I bought my Rockhopper Comp disc based on reading these forums for my occasional dirt road trips and neighborhood rides for exercise. I've enjoyed it immensely, but was never a serious bike guy. At 6'2", 245, I just wanted another way to get out and exercise. Probably the longest ride I have ever have done was 12 miles of relaxing dirt roads.
At one of our spring parties, a friend mentioned a charity bike ride of 45 miles and that I should consider going. She made it sound like fun and I agreed to do it. I figured I had plenty of time to get in shape and ride.
Somehow July 24th showed up quicker than I thought and I hadn't ridden the bike in a month (new puppy), didn't have bike shorts and had new tires (nimbus, just for this ride) that had 150' of use. Not one to back out, I tried on my stuff the night before, filled up my camelbak and went to bed.
The ride, (tour de champlain), is 45 miles, with 3 ferry rides, some gravel and dirt roads, and 2 significant hills. That's all I knew other than reassurances that young kids and seniors finish it. I was nervous as heck on the ride up, but we were thankfully running a bit late, so we had little time before the start to think. I had my new bike shorts on with a pair of shorts over them, my t-shirt for the ride, and a pullover because rain was threatening and I was hoping it would cover my plumbers butt so I wouldn't scare kids and small animals. My new shorts felt funny to me. Funnier to my wife, who wouldn't stop laughing at my modeling session, which explains the shorts over them. I was as ready as I could be.
The first leg was easy streets and a gravel path for about 6.5 miles. Pretty easy so far. The ferry was a small pontoon boat that took 6 at a time to the other side of the gap in a causeway on the lake. Another 10 miles or so brought us to the next ferry, this time over lake Champlain. They wait for everyone to catch up and board at once, so I had time for ice cream and a rest. Feeling pretty good for a fat guy, I got on the ferry feeling pretty good.
Once off the ferry I was stoked. I was passing a few people and zooming along. I was good for about 5 miles, but then it turned hot (still wearing my pullover), I started to struggle a bit, and I started to doubt whether I'd make it or not. I kept going but was getting passed constantly. At one point while stopping at a turn, I put my leg down and almost collapsed since my legs had turned to rubber. When the woman finally motioned me in and said "lunch", I was relieved and thankful. I maneuvered out of sight to stop in case my legs gave out and manged to wobble over to get some food and drink and a much needed rest. 30 miles exactly on my GPS. Thankfully, my new bike shorts covered my plumbers butt well, so I ditched the pullover. I had had doubts about making the end of the ride before lunch, but rest and food made me feel much better.
10 miles to the next ferry. Heck, I was 2/3 of the way there and no rescue squad or passing out yet! I pulled back onto the road determined to finish. I knew somewhere up ahead were the hills. When the first came into view, I thought about getting off the road, calling a taxi, and hanging out in the shade till it arrived. Not way steep, the hill was just really long. As I got onto it, I went down the gears til I was almost as low as I could go. Passing someone who was walking with a slipped chain took a bit since we were almost the same speed. Thankfully, I was alone since I suddenly got Tourettes. As my body was screaming "get off the bike", I was yelling back"don't get off the #^%#@ bike!". Thankfully my mind won. The yelling actually seemed to help. Cresting the first hill was a big victory for me. Lasting all of 30 seconds the 2nd hill came into view. Another one just like the first. More yelling got me to the top at about a 2mph pace. Also on this hill was my most embarrasing moment. As i was struggling at 2 mph, I was passed by a young girl on a very noisy MB who asked if I was ok. "fine thanks" came out, but internally I wanted her to call 911. Finally making it to the top, everyone stops for a rest. I rested all of 2 minutes because I heard someone say it was all downhill from there. Excitedly, I left only to find that "all downhill" was a figure of speech, as the next 4 miles was either uphill or level. I was determined to make it by then, if only to strangle the person who said there was downhill. The downhill I got was maybe 200 yards long with a RR track in the middle so you had to slow down. Happy to be on the homestretch, I plunked my sore, numb butt on a wooden bench in the shade and just enjoyed the hard wood under me. Anything to be off the bike.
We boarded the ferry for about a 3o minute ride back to Burlington. They have beer on the ferry. I scored 2 at once for the ride back and man did it taste good. After the ferry was a what seemed like a short 5 miles to the start where they had BBQ and beer. I survived and learned a lot about myself and biking.
Those clothes i thought were stupid make a big difference. Without the shorts I'd be in the hospital. Parts of me were numb for 2 days even with the shorts. A jersey keeps you cooler than a t-shirt, but this fat guy needs to lose weight before he considers one since they show your flab. The camelbak worked great for me. The nimbus tires were much better on the road than the knobbies I had and worked well on the gravel. I love my bike but would have liked a cross type bike for this ride. My hands were quite numb and it would have been nice to be able to change positions.
I learned that a lot of biking is mental. Your body can do stuff if you will it too. I did ok for not having trained or ridden much. Makes me want to prepare for next year to do better. If anyone wants a nice ride around the lake for next year, look it up ( http://www.tourdechamplain.org). Don't mind the fat guy yelling on the hills....probably be me