By the time I parked my bike today, I felt like a strong kid myself.
I did the OCC Strong Kids Ride today, a ride put together to benefit the local cycling club's efforts to help kids get bikes and the YMCA. And while the day started off dark and stormy, by the time I finished the sun was shining and I felt good about the morning's efforts.
There were three options to choose from, a family friendly 13-mile route, a 20- or 31-mile route. Even after I pulled into the parking lot and registered, I wasn't sure if I was going to go 20 miles or tackle the 31 miles. Even though I've recently logged rides of 20 miles, I hadn't ridden anything longer than 25 miles, and that was a couple of years ago.
When the time came to start the ride, I found myself standing next to a bunch of folks who were going 31 miles. Decision made.
I admit, all the cyclists riding their speedy looking bikes in their spiffy gear was a bit intimidating. I was worried I wouldn't be able to keep up, would be dropped in the first few miles and left to navigate a 31-mile route by myself.
I was wrong.
I actually kept pace. Yes, I was at the back of the lead group. But there were cyclists behind me. I realized this when we came to an intersection about 12 miles into the ride and stopped to wait for the entire group to get there and regroup. There were actually about 5 riders behind. I felt good not being the last one to that stop sign.
The ride took us throughout the rural areas in the western part of the county. It was actually really pretty. And a bit hilly. But after tackling the cliff road at High Cliff last week, I knew I could handle the hills. Most of them were rolling hills and there was only one semi-nasty one, and that was only because it was so long. And fairly steep compared to the other hills. But the view at the top of that hill made it worth the climb. And hitting 29 miles per hour on the way down.
We had a rest stop at mile 21, complete with Smuckers Uncrustables PB&J sandwiches, water and mini Clif Bars.
I was a bit worried about the last 10 miles when I got back on my bike after the rest stop. These were the new miles to me since it had been a really long time since I rode this far. But the miles came easy. I felt good. My legs weren't screaming in pain at me, even after all the hills and the headwinds I tackled in the first two-thirds of the ride.
When I pulled into the YMCA parking lot, I actually felt like I could keep riding. I was proud of myself for tackling a new distance. And I kept the route map, because I'm thinking about riding that route again in the near future. It was challenging and scenic. And I liked it.
I also liked the people that I rode with. Part of me thought this ride was going to be a ride it on your own. But we rode as a group. And for the most part, stuck together as a group. Yes, we got pretty spaced out during the last 10 miles, but for the most part, there were always riders near you, chatting with you as you rode.
I think that sense of community is the part that helped me decide to pick up the registration and join the cycling club here in town. They have organized rides almost every night of the week and they have get togethers. I think I'll like it.
And the Strong Kids Ride? I'm glad the miles I pedaled today will help out kids. But I'm also happy with the feeling that I got when I finished.
31 miles? Piece of cake for this Strong Kid.