Sunday, April 29, 2012

To Hell and Back

Its April 21, 2009 I’m standing in Austin Texas waiting for Smug Git and Gus the perfect son to come through the finish line of their first MS150, there are crowds of people everywhere clapping and cheering for their friends and family members as they cross the finish line.  Just then I see Gus and Smug Git and I’m so, so proud of them. It was at that point I said to myself I am going to do this one day. I will ride across that finish line on my bike but at that point it really was just a dream, a wish, a pie in the sky idea. 

Today April 29, 2012 I’m about to write my last MS150 blog and let you all know I did it! I rode every mile every hill and through that finish line in Austin and I have to tell you it was the best feeling!  But let me go back to the beginning.

Saturday April 21, 2012. The big day has finally arrived. I’ve done all the training I could possibly do, I have the bike, helmet, shorts, shoes, bandanas, food, water and sun cream.  Have I left anything out? Besides Smug git No I think I’m good to go.  So why do I feel like I could burst into tears at any moment I’m having a hard time talking, hell I’m actually having a pretty hard time breathing at this point. I’m struggling to keep it all together and get out the bathroom. Smug Git, Leanne and Amanda (who is driving us up to the start) are all waiting on me. OK, deep breath, wash my face and go out.

Leanne looks nervous but is holding it together. Smug Git is making the breakfast cool as a cucumber, well what do you expect he is Smug Git after all.  Amanda… Well, what can I say about Amanda? She on the other hand is beside herself with excitement cheering us all on, dancing and shouting “go izzi go” so then I start laughing but it’s that stupid nervous laugh and if I stop I’m liable to start crying again. Who’s bloody stupid idea was this?  I try my best to eat my breakfast of champions; bread roll, bacon (real British bacon not the fatty American stuff) and a fried egg. Delicious! However this morning I feel like I’m eating razor blades it doesn’t matter how much brown sauce I put on it it’s still hard to eat.  Ok I have had enough of this lets get going. We get everything in the car and head off.  Oh god I feel sick again, we head up to Waller, our starting point and to give Amanda her dues she has us all in stiches! Every time she passes a car with bikes on it she is screaming out the car window and waving like some kind of crazy person! The people in the other cars are just speeding away past her.  We get to our meeting point and all get out the car. Amanda, now known as “Crazy Camera Lady”, is at it again.  “Come on ladies are you not excited?’
Me “yes”

Crazy Camera Lady “Really? You could have fooled me”

Then she goes away to another group that has arrived and starts to take pictures of them.

To be fair I’m not sure I would have got on that bike if Amanda (Crazy Camera Lady) was not there to take my mind off of it. She was brill and has us laughing and singing and by the time we got on our bikes and left we were just glad to get rid of her (just kidding hon I love you, you kept me together, I owe you big time!).

Our little starting team
And we’re off! Austin here I come. If truth be told I have that funny feeling in my tummy as I’m writing this it’s kinda cool.  As you all know the Saturday was very windy but I was so excited at first I never even noticed it. I just got my head down and started cycling and before I knew it we were at the first rest stop and then lunch. Lunch was organized like a well-oiled machine, the food was great just what I needed and we got two Bluebell ice cream sandwiches (worth doing the ride just for that I think) then back on the bike.  I had just left the lunch break and was back on the road when over to my right I notice some blue and pink t-shirts shouting and screaming and it was my mum, Lesley and Roy McQuade! Oh my god I nearly fell off the bike. What a surprise, but me being me I was so shocked I did not even stop the bike I  just kept riding (seriously would Lance have stopped?) Which was probably a good thing I might have went back home with them. I was so happy to see them I think I may have peddled a wee bit faster after that… Well that would have been till the wind started blowing in my face and I was cycling up this one hill at 3mph. I could have got off and walked up faster only I could not clip out the bloody peddles.

A couple of rest stops later in a little town called Industry there they were again, can this get any better? Why yes it could I could actually get off at the rest stop and give them all a hug. NOW that was awesome. And just as we were about to leave Beth, my friend who has MS, was right there with her whole family; Billy, Charlotte, Kimberley, Andy and beautiful baby Bethany. You guys rock! I have the best family and friends it was so good to see them all. The ride to the next stop went by in a blur thanks to y’all.

