Yesterday, I tackled an 85-mile bike ride through four counties in the middle of North Carolina. It was a beautiful day for an amazing ride. Jenny Sunshine and I left Wilmington at 5:20am and joined 550+ riders at the Harris Lake County Park for the Raven Rock Ramble.   

It was a challenging ride for a flatlander like me but the people are great, the support was amazing and the after party was the best ever. I went into the ride with plans to do 100 miles, but cut it short. I didn't have the best day out there. It was hot (85+ degrees), there was wind (20+ mph) and there were hills (mountains?). It was so much fun it hurt. 

I now have a few century (metric included) rides under my belt and I'm realizing there are a few key ways to survive an endurance ride. 

The first key to survival: cycle with friends.

The first 30 miles were AWESOME. I started with my sister and her friends and chatted my way to the first SAG (support and gear) stop. We talked gearing, triathlon, water temps and more. I was sad when I had to say goodbye to Anna and EVERYONE else at Whitey's Country Store in Fuquay Varina. Jenny Sunshine and I called out our goodbyes and were the only two that broke away from the pack. We were alone on two lane roads for the next 10 miles. 

The next thing ya know, we catch up with a couple of former TriStacey athletes. We joked with them, talked about future goals (Ironman Couer d'Alene, Raleigh 70.3), pee intervals and riding without socks. We hung with them for a while and leap-frogged throughout the ride.

The majority of the miles were spent with Sunshine Spice. We laughed. We argued. We debated. We coached each other and raced each other. It was a good mix and it helped me through the hard miles. Most of all, we sang. More on that tomorrow and the second key to survival.