cake.