Every year I try to do something new, something harder to understand more about my body and what I can handle. This year I decided to ride the Marin 200 miles bike tour. It’s not a race but the cut-off time is 10.30pm from a 5am start and limit to 300 riders.
*What’s NEW: I have never been past Mt Tam. Riding a bike at a slow speed is a great way to check out the area especially along the Pacific, Muir Wood, Mt Tam and Stinton beach.
*What’s HARDER: I’ve done 200 miles before but this one is 2x the elevation with the same cut-off time. Total elevation is ~17,000ft. My Garmin watch read 18,000ft.
This is probably my longest single sport event so far. Saddle time is 14 hours – that’s 7 hours for each 100 miles. Door to door time is 15.5 hours. Basically I spent about 10-15 minutes at each rest stop (7 total), definitely more than what I expected to do. I was hoping to stop, restroom, water refill and go but I guess that didn’t work out.
Ultra cycling takes more than what your body can handle. It’s a solitude event. Mentally you must be ready for it. You would think that people are making conversation if they ride next to each other – you are wrong. Sometimes I found myself in a pack of 10 riders or so and none of us said a word to each other. We took turn to pull and push each other. Stopping, move over, watch out for little things on the road were all done my hand signals. At mile ~150 just a few miles north of Bodega bay we hit a 20% grade climb on Coleman Valley, the toughest climb of the day. I saw some folks gave up and walked their bike. I pushed on. One pedal stroke at a time. Despite the cold foggy weather I managed to get soaked in seat. With a thick fog covered the summit, the climb was endless. At some point I asked myself “what the hell am I doing out here?”.
You want to know what went through my head in 14 hours of solitude?
A silent morning prayer, asked God for a crashless ride
300 blinking red lights lit up the road at 5am in a creepy way
Deep breath, deep breath, pace yourself it’s a long ride
Breaking dawn, first rest stop ahead on top of the hill
I sang in my head – “sunrise sunrise, look like morning in your eyes”
The forest, the Pacific coastal, the lake, the countryside
The windy empty road all are breathtaking
I took mental notes of all these beauties for a return one day
With plenty of time for a real visit and explore
I sang in my head – “somehow find you and I collide”
I saw myself living on a ranch out there somewhere
I saw myself having a family with a kid or two
I thought of good times and I smiled
I thought of not so good times and I cried
I sang in my head – “and the sun will set for you”
Deep breath, deep breath, only 20 miles left
Pains are taking over but don’t give up
You are tougher than that, don’t doubt yourself
There it is the city light, you are getting closer
I sang in my head – “I want to ride my bicycle”