Today was the day I would meet up with my old friend...the IMC bike course. True, we had biked part of it on Friday, but that was in reverse and it wasn't exactly the course route. This time I was going to do the entire course, including the out and back.
The rest of the gang was going to do the course minus the out and back. All except Pam that is. This year will be her first Ironman and she wanted to know the entire course. High five to that!! I'm the only one with a race five weeks away, so for me it was important I got the high mileage in - both for mental and physical reasons.
As I have a slower pace than most of the rest of the gang I opted to head out early. Julie was going to come with me as were Pam and Claire. There were several comments about Julie knowing the course...we learned at the first turnoff that this may not be the case...
We were to turn at McLean Creek Road, but Julie kept going up the hill on Eastside Drive. Now I know the exact number of hills on this course and I was positive that wasn't one of them. She was ahead of us and was at the top of said hill by the time we got to the turnoff. I called and called, but to no avail. She was off like a hurd of turds and couldn't hear. Needless to say we had a great giggle over it. I figured we would see her in OK Falls, but that was the last we saw of Pinky. Tee hee.
Personally I was having fun giving Pam and Claire some tips along the way of what to expect and what to think about. Once we got to OK Falls we agreed the next meeting place would be at the ever popular Husky.
I had a plan for this ride, to ride strong. Stronger than during last years race. For me that meant to try and keep my speed up, but at the same time to watch my heart rate. I rode really well to Osooyos, but I'm not quite sure of my speed. My silly bike computer wasn't working because the little tab on the back wheel wasn't aligned right. I tried to set it a couple of times, but it didn't work.
My heart rate indicated that I was doing well. It was pretty hot out again today so I decided rather than wait till I get to Oliver to get more water, I'd stop at a little gas station just North of there. I wasn't sure where the girls were, but figured they'd go by while I was inside. When I got out a group from Critical Speed went zipping by. I decided to tuck in the back as I wasn't sure if I could pass them or not.
The guy in the back apparantly didn't realize there was anyone back there or maybe he did?! Either way, at one point I saw his right butt cheek lift...then he let it rip. EWWWWW! So gross, yet at the same time so incredibly funny! Believe it or not I didn't say anything to him! I think I was kind of at a loss for words, and at the same time I was sooo thankful it wasn't stinky! EWWWWW!!
As we got into Oliver the group seemed to slow up a bit, I was thinking there pace was too slow for my goals anyways so called out 'On your left!' and off I went! Zoom, zoom! It felt sooo good to pace that many riders. That just doesn't happen to a gal like me!
I continued on my merry way to Osooyos. As with the other rides I took in all the sights of the vineyards and orchards. Sigh... The girls were at the Husky when I got there so we grabbed some water and I ate my banana. I was testing out whether the old guts would handle solids on a long ride as I figured I wanted to take in more nutrition during the big race. Greg and the rest of the gang caught up with us at the Husky - could they be any more fast?! I swear, my goal is to one day be able to ride that fast so I can actually go for a bike ride with Greg!
At the Husky I learned that Claire had ridden Richter once before (in the rain and sleet I might add!), but Pam had not. I figured I'd share with them some of the tidbits told to me about climbing Richter. Now in all honesty, Richter is not scary. It's not even a bad climb, especially not compared to yesterdays climb. That said, one should pace themselves on this hill because it's still early in the race and you have the rollers and Yellow Lake to deal with. I told them to find a comfy pace and stay there and to not be intimidated by the people whizzing past you. I also reminded them to take a look around - there is some truly beautiful scenery around here.
Then I asked them, 'So do you have a mantra?' I explained that having a mantra for the hills can be a good thing. It keeps your mind focused on the task at hand and it can help if there is negativity about to creep into your thoughts. They didn't have one so I offered my favourite of the weekend, 'I am strong, I am powerful'. A good climbing mantra I think.
