Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tour to Tanglewood 2011: A Recap (Of Sorts)

So, a while back, I was sitting in the locker room after a Pirates game and talking to one of the guys about how, like a bum, I'd bully-borrowed a bike from The Librarian and was using it to excess because it was so fun.

So then the guy - I'll call him The Llama Pirate cause he has llamas and is a Pirate - says, "Oh, you should ride with us in the Tour to Tanglewood MS benefit in September."

This was very far away from September.

I of course said, "Ok," because I didn't know about September yet, and one vague plan seemed just as good as another, nevermind that The Librarian's bike wasn't at all suited for a 30+ mile road ride (I did them anyways on it because I was desperate for exercise when I couldn't run and I didn't know any better).

So then I kinda forgot about it. Except The Llama Pirate didn't let me. And then there was a Groupon for half off the entry fee, so I couldn't even say I was too poor to do it, and I was on the team and I had a jersey and then suddenly BAM - the ride was Next Weekend, and the only reason I knew that was because my normal Sunday ride was cancelled since everyone else was riding in it.

It's a two-day ride, which I did not realize, and I couldn't do Saturday because of marathon training (16 miles! Longest run yet and didn't feel awful at all!). Llama Pirate said that was OK, some other people on the team were only doing one day or the other, and Be There On Sunday Before 8 Because We Roll Out At 8 KThxBye.

I stayed at my parents' on Saturday night so I wouldn't have to drive so far so early in the morning, and I had multiple tear-through-the-car freakouts: "Did I bring my helmet? (Yes.) Did I bring my shoes? (Yes.) Did I bring my bike? (Yes.) Did I bring Gu? (No.)" I was worried, even as I fell into an exhausted sleep at 9:30, about whether or not the knots in my legs from my run would loosen up.

I was a tad nervous. I understood intellectually that it wasn't really a race-race, but then, the marathon isn't a race-race, and I'm nervous about it anyways. I think it had more to do with being there alone, without any of my normal bike buddies there. I didn't have the Bike Dad telling me that all my shit was together and I was fine; I didn't have to tell the Bike Project to calm the fuck down and stop trying to help. It was all a bit out of balance in my head. I kept thinking I was going to screw up and be this total bike-noob-dweeb.

I mean, I spent a good twenty minutes stressing about my clips and the fact that I was, with 100% certainty, going to fall flat on my face the minute I tried to clip in at the start, nevermind that I haven't fallen in clips since the first time I put them on and I skinned my knee then and not my face.

I managed to get there with all of my stuff, sans Gu even though I tried to buy some, and my nerves continued to manifest themselves by stuffing little mini cinnamon rolls into my mouth, even though I had already eaten my breakfast and wasn't hungry. (Mini cinnamon rolls, dude.)

I was nervous right up until the minute my team lined up at the start and pushed off. And then, suddenly, just like that, it was all OK.

And it stayed OK for fifty miles. Five members of our team stuck together and rode it as a team, and even though I was too nervous about my group riding skills to pull until the last leg, I felt... I don't know, kind of cosmic about it all. I was connected to the bike and my legs were working and I felt good and I never fucked up one single thing. We had to pull into the first rest stop to get one of our rider's rear derailer fixed, but after that we just kept going, no stoppage. Every rest stop, we called it down the line: "Do you need to stop?" "No, I'm good. Do you need to stop?" "Nope, let's keep rolling." I'm glad I didn't remember the Gu because I didn't need it, but if I'd had it I probably would have thought I did.

At the end of the fifty miles (Actually, it was 54ish because the course was long. I'm given to understand that yesterday's 50 Mile Course was two miles short, so there may be some reasoning there.) I unclipped like a boss and snared a finishing medal and it was all good. I raised money for a good charity, had a great Sunday bike ride with thousands of other cyclists, and got to take home some swag.

All in all, a good experience that I should never have grumbled about. Next year, I'll definitely remember about it at least 2 weeks in advance.

Edit: This is the link to my donation page. You can continue donating to the National MS Society in my name until October 14th. I don't know why that makes sense to them but it's a good cause so what the hail.

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