Sunday, October 2, 2011

A recap of Day 4 and Day 5, Part 1

So glad to be home safe!

Day 4, Saturday, broke clear and downright chilly after a cold front brought a smattering of rain the night before. I biked from Angier, south of the Triangle, to Kinston, North Carolina. The route was very circuitous and I often would not pass even a small store for twenty mile stretches. The route took me near Goldsboro, but not into it. At around the 40 mile mark, badly needing a break but not seeing anywhere to stop for miles, I finally found the Mill Creek General Store, near the town of Four Oaks but not really near anything at all. They had a small restaurant of country cooking in the back and aisles well stocked with snacks and groceries. I sat in the store for a few minutes, warming up and chatting with the store clerk. I bought a brownie cooked by an older lady who ran the store restaurant, and it was delicious. When the store clerk found out how far I was biking, he gave me two more brownies free for the road! Those little exchanges with people (North Carolina has the nicest people) buoy my spirit so much and help the miles go faster.

And I needed that on Saturday. The roads I was biking on were often rough, either badly cracked or newly paved with rough, unfinished asphalt with sprays of loose gravel. This caused the bike to jar and vibrate badly, sending countless tiny shocks up into my arms, tailbone and spine. Probably not so bad normally, but my body was breaking down a little by this point. Saturday, by any counts, was the perfect day for biking. Blue skies, brisk breeze, countryside with just enough undulations to be interesting. I was so lucky. But after over 300 miles on the road by that point, what I was noticing were the roads where every jolt sent spasming pain up my back, the few remaining hills that I struggled up and resented, and the wind that was at times strong. Don't get me wrong, it was beautiful out there, and a bend in the road and fresh vista would have me picking up the pace, happy. But I stopped at mile 60 to rest and call my husband for a morale boost, and had a small breakdown on the last few miles into Kinston. Well, ok, I started sobbing hysterically, a mix of being in pain and just emotionally overwhelmed. I crashed in bed Saturday night, too.

What's funny is that I always felt strong. Tired, but pedaling steadily all day. I trained for the endurance and strength challenges of the ride, but I think what I was missing was "saddle hours" - just cumulative experience, weeks and months and years, breaking my body in to the bike. So Day 4 was the hardest. But I knew, as I finally reached Kinston at dusk, that I was in striking distance of the coast. One more day to go.

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