Hershey’s Chocolate World to Valley Forge Park – 85 miles
The morning of October 3 was brisk. Folks came in wearing tights and jackets. I was glad I had my arm warmers, but despite earnest searching, I still couldn’t find my tights, so the legs were simply sacrificed. The morning’s festivities were great – a sea of pink and chocolate brown jerseys on folks who had come from all over the country, all riding for the same purpose – the eradication of breast cancer.
Last year, I had met a core group of gals that I became rather close with. This year, Courtney had a baby (hallelujah!), so she was excused. Chris and Sara, I don’t know what was going on there, but they tell me they’re in for next year. Karen came back, and I was so excited to be riding and rooming with her. This year, though, she swapped in her mountain bike for a fancy new racing bike. I was a little scared.
When we started to ride, the sky was overcast, and I gotta say, I was pretty cold. But if there’s anything I hate, it’s riding hot, so I was pretty happy, all in all.
The first 20 miles was pretty familiar. I had been on several training rides with two other Hershey riders, and we explored the backroads of Hershey quite a bit. A big hill here and there, but for the most part, I felt good. Then again, I always feel good the first few miles of any ride. It’s the last few that are questionable.
The thing about Day 1, is that you’re riding 85 miles of a very hilly route. It’s just killer. At about mile 40, it turned into hill after hill. There were times I would just get over a hill and would be so happy about it, only to see another hill looming before me. If a hill were alive, it would laugh at me in an evil, menacing manner. In fact, I might have heard something like that ringing in my ears…
At mile 55, I seriously lagged behind my group of friends. You know why? Because I suck at climbing hills. While I’m the queen of screaming down a hill, there was just not enough downhill on this course to help me keep up with everyone else. As I struggled up a massive hill, I berated myself for being so lazy when I was training. I would ride on Saturdays with the Lancaster Bike Club, limiting myself to rolling hills and riding with the C riders. And boy, was I feeling good about riding in the front of the pack of the C riders. Turns out that my friends are B riders who are good at very hilly routes. Hmm. Kinda tough to keep up with that. But I tried, and I was paying for it.
Every so often, a SAG wagon would come by with someone ringing a cow bell, a typical rally cry for bike races. I would immediately have two thoughts. 1 – I totally need to flag them down and get in. 2 – I’m totally going for the ringing-the-cow-bell-riding-in-the-SAG-wagon job next year…
We rolled into the hotel at 3:45PM that afternoon, and I promptly flung myself onto the massage table that was set up right on the sidewalk in front of the hotel. That was nice.
My summary for the day was captured in an email to a co-worker that evening, “Here’s how tired I am. I’m doing things that I would typically NEVER do - like taking a bath in a not-so-clean hotel bathroom, or laying down on a not-so-clean hotel comforter. I don’t care what kind of stains are on it. I’m happy to be laying down.”