Aly’s no good, very bad bike ride

You know those days when it just feels like everything that could go wrong, goes wrong, and really insignificant obstacles or hiccups along the way feel really ginormous and apocalyptic? That was my afternoon. It was like the universe decided to poke an already emotionally and physically distraught, unrested cranky beast to see how far it could get. Well, after nearly three hours of poking and pushing I just shut the emotions off, and at the end of it all I think my brain was in Disneyland and my body was merely a physical entity taking up space.
I was feeling somewhat motivated and refreshed for a night of four-peat hills up Juniper and Todd tonight. It’s been a tough week, so when I get the spark to take on a workout I have to run with it. As I rigged up the bike I decided to strap on the Go Pro to the front handlebars for a front seat view of the ride. This way I could upload some footage and make my friends jealous of all the wild and crazy fun things I do on a Friday night, while they drink frosty cocktails on a patio. Geared up and ready to go I pushed off from the curb and barely moved one full rotation before I heard a rubbing whirring sound coming from what I thought was the front tire. Awesome. Hiccup number one and I could already feel agitation start to creep over me. So, I hopped off examined it for a minute, then hopped back on, only to hear the same sound again. I hopped back off to see that it was the back tire rubbing against the bike frame. For the next 15 minutes I was bent over, fuming over the fact that my bike was just in the shop and the wheel was totally out of alignment. As I cursed under my breath and balanced my bike between my thighs with my spandex doned ass straight up in the air, I started to hear cat calling from guys driving slowly down the road. I had to muster every ounce of restraint to not fly off at the mouth like an inbred sailor. Finally, the tire was aligned and after wasting 15 minutes I was back on the road.
As turned off the highway onto Valleyview Drive I was greeted by my second obstacle of the evening; rocks everywhere. Flash flooding from the day before had left a horrible mess and I was dodging pebbles and mini boulders all the way to Juniper and praying my tire would not flat. Rounding the corner and heading up for the first climb of the night I turned on my ipod and blocked out my agitation. At the top I felt exceptionally dehydrated from the hot sun, with only 20 minutes into the ride I had already polished off one of my two water bottles. I thought to run over to the corner store to stock up only to realize I made the boneheaded decision to not bring any cash or cards with me; rookie mistake. I would have to make like a camel and reserve. As I turned around for the descent I went to flip on my Go Pro I encountered piss off number three of the evening, the memory card was stuck in the lock position. Mother trucker. I almost hurled that thing under the oncoming tires of passing by trucks. As I mumbled more curse words I could start to feel rushing beads of sweat down my arms, legs and face, and I wondered if I would make the next hour and a half of climbing on one bottle of Gatorade. Either way, the hills still needed climbing and I was standing still, so off I went.
Obstacle number four greeted me in the form of the biggest mother of a puddle I have ever seen; another after effect from the flash floods. It was like a god damned lake had formed in the middle of the road. With the way the night was going I wagered it a bad idea to try and go through it, so I unclipped, picked up my bike and proceeded to go around it through the claylike mud. With each step I sunk deeper into the muck and I worried I just might get stuck right there and bake in the sun until dark. Once to the other side, I hopped on the bike only to realize the mud had clogged up my shoes rendering it impossible to clip back into the pedals. More swear words tumbled from my lips as I peeled the mud from my shoes and smeared it everywhere. Finally I was back in the saddle, wondering what the hell was next.
About halfway down the highway something on the bike didn’t feel right. I didn’t know what it was but I was deathly afraid of self combustion and flailing under a truck and meeting my demise. I turned off for Todd Road and had a quick inspection to discover nothing was wrong and that I was getting paranoid, and headed up for climb number two. As soon as that was over, it was back up again for climb number three, which at this point had me feeling famished and desperate for cool drops of water. As if to add torture to pain I start envisioning watermelons and smoothies, ice cold water and more big juicy watermelons. Then the smell of BBQs wafted through the air, and I almost surrendered mid pedal. As I hit the top and started my descent, I was greeted by obstacle number five in the form of a loud SHHHHHHHHH…. holy jumping mother sand trucks. There goes my back tire. I pulled over to the side of the road and kicked gravel like a mad person. I just had brand new tires installed this morning, tires that were supposed to defy all the rules and never flat, tires that cost $150! How the hell did I get a flat? Oh that’s right, the universe has a bone to pick with me. In a fleeting moment I contemplated lifting the bike over my head and hurling it over the cliff side, wiping my hands, taking off my shoes, and walking home. But instead I flipped it over, pulled out my spare, sat down in the dirt and calmed myself. Just then I started to hear rustling in the bushes and gravel rolling down the hill side. Would obstacle number six come in the form of rabid animal who would tear me into pieces? No, but It made me change the tire faster, so maybe it was the first blessing of the night. Tire back on, back to Juniper for one more climb, but not before walking back across the clay like mud, wiping my shoes and singing some Celine Dion.
With about 250 metres to the top of Juniper, as if the icing on the cake, I felt my back tire slowly go down, down, down. Well I was out of spare tires, and frankly out of patience.
A $16 cab ride later and I finally made it home, with emotions turned off and one giant watermelon in hand. When the universe tries to tell you to just go home and try again tomorrow, tell it shut the hell up and keep on going. None of this journey has been easy and I would be damned if I let a few typical bike ride mishaps falter my focus and determination. On any other week I may have just laughed in the face of it all, but with race day looming and my tired mind and body, I was easy to provoke. Tomorrow I will head to Whistler to cheer on my training partners and I know it will be the spark I need to find my motivation to get ‘er done. Here’s to buckling done and moving on, even when you want to throw a tantrum and flip off the world.