We started our climb. Personally, I felt great. I was still mighty impressed with my legs and the fact they were doing so well after the last two days of riding. I AM strong!! A few of the passing riders said hello, and I chatted a bit with them. Then the rest of our gang started to go by. I have to say Andrea is a friggin amazing climber. The boys around her were definitely getting 'chicked'! I loved it. The rest of the gang were amazing too. Everyone was having a great time I think. At one point Mark came up behind me and was pushing on my back - unfortunately he wouldn't do this the whole climb! LOL.
I stopped at the top to wait for Pam and Claire and see how they felt. I was so happy when both of them said the mantra really helped them get up the hill. YAY! I then told them that now they had to count the rollers in Count Dracula's voice from Sesame Street. At the top of the first one they were to say, 'One! Ah, ah, aaaaaah'. I figure during the race it might be a fun thing to do, just in case they were struggling at that point. Pam thought this was a hoot.
Once through the rollers I felt the wind pick up. It was about then that I met up with Kels and the first of her many flats. Of course after making the statement, 'Ya, I know how to use a CO2 cartridge', I had troubles with them! Some CS folks came by though and had another cartirdge so all was well.
I headed out again. I was still feeling pretty good, but I was getting low on water and fuel. The wind was still howling, which is so typical for that section. Kels had caught up and I showed her the shortcut to the Bear Market. I continued on and met up with Pam. Greg then saw us and asked how we were doing. He was sweet enough to give me his water - I was starting to feel the lack of nutrition and water at this point.
Rather than head right onto the out and back, Pam and I headed to the market. I desperately needed water and to refill my Infinit. We headed to the out and back with the wind behind our backs. I was okay for the first part, but then things started to go pear shaped. I just couldn't push it. I had no energy at all. After we turned around I was starting to wonder if I'd have to call for a ride. My head was starting to get fuzzy.
It was then that the thoughts started to creep in. They always do at your weakest moment. I started to remember IMC and how it was on the out and back that the bike and my guts started to go downhill for me. I started to think about IMCDA and what might happen on the bike there. Would I have a repeat of last year? That's when I put a stop to all of it. I reminded myself to stay in the present. I also reminded myself it was very hot out, that I went too long without water and nutrition, and that I had ridden 246 kilometers in the previous days. I then went back to my mantra. I decided to head back to the market.
When I got to the market I guzzled some more water and sat for a moment. I collected my thoughts, had a quick pee, then we headed out. Apparantly, that was what I needed to get my second wind. I talked to Pam a bit more about making sure she had mantra's for the race and to think of ways that would help her remain positive. Then I went ahead.
My legs were doing great. I'd gotten back on course and was feeling strong again. The climb up to Yellow Lake felt great. I must admit my pace picked up a bit when a very handsome cyclist went by and said hi. Heh heh. I waited for Pam at the top of the hill so we could celebrate her making it through all the climbs. Then I took off and bombed down to the turnoff to town. Oh to have ridden this well last year! Oh to ride this well this year!!!
I waited for Pam at the intersection as she didn't know the course. I was getting worried about her when a driver came by asking if I was waiting for someone. She then said Pam wasn't too far behind. I was thankful for that because I was getting damn hungry. Turns out Pam stopped at a store along the way. My question - what friggin store?! I swear I have never seen a store there. Perhaps I was in my own little 'bomb down the hill' world?!
I headed back to the hotel. I was about 2 km away when the bonk started. When I got to the hotel the gang was there yelling their hellos! All I could mumble was 'Can't talk, need food'. My entire body was shaking from lack of food. Not a great feeling. I got in the hotel and ate two bananas, and orange, part of a chocolate bar, handful of almonds, handful of dates, and half a litre of chocolate almond milk. I finally felt normal. I knew that would hold me till dinner which was in half an hour. I should add that I managed to eat a full meal too!
What a great ending to a fabulous weekend. I biked strong and I battled some old demons. I also proved to myself how important positive thought and affirmations/mantras can be. Some people may think it's hokey, but I know for a fact they are powerful mental tools.
Total mileage for the weekend - 429 kilometers. Never in my life would I have believed I could ride that much in three days. It was an amazing experience which is what I had hoped for. It was also a great challenge - maybe too much of one at one point - be careful what you wish for!
I feel ready for IMCDA now!
Peace out my friends!