Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Memorial Day Weekend Report

BOBKE, a Wilderness Road Ride and Mountains of Misery:

After leaving work at Noon on Friday, Jim and I drove 5 hours to Blacksburg, VA - home to Virginia Tech and the Mountains of Misery Double Header. We got to the Inn at VA Tech at 6PM and checked in and headed straight to the Dinner with guest speaker, Bob Roll. Bob Roll is a former pro-cycler, a friend of Lance Armstrong and currently a TV host for OLN (Outdoor Life Network) and does alot of work with cycling events broadcast ... like the Tour "des" France.

The "dinner" part of the event was your typical "Carbo Load" race dinner: pasta, sauce, salad, rolls and cookies - but it was the speaker that made the night! Bob, or BOBKE as he is called, is hillarious!!! He told great stories about his days as a pro-rider in Europe, his wins and his opinions on the current state of cycling. I am not kidding when I say that I laughed from the moment he started speaking until he was done.

He stayed after his talk to sign autographs and take pictures. We got a great picture with him and he signed both my LiveSTRONG shirt from LiveSTRONG Day and a book that Jim had of his from 1995. The book got Bob's attention and he said that Jim must be "old school" and mentioned that it would make a mint on Ebay ...but that book won't be going on Ebay anytime soon.

Bob Roll, Holly & Jim!

Saturday was the Wilderness Road Ride part of the weekend. Jim and I chose to ride the 29 mile option. For Jim this was a "warm-up ride" for the Mountains of Misery Centurty the next day. For myself, it was my long ride for the weekend. As I expected, our paces were radically different. Jim was a real gentleman and he stuck with me for the first 20 miles of the ride (including a 1.5 mile detour that we took when we missed a turn on the cue sheet). At mile 20, I told Jim to head on up the road without me. There was no way that he needed to be on the road for another hour when he was supposed to ride a century the next day... especially knowing that on his own, he could be done with the ride in 30 minutes.

A gentle push was all it took to send Jim on his way and I kid you not, a minute after I said "meet you at the car" he was completely out of my line of site!! I look forward to the day that he can't drop me that fast but on Saturday, I was simply happy that 30 miles was possible.

Several times when I was climbing a short hill or saw Jim ahead waiting by the side of the road for me, I started to get very negative and frustrated. Thougts like "I suck, I'm so FAT, how did it get this bad..." popped quickly into my head and everytime, I reminded myself that this weekend last year, I rode SEVEN miles and that was the farthest I could go. Then I gently reminded myself that I just finished a year of Chemotherapy and my body needs time to find a new normal ... "Relax, Enjoy the beautiful day, Enjoy your Bike, Enjoy the Ride" and those negative thoughts would drift away. Looking at my "LiveSTRONG" bracelet helped alot too!

As a quick side note, I definately recommend the Widerness Ride part of this Ride Weekend. They offer 14,29,57 and 70 mile ride options and they courses were wonderful! Wide, low traffic roads through hill and dale in VA. The 29 mile course was a great ride with lots of rolling downhills and just one or two climbs... because as any cyclist knows ... you have to EARN your downhills.

Saturday afternoon and night were very low key. We drove to the next days race start so that we had an idea of location and time and then got some dinner. Nice and Easy, the way a "pre-race" night should be.


Jim chose to do the Century portion of this ride (101 miles) and his ride started at 7:10AM. We drove to the ride start, met Jim's friend Brian, and I snapped some pictures are they got underway. My plan was to head over to the park next door, run/walk for 45 minutes on the trail ( 3 miles) and then head back to the hotel to shower, pick up some "RedBull" and then come back to the Rec Center to meet Jim at the 83 mile point. From there, I would take the shuttle bus to the Finish Line and *RING MY COWBELL LIKE MAD* for the finishers and be their to see Jim and Brian finish their day!

Jim at the ride start, thumbs up!

My run/walk was wonderful. It turned out that their was a gravel running trail just a quater mile from the race start/mile 83 rest stop area. I walked over to the trail and did 12 laps. The entire time that I ran/walked, I had the company of a white dog. He just trotted right up to me and started running around the path with me. When I would walk he would run ahead a little, roll in the grass and play and then as soon as I started my next run leg, he'd fall in step beside me.

