Dangerously Daydreaming

"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible." ~ T. E. Lawrence

Ski to Sea Recap

It’s done!  My 4th 90 Day Challenge is complete!  Ski to Sea was last Sunday and I did my road bike leg of 42 miles.

I felt so accomplished!  And sore.  And tired.  Full disclosure: my butt and I still aren’t on good terms – it hates me.

Ski to Sea is a relay race that has taken place in my beautiful corner of Northwest Washington for 101 years now.  It consists of 7 different sporting events that require a team of 8 people to complete as the course winds from majestic Mount Baker through the foothills of the Cascade Range, follows the rushing Nooksack River, along rolling hills of pastureland, and finishes up by crossing Bellingham Bay – a distance of usually between 90 and 100 miles.  I can’t imagine a more beautiful area to have a race through – I might be slightly biased.  The legs of the race take place in the order of cross country skiing, downhill skiing/snowboarding, running, road biking, canoeing (two man team), mountain biking, and sea kayaking.  Only the first 500 teams to sign up are allowed to race.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been training for the road bike leg as part of my latest 90 Day Challenge.  I trained quite a bit but I never got to ride the actual course.  Last week before the race I’d had a few training mishaps.  My attempt to ride the course resulted in a flat tire only 6 miles into the ride and would have left me stranded in the Cascade wilderness were it not for some guys who stopped to help.  Training for the rest of that week was a bit of a fiasco in itself.  After I got my tire fixed and was back on the road doing my tri-weekly commute of 26 miles round trip to work, the river flooded over my route home.  I ended up walking through 6 inches of chilly water halfway through the ride and shivered the whole way home.  If that’s what it took to get all of that misfortune out of my system before the race, I’ll take it!

The morning of the race I woke up at 5 AM to meet half of my team so we could carpool up the mountain together.  I fell asleep on the drive up – NOT a morning person.  I was dropped off at my starting point, the Dept of Transportation’s plow station.  And there I waited for 3 hours for the race to start and the legs ahead of me to make their way down the course.  Me and 499 other cyclists cuddled up in blankets waiting patiently.  There were athletes of all kinds out there: from the daily commuter types like myself to Olympic-level competitors.  Some of the cyclists were from Europe and had been flown in to win this race for local companies as an advertising scheme.  These guys had $30,000+ bicycles, the aerodynamic conical helmets, the whole star package.  It was phenomenal to watch them warm up and when their runners handed off the timing chip to them, they were out of the starting chute like bullets!

The view from the starting line.

I’m happy to say that I avoided getting any flats during the ride, I passed a few guys who were pumping up new tubes on the side of the road.  The first 20 miles were easy, I felt strong, confident, and capable.  But the last 20 miles were murder.  We turned onto a road and there was a long, steady, gradual climb.  And when the hills got steeper I even saw some cyclists unclip from their pedals and start walking their bikes.  I’m glad to say I didn’t walk my bike at any point, but the hills took it out of me and there were times when my speed was pitiable slow.  Checking my speedometer periodically I was nearly gleeful to see when I had just 5 more miles to go.  The final push, all I had went into those last few miles.

Before long I was riding through the town where the finish line was set up.  Bystanders were cheering, encouraging me that I only had a mile to go, just a little further, keep riding!  And then I saw it, no finish line has ever looked so beautiful.  I rounded the corner without slowing down and charged into the chute, then slammed on my brakes to hand off the timing chip to my teammate.  My feet were numb and unclipping my shoes from the pedals felt like a battle.  And then I was stumbling towards the sidewalk.  J met me with an embrace and took my bike so I could slump into oblivion for a moment.  My race was done.

After a few minutes of rest I was able to stop at J’s house.  I had salt granules clinging to my skin from sweat that had long ago dried up.  And I was famished, nearly ready to start chewing on my arm.  After a meal and a shower we headed into town so we could watch our kayaker skim into the finish line.  We got to spend time with friends, there was plenty of food for a starving me, and by 9 PM I was ready for bed – thoroughly exhausted.

