Well today was the day I've been looking forward to for quite some time. My first event (and longest ride!) since the August 26 accident and, as you can see from the photo above, I look nearly normal. The Ride the Ridge Hudson Valley Challenge is a fixture on the local riding calendar and a fundraiser for a very nice independent school in the area. Not to sound snooty, though, but until this year, I never felt that a 50-mile event was really worth suiting up for. My how things have changed.
I live about 20 minutes from the start, so I didn't have to rise too early to pick up my registration materials and prepare for the ride. It was a thrill to go through my checklist last night and scurry around the house looking for all of the necessary items. It was hard falling asleep last night knowing that in a few hours I would be experiencing the excitement of a large group ride for the first time in over nine months.
I know I should be glad to simply be riding pain-free in an event of this length, but my weak legs and terrible cardio fitness really created a disconnect between my mind and my body. I was able to override the impulse to hammer, but finding myself in an unfamiliar part of the pack of riders huffing up hills I used to charge up was a bit disorienting. For the most part, though, I was able to climb seated on this ride with 2000 ft. of gain which was a pleasure to see. I really prefer to climb in the saddle unless things are really nuts.
While this was a local event, I was surprised to see so few familiar faces. I did run into my friend Doug from Woodstock at the start with his beautiful new carbon Serrota. I also had the pleasure of riding with Andrey and his son Alex in the last few miles of the ride as they were finishing the 30-mile loop. When I saw him in the distance, I knew that anyone with bar-end shifters and a rando bag had to be a friend of mine. It was great to catch up with Andrey who is in the midst of a successful season filled with qualifying rides for PBP.
The only physical discomfort I felt today came in the last few miles when I felt a little soreness in the area where my left femur enters my hip. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this is nothing more serious than some tight and/or weak muscles and tendons rather than any nascent problem with my bones.
Next up: I hope to ride the Flatlander's Delight 200K permanent before the end of the month, but I may have to fit in a 100-mile training ride first, just for good measure.