Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Ride Recap: Venus de Miles 2013

Her Royal Majesty and I are ready
to ride at Venus de Miles
It's really hard to believe myself that just last summer, I began cycling. Sure, I rode as a kid and pedaled around the neighborhoods on my beatup mountain bike. But when I bought Her Royal Majesty and started logging miles, a whole new world opened up for me. My goal last summer was to complete the 16 miles that were the center in my sprint triathlon. In hindsight, it almost seems silly how worried I was about that distance.

This past Sunday, I rode 64.2 miles as part of Venus de Miles.  SIXTY-FOUR! 

Pardon my excitement, but I'm really stoked over the progress a year has brought. In fact, I feel a bit guilty being so smitten with cycling. Running may be my first love and lasting marriage, but cycling is my current affair.

Since I ran the BTN Big 10K race on Saturday, I took advantage of my time in the Chicago area. I hit the Athleta store (my fav!), Gurnee Mills and then caught up with my family in the area. I awoke Sunday morning to chilly temps, wind and light rain outside the window. Ugh, my heart sank. I really didn't know if I could ride that long in those conditions. Thoughts of dropping down to the 25 mile ride began to enter my head as I made the 1/2 hour drive to Lake Forest College, the start of Venus de Miles.

By time I arrived, the rain had dissipated. The sun began to poke out and my mood improved as I saw other riders unloading their bikes. The large coffee that I just drank began to do it's work and I immediately discovered the coolest porta-potty station I've ever seen! There was a table with all sorts of toiletries and there were even flowers inside the porta-potty. Nice female touches. It's these little things that I love about doing women-only events.

I check my bike at the support station and as expected, I needed air in my tires. I couldn't stop giggling inside at the Men In Drag who were our support staff for the day. Once my bike was ready, I racked Her Royal Majesty and went searching for friends to calm my anxiety.
I found the Chicago Running Bloggers...

fellow Venus de Miles Ambassadors...

and my beloved Tough Chiks...

Enough socializing... the call to start was made. I lined up with Amanda and found ourselves in the second wave. In no time, we were off without any glitches. Not only was this my first biking event, it was my first time ever riding with other people!  Needless to say, I was a tad nervous about that.

Any anxiety I had melted away as soon as we began zooming through the beautiful neighborhoods. Amanda set a nice pace and we chatted away the early miles. There was a lot of passing early as riders naturally found their comfortable speed. I kept close to Amanda and followed her lead as we sailed down rolling streets and pretty bike trails. Despite the chilly air, I was having a blast and felt extremely comfortable in this new sport. From the very start, Amanda, Suzanne and I made continuous line of three...

Shortly into the ride, we picked up Helena and Jess, who were moving our same speed. The five of us would hold together as a tight pack the rest of the day... and just like that, new friendships were born. We took turns leading - fighting the wind and pulling up the hills. My Venus de Miles ride was made by these women. Seriously, they made the ride so fun and dare I say... easy.

The 64 mile ride was broken up into segments by the four rest stops along the way. At each rest stop, there was an abundance of food and drink to refuel. By the third stop, I quit eating anything, realizing that I was probably consuming more calories than I was burning. Four stops was probably too many for me. Personally, I could have skipped a few, but it was a fun place to chat with other riders and deal with any issues that were nagging with our bikes. I had eye problems with my contacts and took some extra time at a rest stop to alleviate those issues.
Rest Stop
It seemed as though we rode through several weather fronts. At one moment, it was sunny and then the next, we'd look up to see threatening dark clouds. We were sprinkled on a couple times, smacked in the face with tough winds, and kicked up a fair share of water from wet roads.

The Venus de Miles course varied quite a bit. There were peaceful country roads, busy city streets, pretty bike trails (both paved and gravel), big hills to climb, rolling pastures and my personal favorite, huge descents that made us scream with delight! At one point, my iBiker app peaked at 30 mph!  Woo-Hoo! It felt like flying!

As we came into the finish, we cheerfully exchanged high fives. However, I was sad to see it come to an end. I can't even put into words how much I enjoyed my first Venus de Miles ride. I felt like I could have rode a lot longer and immediately thoughts of a Century Ride were racing through my head.

I have nothing but high marks for the 2013 Venus de Miles event. The course was well marked. Riders were pampered throughout the day - but especially at the finish! There were tents galore with vendors, giveaways, massages, facials, great food for lunch, and my personal favorite... the beer station and the ice cream truck!

I would be remise if I didn't mention the charity that this event benefits... the Greenhouse Scholars. This fabulous program sends high-performing but underprivileged young adults to college, breaking the chain in their poverty-striken and sometimes abusive life. I was thoroughly impressed with the young men and women that I got a chance to meet while I was there. They were young adults who were striving to be a positive leader in their communities. I was so touched that I immediately made a donation when I got home. You can do so too... here.

I am just so THRILLED with my first cycling event!! Thank you Venus de Miles for the great ride and treasured memories.  I will certainly be back in 2014.  I hope you will consider joining me next year!

Total Time (with stops) was approximately 5 hours.
Ride Time was 3:58:46 for 64.2 miles (16.1 mph).
RiDe HaPpY!!


  1. Congratulations on your first of many bike races to come!! I just started riding last year as a way to cross train for my marathon. I don't ride with anyone and I haven't entered any races as the thought totally intimidates me. After reading your cycling journeys and now this race, I'm totally motivated to enter one. I have my eye on a local duathlon that is a run/bike/run event. Thank you for sharing your new love affair with all of us. I feel like I'm cheating on my running too! So much that I changed my blog name from TheRunnerMom to RunBikeMom!! I guess cycling is here to stay for me too. I love reading your stories, you add a great excitement to what you do. Congrats!!

    1. Haha... funny, I've been thinking of changing my name too! I think you should definitely find an event to test out your new cycling love! :) good luck!

  2. Yay!! It was so much fun and I feel so blessed with our Fab 5 that held together all the way thru to the end. SO.MUCH.FUN. We totally rocked it and I really look forward to next year.

  3. Sounds like a lot of fun and a well put on event. At least you know the stops were available, even if you didn't need that many. So... does that mean you're gonna need to update you blog name? ;)

  4. Awesome! I've been wanting to get into cycling, but I'm a little scared. Mainly of riding in traffic and going too fast down large hills.

  5. You are such a hardcore chica! I love it...cycling is so much fun, but I feel like if I got into races I'd have to buy a street bike and I'm too into my big 'ole trail bike.

  6. 64 miles is a LONG ride. I'm sure you were feeling it a bit the day after! After long rides (and I mean like 20-25), it always hurts me to sit the next day! haha. Congrats on hitting a great distance!

  7. Good for you Jess - I am currently in the 'flirting' stage but the Florida heat is making the bike look particularly attractive :). Can I ask what bike you are riding? I have a road bike that I'm not really happy with so I was curious. Also - are you clipping in? Was that hard to do? Keep up the great blog. You have no idea how many times I've made that run because you told me too:) You're such an inspiration!! Clare (www.clareisrunning.blogspot.com)

  8. I have century fever now too! Now we just have to find one as fun as Venus...

  9. It was nice meeting you! I thought they did such a good job putting this on and I seriously cannot wait to do it again next year!

  10. You are looking so awesome in this apparel.Badger 1262


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