|SAG stop in Gettysburg (mile 72) with Barb and Deanne!|
|SAG stop in Gettysburg (mile 72) with Barb and Deanne!|
|Day 2 start in Lancaster!|
When I woke up Saturday morning, I thought to myself “what have I gotten myself into?” I was SO tired and really, really sore. I thought there was no way I could do this for another two days.
But I told myself to focus, that Tour de Pink is supposed to be hard, that I’m already DOING this, and to just keep going.
I told my mother-in-law on day 2 before departing that if I thought too hard about that day’s ride it would overwhelm me. I said, “I can’t think about it, I just have to do it.”
Little did I know that would be my mantra the whole day.
Surprisingly, day 2 started off really well, despite me being tired, sore and a little discouraged when I woke up that morning. The first part of the day went by pretty fast. The route was hilly, but not as hilly as day 1. I kept telling myself: 60. Get to the 60-mile mark.
I rode with a pretty big group when we got to Gettysburg. Barb, who was in the group, asked me while we were riding if I was going to do the 90 miles. I told her I definitely wanted to do 60 and then I’d see how I felt. I also told her my friend Bethan said to me, going into the ride, to “save nothing,” so I would give day 2 my all. And then Barb told me: “we’re only 6 miles away from 60.” I felt AMAZING, like I had come so far already and felt fine! Not too tired, not in pain. Six miles away from 60? Holy hell, this is amazing!
My favorite part of the day was when we went through Gettysburg Park. Part of the stretch I was by myself but I didn’t mind. The weather was breezy, it was quiet and the hills were rolling. I felt so at peace riding along. The least stressful parts of riding were when I could actually SEE the route in front of me and SEE that it wasn’t too hilly. I would see little rolling hills, and that was fine, but what was really hard was when I couldn’t see too far ahead. That meant there was either a really steep downhill, or a really steep uphill. Actually, I could see the big hills pretty clearly. Every time I saw a big hill ahead, I secretly hoped it wouldn’t be part of the route, and then I’d see other TdP cyclists going up the hill and I’d think “oh, #$%^,” I have to do that hill. The WORST was when you’d see the cyclists literally look like they were vertical to you. When you saw that, THAT meant a big hill. You’d see them in the distance, slowly crawling up, like barely moving, and you knew you had to do that, too. So you could imagine how much I’d love seeing just flat ground ahead.
Then we got to the 60-mile mark SAG stop and I was so energized I didn’t even think twice about going along. The next SAG stop was at mile 72, which wasn’t too far away. So I had a quick bite and bathroom break, met up with Barb and Deanne, and told them I would do 72 miles that day and then see how I felt. It was only around 1 p.m. and I felt amazing. Ready to rock. Ready to roll.
We got to the 72-mile mark in no time, and although I felt pretty good pulling in, I told everyone I thought I was done for the day. Literally everyone encouraged me to keep going. Barb said to come along with her and Deanne, because they were going to keep riding. She said, “let’s give it a try.” I fueled up again, took a quick break and then mentally decided I wasn’t done. I remembered to “save nothing.” This was my chance. This was the moment I mentally tried to prepare myself for: when I wanted to stop but decided not to. Decided to push a little bit further. This is the moment I told myself prior to Tour de Pink about how it would be challenging, mentally and physically, but I could do it because I WANTED to do it. This was the exact moment I waited for: when I had to make a game-time decision about what I was going to do next.
Everyone at the stop asked me if I was going to keep going. I said yes. YES. I’m not done today. There were lots of high-fives and fist pumps. Sean told me I could stop at any time, that he’d be following along in his car. I told myself that, too. I CAN STOP ANYTIME I WANT. I can do one more mile or I can do all the miles. I told myself, but I knew, deep down, with Barb and Deanne, that I was doing this whole thing. That I had come this far and I wasn’t going to stop until we got to the hotel. I knew there was no way I was going to do 72 miles but not 90 miles. I had come too far for this. I had trained too hard.
