I'm sure there has been a time where you felt like you were not doing an activity you enjoyed but that you were in HELL. No, not like the violent and miserable punishments described in Dante's Inferno, but your own personal version of HELL. Something akin to cage wrestlers hijacking your good day and beating you to a pulp with a folding chair....for no reason at all. Well, I like to ride my bike. I have had some good times on my bike. I have had some amazing times on my bike with great friends. And then there have been those bike rides from HELL. Today I am going to highlight my most memorable bad times on two wheels.
Coach Liz's Top 5 Worst Bike Rides EVER!!!
1. 2001 Sealy Bike Ride (Metric Century): I did this ride with El Esposo when he still had a bike. Things had started out well. It was a warm day in August or September. I had chosen to do a longer ride but I would probably end up meeting El Esposo at the car around the same time or not long after he finished the 50 mile route. At the last rest stop there was watermelon being served and it looked great, but I passed on it. I should of had it. Not 2 miles from that last aid station, I bonked and I bonked hard. I was pedaling as furiously as I could and could not get over 9-10 mph. The wind had picked up and I was heading all the way back in to Sealy, into the wind. I wanted to die. Some tool on an old ten-speed who was wearing split side running shorts and a purple and teal green old dome helmet was passing me like I was standing still. El Esposo passed me and said he would be waiting at the car. A little kid on a BMX bike passed me up. Again, I wanted to die and I hated my bike for a long time after that ride. I also learned not to pass up watermelon at an aid station.
2. Ironman 70.3 Cancun 2007: As usual, things started out great. About 8 or so miles into the bike, I hit a dried pile of concrete in the shoulder of the road as I was moving over to let faster cyclists pass me by. After getting over the injury to my groin and tasting blood from biting the crap out of my tongue, I felt like I had lost all of my mojo on the bike. I wondered if I was bonking. I was pedaling hard and hardly able to hit the numbers that I was hitting easily before hitting the cement. I was in race mode, and not really thinking about the cement anymore, I was thinking about getting calories and fluids in me. Soon after, the skies opened up and we were pedaling through a torrential downpour. I could not see out through my sun glasses and the fast boys were passing me up like I was standing still as they started their second loop of the lollipop shaped course we were on. At the turn around, the rain eased up and then the rain started to evaporate back up to the heavens. I watch steam rising off the pavement. Good Lord it was hot and humid. I was still pedaling my rear end off and not making much headway. I was getting pissed off at the people that I saw that were drafting. It was making me mad because I was working hard and they were not working much at all. On my second loop, I got passed by this gal who must have weighed over 200 lbs. in a freaking aero helmet. WTF??!!?? How in the hell was she faster than me and how much good was that aero helmet doing her??? On the way back in, I saw some gal in a Team USA skin suit at the side of the road with a flat tire asking for CO2, this was the third time I had seen her at the side of the road with a flat. There was no way in hell that I was going to help her. I had to beat at least one person in to T2. On the last lonely stretch back to T2, the skies opened up again and once more, I was in the middle of a monsoon all the way back in. I finally made it back and I was so glad to be off that bike because I was hating life. When I went to get my bike out of transition at then end of the race, the front wheel would not budge. The front break had been rubbing against my wheel almost the entire race from the time I hit that cement at mile 8. ARGH!!!! God must have had mercy on me because I ended up getting a roll down slot to Clearwater at that race.
3. 2002 Montgomery Lion's Club Bike for Sight Century Ride: I had started my foray into triathlons through the summer months and after my first Olympic distance triathlon in September I had some time in October to get back on the bike and enjoy good bike weather. I decided that I would do the Century Ride and as I recall, there was no one that I knew that was doing this ride. October is still a hot month in Texas, and this day was no exception. We started from the Montgomery ISD football stadium and headed towards Anderson, TX and hills. Big Hills. The temperatures kept climbing and the route had little to no shade. I had taken plenty of water with me, but I don't think that I had more than one bottle of Gatorade on the bike. My bike shoes were a pair of leather Sidi shoes that I had been wearing in my triathlons barefoot. After sticking wet feet in those leather shoes a few times and letting them dry, the shape of the foot got smaller. Now instead of bare feet, I had socks on and my feet were starting to swell from lack of electrolytes. By mile 50 my feet hurt. By mile 60, my feet were burning like they were on fire. By mile 70, my feet were throbbing. I got off my bike at the 73 mile aid station, sat down in a camp chair under a tent and kicked off my shoes. After 10 minutes I knew that I would never be able to get my feet back in those shoes and I called it a day and took the SAG wagon back in. When your feet hurt, your whole body hurts.
4. 90 mile Ironman Texas Training Ride 4-16-2011: This was supposed to be a good ride. I felt great doing 100 miles on the same route just two weeks before and had a great 70.3 race last weekend. The weather was the fly in the ointment here. The night before the ride, I dug out my leg warmers, arm warmers, vest, and thermal top that I had packed away for a season because it has been pretty warm of late. At the ride start, it was in the high 40's and even though I had four layers on my torso and two layers on my arms I was really wanting to snag Greyhound's jacket that he pitched in the back of his car. As soon as we started out, the cold dry wind from the north gave me a chill and caused my eyes to burn and start to water. The left eye was so bad that I could not open the eyelid and tears were running down my face and dripping off my chin. I could only see out of one eye as I watched Greyhound slowly move further and further down the road and leave me behind. Once we made a turn, I had to pull over and wipe out my eyes. Greyhound was gone. I could see again, but I was freaking cold. Why had I not packed my full finger gloves? Why did I not have on a better jacket? Why did I not have a fleece beanie on? I was shivering and wishing the sun was higher in the sky to warm the air. Greyhound was waiting for me a few miles down the road. My eyes were watering again and I had to pull over and wipe them out and get some water. I had been so cold that drinking was not on my mind. I felt like I just kept getting slower and slower and no matter how hard I tried to turn my legs over with some gear on the bike, I was reduced to the easiest gearing where I felt like I was spinning my legs as I watched Greyhound disappear again. This went on for two hours. I was angry at myself. I wanted to throw the bike in the ditch. I wanted to throw my cycling shoe at someone and my helmet as well. I was shivering so hard that I was afraid to get down in the aero bars because I was so unstable. Greyhound waited for me to catch up and then would drop me again as soon as we got going. I just wanted to get to the Wal-Mart where I know I would get a break to get off the bike. At the Wal-Mart I was able to get a big cup of coffee and begin to thaw out a little during my 30 minute break. Greyhound said we would reevaluate my situation when we got to the next stop that was closer to the cars if I needed to call the ride. I was a little snappy and said I had to do the whole ride. I may be fit enough but I had to work the bad brain mojo to know I could do this ride. After that, things began to pick up as the temperature outside rose. By the end of the ride I was feeling better but I was dehydrated and my stomach was not totally right until I was able to eat something that was salty. Oh yeah, I had forgotten to take my electrolytes and take along my inhaler on this ride. Both of them were needed. Ugh!
5. 2002 Tour de Cypress MS-150 Training Ride: I think I was supposed to do 60 miles that day but the SAG wagon drove my @$$ home at the halfway point because I was coughing up huge green globs of goop out of my lungs and I could not breathe. I got into a coughing fit on the bike and had to pull over and could not stop coughing and my ribs began to hurt. I was able to get another mile or so down the road to an aid station and I asked for SAG. I was so humiliated to be SAG-ing in but at the same time glad to be off the bike and going home.
Well, there you have it. The worst of the worst. You may have read something that triggered a bad bike memory for you and if that happened, I apologize. And as bad as these days were, a bad day on the bike is better than a day at work.