I began biking just over five years ago. Well, biking regularly. A friend talked me into riding in the Tour des Lacs bike ride which goes from Spokane, WA to Coeur d' Alene, ID. She and her dad had done it the year before, and they talked me into going with them this time. Naturally I was on the deck with a drink in my hand. I believe this was the first of many drunken promises to come.
The ride we were signed up for was 84 miles. They had previously done the 40 miler, and were looking for more of a challenge. The ride was rated "Intermediate", so it didn't sound too bad. I dug my bike out and did a few rides along the Burke-Gilman trail. I think the farthest we went was about 30-35 miles. I reasoned that I could do 84 miles, it would just take me longer. There was also a 2 hour boat ride up lake Coeur d' Alene at the end of the ride. With beer. Powerful motivation.
This was my first biking event. My first athletic event of any sort. Running wouldn't start for at least another year. Unfortunately it was also my first "did not finish" (DNF).
It turned out that the route was pretty darn hilly. We started climbing after 2 miles, and it never seemed to end. By the first water stop at mile 30, I said to my friends that I wasn't sure I was going to be able to finish in time to catch the boat. By the second water stop at mile 47, I wasn't sure I was going to finish at all. I encouraged them to take off, but they stayed with me to suffer in company.
By mile 60 we were pushing our bikes up another hill. At the top was the SAG wagon. SAG stands for Support And Gear wagon. Most events have a SAG wagon that looks out for riders and helps with mechanical issues. They will also pick you up and get you to the next stop if you are hurting. It is your responsibility from there, but they get you off the side of the road. It was clear we weren't going to make it, so we hopped aboard. They were kind enough to not only take us to the next water stop, but on to the pier so we could catch the boat. There were actually lots of us packed into that RV.
The following year they started publishing a elevation chart of the route so you can see ahead of time how hilly it is. They also upgraded the route to "Advanced". The full RV may have had something to do with it.
First ride, first DNF. Not a great start, but I was hooked none the less. Maybe defeat made me more determined to conquer these goals. It certainly made more diligent about preparing. So I was back to the Tour des Lacs again this year. The route we rode this year was only 64 miles, but the first 47 miles were the same as the 84 mile route. I was curious to see if the route was as difficult as I remembered, or if it was just that difficult since it was my first real ride. My experience is continued in the next post.