Well, the ride is done, the Holstein 100 in Petaluma. I had signed up for the 15-mile leg of it, fearing hills and crowds, and ended up riding nearly 18 miles on that leg, encountered no crowds, and had a blast on the hills, especially going down.
It all started with fumbling to get my gear together early in the morning to be ready for my friend to pick me up. This was the first organized ride for both of us. In the excitement, I put on my heart rate monitor upside down, so that when we took off and started up on the first hill, I was amazed to see that my heart rate could be the envy of any super-fit athlete. Imagine my surprise, when even if that low reading, I found myself having to get off the bike and walk up the last few feet of that first hill. That was enough to make me forget about keeping score, at least for the heartbeats.
We had a perfect day for the ride, with temperatures really mild and no fog anywhere on the horizon. A lovely breeze, too, but that could have been from my riding faster as we progressed along the route. And what a route… Once we left the streets of Petaluma behind, we were passing farm after farm, and in the distance rolling hills for as far as the eyes could see.
Near the last leg of our route, my friend pedaled ahead of me, and I thought I lost sight of her, so I started to speed up. There was a hill that annoyed me, so when, at the top, a saw a sweetly curved descent, I went for it. And I kept going and going on the road. Surprised that even as I gained speed, I saw no sight of my friend.
Meanwhile, my friend made the turn into the rest stop. She thought she saw me go by and tried frantically to follow, but, as she said, I was going too fast for her. As I pedaled on, up and down the rolling hills, I noticed that all the other bikers were sporting serious Lycra and were buzzing by on even more serious road bikes. Clearly I was on the wrong route, running with the crowd out of my league and the power of my legs. To make matters worse, when I stopped to call my friend, there was no cell phone signal to be had. But the GPS showed I was way past our route. And so back I went, up and down the hills. When I finally located the rest stop, I found my friend trying to organize a “rescue” party, getting the volunteers to radio for the van to go pick me up at the next stop, where she thought I would find myself.
We rode back to the start, where we had a delicious lunch, all cooked up by the volunteers. We met a number of interesting people, mostly women, and not so young either. We raised our water glasses to Title IX, the legislative amendment, some 40 years ago, that sought to end discrimination based on sex in education services, including athletics, and which is probably largely responsible not just for so many gold medals won at the Olympics this summer by women, but also for the likes of us out there pushing our limits. Not to mention spending our money on cleats instead of stiletto heels. Or, better yet, for some of us, on both.
Now that I had a taste of touring in the open country, I am hungry for more…