Pedaling Beyond My Doubts: Colorado Venus de Miles

Y’all, voting is STILL going on for the USA Today’s Best Outdoor/Travel Blogger contest! I’m still in third place….but just barely! Voting continues through September 1, so I’d love your continued support to help keep me in the top three. Thank you again!

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Years ago, cycling was my jam. I pedaled 3,893 miles across the country {to be exact!} and could tackle daily century rides with 30# paniers like it was no big deal. It was what I did and truthfully, the sport always came easy to me.

Flash forward to the present and while cycling is still a hobby, my days spent on two wheels are few and far between. Gone are the days where I hit the road for hours on a Saturday morning or spend my Friday evenings hugging tight single track. There was no reason and no explanation; I love cycling, but I’m not as smitten as I once was. The endless road biking hours grew interminable and the mountain bike crashes continued to remind me of my mortality.

Trust me: you will crash on a mountain bike, and that shit hurts!

Venus de Miles

Angel and me before the ride started

Instead, I traded in two wheels for my two legs and fell back in love with backpacking, trail running and peak bagging. I occasionally will stop into a spin class or sign up for a random ride with my dad {an avid cyclist}, but the fire isn’t there like it once was.

Last year, Venus de Miles contacted me about being a race ambassador for the 2013 Colorado Venus de Miles event. It sounded like fun so mom and I chose the 33-mile course and viewed it as a mother-daughter bonding experience. Alas, Colorado flooded and the race never happened. Instead, we spent “race day” volunteering with other registered riders for flood cleanup in Lyons and Longmont.

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I was pleasantly surprised when Venus de Miles once again contacted me this spring, asking me to be one of four Colorado ambassadors for this year’s event. I mulled it over in my head and arrived at a conclusion: it was time to give this road biking another shot! I convinced Angel and Cindy to register with me, they convinced me that the 51-mile course was a good idea, and we called it a day!

Summer rolled by quickly, as it tends to do, and I realized that race day was fast approaching. In fact, it hit me like a ton of bricks three weeks ago: I had a 51-mile ride on the docket for August 23 and I hadn’t touched my bike since the calendar flipped to 2014!

In a panic, I scheduled a brief ride after Yoga on the Rocks a few weeks back. It was nothing major: we took our roadies for a short 10-mile spin on some trails around Red Rocks. It was too short to be difficult but it was long enough to remind me that my sit bones definitely were not trained for longer distances!

Side note: sit bones = crotch. You’re welcome.

And there you have it: I headed into this past Saturday’s ride with 10 miles of training under my belt and a road bike that hadn’t been tuned in at least three years. Talk about diving into the deep end of the pool!

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Will braved the ungodly morning hours to drive me up to Longmont and drop me at the starting line at 6:45am. I quickly found Angel, determined to convince her that we should change to the 33-mile course. For a cyclist, 51 miles isn’t a lot, but for an untrained runner/CrossFitter? It may as well be another cross-country trek!

Our group crossed the starting line at 7:30am and Angel and I immediately laughed as I almost fell over while avoiding the massive crowds of people. We were off!

Venus de Miles

Course support was provided by these “men in drag!” I even met one guy that wore his men’s size 11 red heels through the entire 51-mile course!

It took me a solid 10 minutes to remember how the gears on my road bike worked, but other than that, my muscle memory was flawless. The course immediately headed south towards the small town of Niwot, and Angel and I settled in to a comfortable pace. She and I have been best friends since the sixth grade, but we don’t get too much one-on-one time as we get older. Life is just too darn busy! Fortunately, there wasn’t too much else going on right then, so we pedaled and talked….and then talked and pedaled some more!

Before we knew it, we arrived at the first aide station on the course, and I realized my opportunity to change distances had passed. If we swapped to the 33-miler, we had needed to continue straight back when we turned on Lookout Road. Since we had been too busy gabbing, we just followed the arrows without thinking. Looks like it was 51 miles or bust!

The aide station was fantastic but we didn’t want to spend too long; neither of our untrained legs needed bonus time to build up lactic acid! We found the bathrooms, grabbed a snack, and headed back out to the road.

