I rode my second 50 mile organized ride this weekend. With a slight chance of rain, I was just hoping to finish without getting wet. I had a plan in place to use GU Energy Gels to help keep my energy up and help me to stay hydrated. I headed out with a couple other riders about 7:45am Saturday on mostly flat roads of West Central Ohio. When I got to the first stop, about 10 miles out, one of the workers asked if the wind was helping or hindering me. I hadn't even noticed it, so obviously, it was pushing me. The ride out was really quite easy with only minor hills. I was just enjoying being around other cyclists and the beauty of corn fields and woods all around. 90% or more of the ride was on roads I'd never traveled before, so I really enjoyed the scenery.
At the half-way stop, I could tell the wind was going to make the ride back a challenge. I'm not sure how hard the wind was blowing, but it was in my face almost the whole way back. I settled in behind a couple other cyclists, trying to keep pace with them so that I didn't slow down too much in the wind. By the time we got to the third stop, with about 12-15 miles left, I wasn't sure I was going to make it back dry. Dark clouds had moved in and the radar on my phone was showing showers just south of the park we started at. I set out and hooked up with a couple other cyclists again. We crossed one of the major highways and we all stopped to tuck away anything that shouldn't get wet. Within another quarter mile, it started raining so hard I couldn't see out of my sunglasses anymore, although, I'm glad the rain drops were hitting my glasses and not my eyes! I was drenched.
About 40-42 miles in, I started cramping again. Throughout the ride, I'd been using a GU Energy Gel every 45 minutes or so, but with the cramping, I switched that to about every 30 minutes along with a lot of extra water. Withing about a half mile after using the gels, I noticed I wasn't cramping as bad. I can really tell that the cramping is something I need to figure out how to power through if I'm ever going to break the 50 mile mark.
Of course, the best part of this organized ride was recovery massages and lunch at the finish. I wish more rides offered massages at the end! Now, a couple days later, I'm still a little sore behind the knees and my left ankle is kind of tender. I'm trying to decide on a route next weekend to get out and ride some. I think if I'd ride more regularly, it would really help me build stamina and avoid the soreness and cramping.
On a positive note, I'm really proud to say I've reached 238 miles on my new bicycle already this summer! I've kind of set a goal to reach at least 300 miles by the end of fall. I'm starting to wonder if I should bump this to 400 or 500 miles at this point!