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down memory lane

I once dated a guy who told me he didn't think I could do a century ride. To that guy, I raise my finger fist and say: "Not only have I already done several centuries while training for an Ironman and then finished said Ironman, I am apparently totally capable of pulling an early-season century out of my ass with barely any training, while simultaneously recovering from a horrible cold and a bad hip! Take that, you bastard."

Proving someone wrong feels really, really good.

I flew to California last weekend to ride the Wine Country Century in Santa Rosa with Layla and Arvan. I had zero expectations -- I was undertrained, sick and in pain, so the goal was just to hang out with friends, eat a bunch of chips at the aid stations and enjoy being back in Sonoma County. 

These two keep me sane. 

What I didn't realize was the way the century would make me feel. And no, I'm not talking about the numbness in my lady parts or the screaming in my right TFL or the point at Mile 80-ish when I suddenly realized I was about to have a bathroom emergency. 

I'm talking memories. I've ridden that route in pieces at one point or another, and doing the entire thing all at once was like reading an old diary. 

There was the spot on Chalk Hill where my old tri team coach used to park his car and cheer for us. There was the exact place where I gave up on climbing Green Valley Road and dismounted for the walk of shame. There were the wineries I used to work at, the elementary school parking lot we would choose as a meeting spot, the gravel patch where I once fell and scraped my knee trying to drink out of my water bottle. 

Hell, the last time I attempted the Wine Country Century in 2012 -- and it wasn't even the 100-miler, it was the metric -- I crashed and ended up with a DNF and some road rash. I left the race questioning my cycling ability and feeling pretty defeated.

And now, just three years later, I don't think twice about signing up for the century. Three years later, and I can make it all the way up Green Valley Road. Three years later, and I'm on a bike that I packed, traveled with and reassembled all by myself (which likely also explains why the seatpost started slowly sinking at Mile 50, ha).  I'd be lying if I didn't tell you I feel a smidge proud of all of this (except for the seatpost part, of course).

So here's to old memories and the creation of new ones. Here's to setbacks and triumphs and the growth the comes from both. And here's to the friends who've stuck with me through all of it.

Thanks, Deanne, for the photo and the awesome sign!

Congrats to Layla on her first century ride!

Celebration libation.

Yes, that's pizza topped with fries. I deserved it.

1 comment

Layla said...

I'm so angry that someone you dated said, to your face, that you couldn't do a century ride. First of all, that's a terrible thing to say to anybody, because I think most people CAN do a century ride if they really want to do it. Second, that's just a terrible thing to say to a significant other. Third, and most importantly, that's a terrible thing to even THINK about someone you supposedly care about. Back when you signed up for your first Ironman, I knew you had a lot of work ahead of you. I knew there would be times when it would look iffy as to whether you'd get through the training and the actual race. But, honestly, I thought you could do it -- mainly because I knew you really wanted it and that you would fight for it. I knew that about you, and anybody who cares anything for you should also know that.

As for Saturday's century, I'm so glad I conquered my first one with you. Sure, I could have tackled it on my own, but there's something indescribable about having others there who know me and who have my back. And you didn't blink an eye when we reached the finish and our watches were short -- nope, you rode with me and said, "This is so dumb right now," which is exactly what I was thinking even though there was no way in hell I would stop until that 100-mile point. You get it. And that's amazing.