Head for the hills!… And to the hills, I went! This weekend I participated in the Head For The Hills Bike Rally in Cedar Hill, TX. The optional distances were 20, 40, and 60 miles. I did the 60.
The Start: There were many riders squeezed into different lanes per the route options. We started in front of a shopping center mall. The mayor of the city spoke, and an invocation to prayer was given. I was like, Is God in Cedar Hill, TX? The national anthem was sung by a high schooler, the horn sounded, and we were off!
The Route: It was smooth, rough, and tough. Tough because it was between 70 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit, most of the time it felt like we were riding on Mars. Then there were the hills. They made their point when they named this ride. There was a lot of inclines, the kind that you just want to ride over as fast as you can. The wind was a relentless companion, most often against you and all you stood for. I learned early on that this ride was out to test my patience and teach me patience liked it or not. I decided to take on the mindset of grit, and I told myself, “This route is what it is, pace yourself, and grind it out no matter what comes your way.”
There were sections on the countriest roads if countriest is even a word, where I felt like I was riding a jack-hammer. I mean everything was vibrating. No kidding. My vision was blurred because my helmet and head were shaking so much. I thought to myself, “Everyone here is going through the same thing, but I have something they don’t have, the will to get through this section faster.” People were just slowing down. I knew the slower I went the longer I would have to endure the torture. I went and went until road changed into a sea of glass, nice and smooth, at least that is what felt like to me after the torture session.
As the ride continued, I saw riders a long ways off, ahead of me, on top of this humongest hill. I was like how am I going to go fast enough to clear this hill? I started to panic as I remembered the pain I have endured in the past, on these bike rides. In 2013 I crashed 5 miles from the finish of a 62-mile bike rally. I broke my collarbone and some ribs. In 2016, on the Emmit Smith Grand Fondo, at mile 48, both legs seized up with cramps while I was climbing a hill and I almost crashed. I ended up getting picked up by a SAG unit and driven back to the finish line. A month ago I was riding in the Lancaster Country Ride and at mile 43 my chain snapped in the middle of a big climb. I almost bit it. I walked about a mile before getting picked up and again taken to the finish line. My first year cycling I got hit by a van. The van never stopped to help me. I was picked up by a college student driving by. So you can imagine that my biggest fear was to crash because I was not able to unclip out of my pedals in time or getting hit by a car.
As I digress, I approached this whale of a hill, and I pedaled steady and fast. I was in the middle portion. I thought to myself, “I’m in it now! No backing down!” I punch the pedals as fast I could go. I looked at my bike computer, I was at 500 watts! I was up and over, tapering off at 13 miles per hour. I had conquered that beast! I still had 10 miles to go. Cramps started up at mile 51. I was like,” Noooooo!!”, I sucked down my last two gel packs and drank from my bottle. I said a prayer to God. “God please help me finish, please get me through with no cramps.” Then I spoke to my cramps, Cramps I rebuke you in the name of Jesus. I command you to stop!” Shortly, I felt better and just steady pedaled my way to the finish. There was no real finish line, just a ball of riders trying to get their free cheeseburger, soft drinks, and beers in front of the same shopping center mall.
I phoned my wife, she was nine minutes away from picking me up. She was surprised at how fast I finished, and she told me not to forget my burger. I told her she would find me in the longest line in the world trying to get my free cheeseburger and drink.
My wife finally showed up. They gave me two Diet Dr. Peppers, one for her, one for me, and we shared my cheeseburger. It was good times. I can’t wait for the next one.