I had been meaning to write this post for a while now, but instead of just doing a quick, one hour type up, I wanted to take the time to really put everything in here, which means I had to wait util I had the actual time to do so. :)
About six months or so ago my cousin contacted me with a crazy idea to enter into a charity ride even in Charlotte known as the 24-Hours of Booty. 24-Hours of booty is a 24-hour bike ride which takes place annually in Charlotte, Columbia, and Indianapolis and raises money for cancer research as part of the Livestrong Foundation. Fifteen years ago a man by the name of Spencer Leuders rode the "booty loop" for 24 hours in an effort to raise money for cancer research. With the support of his family, friends, and neighborhood, the event grew into what it is today. It's a ride for every day people to do extraordinary things.
I originally signed up for the event and had the crazy idea that I would ride 96 miles in memory of my husband's grandmother, who passed at that age of cancer just a few years prior. I didn't even have a bike with coasting abilities (as I always ride my fixed gear every day for commute and errands) let alone a road bike, gears or anything. Over the months I began running and riding more and little by little saved up just enough pennies to purchase a single speed bike (a bicycle with a freewheel but no gears to change) with just enough left over to put a few modifications on it to suit my liking like different pedals, drop bars, etc... Twice a week before work I would pump 20 miles out at the local park and on the weekend I would wake up at 4:30 am on Saturdays and take it out to West River Drive here in Philly for anywhere between 30 - 60 miles and try to keep up with all of the real roadies and triathletes training before having to rush home so my husband could begin work at 8 am. To build up additional endurance, I alternated running 3-6 miles every other day and occasionally swap a ride for a long run one weekend. People though I was crazy to attempt a near century ride in the South in the summer when I had never even rode in a cycling event before, had never rode that many miles every, and didn't have a "real" bike to begin with...especially my physical therapist and orthopedic doctor I had been and still am seeing for a injury. My husband (as well as my cousin and a few select friends) knew that I was not the type of person to simply NOT be able to do ANYTHING. They were pretty much right.
The Thursday before the event (which was July 30th) I left with my favorite cousin in the world (girl time!) and headed for her home in Charlotte. I had my big a** backpacking backpack (is that redundant?) packed with my tent, sleeping pad, and about 30lbs of GU gels, Boost drinks, and Gatorade (literally). Half a day and a million pee breaks later we were officially in the South...the hot, hot south. I wish I had more time to enjoy sights, but this weekend we girls were on a mission. There were some strange things we caught on the way down, such as this truck with a tree trimmer just hanging out of the back like some scene from Final Destination:
I can't even...Was this like a "hold my beer" moment or were they simply not thinking this all the way through?
When we arrived for the event it was impeccably organized. There were people to come help you with your supplies, bikes, etc. There were tables with vendors selling some gear, and even a repair station set up for anyone having technical difficulties with their equipment. Since the event runs for 24 hours everyone brought tents and canopies to rest and eat under when you get tired or just wanted to relax (something I didn't really get to do). By the time we set up camp, checked in, and scoped out where all of the facilities were (showers, etc...), it was just enough time to sit, check our equipment, and stuff our faces with some last minute fuel in preparation for the event, which began at 7 pm that evening.
The sun was still up shining when the bell sounded and the first lap to began. The entire neighborhood surrounding the 3 mile loop was alive and full of festivities; some had live bands on their lawns and parties going all night, the news was there broadcasting the event, and there was even a drum corp for the first hour or so. This was great because I was not used to riding at night at all any more and really needed the energy of the crowd to keep me up and alive! Everyone was so involved and enjoying every moment of the event and made us all feel like "real" cyclists (okay, so there were some actual professionals there, but the rest of us enjoyed that spotlight). People would cheer you up the hills and kids would want you to slap their hands as you rode by. It was so much fun.
