"I eat hills for breakfast, lunch and dinner.....om nom nom nom!" The words that came out of my mouth the second day around of riding in Madison. It took nearly 120 plus miles between the two days for me to come to this level of confidence, but it was one of the best experiences I have had throughout my training. And after a few flats and frowns, I desperately needed a good bike weekend.
Friday morning and afternoon couldn't have dragged any more. I was eager to hit the road, pick up my partner and get up to Madison. Everything was set: my rented Jeep Liberty was all packed up...with probably more stuff and junk than I would need but I have yet to figure out how to pack lightly. So you can probably only imagine the excitement I felt when school got out. It's like Alice Cooper's 'School's Out' was playing on repeat in my head. Getting up to Gurnee I fought through traffic, and go figure Kris wasn't all the way packed when I got there but I was grateful for the break out of the car, knowing full well that we would be back in it for at least another hour. And being the nice guy that he was, we pulled a quick Chinese-fire drill part of the way there so I could put my feet up, on the dash board of course, and relax.
Finally we got to Madison. And of course we pulled into the wrong hotel! There are so many of them in the same area, with damn near the same name. So we pulled over to the next parking lot, checked in, carried up a carts worth of stuff plus two tri bikes and got settled. Of course I felt the need to unpack EVERYTHING I brought, I have a tendency to make myself at home wherever I go. Steph and Jeff weren't going to be in for a few hours still so Kris and I ventured out to a local tri store and then out to dinner. By the time everyone did get into the hotel it was close to 11 and we had planned to meet at 7:30 in the lobby the next morning.
This was less of a problem for me and more for Kris. Haha poor guy. Somehow though our whole group of 6 people made it down to the lobby around 7:30.....ish...and out the door to hit the IMOO trail! We started at a BP gas station, went over some rules of the road (which was actually super helpful!) and then went on our way.
The ride itself was about 42 miles from where we left. I knew I could do the mileage, it was the hills, the "three bitches" as they call them, that I was worried about. The first 20 miles were slow for me because I was learning how to use my gears. I must have dropped my chain 3 or 4 times trying to figure out how to switch from the big ring to the small one, when the best time to do that is and "oh crap we're climbing and there goes my chain". I was starting to feel defeated, but Steph was amazing. She hung back with me and we tried to work through it. Eventually I got it, but as that eventually hit we found ourselves in the area of the loop with a lot of rollers.
That rush you get when you ride a roller coaster for the first time, that drop in your stomach and the exhilaration you feel is the best way to explain going down that first huge hill. But just like riding a roller coaster I screamed my head off! I think I scared the heck out of Steph. After I got done zooooooming down the hill, screaming Steph laughed a little and I told her "I feel like I'm on a roller coaster that I have to control and that's terrifying." This happened a few more times along the way.
We hit the first bitch and I was anticipating her wrath. Half way up it leveled out and I swapped my gears out. Bad move Sam. Not long after I did that I started to have to climb again. Hot damn that was hard! We all met up at the top after the climb. I have to do that twice!? Plus two more. Oh fuuuuuu......Coming up to the second big hill I didn't know it was a bitch until I got dine climbing and Steph congratulated me on getting up it. I felt doooped! But that passed soon after when I realized there was only one more to go. And we had already completed about three-fourths of the ride. Think positive!
At least for this one I had a heads up. And I dug down deep, pushed hard and trekked my way up. I'd say despite being tired, that hill probably went the best. A quick ride back into town, which actually was the part of the ride I was most nervous during--I hate riding with cars, people are so unreliable! But it was quick and painless and we were back on home base at the gas station. One loop was sufficient enough for all of us the first day, but Steph, Stacey and I ended up going out to one of the community pools to put in some sweet sets before dinner while the guys went to brat fest. Who's the better triathletes? haha
We all met up for dinner and I STUFFED my face! I ordered a veggie burrito and in an attempt to be funny, Jeff told me I should get brisket with it. I agreed, not knowing that this was actually meat, and Jeff stopped the waitress from writing down the order and told me I wouldn't want it since it was meat. Hardy-har-har! After eating we all shuffled back to the hotel and snuggled into our rooms, we had 84 miles to take on the next morning!