Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I Am a Rhode Warrior, The Bike

So I set off on my bike smiling.  I couldn't believe that I had just conquer that swim.  Again, the part I thought would be the toughest.  I was so happy setting off, but knew I still had a lot of hours ahead of me.  

I saw one bike ahead of me and thought I would just follow her for a bit.  There wasn't too much traffic at this hour in the morning and crossing over the biggest intersection, Rt. 1 was no problem.  Police were there to stop the couple cars that were waiting. 

I had started the day thinking about the last ride on the course and how bad it was but at this moment, I was feeling good and riding at a really good pace for me.  Still behind the bike I saw at the start.  

At one point we were close and we chatted a few minutes.  Her name was Colleen and she was part of a relay team, however, she was the swimmer and the cyclist.  I passed her at one point, which is not what I wanted to do, but kept right on riding.  The first ten miles flew by. 

Colleen rode up beside me and we chatted for a minute and then she was off.  However, right after that a car pulled up beside me and slowed down. It was Mr. RWM!

He told me he had left the beach, ran into Home Depot, and thought he had enough time to see me ride by at an earlier intersection.  He was tracking me with our iPhones and he was surprised that I had already passed that particular spot on the course.  I knew I felt good and was happy to be ahead of pace.  He rode next to me a minute more and we said our goodbyes.  He had to get home and rally the family.  I had forty some miles to go...

This course is full of some crazy hills.  We are talking a total of 2400 feet of elevation.  There were times I struggled and I cursed a lot on this ride.  Of course there were plenty of down hills too and that is always fun.  At the bottom of one hill, mile 18, my buddy Michael was there with signs made for all his Rhode Warrior friends.  It was so awesome to see him although I just smiled and waved. I felt pretty good here and didn't want to lose my momentum.  I so appreciated seeing him though as there were no bikes around me.  I was pretty sure I was last.
Coming down the hill. Hi, Mike!

Ok, best sign ever!!!  Thanks, Mike!

I had practiced my hydration and fuel with each ride.  I had two bottle holders on my bike but knew I would need a third.  At mile 35 there was going to be a bottle exchange with just water.  I made sure I drank my electrolyte drink first and planned to exchange that one.  

I also kept looking at my watch.  The cut off for the bike was 12:45 at about mile 50 on the course.  I needed to be past that before that time.  I was ahead of schedule but couldn't stop looking at my watch and doing the math in my head.  I knew I would make it but still couldn't help but worry about something going terribly wrong.  I rode a long time without seeing anyone. I couldn't wait to get to the bottle exchange just to see people.

I hit a road that was quite bumpy.  My empty bottle started to shake and it hit my right leg. I reached down and put it back in place and then it hit my left leg. Apparently, being empty did not keep it in place as well as when it was full. I am not gonna lie, it was the first time I used this bottle and I know,  I know, nothing new on race day! I honestly did not think a water bottle would be a problem.  And now we know.

One more bump and bam, my water bottle was rolling away.  Oh well, there is a stop at mile 35 and I was getting close.  Finally, I see the stop, people, water jugs and police at the intersection.  I hadn't so much as seen a car in about ten miles and I was so happy to see people up ahead.

I stopped at the table and they told me I could fill up. I said I lost a bottle and hoped they had one and guess what, no freaking bottles.  A girl at the table said they were not given enough bottles for as many riders that passed by.  Now, I know I should not rely on other people, but what are the chances that they would not have just one bottle.  I had just one bottle with water so I drank some, filled up and headed on my way.  Pissed off!

I was feeling tired and defeated just a bit.  I crossed through the intersection and then I started to see Rhode Warrior water bottles along the side of the road.  People drank that fast and just threw the bottles? I had 28 more miles to go and one bottle of water. I was pretty sure I would be fine but hated to not have the cushion.

At mile 40, I had a GU and some water.  Right after that, I hit a difficult spot on the course.  I don't know if it was just me being tired but I felt like for about 8 miles or so all I did was go up.  I was praying for the hills to stop. Negative thoughts took over. "Who did I think I was that I could do this?"  "What the hell were you thinking?"  "You have no right to be here!"  Yeah, that happened.  