I did my first 75 miles or so between the hours of 7 pm and midnight. I carried two water bottles, food, and a Camelback full of Gatorade so that I didn't have to stop, but there was a hydration station at the top of the one hill where you could pull over and cool off (which really helped in the heat). At midnight I headed back into camp to enjoy some of the pizza at the pizza party! I loved how the event was fully catered and it seemed like they never ran out of food. If you chose to not head out at 7 that evening, you were invited to attend dinner, but I was too in the moment to stop. Now I just wanted pizza, a shower, and to put some icy hot on my hip for an hour or to.
Trying to sleep was just not happening that night. Everyone was too festive! Teams were hanging out - some drinking beer! - and enjoying themselves, taking turns out on the booty loop all night long. I just lied about for a few hours trying to keep my injuries in check. I headed out for a little bit before breakfast and pumped out another 20 miles or so before we were all served bacon and eggs and lots of coffee! My one cousin lost a bet and had to do part of her ride in a sombrero so I HAD to ride out with her for that! It was absolutely the most epic thing ever!
By the time breakfast came around both of my cousins (who pretty much rode all night) were spent. My original goal was to hit the 96 miles, but I was already beyond that so I just kept going. By lunch I was at about 130 miles or so. I didn't really want to stop, but they were serving tacos so I was not going to turn up one of my favorite foods. Me and tacos are like best friends and I was about starving and seriously dehydrated at that point. My watch was reading 98 degrees at the top of the one hill and someone was saying that the heat index was getting over 110+ - whether or not that was true I can't say...it was just damn hot. So, I ate my food, jumped under a cold shower for a second (those showers really did save my life - it not only helped my hip injury but feeling human and not being covered in sweat and grime the entire time was refreshing) and headed back out for the last thirty or so miles of my adventure.
Despite trying to remain hydrated I was feeling shaky at lunch time so I knew this was going to be my last few times around the bend. It looked like a lot of people were packing it in when lunch was finished, so I made a quick run to my tent, packed all of my belongings up and took back to the loop for the final couple of hours. I could see everyone I was there with starting to feel the effects of the long night and the sun. It took me about another hour and a half, but I hit 160 miles. I jokingly said that I would reach 200 by the end of the day, but I knew my body was seriously dehydrated (we pretty much all were) so I texted my family and told them to meet me at the bell. Anyone who reached their goal got to ring a bell in bootyville, regardless of what your miles were.
It was about 2 pm when I finished my last lap and rang the bell. 160 miles and about 10 - 11 miles in the saddle. Of course you have to take a picture and everyone claps and cheers and asks you how you did. I got a few gasps with my number and even more when they saw my little blue bike with no gears! Even though we didn't stay until 7pm that night we were all exhausted and proud of ourselves. Of course, I wanted to do more, but I also wanted to get my butt in the sower and get a whole ton of food in my belly! Between my Garmin tracker and my mapping app numbers, it said that I had burned more that 16,000 calories in the past 15 or so hours! That's a lot of cheeseburgers
We literally spent the following day eating (oh and my one cousin and I decided at be crazy and go ride another 12 miles around their town HILLS AND ALL!). It was a nice way to keep my muscles from getting too stiff, and it meant that I could drink more beer later!I had so much fun hitting all of their favorite restaurants, stuffing my face full of food and trying some of the local beers. I think I really made some of the waiters stare since I am so tiny and ate pretty much everything I got my hands on. My family though it was funny to MEME me after that, which was really funny...
I really did eat everything. :)
Despite being away from my family (which kept me up at night the entire weekend) I had a wonderful time with my cousins and at the event. The energy of the crowd and especially all of the little kids (especially the one who kept yelling "Go Blue Bike!") really kept me going and made me feel like I was accomplishing something -- which I was after all. I'm really proud of my cousins, too, who shattered their goals as well. It just goes to show that once you set you mind to something, you body just does that it is told!
Until next year! Now it's marathon training time!
Oh, and BTW, The event raised over 1.5 million dollars and counting, so SCORE!