Wednesday, April 29, 2015

50 Miles for Rwanda (or some other African country)


The longest I'd ridden on my mountain bike going into the Rwanda ride was 32 miles. I had all these very good (lofty) intentions of coming off of Ragnar feeling amazing and strong and then having a huge weekend of riding before the 50 mile Ride for Rwanda.

That's not what happened. What happened was I tried to go ride 45ish miles after a couple days of rest after running 16 miles untrained and my legs revolted. I started a second loop of what I normally ride and ended up turning around after pushing my bike up the first hill. And then I tried not to cry and I texted Suzanne who is also training for Leadville (and probably being smarter about it): 

I have such amazing friends. She talked me right off the ledge... 

So basically, when I got to the start line for the 50 mile ride, I had ridden a little over half the distance of the ride. Ever. In my life. This isn't the first time I've trained so half-assedly, so I knew it was gonna be rough. I also don't quit... So I knew it was going to be a long day. 

But I can do anything for 7 hours. It's basically just going to get the mail... for 7 hours. 
"Good Luck" charm coffee at 5 am. If Rosie can do it, I can do it!
And really, that's all there was to it! The ride was almost exactly what I expected. A little bit painful after 4ish hours in the saddle. Soreness in places I'm not sure I knew existed before (my arms and back!), cramping in my legs (and of course, I forgot my salt tablets so I also started to lose my strength of mind), and general fatigue. Most of this is predictable. But there were a few things that were new to me... 

1) I forgot to eat. It's much more difficult to shove food in your mouth when you need to have to hands on the handlebars (and brakes) to maintain an upright position. I got all bonky and angry and felt like I was going to barf and/or start pushing people off their bikes. It didn't go away till an hour or so after I got some food in me. Some stranger also handed me a pill and told me it was salt, so I took it. And it helped! 

2) I am SO MUCH BETTER at descending than I used to be. Guys weren't pining to get around me on the downhills. I was holding my own and it was AWESOME. (This also happened on the uphills, too...)

3) Since I am holding my own on the downhills and the uphills (you know, for the most part), I have decided that I am officially a mountain biker. And that is a rad feeling. 

4) Even though I held my own, I walked parts of some of the hills and struggled through the middle of the race. I learned that I have a long, LONG way to go before I'm ready to ride double the distance at 10k feet.

So, I'm focusing in my training a little bit... I will be applying the lessons learned in this little do-dad to my training for Fire Road. Feeling SUPER STOKED to learn what I got to learn at this point in my training. Here are stats: 

I was so so so lucky to ride with my friends from Two Wheels One Planet (totally unexpected as I usually like to suffer alone). We kept our smiley faces for most of the ride!

We did it!!! 


  1. Hi Stephanie, you don't know me, but my name is Ruth & I am a kiwi, living in Hamilton, New Zealand. I just found your blog, which is great by the way, but the main reason I wanted to write was to say thank you for helping inspire me to do the 9 Great Walks (which I finished last year with the Heaphy Track). When the Great Walker competition started, it was the first time I'd ever heard of the 9 Great walks & (I work for Air NZ) we were getting lots of emails come through work, so I watched the winners get chosen, saw the videos you had all made - your entry video was very cool, Joels was hilarious, Richards was inspiring, I got to see alot of the photos as you all went through each walk, so much beauty and grandeur - mountains, waterfalls, rivers, trees, birds, wow! Seeing your determination to come to NZ after your health challenges made me feel like I didn't have an excuse - coz I live right here, and it had never occured to me to go do something awesome like that. So I set myself a goal to do all the 9 Great walks (over 2-3 years though, not 9 weeks, I wasn't brave enough to attempt that one lol). I did the Routeburn first (It was the shortest and I mistakenly thought it might be the easiest, yeah right) in December 2012, and then the Milford in March 2013, and then gradually tried to fit in all the rest over the next year and a bit. I never would have thought of such an ambitious goal but I loved seeing yours, Joel, Richards & Toshitakes photos, comments and journal-type entries. It seemed like you all just had such a great time together, met heaps of cool people, and got to see all the best parts of NZ that lots of kiwis (myself included) never venture out to in their whole lifetimes - and yet tourists spend thousands of dollars to come out and see these things that are right in our (well, my) own backyard. And I really wasn't that fit to start with, but I was like, if those guys can cram all that walking and canoeing into 9 weeks, I'm sure I could manage it (spaced out over a couple of years). So yes, I don't know if this will mean much to you, but I just really wanted to say thank you so much for your example. You never know the lives that you will touch while you are following your own dreams - so Kia Ora from a little white maori girl in Aotearoa :)

    1. Hi Ruth - I apologize for my serious delay in replying. I just took a look at your NZ blog and it brought back so many memories - I love it so much there! And YES, Routeburn almost killed me! It was a bummer because it's such a beautiful track, but I really suffered (that was the ONE track we had to carry tents on. My pack was so heavy!!!). I'd like to do that one again someday just to enjoy it more. :)

      Anyway - your comment means so much to me. Congrats on doing all 9 great walks! Coming home after my time in Aotearoa and getting back to "normal" life really felt like a bit of a suckerpunch in the belly. It was weird and tiring to adjust. Your comment was a perfectly timed reminder to me that "normal" life doesn't have to mean that we stop dreaming. So thank you. I hope you are well and still walking! (Although, it looks like you moved to Oz which isn't nearly as safe for walking!!!) :)