This was my last big training weekend before my taper towards Ironman Coeur d’Alene. My training schedule called for a 117-mile bike ride on Saturday. When I first read the workout, I thought surely that had to be a mistake. I’ve never in my life ridden 117 miles. Why would I do it just two weeks before my big race? But I’m a believer in the TriDot program, so once I confirmed that the schedule said what I thought it said, I started making plans towards my 117 miles.
I emailed some of my friends who love to ride and explained my predicament to them.
I’m doing my last big push this weekend. I’m supposed to ride 117 miles. Huh? What? That’s what I said. I don’t know a good 117 mile route, so I’m thinking about a double dam loop with a Parmer add-on, mostly because I haven’t done a double dam this season. But I’m open to other suggestions. Any interest in joining me for all or part of that distance?
The dam loop is a 45 mile route that goes from the Arboretum area in the north part of Austin to Highway 360 down to Bee Caves to Bee Caves Parkway to Highway 620 back to up Anderson Mill and through some neighborhoods back into the Arboretum area. It has two good climbs on 360 and a set of three more gradual climbs on 620. It’s challenging but doable. Doing it twice is one of my favorite distance workouts, something I try to do once an Ironman season.
In response to my email, my friend Catherine said she might be up for one dam loop, but she would need to see how she was feeling when she woke up Saturday morning. Catherine just raced the Boise 70.3 last weekend and hadn’t been feeling great this week. I know how hard it is to race and travel and work and not feel your best, so, as much as I wanted the company, I didn’t press. Fred said he’d do one loop with me for sure, but he also said he had a race on Sunday, so I felt bad asking him to ride a fairly challenging ride the day before a race. He insisted.
So I showed up Saturday morning at Fred’s house expecting to ride one 45-mile loop with Fred, another loop on my own, and then the Parmer addition on my own.
To my surprise and delight, Catherine showed up for the first loop. Because Catherine showed up, Fred suggested she ride the first loop with me and he ride the second so that I’d only have to do the remaining 27 or 28 miles on my own. I was thrilled. So Catherine and I set out. We talked and caught up and knocked out the first loop pretty comfortably. When we got back to Fred’s over three hours later, I went into Fred’s house and refilled one of my bottles with Gatorade. I chatted briefly with my friend MJ, who is Fred’s wife. Then Fred and I set out for my second loop. I loved having Fred’s company, and I needed it. The second loop was tougher. The sun had come out, and the wind had picked up. I was struggling. Towards the end of the second loop, I was asking for Fred’s input on how to get the last 27 or 28 miles done. I knew I needed to do an out and back so that I couldn’t cut it short. If I could convince myself to bike out 14 miles, then I’d have to bike the final 14 home. But I was dreading the last little bit on my own. Nearly 90 miles in, I was mentally ready to call it a day.
When we arrived back at Fred’s house, I went into his house for a minute to fill my water bottle one more time. I wanted to quit, but I wanted even more to meet my goal of 117 miles. Then I got another surprise. Fred entered in front of me, and I heard him say, “Oh, Taline’s going to be happy.” There was MJ, dressed in bike clothes. I’m pretty sure my jaw dropped.
I asked, “Are you riding with me?” And in her warm and wonderful MJ way, she beamed, “Yes!” And all I could think was that I have the best friends ever.
117 miles in one day, and I didn’t have to ride even a single one of them alone. I love my friends. They are amazing. Simply amazing.
Thank you, friends – so very much – for the company, the support, and the encouragement. I owe you big time for turning out yesterday, for sacrificing your time and schedules, and for making what could have been an unbearably long day out on the bike incredibly fun. Thank you thank you thank you.