At one point, early in the workout, I crossed paths with a fluffy black cat who didn't see me coming and was very shocked to see me running on the path that he was sunning himself on. He stole over to the porch of the small house near the path and kept an eye on me and my running buddy the whole time. He was, as cats usually are, looking very "put out" by my presence.

After my run, I headed back the to hotel, showered, lathered up in the sunscreen and my sunhat, packed my cowbell, stopped for RED BULL and headed back to the Rest Stop at Mile 83. Jim came in right when we predicted. Having an solid 16 mph Pace for the first 83 miles. He was looking great and in good spirits! His friend Brian was having a little bit harder ride but you could see that he was determined to finish the day. I did what I could to keep them both motivated with kind words and cold RED BULLS. They left the rest stop with just 18 miles to go. The 18 hardest miles of the ride....

From then, I waited 1 hour for the shuttle bus that was *supposed* to be coming every 20 minutes. Finally, I got to the finish line and settled in with my camera and my cowbell.

I rang that BELL for 2 hours continuously and the riders kept on coming! The finish line was at the top of a 4 mile climb that average 11.9% and was a Category 1 climb. Rider after rider slowly came up that climb and the looks on their faces said it all. They suffered, they struggled and they made it. It was awe-inspiring and I just kept RINGING MY COWBELL, hoping that maybe it helped them just a little bit.

In the final climb...

When I finally recognized that Jim was on his way to the finish line, I handed my cowbell the woman next to me and asked her to RING THAT BELL while I took pictures to capture the moment.


He looked so determine and strong and powerful and I was so PROUD !!!!! He heard that cow bell and looked right at me!! Then he powered to the finish line!!!!!!!!!


Not 5 minutes later, along came Brian ... grimacing and pushing ... They both earned their finishers shirts in that 90 degree heat on that climb!!

Watching all those riders, including a 15 year old girl on a MOUNTAIN BIKE!!! - finish the ride was so motivating! I found myself already thinking - How long would it take me to get back into shape to do this ride? Some chat with Jim determined that I might be ready for a ride this hard in a year or two but I definately have some work to do to get there and by then maybe Jim will have forgotten the pain enough to share the day with me!!

Monday was the trip home. I did the driving and by 1PM we were back home, safe and sound with dirty bike clothes in the washing machine and water bottles in the dish washer.

When I think about where I was last year at this time, 2 weeks into my 4 weeks of high does chemotherapy, and able to only ride 7 miles on my bike, I am reminded that life moves on. I was happy to ride 7 miles last year and I was THRILLED to be able to ride 30 miles this year!!

This weekend was another lesson in Living STRONG! Keep those lessons coming!


'Zilla said...

Oh you ROCK, Holly. What a super thing to do for yourself to celebrate just how far you've come in one year. Way to keep those negative thoughts at bay and celebrate what your body can do now!

Great pics, great report!

Bolder said...

what a great shot of the two of you with BobKE...

frame it i say, frame it!

our 23 days with Bob are almost upon us, so it is great that you were able to catch up with him now.

great weekend for the two of you!!

Cliff said...

Holly....last year u rode 7 miles and this year u are doing 23 miles. You have tripled your distances : ).

good stuff. As for hills, i try not to concentrate on the bad things and focus on the cadence, the pedal, the stroke, the form, keeping the upper body relax and keepign the bike steady.

4 miles of 11% grade...oh tough pain.

How come your friend unstrapped his helmet in one of the pics?

TriFeist said...

It's amazing what can happen in a year. Great job on your ride Holly! I'm totally jealous of the Bobke photo.

Holly said...

His helmet was unstrapped from the final rest stop at mile 99 (mid final climb) where he took it off to mop his head and then just stuck it back on .. It was 90 degrees and he was cycling *maybe* 4 MPH at that point ...

Many Pros still climb Category 1 climbs without helmets along and just put them on at the top of the climb for the descent...

nancytoby said...

First Lance and now Bobke? I sure hope that Ivan Basso is your next stop!!! :-)

surferchickHG said...

i love jim's shirt in the first picture, heehee! love you sister!

blogme said...

What are you looking for today?