Days 30 & 31 - The Big One and suddenly everything clicks
Day 30 - Nothing like celebrating independence day (4th July) with a national flag - oops!!
I think it is pretty correct to say that everyone was worried about the itinerary for the ride today. We had the biggest climb of the trip to cross the Rabbit Ears Pass at over 9,400ft and at the same time cycle over 100 miles. Everyone agreed that we needed to take our time and not rush whilst we knew we needed to reach Walden and have dinner within a reasonable time.
To make matters worse, my confidence about climbing was at an all time low and I was rather dreading what needed to be done to reach the summit. The temptation to back out and climb into a support vehicle was enormous rather than climb the mountain on my bike. This is where the encouragement of other bikers became key for me, in particular the advice from Ann Coleman and the encouragement and presence of Beth Erquhart.
For the first 50 miles things were not too bad but then the climbing really started. For the initial stages I was okay but as soon as the climbing started, everyone seemed to be passing me as my confidence held me back. Beth kept me going and waited for me as I dropped back at times but, after some struggles, we made it to the summit after a 12 - 14 mile climb. Beth seems to always have a smile on her face and she helped me deal with my lack of confidence by continually encouraging me and made me realise that I did have it in me to make this climb. Thanks Beth, you are a star!!
We all rolled into Walden with almost everyone making it the entire way - a great achievement for the team!
Day 31 - Suddenly my confidence had risen and the following day I turned into Sir Chris Hoy and started gobbling up the road in bite sized chunks and was able to stay close to Jeff Bracken, the strongest cyclist on the team. In fact I caught up and overtook him while he was chalking the road to give directions to to the other cyclists (the one and only time that happened!!). I was able to stay close to him until the final rest stop but he then disappeared up the road as we made our way to Laramie in Wyoming.
Everything seemed to click and from that point forward climbs seemed to become less of a problem to me and more power started to come into my riding.
It's amazing how attitude or confidence can make such a difference towards something and there are life lessons to be gained from the events of the previous two days. We can almost deliberately hold ourselves back by a lack of self belief but issues that were a problem can be turned round so quickly if we are prepared to confront them. For years writing was what I thought was a weakness in my life but now I am so enjoying putting my thoughts in this medium. (I just hope you are enjoying reading my muses!!)