The ride to Pullman was quite simply, a beautiful blast. We had to resist the urge to go all out in the downwind, knowing that we had more 100 miles days and tough climbs ahead of us. As an enthusiastic cyclist, this was the most personally encouraging ride I’ve ever been on. I stuck with the guys in the front, some of whom are members of a local racing team. I wanted to increase my skills in preparation for an upcoming big cycling event and knew this would be a great opportunity. For most of my cycling years before the giant shift in my severe asthma, I rode alone. Mostly because I would inevitably have some asthma trouble and I don’t like to slow others down OR scare them with my breathing issues so I learned to ride solo. It was a pleasant shift to be able to start riding with others a few years ago and enjoy the camaraderie and occasional competition that comes along with that! I wasn’t sure I’d be able to keep up with these guys but I was determined to for as long as I could. They gracious enough to have me along and I walked away from that ride feeling more confident than ever before in my cycling skills and conditioning. I had never learned proper technique as a roadie versus as a triathlete. Heck, I don’t have proper technique even as a triathlete. I just ride – ha! I jumped right in, drafting, pulling, and playing right along. A long, beautiful paved road is really just a giant playground and we had a blast! Thanks so much, guys. I learned so much from you!
The scenery of the Pacific Northwest is beyond words. I wanted to stop constantly to take pictures but we had a destination to reach and we were on a roll. The chatter helped pass the time and I was amazed at the skill of the guys around me. They have been racing for years and made it look so easy. I had to focus all of my energy on the tires ahead of me, keeping close enough to feel the pull, yet far enough away to not cause an accident. That meant I didn’t notice some of the details of things around me along the way like they did. I did my part a couple of times and pulled the group along but I have no gauge for how fast I should go. I was so relieved when my buddy came alongside at one point and said, “That was one helluva pull, girl! We’re gonna make it to Pullman in record time if you pull like that!” My heartfelt response: “Oh thank you for saying that because I’m DYING!” Being new to true roadie technique, I’m learning how to set the speed for a pull. In my attempt to do my part, I obviously I overdid it but I was ecstatic to know I could handle it!
We stopped for lunch in Rosalia and we just can’t resist getting a photo with this guy who happily greeted us, allowed us to take the photo and then warmly wished us well and insisted we be careful. What a sweet soul.
Lunch! We find our support crew just beyond the chalk signs they left us on the road, and they greeted us with cow bells and cheers as we rolled in. We ate at the small park and rested for a bit. Great conversation and laughter as we got to know each other better. I had no idea that entertainment would be provided but the combination of personalities in this group made for quite the comical dynamic. Nothing like a day of riding bikes and belly laughing!
Shortly after we depart, Cris has a surge of…..well something, and rockets past us and into the distance. Patrick and Moises can’t resist trying to catch him and I know I can’t hold that kind of pace and make it through the next two days as well, so I settle in and take in the scenery. We meet up again as they stop in LaCrosse and we join forces once again to the finish.
We practically fly through the 96 miles into Pullman in 4 hours and 39 minutes of seat time. Wow! Actually it ended up being 98 for us because we took an unexpected detour which ended with a ½ climb at about 18% grade!!! Geez! We make it to our destination for the night, a home which was generously donated to us while the owners were out of town. Thank you Morse family!
We enjoy a donated meal for the riders at South Fork Public House. So much support and generosity on this trip! Guinness never tastes better than after a day of riding like that. We’re tired and hungry and around the dinner table, it becomes downright giddy. Everything becomes a play on words and having the predisposition of being easily entertained anyway, I’m practically on the floor with every goofy joke. Even my meal isn’t safe from jabs; I ordered falafel and was taunted with, “Don’t falafel your bike!” for the rest of the evening. I know. It’s not that funny in black and white and when you weren’t there, but it was hilarious at the time and still makes me laugh as I think about it!
In case you are wondering….YES. I am the “go-to” person for testing out silly jokes!
A fantastic first day and a prelude to what would be an epic day two. What an amazing day of riding that would turn out to be. Stay tuned!
By the way, to my fellow asthmatics: No rescue inhaler needed. Not once. What I want more than ever is for you to know that there IS a better way, that you CAN be as active as you want to be, and you should NEVER give up. EVER!