Wooo! I finally met Jody! Jody has been following my blog for a while and is our host here in Gastonia, NC! Also, today I rode my first century! Today was hard. But more on all that later. Here’s some pictures:

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We woke up this morning at 4:30am so that we could start our ride as soon as the sun came up. After the heat yesterday, we wanted to ride as early as possible in the morning when it is cool. Plus, with a 100 mile bike ride ahead of us, we didn’t want to get to the host too late. For the first 18 miles, we were again escorted by the police. Jeremy, Kirk and I had a bit of fun taking turns drafting each other up and down the highway hills. Highway hills are interesting. They don’t look like much, but they feel terrible! They sneak up on you. I’m not quite too sure why.

When we got to our first water stop, the police escort ended and we met this little girl:

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She was the cutest, sweetest little puppy ever. I’m not sure who she belonged to, or if she belonged to anyone! She drank some water and probably ate a whole bag of veggie fries!

We left the water stop in our riding groups and before we could hit the next one, Heather (who was in my riding group) broke a spoke nipple. A spoke nipple is a little screw that holds the spoke onto the rim of the wheel. We had to wait for some tools, then after it was fixed we continued on! We hit some pretty big rolling hills. Kirsten was struggling a little bit today and literally biked until she couldn’t turn the pedals anymore due to leg pain. I was right there with her the whole time motivating her, but in the end, the smart decision was to rest her leg in the van for the rest of the day. I’m really proud of her because even after all of this, she’s determined to get back on the bike tomorrow with all of us.

My riding group today was Heather, Kirsten, Kenny, and Jackie. I rode with Jackie on the first day of the 4k but never wrote about her. This is Jackie:

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Jackie has an advantage. She’s been a spin instructor at Towson University for the past year! It really shows. She can keep up with the best of us. She’s sort of quiet, but can really push those pedals! She also has the most unique riding style. As far as I can tell, no one else bounces their shoulders up and down and side to side when they ride. Sometimes when you’re struggling up a hill, Jackie will fly by effortlessly bouncing and bobbing along!

Today’s ride was slated to be 99 miles and we all vowed to ride around in the parking lot to get to 100. Lucky for us, I got my group lost around mile 26 and we added about a mile and a half to our trip! I’m just gonna go ahead and say that I did it on purpose. We had a water stop at mile 30 and we eventually got there after finding the right roads.

We biked on and on and as we did, I got more and more exhausted. My butt really hurt and my legs were constantly on fire! I think today was my first real struggle day. Usually when I’m struggling, I just eat some food and drink some water and I’m feel better really quickly, but today that didn’t work. I think what I needed was sleep. I’m getting around 5-6 hours every night, which is normal for me when I’m in school, going to class, and sitting on my butt programming computers. With all this exercise, I think lack of sleep is catching up with me. At the mile 65 water stop, I wasn’t even hungry or thirsty. My stomach was still full. So I spread-eagled in the grass and went lights out! The nap really helped! I felt so much better afterwards.

We rode some more until I took this picture:

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Wait. What? I thought we were already in North Carolina? Apparently, we crossed into South Carolina and back TWICE today. Pretty cool huh? Make sure to look at the route below!

At the next water stop, some rain clouds moved in. This was awesome because the temperature dropped from like 90 to 70 in a matter of minutes. The last 20 miles were going to be nice and cool. Unfortunately, it rained.

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But cancer doesn’t stop and neither do we! We rode in the rain for about the last 15 miles. It was raining pretty hard so the chalk marking the route washed away, we couldn’t use our phones to ask questions about where to go, and our cue sheets got close to ruined. We missed a turn somewhere, so we made up the rest of the route. This also added some miles onto the ride. We were literally racing the rain. We would ride until it stopped, then we would get lost and have to stop to check directions. As we were doing that it would start raining again and we would do it all over! The skies in front of us were clear and the skies behind us were terrible! The traffic was also HORRIBLE because it was about 5:30. So that was fun.

The ride totaled 102.5 miles and took 11 hours. Here’s the GPS route: (If you’re one of those people who read this 5 minutes after I write it, you’re going to have to wait. Garmin is being stupid right now.) Alright it stopped being stupid. http://connect.garmin.com/activity/518851252 Make sure to check out how we went into South Carolina! Also check out how the entire ride was like… ALL uphill.

We arrived at our host drenched. Our host today is St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Gastonia, NC. I mentioned that I finally met Jody! A few people there instantly recognized me and told me that I had to go meet her! She gave me a huge hug even though I was soaking wet and smelled like sweat, dogs, and sunblock! We talked for a little bit before she asked if I would interview for a local paper! Of course I obliged, and after that we ate! The food was absolutely amazing! Everything was homemade and incredibly delicious. We even had homemade ice cream and waffles after dinner! And if that wasn’t enough, there were some refreshing adult beverages for us as well! We’ve been treated like royalty here and I can’t thank everyone enough!

On the topic of newspapers, I managed to squeak myself into two of them today!

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Here are the links to the articles: Paper 1 & Paper 2

Edit: I also got quoted in a third article! This article was written after the interview Jody asked me to give! What a quick turnaround time! Here’s the link: Paper 3

The first article was written as we were riding into Rockingham yesterday and the second was written just this morning! Hot off the press! In the first picture I’m fixing another broken spoke nipple! An unusual number of them are breaking and I’m wondering if our wheels were designed for the abuse we put them through. We actually have just run out of all of our spare spoke nipples today so if someone wanted to mail some to our next mail drop we could definitely use them!

Thank you all for the advice, support, and words of encouragement! Please keep it coming! I’m going to clean and grease my bike now since it got all wet today. =)

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