It now being Friday, I was able to catch up on some much needed sleep and work on replenishing my system with coffee and water, and I can now look back on the Tri State Trek with a semi-clear mind.
The ride started off a little rocky-I stayed up late the night before finishing an assignment, and was so nervous and excited to start the ride that I couldn’t sleep at midnight when I finally turned off the light. This inevitably led to a late and groggy start at 5:00 AM to meet the crew at the starting line at the Crown Plaza in Newton, MA. About two-thirds of the way there, I realize I left my helmet. I came to my senses about fifteen seconds later and realized how ridiculous it would be to show up at a 270-mile bike ride with no helmet! After getting my helmet I and arrived at the Crown Plaza late, missing registration. The crew was still there, and luckily I had volunteered my car, so I tossed someone the keys, pulled my Montague FIT from the trunk, and worked hard, with no number, to catch up.
The first day was gorgeous until the skies opened up and it started down-pouring. (I would learn, later, to appreciate any tiny cloud or drop of rain during this type of thing.) After arriving at University of Connecticut, I made my way to the check-in booth to get my number and wristbands (thanks, Sam Adams!) and the sweet jersey pictured above. We parked our bikes in a barn overnight and the crew was up late re-lubing the chains and polishing every single bike. The ride was incredibly well organized and well-staffed and burgers and hot dogs were waiting safe and dry under the tents in the fields at UConn. After an amazing four hour nap, it was out to the beer tent for some socializing and time to eat some pasta. I always have trouble eating during long workouts in the heat, which, looking back, caused me a lot of problems, but I put in a solid effort that night.
I met a team of riders from Boston, MA who work right around the corner from our office and discovered that TWO of them were riding mountain bikes. Though one of the guys borrowed this bike from his litte sister, he still did pretty well on the first day. Unfortunately (and I can only attribute this to the high speeds he was averaging) his tastles on the handlebars fell off.
The second day proved to be the most trying of the ride. After my first century, I was exhausted. I wasn’t really sore on Saturday, but as soon as I got on my bike, I regretted the decision-even with my padded shorts. I got a little used to it, and as I riding out of the barn, I ran into a guy who would become my best friend for the day. I saw him at Souper Wraps in Cambridge just a few days earlier and made sure to bring that up despite how creepy I sounded. His name was Craig-I found out about halfway through the ride that he was a ride Marshall. That explained why he was staying with me even though I wasn’t the fastest. He coached me through the ride and offered pointers for long touring that really helped. I got up to about 37 MPH on the downhills but really struggled on the climbs. I simply didn’t have the strength toward the end of the second day to muscle the bike up the hill. On the upside, we did pass two alpaca farms!
We crossed the Connecticut River on a ferry which was a welcome break. My family was on the other side of the river in Chester, CT with signs and T shirts sporting “Team T” and “GO TAYLOR! GO TREVOR!” Trevor, who you may recognize from one of our earlier posts joined me for the second half of the century to serve as motivation and moral support which was really great. I ditched my jersey and jumped in the river to cool down before riding another 12 miles to lunch.
The rest of the ride was HOT-about 120 degrees on the asphalt-but with less steep hills. I had to take a couple of short breaks when I could feel my stomach clenching because I hadn’t eaten anything but energy chews all day. I was, as Trevor put it, “bonking” out. Bonking out is when your mind and body basically collapse in exhaustion, and it’s extremely hard to come out of. Trevor found us some shade to sit down in, and I rested and ate a piece of fruit and drank an energy drink. The same thing happened again about 4 miles from the finish line in New Haven, CT and I sat under a highway overpass for fifteen minutes shaking on the ground. The medics pulled up and put alcohol pads under my nose to keep me from getting sick and force fed me fruit, a granola bar, energy chews, and an energy drink. About half an hour later (yes, it took that long to go 4 miles), we pulled into Southern Connecticut State University, and I had finished my second century.
At this point, I have to admit some unpleasantness. I ended up getting sick behind one of the buildings, after which I just lied down in the grass for almost an hour. I had definitely “bonked” at this point. I was mad at myself and frustrated that I hadn’t forced myself to eat and drink more throughout the day. What was I thinking that I could conquer two centuries in a row with basically no nutrition?!
My riding partner could see how upset and disappointed I was from the tears in my eyes and he encouraged me to get some food and some sleep, and recover. The third day was 70 miles straight uphill, and I would have been miserable, and he was right! That night, I fell asleep in the bath and couldn’t eat or drink anything. The next day, I felt like I had gotten hit by a freight train.
Looking back, I think it was the smartest decision, for my body at least, to not finish the last day. Doing any kind of long tour requires training and adequate preparations, and I learned a lot about these things through my experience. I got back on the bike yesterday for a long ride down the Charles and revamped my enthusiasm and drive to start preparing for next year when I can finish the whole thing. As my best friend from the ride, Craig, told me, the ride is designed to be hard. It’s designed to challenge people and really make them dig within themselves to find the strength to finish. It’s hard, but not as hard a living with ALS.
See you next year, Tri State Trek!
Taylor @ Montague Bikes