By this point I was still feeling pretty good. We were coming up on a small town called Fayetteville, TX. Everyone who lived in the town was out on the streets, they had bubble machines, flags and bands playing. When you cycled passed they shouted out their thanks and offered you  food and drinks. It was amazing! If you ever get the chance to go out for a drive - go there its beautiful.  All along the route on Saturday there were sights to be seen like the guy who had his digger out on the side of the road with the bucket filled with ice and free beers or another guy offering free oranges or beer! That made me laugh who would possibly want an orange, really? I really wanted a beer but you know me I would not have got back on the bike.  We finally get to the second to last rest stop to the best news ever we only have 8 more miles of winds and the last 7 miles the wind will be at out back. With that being said we quickly did what we had to do I’ll leave the gross stuff out but will let my girls out there know the Hoo-Ha cream worked a treat and I may be able to find a few other uses for it off the bike (another blog another time). Right, back on the bikes and right enough the wind was bad. Smug Git did let me draft from him so that made it so much better for me then we turned the corner and as promised the wind was at our back and the last 7 miles was literally a breeze. We crossed the finish line at La Grange at around 4:30 there were hundreds of people there cheering us through I was so happy day one DONE!

Now off for a shower, food and an early night then I get to do it all again tomorrow. 

Sunday April 22, 2012, Day two. The lights go on in the tent at 6:00am and somewhere outside I can hear what sounds like a disco and I realize that it’s the organizers getting everyone up and ready for the day.  Well I am freezing and I don’t want to move from my sleeping bag. Everyone in the tent is busy getting organized packing up all their gear, moving their bikes god knows where but bikes are leaving the tents with guys in pj’s.  I just put my head back under the covers and wait till Smug Git says the magic words “breakfast is here”. Well I bounce out of that bag, ok, bounce not so much, hobble I’d say was a better verb. I get to the breakfast burritos and I’m not sure how many I can have but I take two and pretend to the people round me one is for Smug Git. I go back to my bed and Smug Git looks at my burritos and I’m like “Get your own!”. I scoff down my breakfast, I know what’s ahead of me today and I know what kind of food is at the rest stops and there are only so many pretzels and gummy bear’s one woman can eat. Oh and after the burritos I remember I made a PB&J sandwich last night and hid it in my bag to have later but fell asleep. I grab that out and start devouring that as well. I just swallow the last bit and then it hits me I’m going to have to use the big blue port-a-potty. Oh shit! Literally! Ok well I’ll just have to worry about that later.  I finally have to get ready to go.
Day 2 Starting Line - Holy Shit so many riders!

I get all my gear on and we head out to the start line. Now this is my least favorite place I’m so worried about the crowd’s and I kid you not there are thousands of riders. It looks spectacular but once again I’m a wreck.  We are heading up to take our turn to start and it’s time to go….. But I can’t get on the bike, I just can’t do it. Nothing I try works. I’m just about to have a complete melt down and I can’t find Smug Git to shout at him and then out of the crowd comes a ride marshal and he says to me “Ma-am do you need some help?”

Me “yes please”

He stops the ride and helps me on my bike and gives me a wee push off.  My Hero! And then I’m crying… Oh so this is how today is going to go I just know it.

There are thousands of riders so it was hard for me for the first five miles till we spread out a bit then I was able to do my own thing. We get to the second rest stop and there is this DJ and she is getting all the riders up to dance and give me a good song and I’ll dance anywhere. So a toilet break, something to eat and a line dance was all I needed to get me back on my way.  The only way I can get through this today is by resetting my bike computer to zero so I know how far it is to the next break and up to now it’s working well.  I always knew the second day would be the hardest day. It has all the hills and for me knowing I had to do it all again was a huge challenge but no matter what, I was going to do this. We got to the lunch break and all that breakfast had finally caught up with me but the lines for the toilets were crazy but what can you do? You just have to squeeze your butt cheeks together and wait in line with everyone else but ohhh the relief when I was done… Why, I think I can finish the ride now…

At lunch I met this fabulous older lady and while we chatted over lunch she told me how this ride would empower us women and that if we could do this we could do anything and that it would change our lives, and you know what I know she’s right I just wish I had got her name. Thanks lovely lady.

