That’s 3 hours, 31 minutes and 48 seconds. This would be a decently long ride outside, but is a true test of one’s patience and sanity inside on a trainer. The first annual Are You for Riel 100 mile ride happened this morning at The Wellness Institute, organized by Paul Dyck, a personal trainer if I understand it, and triathlete, who also happens to work at the Institute. I had never been there before today, and have to say the gyms I go to are totally ghetto in comparison. The Wellness Institute is beautiful and new, with tons of natural light and a gleaming interior that is nothing short of… expensive. When my sister and I walked into the ladies’ change room we gasped. This was no smelly gym locker room, but rather a heavenly spa-like oasis with muted cream tile, custom shaped mirrors and pale wood lockers that looked like shi-shi kitchen cabinetry. Suddenly I felt more in the mood for a massage and facial than a 3.5 hour bike ride.

My goals for the day:
– getting in a longer distance ride to prepare for Tucson, which is just over 3 weeks away (THREE WEEKS!!!!)
– keep heart rate in the aerobic zone, under 140 bpm.
– ride 3 hours 30 minutes, comfortably
– get used to eating on the bike, something I suck at and have suffered dearly for on long rides. Bonking sucks.
– have fun

The yoga studio would be the setting for our ride, and it was suitably outfitted with a large projection screen for videos we would be watching to pass the time. The first video was UltraMarathon Man, a film documentary about runner Dean Karnazes, who ran 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 consecutive days. An incredibly inspiring story to be sure, which made my feeble little 3.5 hours on a trainer seem completely insignificant, and yet no less painful. In fact perhaps more so, considering the fact that there are few things in life I hate more than running. Hell, even with a root canal you get to lie down and drugs to numb the pain. So despite the inspiring yuddah-yuddah, I chose to listen to my Long and Slow playlist on the trusty old iPod, and chat with the folks around me. For me, that was better inspiration than watching some nut peel off his destroyed toenails. Some great company along for the ride today, and even though it was difficult to chat over the noise of the bikes and the video, it was good to be surrounded by familiar faces.

After the movie ended, someone in the back (ok, not just someone. Rennie Benedict to be specific, probably Manitoba’s fastest female cyclist) suggested a Sufferfest video: The Downward Spiral. This appropriately titled workout video puts you at the back of some of the most grueling Spring Classics like Paris Roubaix, berating you along the way with witty commentary like “my grandma called and said she can pound out intervals faster than you”. This was actually an awesome 1 hour session, set to great music. Normally it’s not necessary to hammer during a long aerobic ride like this, but I just couldn’t help myself, it was just so darn fun. I hit over 50 km/h during one of the last sprints, which I’m sure I will feel tomorrow when attempting stairs of any kind.

By the time Sufferfest was over, there was just over a half hour left to go. Really? Already? They threw on an Ironman Hawaii video (2008 I think? Chrissie Wellington and Craig Alexander won…), another reminder that what we were doing was basically a stitch and bitch in comparison. My sister perked up, since she has her eye on the island and will find out soon if she has won one of 50 international lottery spots to the big show in Kona. Good luck sis!! I will totally be your pit crew.

The end of the ride came sooner than I wanted, but the shower in the spa-like change room was heaven on earth. I rode for just over 3.5 hours as planned, sweat out about a gallon of fluid (including the wine from the night before), downed almost 4 bottles of sports drink, and peed once. When I went back to the yoga studio a handful of folks were still in there toughing it out, possibly for the full 100 miles. Good on them!

As far as my goals go:
– long ride – check
– aerobic heart rate – mostly check, except for suffer fest where I hit high 160’s.
– comfortable 3.5 hour ride – again, mostly check. It’s hard to be completely comfortable for that long, especially in the (ahem) saddle area. But pacing was right on the money, even with the hard intervals thrown in.
– eat on the bike – check. I ate like a Queen, downing 1.5 Clif bars, 1 gel, and a package of 6 Clif shots. Tons of fluids too.
– have fun. double, triple, quadruple check.

Awesome day. Thanks Paul, and of course Mr. Riel for making it all possible.