Thursday, July 03, 2008

Livestrong! or, A Dubious Honor

So last Sunday – among the hottest days of the year thus far, naturally – was the Livestrong Challenge. Last year they held it in September and it rained the whole day long, and was cold, and they were concerned with hypothermia and people slipping and falling on railroad tracks and the like. This year they were the hydration Gestapo, and anytime a body paused at the side of the road, say on a hill toward the end of the ride when they were perhaps a bit winded and weary, passing medics and ride marshals viewed such persons with great suspicion and demanded to know if they were all right and had they been drinking enough water and did they need help?

That being said, it was a fantastic ride, hot but still fantastic. Lots of money was raised for cancer research and support and there were tons of enthusiastic volunteers and personnel to make sure every rider got what they needed.

I was riding with an unnamed friend who unfortunately is a bit sensitive to heat and removed themselves from the ride around mile 32. I later found them (gender and identity concealed: you did an awesome job! Next year we will kick this ride’s ass!) in the medic tent being cooled with ice-watered towels and ice packs, and they perked up nicely after a half hour or so with no lasting ill effects save some fatigue. I feel very fortunate to have had this person’s company for much of the ride. For the record, they raised much more for the cause than I did.

So anyway, last year I nicknamed a friend, in good fun, “Wussy McFairweatherpants” for bailing on the ride due to rain. It happens I love to ride in most weather so long as I do not get super cold or super hot, and I don’t appear to have sensitivities either way. I love to ride in the rain. But, I know a lot of people don’t. And I love to ride in the heat, although forty miles was a bit long for my tastes (and my, ahem, seatbones) considering I hadn’t ridden more than one 11-mile jaunt since last fall.

But! Lest you all think that everything goes well for me at all times, and if you’ve read most of my blog you know damn well that it doesn’t, I should out myself as… well… mechanically disadvantaged. Or perhaps technically disinclined. Maybe, equipmentally challenged? I’m not the sort of person who knows how to, or wants, really, to service my own bicycle/car/motorcycle/what the hell ever. This is why the credit card and the cell phone were invented, and now I hope you’re all happy that my lesbian card is going to be revoked as soon as admin gets wind of this. Next I’ll be frequenting the Clinique counter and eschewing flannel.

So, one whole tenth of a mile into the ride, Stupidhead McEquipmentfailurepants over here found that her front derailleur was malfunctioning. Recent events being as they have been, I haven’t exactly been Johnny-at-the-rathole maintaining my bicycle as I should have been, and dammit it worked just fine last time I rode! So, my anonymous friend and I were forced to flag a sag wagon (minvan manned by a radio geek and a first aid provider). Our bikes were loaded up on the top rack and we took the Drive of Shame to the first rest stop/first aid tent/repair station of the ride to have my stupid bike looked at. I believe we were the first to ride in a sag wagon on this ride. Other riders looked on in disbelief, and at least one was overheard remarking to another, “Must suck to be them.” Our intrepid sag-wagoneers were extremely nice, if not too sure where to take us or how to get there. At one point I leaned forward and told the driver (jokingly, of course) that it was a real confidence-builder for me when he repeatedly activated the windshield wipers. I think he was trying to turn on the headlights (obviously a high priority at 8am on a sunny summer morning). So, we were ferried to the stop and my bike was adjusted for me by a very nice mechanic. Thusly it must be confessed that we rode only 1/10th of a mile of the first 5-mile leg, and so I rode only 35.1 miles all told.

It had been my intent to ride the 70-mile loop but the hills are intimidating and with nursing school, The Finger of Doom ™, and domestic unrest, the training necessary just didn’t take place.

My friend and I decided we’d come back next year and just kick this ride’s ass, then after that progress to the 70-miler.

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