But through all that, I kept moving forward.  I just kept peddling and I started to think about all the kind words and messages that people had sent me over the last couple days.  I didn't want to let anyone down. I just had to keep going forward and before I knew it, I hit mile 50 with more than an hour before the cutoff.  I was thrilled!

Now, one thing you all need to know is the course was not 56 miles. It was 58.2!  This was not a surprise, everyone knew this going into the race, I'm just pretty sure I didn't mention that to you.

I really wanted to stop peddling at this point. I decided that if I never see this bike again, I would be ok with that.  I have to add here a huge thank you to my friends Lori and Sean. It was their bike I have been riding the last six months.  Without them and the bike, I am not so sure I would of made it this far.  The bike is beautiful and after a couple changes to the stem and seat, it fit perfect.  However, at this point in the ride, I was practicing telling Mr. RWM to put the old seat and stem back on and please drive it back to their house so I never have to see it again!  The bike and I are over!  This would be our last date.

The cop stopped traffic on Rt. 1 and I shot across right into a bunch of beach traffic.  No shoulder. I actually unclipped here for fear of not being able to catch myself. I felt trapped with no where to go.  I saw the flagger ahead and it only took a minute to get there, but I felt panicked none the less. I was so happy to make the right onto 1A.  Not as much traffic as this road was parallel to the beach.  I knew I would be making a left to get to Atlantic Ave and finish for the bike, but it was never coming! I started to  panic as I didn't see a painted pink arrow on this road like I did the rest of the course.  Did I miss my turn?  Am I going to far?  I kept on going and finally saw the cop who held traffic so I could make the left and then one more left onto Atlantic Ave. 

Now, not only were there so many cars, there were people everywhere with their chairs and coolers making there way to and from the beach. No one cared that I was there, but how were they to know I was in a race. I was a lone biker on the road who was interrupting their fun.  I had not seen or talked to anyone since mile 35.  I was feeling very lonely.

Finally, I saw the TriMom flags and a really cute little girl hanging on the fence.  As I got closer, I couldn't believe it, it was Gracie! My family actually made it and I was coming in earlier than I had expected.  I got tears in my eyes and heard everyone cheering me on and then was like, no, no, don't crash now! Get the tears out of your eyes so you can see where you are going!
This is how Gracie entertained herself while waiting.  Thanks Beth for the picture!

Love this one also courtesy of Beth.  My mom, dad and Mr. RWM.

Smiling! I was just so happy the end was in site, my family was there and I was going to get off the bike!

I dismounted and I so very happy to have both feet on the ground.  I rode 58 miles in 4:18:28.  I waved to everyone and headed to my rack. Bike hung up, helmet off, sneakers and race belt on.  I grabbed my banana and for the life of me, I could not peel it! I was teary as my family was yelling over to me and I wanted to just run to them and hug everyone.  I finally got the banana peeled and decided to run and eat it. I gave everyone one last wave and started out for a little 13.1 mile run...
T2 2:51

Stay tuned for the run recap.

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole


  1. Well done!!! We are so different. I crave being alone. Although people do keep me honest and on my game and I loved seeing each one of the volunteers and that guy with the cow bell in the red shirt with the blue car. Nicole you did amazing with the bike. That is a SUPER tough course and you did it. So you don't want to go for a bike ride over the weekend then?

  2. Wow. Super impressive. And so much more inspiring than folks who are "tri-naturals". I've loved reading about your process and how you've gone about preparing for everything. Makes me think I might want to do it!

  3. Nicole, you are simply remarkable! I loved yesterday's post cause I can relate to not being a a swimmer and you coming so far and today's was inspiring too! You fought through the battle in your mind and decided to let your heart take over. I can't wait to hear the run! I'm so impressed!

  4. That must have been so stressful riding alongside all that beach traffic - that would have totally messed with me. You did incredible - which doesn't surprise me one bit!!!