The moment I actually thought about it I quickly focused on something else. DON’T THINK, JUST DO. Because when I thought about how many miles I had left or how I was unsure how tricky or hilly the route would be, or how stressful it would be riding through the city and traffic lights, I was scared and nervous. DON’T THINK, JUST DO.
So I said to myself, “F-it,” and I embarked on the last stretch of the day with Barb and Deanne.
The route was pretty (ok, really) hilly. The hardest part was right at the end when we were only a few miles from the hotel in Frederick, MD. We had met up with another group, also doing the 90, and one of the TdP marshals on a mo-ped was behind us. (The whole 3 days there are professional cyclists on bikes, and marshals on mo-peds, with pink pom-poms on the back, who follow along and help direct traffic. The cyclists help you up hills and give you tips and advice on riding technique and strategy, and also tell you to look out for road blocks, or when we’re approaching a big downhill.)
Because of all the stopping and traffic lights I fell behind the group a couple of times, but the marshal never left my side. He stayed behind me and kept talking to me, which helped. My mouth was dry and I almost felt like I didn’t know what my legs were doing. At one point he told me it was only 4 more miles to the hotel. I was floored. FOUR?! That was WAY too many. I felt like four miles was the longest stretch ever. Four was too long. I couldn’t do four.
The marshal kept telling me we were almost to the hotel, and I said to him “I’ll believe it when I see it.” I literally felt like that day would never end.
Those four miles felt like the longest in my life. Finally we turned onto the street of the hotel and saw the beautiful pink arrow sign that said the hotel was just around the corner. And I SAW the hotel. As we rode onto the winding road that circled around to the hotel, the marshal asked me, “now do you believe it?” and I literally burst into tears. I told myself to try to keep it together until I actually clipped out of the bike, but I was crying so hard I couldn’t stop.
I pulled into the hotel parking lot and there was a group of like 20 people cheering for me as I rode up. The tears were flowing and I was having trouble finding my breath. I was so happy and so relieved all at the same time. And I couldn’t believe I did it. I couldn’t believe I had just ridden 90 miles. I was overwhelmed with myself.
As people cheered I got off my bike, still sobbing, and hugged Sean (I know this sounds like a scene from a movie, and trust me, it really felt like it). I WAS BAWLING. I had expected to cry on the last day at the finish line, but not on day 2. But there it was. My moment.
I explained to everyone they were “happy tears” and I was fine. People brought me water, were giving me hugs and high-fives. And as I walked into the hotel one of the other riders loosened up my cycling cleats for me and said “you can relax, you’re in the 90 mile club now.”
Finishing those 90 miles (before 4 p.m.!) was one of the single most emotional moments of my life. It was like I took everything I had in me and put it all into that day. Day 2. Just like I said I would, I literally SAVED NOTHING. I rode until I had nothing, NOTHING left.
It was like my seven months of training were for that day. That day was for me, after my breast cancer. I wasn’t just reclaiming my life and my health and my body after cancer; I was STARTING a new life.
I said before there is a Marjie before Tour de Pink and a Marjie after. Yes, I am different today, after finishing Tour de Pink, than I was when I started. But I also became a different person after those 90 miles. On day 2 I (FIIIINE, I’ll say it) became a cyclist.
The rest of day 2 post-ride was a whirlwind. I got a massage (like I did on day 1), but was so pumped up on adrenaline and endorphins I couldn’t rest. People were celebrating. The entire evening everyone kept coming up to me and hugging me and congratulating me. There was SO much energy, so much emotion. I DID THAT DAY. I RODE 90 MILES.
There was ravioli for dinner and apple pie for dessert. And Saturday night there were more speeches, plus awards given and group pictures taken. I was physically tired but my mind wouldn’t stop. My body wanted to rest but my mind was like BOOM BOOM BOOM. I knew I had the final day ahead of me. No time to rest. Keep focused. Stay strong. The finish line, the moment I’ve been waiting for and preparing for, is just around the corner. The finish line is tomorrow, I told myself. I have to get through tomorrow.