More climbing. That's what you get around here, especially near Crowders Mountain. My legs hurt, mostly because this was the longest ride I'd attempted in a very long time. About two miles into my return trip, I started having regrets about not camping overnight. But then I did something I've done a million times...
I embraced the suck.
My legs hurt. It was hot. My bike was loaded with everything but the goddamn kitchen sink. Who gives a shit. I had to get home under my own power. So I kept going.
I made a brief stop to check out the view though.
After a little while, my legs felt sort of okay. I remembered back when I rode all the time and this type of mileage wouldn't have been shit to me, so I used that memory to keep pushing forward. The plan was to build up to something bigger, and you can't grow without some pain. I started looking for little victories. That shitty road section, the steep ass climb, the energy sucking grassy easements. Anything that I could tell myself was progress.
Though it's sorta right next door, Gastonia seemed forever away. But it was closer to home. I was taking a different way home and made a wrong turn that put me on the main drag, but at least I had the safety of side walks. I stopped to check the map to correct my course (to get TF out of civilization as much as possible), and when I turned around I saw a shit storm brewing.
Okay, maybe I didn't think actual shit would fall from the sky.
That was some ugly sky action creeping up on me. Before I had a chance to make a plan, it started pouring rain. I had a rain jacket with me, but pouring rain turned into a storm that a light jacket would not repel. High winds, lightning, and stinging rain sent me for cover. Since I was in "civilization", cover was easy to find. I darted towards a bank drive through to wait it out.
My legs didn't need a break, but I also didn't need to get struck by lightning. However, since my legs felt okay I was worried about taking an extended break. So I used my time wisely to stretch.
After what seemed like forever (which was only about 45 minutes), the rain slowed and the lightning stopped. I kept going because I had to. With the sky still looking really ugly, I took my chances and got off the main drag. It was barely sprinkling at this point, and the cool rain felt good to me. After some more cut-through shit I found myself crossing one of the two rivers in my path on the way back home.
That was another small victory for me, but I was actually running out of energy. I was so close to home but daylight was fading. I pressed on through the hurt, eventually crossing the Catawba River and making the climb back towards home. A power line cut and a shitty road section later and I was home. The whole thing took me over ten hours, including the time I waited out the storm. The time is important, because my goal is to improve upon this in the future. Little victories, remember?
I'd completed a hair over 50 miles, which was the longest bike ride I'd done in quite some time. Despite some bad weather and a little discomfort I was home safe and sound. The important lesson I learned that day was that I could actually do all that in one day, as opposed to the stupid plan I had of doing an overnight and riding it in two days. I also learned that I am actually happier when I'm suffering. Or at least when the suffering is over.
I still had an overnight trip on my mind though, but I would have to ride a longer distance to make it worthwhile. So, I started planning some longer day trips to build up to an acceptable distance for an overnight.
I'll get into that next time I guess, and maybe tell y'all what the big goal is.