Ski To Sea was an unforgettable experience.  My leg took me 2 hours and 53 minutes to ride.  I had hoped that it would take me 2 hours and 30 minutes at most.  But truly, I’m glad to have completed it without injury.  A couple of people had accidents and were rushed to the hospital.  And that just means I have a timing goal to shoot for when I start training for the race next year.  In the meantime, I’m thrilled to know that I’ve ridden in Ski to Sea – it’s an accomplishment for this couch potato.

And my 90 Day Challenge?  Now that it’s complete I’m ready to start a new one.  I’m going to start training for The Bellingham Bay Half Marathon in September with J.

* And I’m doing a bit of a happy dance because this is my 100th post!  Yay!

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14 comments on “Ski to Sea Recap

  1. Worrywart
    May 30, 2012

    Congratulations! You have inspired me to get my bike tuned up TODAY!

    • Audrey
      June 7, 2012

      Oh my gosh, I’m so excited for you!! Have fun with it and keep me posted! 🙂

  2. storiesbywilliams
    May 30, 2012

    Alright! Done and done. Sounds familiar too. You ever heard of the Camino de Santiago? After many days of walking 20+ km in the Spanish summer heat, you’re body is ready to stage a coup d’etat!

    • Audrey
      June 7, 2012

      I’ve never heard of Camino de Santiago. It sounds brutal! They’ve got to have a ton of heat stroke cases pop up on something like that! I thought it was bad to hear about a couple of biking accidents during my race (head over handlebars type stuff)…

      • storiesbywilliams
        June 7, 2012

        Flipping? Ouch, I’ve done that before! In terms of Camino, I think the majority of injuries are just repetitive stress, but yes, I imagine heat exhaustion must be common. I want to do travel stories somehow, but I think I’ll either have to cram that into my beer and food site since it’s a lot closer to travel than sci-fi 🙂

      • Audrey
        June 7, 2012

        The repetitive stress injuries make more sense. Yes, flipping – I heard they resulted in a couple of hospital visits…
        Oh you should! Travel and food – what could be better?! They fit together perfectly anyway! I’d be all over reading more on that anyway!

      • storiesbywilliams
        June 7, 2012

        iamthebeersnob.com. Look for it! You know, you are fast becoming my most loyal reader 😉

      • Audrey
        June 7, 2012

        Great! Now I’m going to further lament the fact that I can’t drink beer (gluten-complications) when I read about all the delicious ones you’re enjoying. Jealousy is cold as the grave… Anyway, I’m already liking what I see on there!! So yum.

  3. Silvia Reed
    May 30, 2012

    I’m so proud of you Audrey. Ski to Sea is not an easy ride, takes a lot of training, courage and determination, which YOU HAVE LOTS OF. Congratulations my friend, and this INCREDIBLE ACCOMPLISHMENT.

    • Audrey
      June 7, 2012

      Silvia, you are so kind! It was such a great experience, looking forward to next year!!

  4. whatimeant2say
    May 30, 2012

    Wow! All kinds of accomplishments to celebrate – Ski to Sea and your 100th post. Congratulations! I love your description of your leg of the race. It wore me out just reading it!

    • Audrey
      June 7, 2012

      Haha, it wore me out writing it and remembering! Such a good feeling to have completed the race. Thank you!!

  5. ethelthedean
    May 30, 2012

    I am so very stoked for you and so very proud of you too! Seriously lady, congratulations on kicking ass and taking names. You are a superstar!

    It sounds as though you had a really fabulous day and a really great ride! I’m sure all all the aches and pains will slowly dissipate as the week continues on.

    And of course congrats on 100 posts! I really look forward to reading the next 100 🙂

    • Audrey
      June 7, 2012

      Feeling MUCH better now and actually at the point where I can stand to look at my bike again. 😉
      Thank you, there’s such a major feeling of accomplishment. TM is going to be like that for you and M – I’m seriously proud of you guys, you’ll rock!

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