 

 

The final countdown

My energy has been sucked dry, my body aches in a way that is begging for me to stop and overall I’m desperately holding on to the last five weeks of this journey for dear life. I’m struggling to find the words to express my emotions because it’s consuming and constantly changing. There is relief, excitement, fear, sadness, happiness and stress. I never know which one is coming or going, or how long it will last. I’m jumping into everything with both feet and my whole heart, but I never know what to expect. Some moments I’m flying, other moments I’m floundering. In talking with my training partners, it seems that this is all completely normal for the last few weeks of the season leading up to the big race. As one of them said,  it’s like going to war. It’s not like you spend all this time making a chocolate cake, then you get to eat it, it’s like you just get dropped into the war zone and you see whether you live or die. It all sounds a bit melodramatic, but this has been one of the hardest mental and physical challenges I’ve ever put myself up against and I’ve worked so hard to get here. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about swimming, biking and running and all the things in life that revolve around it. I dream about it, I write about it, I never stop talking about it, I devote my time, my energy and my emotions into it, and as much as some people think that’s neurotic – I love it. At the end of the day, I might feel a little bit broken and a half way to the grave, yet this is the first thing in my adult life that has made me feel undeniably happy and unquestionably alive. As I descend into the final weeks of preparation for my biggest race this year, I’m focusing on the finish line and the glory of all that I have accomplished. I’m also looking forward to more free time, more cold beers and less time in an ice bath. Here’s to the final weeks of triathlon season 2014 and maybe a few more stories of suffering and triumph along the way.

Summer is here

The sun is blazing hot, the hot air has me sucking more wind than usual, and every workout has me desperately seeking ways to cool off. I have run with ice cubes down my shorts and sports bra, run through sprinklers on people’s lawns, guzzled litres of water, drenched my skin in sunscreen and otherwise wanted to die. For all those freezing training days where we wished for sun and warmth, well now we have it, and in brief moments of desperation we long for one little rain shower, just to cool our overheated bodies. It seems as though summer has finally arrived and as we enter the second week of July, I can’t believe that, for some, triathlon season is winding down. My training partners will race at Ironman Canada in less than two weeks, and they have already begun to taper. Last weekend was their last big push as we traveled to Whistler to train on the course for four days. There was no particularly good training reason for me to endure more than 500 kilometres of swimming, biking and running, especially considering my race is half the distance, yet I couldn’t resist the challenge.
The scenery at Whistler was absolutely stunning. I’ve only been there  in the winter and without the thick blanketing of snow, the landscape seemed to come alive. For four days, we trained, ate and slept. We rode up and down from Whistler to Pemberton so many times I could ride it blind. One morning, we did a time trail back up it, and my legs burned in a pain that could only be felt from riding your bicycle as hard as possible up a mountain. But I relished in the downhill moments and felt as free as a kid riding my bike without training wheels for the first time. Then we swam and it felt rejuvenating and
refreshing even though my open water skills had me looking like a drunk seal. On two of the afternoons we ran and it felt incredible to zig zag through the lush trails around the village, while the second run had me thinking I would hurl with almost every step. But that’s just how the past six months of this journey have been; pleasurably painful.
By the end of the four days, we had endured some tough training, but every now and again when I wasn’t exasperated I also enjoyed some pretty wicked scenery, even a close encounter with a bear. It was just another incredible adventure in my journey, and while my training partners may be almost done, I still have six weeks to go. There is still so much work ahead of me, including more hot summer days where I will run with ice in my shorts and long for one quick cool summery shower. Here’s to the final six weeks and to many more adventures.

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