I think at this point we only have about 30 miles left but I am starting to struggle big time. Our next stop is about 12 miles away and I’m sure I will need a stop in between. We set off and as expected around 7 miles we break for about 10 minutes then on to the second last rest stop. Oh there was a woman there with a hose pipe and she was sprinkling riders with cold water as they walked passed. It was heaven, helmet off and face right in it. Oh my god how much did I need that? We are just getting ready to leave when this ass tells us just 8 miles to go oh and by the way it’s the toughest 8 miles of the ride I wanted to go over and punch his face in if I could actually have walked and threw a good punch I might have tried.  I told Smug Git I might have to do it in 2 mile increments and he said “Listen honey you do it whatever way you can” God I love that man! Ok here goes last 8 miles. In the distance all I can see are the ups and down of hills. We start on and I work as hard as I can. We stop after about 3 miles to change into our YizziY t-shirts. I am so exhausted I don’t even care about where I take of the old biking jersey I just pull it off and put on the new one then Smug Git tells me to hurry or something and I lose the plot with him and I’m calling him patronizing and other nice wife stuff then I look at him and he’s holding my bike, helmet and old sweaty t-shirt… Well, I’m sorry but I was mad. Ok this is it! Get me to the finish line I’ve had enough I’m done. I get back on and peddle my heart out then I can hear the music blaring. I turn the corner and I can hear the crowds cheering and I look up and I can see the words FINISH LINE I look to my left and the first face I see is Callum (Greek Adonis) then Gus (perfect son), my Mum, Amanda and Lesley are all there and a little ways up Alison and Iain.  I just did it I can’t quite believe it myself but I DID IT!

Woo-Hoo The End!

Not so Serious bit. Smug Git and his Sad Facts

First things first. You can't imagine how proud I am of Izzi, but before I talk about her achievements I would like to thank all the friends and family who supported us through this, especially those who came to Austin to cheer us through the finish line. I'd also like to call out Callum and Gus who are still suffering from Saturday morning abandonment issues!

So as I said you have no idea how proud I am of Izzi. Seeing her cross the finish line is something that I will remember for ever. Being with her through this is something that money could not buy, we spent some great mornings together, as Izzi has said before Texas is a beautiful place and there are very few things better than cycling through the hill country together... As you can imagine there were some challenging times as well, but working through those has brought us closer together and given us much to laugh about later (much, much later!)

When she first said that she was going to sign up for this, i must admit that I just ignored it. Another spur of the moment flippant comment which I thought would be forgotten by morning. One week later Izzi was watching over me as I signed up on the website. At that point I knew this was going to be an 'interesting' 6 months or so. As regular followers know I bought Izzi her first bike for her 30thbirthday, while it was used occasionally it spent more time gathering dust than it did out on the road. I tried to work out how many miles or how much time she had spent on a bike before we started this madness and honestly i don't think she had ridden more than 20 or 30 miles. So discounting that Izzi was a total novice coming into this.

It was a beautiful evening in October when we took the Shiny New Bike out and Izzi wobbled round the Hassler parking lot and we found that the parking lot was .2 of a mile round. 5 loops later and Izzi had ridden her first mile! Over the next few days and weeks Izzi would loop that parking lot 70 or so times before she gained enough confidence to go out in the neighborhood with the Don and I and she clocked up her first real ride; Just over 10 miles in a little over an hour. Steve passed on his wisdom by telling her that "It's all about the tits". Tits of course stands for Time In The Saddle (y'all can drag your minds out of the gutter now).

25 weeks later Izzi completed the MS150 and I am so proud of her. It was not an easy first day and being a novice makes those second day hills very very challenging. Honey – Well done! Seriously you are amazing!

Ok enough mush - So what about these stats I hear you ask! Well here we go...

Our MS150 ride was 141 miles which we completed with a ride time of 12hours. We averaged 11.5 mph, climbed 4379 feet and burned 6000calories (ish). A pretty damn respectable ride!

But how far did Izzi cycle since October?

She cycled over 1100 miles which works out to be Houston to Austin over 7 times, Houston to Denver once or for our British readers Land's End to John O'Groats 1.25 times or Glasgow to Balatonfured, Hungary (you gotta love Google :) and no I don't know where it is just look it up people)

Izzi, as you know, disliked hills however she did manage to climb over14,000 ft. Which works out to be almost 5 "Munroe's", or higher than Pike's Peak. I think you earned that pack of Tudor crisps honey!

Ok and what about the tits? well she managed 100 hours or just over 5 days in the saddle which brings tears to the eyes just thinking about it.

Oh and for all you calorie counters out there (and this is a real rough calculation) Izzi burned approximately 35,000 calories or about132 Milky Way bars (Mars bars for our UK friends)

Normal service will now resume and hopefully Izzi won't have lost too many readers after this drivel.

Yours, Smugly,

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