Another year, another City to Shore ride. I have to say, this year was extremely hot – I believe the 2nd hottest year that I have done this ride. My dad dropped Kevin and I off at the start at around 5:30 AM (despite the fact Kevin said years ago that he would never do the ride again – that was the hottest year I ever did it) he decided he wanted to go with me again this year. We both recently got road bikes so we figured we would have a good chance of it not taking all day.
Our wave left at about 7:25 AM – I was excited that I was able to see Lan Yin Tsai cheering for all the cyclists as we set out. In case you don’t know she is a MS cycling legend who has done the city to shore ride for years and years. She cycles the whole thing on a fixie in a dress and heels – oh and she’s in her 90s now. She sat this year out, but I was so happy I was able to see her!
We made it to the 1st rest stop and Kevin said his legs were starting to cramp up. As we left, something on Kevin’s bike started to squeak. Well, not really squeak, it honestly sounded like a baby chick had somehow become a stowaway somewhere on his bike and was peeping for help. It was really weird and I started having flashbacks to the last time we did the ride together and his bike squeaked non stop.
We kept going to the 2nd rest stop which was the 32 mile mark and also the lunch stop. Kevin stretched as we ate lunch by the pond watching other cyclists come and go. We were making great time and it was only around 10:15 or so. I debated even eating at all, but I knew there wouldn’t be anything other than bars and fruit at all the rest of the rest stops so I grabbed a PB and banana sandwich and chips.
After our rest we grabbed our bikes and headed out. We did not get very far before Kevin’s legs started cramping up again. We pulled off to the side to evaluate the situation. I told Kevin that maybe he should go to the medical tent back at the rest stop. I could tell he really wanted to continue, but he realized his cramps were too bad and we weren’t even 1/2 way yet. I told him it would be better to call it quits now and take the shuttle to the end instead of cycle a few more miles and then have to wait for a shuttle to come by and pick him up. Also, this is a ride for charity, not a race, so there is no reason to suffer – we raised money for a good cause and that is the important thing. I could tell he was disappointed and I wanted him to finish as well, but it’s not worth getting injured.
So he turned back to the rest stop and I continued on my way to OCNJ. I have to admit I was a little sad and got a bit teary eyed, but there was no reason for me to stop. I didn’t mind being on my own because there were so many people around you are never REALLY alone – and besides every other year I had done the ride (but 1) I set out on my own knowing nobody.
A bit down the road I saw the SAG wagon drive by and him waving at me and thought: ‘Well he’s on his way to the beach to relax in the sun!’ (WRONG – more on that later)
I have to say the roads were terrible this year – usually pot holes are marked with orange spray paint, but they weren’t this year and I had a few really close calls. You can’t just blast over them on a road bike like you could on a mountain bike or hybrid and there were quite a few people with tires that popped on the sides of the roads.
There was also quite a few people cramping up and/or passing out due to the heat. At one point when I was near mile 52 I noticed a cyclist ahead of me start to wobble on her bike. I yelled out “ARE YOU OK?!?!” and she yelled back “NO!” as I passed her. I jumped off my bike and rushed back to her as she fell back on the ground. I grabbed her water bottle and told her she needed to drink as she was probably dehydrated due to the heat. Other cyclists started stopping to help her as well – some tried calling for help, but couldn’t get through. We were very lucky that a SAG wagon happened to be going by so they pulled over and were able to get her a cold Gatorade, a snack and pour some cold water on her neck. We all stayed with her as she rested and when she started to feel better they checked her bike out and we told her we would stay with her because she wanted to ride to the next rest stop which was only about 3 miles away. She took off and I could not keep up with her and the other cyclists, but I watched for as long as I could and they were all sticking together. So I hope she made it ok and felt well enough to finish and if she didn’t I hope she knows thats ok too! 🙂
I tried to look for them at the next rest stop, but there were so many people there was no way I would be able to find them. I chugged 2 bottles of Gatorade and refilled everything for the rest of the ride. I decided I should probably try to pee before I headed out and went into the port-a-pot. It was like an oven inside that thing – and I was already sweating enough. The toilet paper basically disintegrated as I touched it and I’m not sure if you have ever tried to pull spandex up when you are completely covered in sweat – it is 100% IMPOSSIBLE. I honestly thought: ‘Well this is where they are gonna find me – passed out in this disgusting thing w/ my cycling shorts around my ankles.’
Eventually through a bit of persistence and desperation I was able to yank them up although not the whole way because as I walked back to my bike it felt like I was wearing a saggy diaper that was also twisted – gross.
I grabbed my bike and continued on my way. The route from this point was totally new so I was excited to see the views and I wasn’t disappointed. The last rest stop was about 6 miles from the finish – I have to say it was very different from the others as it seemed they crammed a lot into a tiny space (or maybe it just seemed tiny because the other parking lots were so much bigger.
Then onto the dreaded bridges – although these were NEW bridges this year, they were still pretty terrible – especially after cycling for 72 miles. I took a deep breath as the first bridge came near and went to shift with my left hand into an easier gear and…NOTHING. I could barely move my fingers all of a sudden. It was like all the strength was zapped out of them and they were numb. I wish I had a picture of the pure confused look that was on my face. I tried everything I could think of to switch gears even pulling them from the other side, but no luck – and there was NO WAY I was gonna make it up that steep incline in the gear I was in. I finally ended up like punching the gears until they shifted, made it to the top of the first bridge and got off my bike to evaluate the situation. Yup, my left hand was just not working and totally numb. This has NEVER happened to me while cycling before and it was more than a little scary. I realized that this meant I also couldn’t pull my break with this hand – and I do not like going fast downhill. I tried to shake my hand out, but this was not something that was going to be magically fixed in a few minutes and I only had a few miles to go.
There was nothing I could do but keep going. As I started up the 2nd bridge I heard screaming and looked up – there was a girl getting off her bike because she was cramping up. They were directing us to go around her because by the time I got to her she was laying in the road in pain.
At some point I texted my dad to let him know I was on the bridge and on the final stretch. As I entered OCNJ I saw my dad off to the side by himself so I waved (which was all I could do with my non-functioning hand). He went to take a picture and then realized his camera must have timed out and turned off. I could hear him muttering under his breath and then yell “wait! STOP!” and I shouted back “I CAN’T!!” and kept cycling towards the end. I got a little further down the road and saw the rest of my family cheering me on! We had all decided last year to make it a weekend at the beach because I was doing the ride and my sister was doing the OCNJ 1/2 marathon the next day so we could all cheer each other on.
I cycled through the finish line, racked my bike, got my medal and then looked at the huge line for the T-Shirts. I decided I did not want to wait in that line for a shirt so I went back to my bike and started looking for my family. I found Kevin first – I had actually made it to OCNJ before him. Turns out that the shuttle doesn’t just take you right to the end- even if it’s full. It stops at all the rest stops as well as assisting cyclists along the road so he had a long day of being crammed in a shuttle with a lot of other people who were upset they were unable to finish for a variety of reasons.
I felt great after the ride besides being hot and my hand not working right. Everyone kept asking me if my butt or legs hurt – honestly they didn’t at all. I wasn’t in as good of shape as I was last year due to my foot injury earlier this year, but I made it!
Oh and I signed up for next year again already! 🙂
PS – it’s been about a week and I still don’t have full feeling back in my hand – although every day gets better and better so I am not worried. I will have to make sure I move that hand around more when cycling long distances from now on!