Monday, August 31, 2009

cold+wind+rain=100 miles in VT

There's always a first time for everything right? Well on Saturday August 29, 2009 I completed my 3rd century bike ride with JDRF's Ride to Cure in Killington, VT. I've been riding and raising money for them for the last four years - so what you may be asking was a first? Well it was a little thing called hurricane Danny and his after effects hit the east coast on ride day. I think in the history of the ride it was the first time it has ever rained. So it was a first time for both me and JDRF to ride in the rain.

I had planned on going to bed early Friday night because I knew I had to wake up around 4:30/5am. Well things don't always work out as planned. There I was sitting on the floor of my condo room watching TV and stretching when I feel something crawling on me. I look down and see a small silverfish!!! I scream, jump up and grab a tissue and head to the bathroom to flush it down the toilet where it can't get me. On my extremely short walk over there in my paranoia I feel something else on my arm - my burnt bubbled up arm. So what do I do? I swipe my arm to rid it of the imaginary creepy crawley and in doing so swipe off two patches of bubbled up skin. Leaving myself nice and raw a few hours before my long ride day. I call up Brock (our medical coordinator for all JDRF Rides - he's awesome) and he swings by wraps my very raw arm up and we have a beer to relax - then it's off to bed.

I wake up around 4:45 dress and head off to breakfast - it's freezing outside and drizzling. The whole team is eating and we're all ready to go back to bed kinda hoping they delay the start or cancel it all together. Throughout the whole season I said I would be doing the 100 but once morning was there I was leaving it open to how I felt. I mean I'd never ridden more than 10 miles in the rain and that was only once! I wasn't going to pressure myself it was enough to deal with the weather. The National coach gives us an update on the weather and tells us the ride will start at 8am. Perfect for me - I can relax :).

BG is fine before I start the ride a nice 95 but I had a couple of units still on board so I ate a banana and didn't bolus (I'd regret this later). We went out in waves of 100, the first 12 miles were downhill with the first 1 1 /2 miles being paced by coaches due to the rain, snakes in the road and poor road conditions overall. I LOVE a downhill but I was on my brakes the whole time! It was really scary in the rain especially when I'm riding my brakes and still going 15+mph. I was not taking any chances. When the ride started it wasn't raining, but the joke was on us because as soon as we started going downhill it started to come down. So you know what I did? hehe I got some other riders to start "singing in the rain" lol it was great.

It was suggested the night before to prepare for the cold and rain by wearing a shower cap over your helmet (I did mine was yellow), slipping your feet into some baggies (check), and putting some newspaper in your chest to keep your core warm (I had the sports section haha). I'd never done any of this before but it all worked great except for the baggies. The genius who thought of that...I'm not sure what he was smoking cuz by the time I got to ck pt 1 I had a fishbowl in my shoes!!! The newspaper was fantastic, it worked so well I actually wished I would have put it on under my leg warmers.

We all feel really good once we get passed the first ck pt and I am highly optimistic about the ride despite the conditions. I would also like to mention here that snakes in the road are not moving snakes. They are cracks in the road the perfect size for our road bikes and they were big and very dangerous. I'd never seen it before (we had it throughout the whole course)! We were also in a valley for a good portion of the ride now and it all seemed relatively flat and I thought of my rides with Denise (although that was actually flat). My BG once I got to ck pt 1 was not so good though - it was 296! I was pissed but I gave some insulin and had some coffee because by the time we got through riding those first 12 miles it was really cold. The medical team was concerned about people getting hypothermia.

Throughout the ride I was usually by myself or playing cat and mouse with a few of my teammates. I am not afraid of going fast on a downhill, so that along with the flats is where I excel and can make up ground since most of them are much better climbers than me. I checked my BG at each ck pt and it was going up and down like the rolling hills I was climbing. I wasn't going to let it affect me though I jut needed to ride and for the most part I felt good. I just had to squeeze my gloves and socks out at each stop because they were soaked. I was honestly concerned about getting frozen toes from the cold wet feet. My whole body was soaked through (except my head thanks to the shower cap) by the time I was at the halfway point.

When we got to mile 46 there was a 14 mile loop we had to do and then we would be on our way home. One of my teammates gave me the heads up about a really tough long climb. I kept that in the back of my mind...right before the hardest part of the climb there was a downhill and I could see it coming so I geared up and prepared to fly but it was like a rollercoaster downhill - I HATE rollercoasters. It felt like I was going to fly off the road into the unknown because I couldn't SEE anything! I mean it was such a drop down I was scared but going so fast down got me 3/4 of the way up that hill. :) Then we get to the really hard part and let me tell you you it was H-A-R-D. I wish I knew the grade of it, it really felt like it wasn't going to end. It was a joke because you had a killer climb to get through and you've got this cute little innocent barn at the top of it.

Riding along now I know I'm doing the 100 since I made the time for the cutoffs. I felt really good too. I didn't feel so tired and on the flats I was leading my team. However, by the time we get to the last ck pt I was starting to feel tired, I was going a little slower and the rollers seemed harder. We all took some pics and refueled to prepare for the last 10 miles because it was all uphill. I knew this the whole ride so mentally I was thinking of it like our Bear Mtn ride since the last 7 miles of that is all uphill.

Let me tell you those last 10 miles were hard. I mean WHY do we have to work so hard after all those miles to get back home? It's like a mean joke. I was pedaling 4-5 mph in my granny gear the whole way up the hardest parts of the hills. I know this is gonna sound bad but there were people walking up those hills and I was smiling inside (on the outside all I could focus on was breath in breath out) because I was able to keep going and NOT walk. I know sometimes it shouldn't matter if you have to walk a little. I know this but I tend to feel like I failed if I have to. But I didn't have to and that made me so happy!! Were in the last 1 mile of the ride and one of my coaches, my friend Les and myself are riding in together. Of course my chain decides to pop off just to prolong my finish-we fix that and ride in together. My coach is cheering along side us, I'm hip hip hooraying cuz we did it. The three of us ride into a cheering crowd. It was awesome and I was so proud of myself and my teammates for riding so great despite the conditions.


  1. WOW Jen, I am so proud of you!!! You faced Hurricane Danny and baby you won!!!

    I love reading your blogs, and this was no are so full of life and energy and it really comes across in your writing, well done!

    What an inspiration you 5 mile run in the rain was nothing compared to this, and I will remember reading this anytime I try to find an excuse not to ride in bad weather ;D

    kudos and hugs to you and all your teammates!!!

    ~jewels xxx

  2. great job!!! you are now an expert in riding through hurricanes!

  3. i like your shower cap mentions. :) its the equivalent to me wearing a visor when it rains. what a lifesaver!

  4. ever notice homeless ppl in nyc are draped in newspaper in the winter? apparently its a great insulator.