As with any journey there will be highs and lows. This week I am on a high and it is hard to describe. I have never felt so alive after a bike ride as I did this past weekend in Clermont. Let me try to explain.
There is this place in Florida named Clermont. It is in the middle of nowhere but there are hills. If you are not from South Florida you might not understand the importance of being able to drive 4 hours and hit the hills. For us being able to go somewhere that has more hills than just a bridge is fantastic. In addition to the hills, the people of Clermont respect the cyclists so it is a safe place to ride.
I have been to Clermont many times and every time I went I would always be in a panic. Mostly because I am scared of going down hill and some of the routes are on highways which freaks me out. This week we had a 65 mile bike ride planned. I have never ridden that far and I was already a little worried. When it got closer to the weekend the weather people were predicting rain and since I have never ridden in the rain either I was in complete panic mode.
On a normal situation I would have skipped the ride but training for an ironman does not allow that as an option. Plus Andy our coach decided that he was giving out the “Beeker” award for the person who whined the most. There was no way in hell I was going to be the one getting it.
So it was time for the ride and it was drizzling. I had my rain jacket (or my parachute which I like to call it since it acts like one) so it was ok until we got to the first down hill. My brakes were not working so I said to my group (Christy and Liz) that I needed to stop. Actually it ended up being that the brakes were just wet so it was making it hard to stop. I was thinking great how am I going to do this but I kept going. We got to the part of the ride with rolling hills. These are fun and by this point the rain stopped and things were drying up so I stopped being scared. It felt so good just to ride and not worry about being scared. We were cruising right along when all of a sudden at about mile 55 the rain started coming down. This was not ordinary rain, this was a downpour. The rain was coming in sideways and it was actually hitting the eyeballs which sort of hurt. The water was also rushing down the street and we were also getting sprayed by the the passing cars. And as if that wasn’t enough water my front tire was also splashing me. After the initial shock it was actually pretty fun to be doing that. Seriously, I am not sure how I did not completely freak out.
When we finished the ride we had to go for a 3 mile run so we headed up to change and at that point realized Andy had called us. Christy called him back and we were screaming and yelling when Andy asked where we were. When Christy told him we were back in the room he was shocked. He had gone out to look for us. He did not see us because we took a wrong turn somewhere and since Christy and I recognized where we were we decided not to go back to the original plan. We knew how to get back so we continued on.
After lunch we headed to Sugarloaf for hill repeats. I have heard about this hill for years so I was completely afraid of it. When we pulled up I just went to Andy and said go ahead and give me the Beeker award and then went back to my bike and got ready. I was shaking. As usual we stopped for a group photo:
I asked Ali for the strategy to get up the hill. She said take advantage of the little down hill that we have and then get down to the smaller gears and peddle fast and just take it easy. So that is what I did. Here I am at the top with a such a relief smile.
I got up ok but then I had to go down. I was still having issues with the brakes but I managed. So I went up again but coming down the second time was harder. I heard Kristen saying Espe you are going down slower than you went up. That I was. When I got down I was done but we were supposed to do at least 3 repeats. I was not going to I was too scared. Dario who is really good on the bike came to talk to me about my fear. He gave me some pointers about braking which I figured I would use next time but Andy said I had to go once more. I explaind that my brakes were not 100 % and he said I could walk the bike down. He just wanted me to climb. Like I said I have no issues going up. Anyway once I got up I was not going to walk down so down I went. Even slower than before. I even cried as I was going down. Everyone was laughing at me. They could not understand how I could go so slow. But as I was going up and down my team mates were all very encouraging even though they were laughing and that did help me get through this exercise. So Thank You. When I got down Andy came by with a big smile and a High Five. That just made my day. I knew he was proud of what I had just done. I was so excited. I had tackled 3 firsts in one day. Longest ride, ride in rain and Sugerloaf. It was now time for some drinks and dinner. There some very funny things that happened at dinner. It was a great night.
The next morning it was time to hit the clay trail for a 10 mile run. The weather was cool so it was a good run. That trail is brutal in the summer heat. When we finished Andy announced that it was time to vote for the Beeker award. The night before at dinner some of the group decided we should all vote for Andy. I didn’t really want to do that but I did not want to be the only one that didn’t so I asked everyone what they were really doing. Hans responded by saying they were turning the joke around on Silvana so I figured it was going to be a free for all. In the end there was a 3 way tie so we ended up voting again but just for the 3 finalists. This award is supposed to be funny but some people were taking it a little personal which made it even funnier. After the count it was official I was awarded the first Beeker award. I was presented a beaker full of beer which I proceeded to shug down. Best beer I have ever had. (a little side not about the beaker: Andy mentioned to Kristen that he needed to go buy a “Beeker” for the award. She responded by saying Stephanie works in a lab I am sure she can grab one. Yes you can stop laughing now. But that is how we ended up with a beaker. Actually turned out good because I got a beer).
Of course no award is complete without a post and pictures. Here is what Andy posted:
Of course since I am such a jokester this is what I did with my award:
Since we do not have another trip planned until April I get to keep this for 2 months. I am going to have so much fun with this (pretty much why everyone voted for me because there was definitely no whining going on from this Beeker).
I am happy to report that this week I made 82% of my workouts.
- Planned workout duration: 14:20
- Actual workout duration: 11:45
This week’s quote really sums up what I got out of the weekend in Clermont. The thing I have been lacking is confidence on the bike. I got that this weekend. The fear had always been in the way. It was not easy but it was worth it.
You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.-Eleanor Roosevelt