October 28 to 30 I rode my bike from Virginia Beach Boardwalk to Washington DC in support of Breast Cancer Awareness. Though I have participated in charity rides and events for a few years now, this was the first event that I hosted and coordinated. In fact, although many people assisted along the way, I was the only athletic participant. This is the story:
It was back in early August that I thought of the idea of cycling from Virginia Beach Boardwalk to Washington DC. Because the winter months were quickly approaching, and going outside in the cold would be avoided at all costs, I decided that the end of October would be a great time to closeout the racing season with the event. Fortunate enough, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month so finding a cause to dedicate the event to was pretty simple. I set up a vRace with the National Breast Cancer Foundation and was good to go.
I really did not do too much to prepare physically. I went on a few longer rides and runs but mostly just kept to my Ironman Training Plan. Prior to the event I completed a 10mile run, and a few 50mile rides but the longest I had ridden prior to the race was 67miles in a day. Two 100+ mile days was sure going to be a challenge.
DAY 1: VA BEACH BOARDWALK TO LANEXA VA
This was it. This was the day that I had been preparing for (more mentally than physically). I intended on starting at 0600 but did not get on the road until 0630. No worries, I was motivated, determined, and jacked up on adrenaline. My plan was to ride at about 15mph, and every 30miles take a rest stop to eat and stretch. After every 60miles, I would meet up with the support vehicle (driven by my lovely Fiancé and puppy) for a meal, water, and anything else needed.
After 30miles all excitement vanished. I realized I was cold, it was windy, and riding a bike through the city is no way to get into a rhythm. Fortunate for me, I only had a few more city miles to ride, and once I was out in the country of Smithfield VA I was able to get a nice rhythm. It heated up around noon, I finished the day around 4pm, and stayed the night at Rockahock Campground in a nice and cozy cabin.
99.8miles-12.9mph-7hrs 45mins riding time-9hrs 30mins total time-2241ft elevation gain
DAY 2: LANEXA VA TO WOODBRIDGE VA
Although I finished day 1 without any major difficulties, I knew that day 2 would be a different story. Moving north, hills would go from none in VA Beach to a lot in Woodbridge. Additionally, the route was 23miles longer than day 1. The original plan called for me to be on the bike at 0600 however, due to it being dark, and many single lane roads in the first several miles of the route, I decided to wait until the sun came up and get on the road at 0730.
The first 20 miles were grueling due to the cold. I actually stopped 4 times in search of earmuffs. Who knew two truck stops, food lion, and rite aid wouldn’t have earmuffs, or at least something that would cover ears. It began to warm up as the day went on and I seemed to have more energy than day 1. Around mile 75 I started to experience some chronic knee pain in my left knee. I ended up calling in the support car (Fiancé saving the day) who brought me some biofreeze (like icy hot or bengay). The final 5 miles up to the campground were extremely difficult. Wore out from the 200+ miles already ridden, I began to worry as the sun set and I was a lone cyclist in the forest. I even passed a cemetery in the dark…just before Halloween. You can’t imagine what went through my head at that point. I finished the day just before 7pm in the dark, and camped out at Oak Ridge Campground.
122.5miles-14.4mph-8hrs 30mins riding time-11hrs 15mins total time-4500ft elevation gain
DAY 3: WOODBRIDGE VA TO WASHINGTON DC
I can vividly remember thinking to myself that since the prior two days were complete, 45miles in day three would be a walk in the park. Boy was I wrong. The day started with just about a mile of uphill riding on gravel. With my bottom already sore from the 200+ miles ridden, and my knee shot, this was a difficult task to say the least. About 8miles in I needed a break and lucky for me Starbucks was right next door. It took me about an hour to gather myself. But after that I was back on the road.
I ended up having to stop every 10miles or so for the simple fact that my knee was giving my so much pain, it was becoming difficult to breath. A fellow cyclist in his SUV even offered to give me a ride to wherever I was headed. After I explained to him I had ridden from VA Beach and was headed to Washington DC, he understood that nothing was going to stop me from finishing those last 15 miles. Fortunate for me, I was able to push through and complete the day.
46.7miles-12.7mph-3hrs 15mins riding time-4hrs total time-2100ft elevation gain
All in all, it was a great event, and I could not be happier. To this day, I am still in shock that I was able to complete the ride. What I thought would be complete misery, actually turned out to be absolute joy. I think 2017 holds a 500mile event but I will keep those plans to myself until after my Ironman is completed.
A very huge thank you to my parents cheering me along the way, constantly checking to see if I was ok, and if they could help in any way, best friend Brandon who does not ride (not yet at least) who gave me a good 20mins of conversation each day just to get my mind off of boredom, and my Fiancé Darian who drove the support car with the puppy Livvi. Without her support and countless hours of really just sitting and waiting, I would not have even been able to attempt the event.
- no flats during the event but had a flat on a 15mile ride a week later
- ran over 5 snakes (already dead)
- camping sounded like a great idea but bad planning ruined the idea
- did not ride the rout prior to the event
- completely destroyed both knees and to this day almost three weeks later I still have knee pain (ill get over it)
- did all bike maintenance, preparation, cooking, and route planning myself