“Are you ready?”….”Do you think it will hurt?”….”Who is going to be there with you?”…”How long do you think it will take?”
Like most “first time mothers” or “first time century riders”….I do not know the answers to ANY of these questions. While I have picked the brains of ALL of my friends, exhausted may late night Google searches, surfed every blog in multiple languages, I am still uneducated on the exact process. There are no prescribed instruction manuals….it is something very individual with so many variables that a mathematician would get a headache trying to generalize the experience. I could tell you I am ready….rearing to go… ready for THE BIG HILL but I may not be telling you the truth. I would like to think that my training has prepared me much like expectant mothers hope Lamaze class is useful although I cannot ride with a comfy pillow (oh but if I could—I would be so happy!). I have a nice spinning stride on accents complete with rhythmic breathing and inner cranial chanting “up Melinda….up Melinda…up Melinda.” Sometimes, I chant out loud….but HEY I am a woman about to cycle 150+ miles in two days, so I can talk to whomever I want….even if no one is near me (okay, so maybe I have mood swings and cravings)! There is no soothing music…I have to listen for cars although at times some of the radio music makes me sing along.
I could tell you that my body is a finely oiled machine and that I expect the pain to pass with little or no effort. Truthfully, I do not realistically know what my body will do. My thighs and calves are like rocks right now…solid masses of muscle fibers and skin applied to a small 5’2” frame. I could get out there and have my thighs catch fire scorching the spandex off of my odd tanned legs. While training has brought on constant, dull pain, I fully understand and accept that the century will bring on a new pain and that it will likely tip the pain scale (1-10 with 10 being …”DEAR GOD WHY DID I DO THIS?”). Unlike childbirth, there are no epidurals, saddleblocks, IV drips, or other drugs to put me in a drunken stoned stupor (I have considered putting gin in my water bottle….but this would not help). This ride is done au natural without a “labor coach”! I know to expect blisters, saddle sores, and bruising on my groin and butt (there are many graphic pictures on the internet to completely petrify me). Hopefully, as I recall the ride to my friends months from now, I will neglect those graphic details of me bending over in a mirror trying to draw constellations from blister to blister (you do weird things when oxygen deprived).
I have always joked that should I ever give birth to an actual child, I would NOT want my father present in the labor room. There is no modesty in having your knees pushed apart to reveal a grotesque and beautiful life process while your father looks on (NO THANK YOU! PUT THE CAMERA AWAY). But with the century ride, I want my daddy there. He has been at every major finish line and although my training partners are amazing, dedicated, supportive and appreciated, there is NOTHING like crossing the line and having my dad there with his smile to make the pain go away and to remind me that even at 32, I am a daddy’s girl. I suspect he will be standing there with some sort of food…comfort food…with ice cold Gatorade.
I have heard mothers say that all the pain, all the worry, and all the work is worth it when you set eyes on your squirming newborn. I am not obviously bringing a child into the world but I feel when this is all over, I will have brought about a new sense of accomplishment, a feeling of relief in knowing it is over AND, stories to share. Right now, I am nesting, constantly cleaning the bike, trying to not ignore any vital details and packing my cycling bag to leave on the morning of September 12th. I guess some comfort I can enjoy is that I will not be having Braxton Hicks contractions or early birth. It is not very likely that they will change the date of the ride.