Just returned from Portland after taking part in the Seattle to Portland, 204 mile, 2-day bike ride. This was my second crack at the ride after successfully completing the ride last year but much slower. Good news is I completed the ride and 90 mins faster (overall) that last year.
Temps in the mid-70's and I set off strong and breezed through the first 50 miles. Then it hit me - dehydration. Im a big guy at 288lbs and sweat a lot. Well, this year it was much warmer than last and also we were in full-sun. I started to bonk at about mile 60 and literally felt the will to ride seeping away from my muscles. I had only drank 4 bottles of water in over 60 miles and now I was suffering. To make matters worse my ankle began to hurt/swell at mile 70 and I was starting to wonder if I had blew my chances of finishing. I finally got to the half-way stop (103 miles) and lay in our camping trailer dreading the morning and the decision to continue.
At 5:30AM I got up and decided to continue as far as I could and just see how it would go. I warmed up really slow (approx 8mph) and very slowly built my speed up. Im 288lbs and so my top-speed is only around 12mph on average. The first 30+ miles of day two are rolling hills. However,I prefer the rolling hills over miles and miles of flat as it takes your mind off other things, such as my ankle, as you prepare each ascent/descent. I also trained on rolling hills for miles and miles. As I passed the 140 mile mark I blew passed the food-stops and the huge lines to make up some time. I got to mile 150 and started thinking I may have a chance after all. I felt pretty good as I had been chugging water like a madman. Temps were in the high 70's range and I was feeling the heat but still feeling relatively strong. The last 10 miles into Portland were the worst. Your legs are dead, its mini-hill after mini-hill and you just want to be done. However, the realization that I was going to finish the ride swept over me as we began a descent into the city center from the St John's bridge. Then, FINALLY the finish line in view and a warm welcome from the spectators and family. I was thrilled to be done.
What was toughest for me was the heat. Though high-70's dont sound that warm, it is warm if its rained almost constantly in the Seattle area for the last 6 months and sat in the low-60's. You cant train for the temps. And as luck would have it the weather turned warm - just for the STP!
At the end of the day I am very happy that I rode through the pain of the ankle. I know it was a little silly riding on a bum ankle for 130+ miles but I had trained so hard for this ride that I just couldnt let it go. This morning the ankle is a mess (and crunching) but I am sure it will be OK. Last year my other ankle blew out but that was at mile 170. My good ankle did a fine job of taking up the slack of the injured ankle for this ride.
My new goal....drop 40 - 50lbs so that for STP 2012 I can ride with the faster boys and average 15mph+ - that means serious weight loss, but I do have an incentive. All I have to do is think about those 204 miles of full-sun and a blown ankle. All of a sudden, it brings focus back...