I woke up at 6am a bit hung over and burping up Sushi from the night before, to prepare to ride my bike in the California Classic Mini Metric, 35 mile bicycle ride. A good friend let me borrow his awesome bike for the race and I was definitely grateful to be riding a bike that shifted gears properly and had brakes that worked. I felt nervous, sick and frustrated that I had left my preparation to a hour before the ride started. I was straggling to find out through Google what protocol was for bike races: are camel packs ok? What if I don’t wear the recommended gloves that guidelines said to wear?
I left my house in a rush with camel pack in tow, empty stomach, and hopped on my bike and pedaled my way downtown to the starting line. I was nervous that I wouldn’t find the starting line in enough time and that I would miss the race due to my lack of preparation and staying up late the night before. I never did make it t the starting line, as I was about 10 minutes late. But, I was very lucky to run into a sea of spandex on bicycles, so I joined the crowd of 1500 bicycles.
We were guided by police on all sides to the 168 Freeway. Did I mention that this is the first freeway in California to be closed for a bike race? 10 miles of the Eastbound freeway was closed off for our riding pleasure. And pleasure it was.
The overpasses of the freeway were filled with supporters, cheering us on and waving huge signs. I felt a sense of pride riding along side these people who shared the same interest as me. I felt emotional: happy. I felt….sick. I needed to eat. I pulled over on the side of the freeway, took some pictures and pulled out a granola bar. A cop on a motorcycle stopped along side of me, and stated that he had to wait for me while I was stopped. With 100’s of bikers still passing me, I assured him that I was fine and that I was going to eat really quick. Unsmiling, he nodded and continued to stare at me as I ate my granola bar. Awkward!
I got back on my bike and pedaled on. The weather was perfect: cool and overcast. Everybody was so friendly and cheering each other on. I overheard multiple riders along the way saying that they wished they had brought their camel packs. I started to notice pain in my lower back and hands at a more steady rate. I should have invested in padded gloves! I didn’t have an odometer and was stuck guessing how far I had gone. I knew that a pit stop was scheduled for mile 17 that included bathrooms, food and water. I decided to take another break and stretch out my back and hands. All the riders that passed me up asked if I needed help and this one awfully cheerful guy reminiscent of an Adam Sandler movie yelled “You can do it!”
Back on the bike again and off the freeway and in the country, I noticed a lot of road kill. A lot. Bumpy roads, gravel, angry drivers having to speed around us, and lot’s of road kill. I was excited to make it to the food and water station where friendly volunteers handed us sausage wrapped pancakes. Glancing at the long line for the porta potties, I ate my food and road on, deciding to stop somewhere else along the way.
The last half of the race seemed to go by faster and was easier than the beginning of the race. I was very happy to race my soar butt in through the finish line at Chuckchansi Park. I signed up for a free massage, and then headed to free tri-tip and beer area for all finishers. As I was sitting by myself, a friendly woman sat down net to me, introduced herself and we began talking about the ride, and our bicycle riding histories to each other. She snapped a shot of us cheersing with our beers and later emailed it to me.
I felt pretty good about myself having signing up to do the race by myself and having completed it! I had a really good time and learned a lot about the Spandex community. I ended up riding a total of 41 miles that day and celebrated with a little too much beer afterward.