How about an Epic Ride to get back in shape!?

During a training ride in February I got in a nasty crash and ended up with a broken wrist on the right, a sprained wrist on the left, and a cracked rib. The crash was sudden and unexpected and the aftermath was pretty miserable. Having both of my hands damaged left me unable to do everyday tasks such as cleaning dishes and preparing meals, using tools at work, (of course) riding a bike. Leading up to the crash, I felt like I was in pretty good shape- riding frequently, gaining confidence on the technical trails in Chico, and getting out on long road rides on my new bike. The crash was a serious set-back and was hard to not feel discouraged and stir-crazy.
Once my rib started to heal and I was outfitted with a cast and brace, I started riding the trainer at home (no handed, to keep weight off my hands) and watched hours of downhill racing videos for inspiration. I pulled out my running shoes and began walking, then jogging, then running to feel the fresh air on my face and the springtime sun. Those who know me well know how much I HATE running, but after a while it was sort of enjoyable to jog through the park and smile at all the people staring at my purple cast :). Six long weeks later, the cast was removed and I was anxious to ride again. The first few bike rides were pretty pitiful- my hands were feeble from weeks of now using them and tender to the touch. My legs felt sluggish and heavy and my rib would ache of the terrain was rough at all. I did many mountain bike rides on the pavement and tried my best to be patient.
Now it’s May and my body is finally feeling better. To get some miles back in the legs, I made a last minute decision to ride the Tour of the Unknown Coast century ride in Humboldt over mother’s day weekend. Ethan and I were planning on doing the ride together but a nasty crash left him with a broken arm a couple weeks ag0 (I know, the tragic irony!) so without my ride buddy, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go it alone. But, when I heard that Sandy Rosas from Chico was doing the ride for the first time, I jumped on the opportunity to do it with her. Sandy generously let us crash at her hotel room in Fortuna the night before but when we woke up at 5:30am to get ready for the 7am start, it felt like I’d barely closed my eyes. There was a big starting group in Ferndale and the morning temps weren’t too chilly. Sandy and I decided we would ride mellow and pace ourselves for what would be a long day and hope to get in a group for the flat sections with some strong riders we could draft. The first few rollers out of Ferndale led us towards 101 and then onto the Avenue of the Giants. Riding through the Avenue I was reminded of how incredible and breathtaking the Redwoods trees are. I smiled and breathed in their musk as the fog rose off the Eel River. We stoped at the first rest stop off the Ave and re-filled bottles and stocked up on GUs. We then headed towards Panther Gap along the rough pot-hole filled roads. Sandy and I agreed to go our own pace on the hills and we cruised up the first big climb of the day. I was having some shifting issues but was able to get up and over the climb and still feel fresh. Sandy caught up to me on the descent and was all smiles, showing to signs of fatigue. She ripped down the descent into Honeydew like a fearless falcon while I was much slower and hesitant. We headed out with a good group to the lunch rest stop where an awesome mechanic from Revolution helped fix my shifting and Sandy got a massage. Relaxed and re-fueled, we made our way across the undulating rollers to Petrolia, then along the coast to the base of “The Wall”. The TUC is known as California’s Toughest Century and “The Wall” and the endless hills after it, are a big part of how it earned that label. The Wall shoots straight up (20% grade) from the coast and is followed by a serious of super steep hills for the last 20 miles of a very hard ride. Sandy was blown away by the steepness of the wall and we agreed to tackle it at our own pace and meet at the end. I chugged up it and just kept going, enjoying the incredible views and camaraderie of the other riders grinding upward. Some of the roads heading back to Ferndale were pretty nasty- potholes, drops, and gravel patches. After over 9,000 feet of climbing, I rolled back into the fairgrounds at 8 hrs 30 mins and my hands were aching, but I couldn’t help but smile. Sandy rolled in not long after and we all headed to the brewery for some hard-earned onion rings. They were heavenly 🙂
The next day I celebrated mothers day and my little brother’s 13th birthday with my family. I was super excited to give both of my little brothers mountain bikes and riding gear as gifts. They are awesome kids- straight A students, super kind, and very helpful. They’ve needed bikes for a while and were surprised and stoked. It felt good to be able to share my passion with them and I look forward to taking them on rides, teaching them skills, and showing them all the local trails. -E