I won’t bore you with the details of the ride, but I will say this: the Venus de Miles course takes you through some of the most beautiful areas in northern Colorado. It avoids the foothills so it’s a relatively easy ride {or at least the 51-miler is} but the views and local farms are absolutely picturesque. We passed honey farms and dairy farms and even a few home owners who propped up lawn chairs to ring cow bells as every single rider passed their home. Spirits were high and Angel and I just enjoyed our conversation. Time continued to pass as we caught up on life and before we realized it, we were closing in on our last 10 miles!

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Cruising into the finish. Apparently I have resting bitch face!

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We were still yapping as we crept into the neighborhood that housed the finish line. In fact, I could almost see the fencing when I felt a gigantic stab of my pain in my upper right thigh! Somehow, an angry rogue insect had managed to sting me through my bike shorts while I was pedaling across the finish!

I didn’t think much of it until after the ride. We walked our bikes back to Will and Angel’s husband and I hiked up my shorts to survey the damage. Lo and behold, there was a massive welt! I still don’t know what flying jerk managed to get me, but I have a red swollen stain that’s still hanging out, three days later! {Any help on this?!}

Venus de Miles

You can’t NOT dress up if there are props…!

Truthfully, I was proud of myself for tackling this ride! I always knew I could complete the distance but I honestly thought I would be miserable while trying. However, it turned out to be the exact opposite! I thought the course was a breeze and my body wasn’t the least bit tired after finishing. I even made this delusional statement to Will: “I should’ve signed up for the century!” Now, I’m not sure that would’ve been a great plan but that’s how fantastic I felt!

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Will the fairy dust and unicorns cloud my eyes and allow me to sign up for more cycling events? I’m not sure I’d go that far! While I had a wonderful ride, I still would prefer a day of backpacking to a morning full of cycling. However, it was a needed reminder that I sometimes underestimate my abilities, and I should probably knock that off. The real question is this: what’s the next challenge?!

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The winner of the Athleta Esprit de She entry is Joann! Joann, shoot me an email and we’ll get you all sorted!

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12 Comments

  • Reply Coco at

    Wow, that was adventurous with no training. My daughter lives in Longmont and her boyfriend works in Lyons, and I remember seeing signs for Niwot …. Now I want to go to Boulder in May for the Boulder to Boulder, and then come back in August for this!

    • Reply heather at

      You definitely should, especially if your daughter lives in Longmont!!

  • Reply Hayley@healthyregardshayley at

    Your next challenge: that Half Ironmon in your goals (:

    • Reply heather at

      You know, I started to think about getting back into triathlons this past spring! I used to love them but truly disliked training for the swim…we’ll see if it ever happens 🙂

  • Reply misszippy at

    Way to go! Sometimes doing something that doesn’t seem quite sensible can be fun. I almost did a 50-mile ride a few weeks back with a friend after putting in zero time in the saddle of late, too. If it hadn’t been a schlep to get to/from the start, I would have done it.

    • Reply heather at

      I’m thinking you should give it a try! 🙂

  • Reply RFC at

    This is how I feel about road racing (on foot!) I NEVER do it anymore (three cheers for trails!) , but it’s always nice to revisit my “first love” from time to time.

    • Reply heather at

      I’m actually running a 10k tomorrow just for fun/training, and I’m curious as to how it will go. I haven’t run a road 10k in a couple years!!

  • Reply Heidi @BananaBuzzbomb at

    I say go for it! Obviously you love cycling and it’s always fun to mix things up =) I so wish I could’ve fallen in love with the bike…but it just didn’t happen. Wondering if I had went road bike instead of tri bike if I would feel differently.

    • Reply heather at

      Absolutely no clue– I’ve never been on a tri bike. I assume they sit differently? Like lower??

  • Reply Christy @My Dirt Road Anthem at

    wow way to go on the 51 miles with no training! impressive!

  • Reply Kayla at

    Sit bones = crotch……that made me giggle. Good job!!! Chatting with friends always makes things more tolerable!!

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