Miles of Matrimony: a season of riding

And… Training for our first century ride & beyond – TOGETHER!

When I got married and my friends put on my bridal shower, they gave Josh and I a questionnaire to complete for a trivia game. One of the questions was “What was your first date?”  Josh answered that our first date was meeting at Horsefly and going hiking at Curecanti Canyon the next day. Wrong answer. 

The day you randomly meet and go hiking is not a date. Regardless of what the answer is, the truth of the matter is that I really only got into physical activity and outdoor adventures because I met Josh.  Right there, from day one, he was taking me outdoors for all kinds of hiking and biking adventures.

I met Josh in 2012 – in a bar nonetheless – because I was a drinker and he was Mr. Colorado Outdoorsman. From the day we met, I knew I had to fake til I make it in the world of hiking, biking, and all other outdoor fun. He had a passion for backpacking, mountain biking, and motorcycling. If I had any chance at all in making that relationship work, I had to learn and adapt! Biking, included. 

That first summer we were dating, Josh bought me my introductory mountain bike and helmet off discount days from the REI Outlet site. On our first ride to Ridgway Reservoir, I threw my bike off the trail into the reservoir. If we could survive the trail side temper tantrum, for sure we could survive a summer of road biking and training for our first Century Ride together, right? 

Our First Century Ride! 100 miles Naturita to Gateway Canyon and back!

Absolutely! So anyways. It’s been a solid 8 years and a few different bikes since that initial bike ride. To say that biking together had been my least favorite hobby, is an understatement. For years, I shared that I liked it better when Josh biked with me while I ran/trained for my ultras. It was such a great bonding time, outdoors, together. And, I didn’t have to bike. WIN WIN. 

Fast forward to 2021. In a very roundabout weird strange way, we both got into road biking. Prior to 2021, we only had mountain bikes. But as our circle of friends shifted over the years, and so many of my friends were road bikers, I decided to purchase a roadie and sign up for the Michigan Dalmac. You’ve all seen that blog. 

While training for the Dalmac, Josh got really interested in road riding and training with me. We decided that for our 5th anniversary in July, we’d purchase him a really nice road bike from a friend. It’s the mutual gift that keeps on giving and we’d have plenty of “Miles of Matrimony” ahead of us riding together. From our anniversary in July to the Dalmac ride in September, we biked together hundreds of miles, tons of hours. We carted our camper with the bike rack all over the states of Colorado and Utah in order to enjoy roads and sceneries of all kinds. 

And though people have asked what the real details are and if we ever fought about it, I don’t think we actually did?! On the contrary, mid-August we sat down at a computer together and started researching the Mountains to Deserts Century ride. After emailing the race director and getting details, we decided a century ride together was exactly what we wanted to end the summer of riding with. 

Mile 80 of our first century ride.

We signed up one night, and the next night decided we needed to go on a ride together to practice riding down the Keystone section of Highway 145 (if you know, you  know that highway.) We have a messed up version of celebrating things. 

So, the week of the Dalmac arrived and all went well. While I rode hundreds of miles, Josh still logged well over 100 miles that week just riding out towards me on the course and riding alongside me for various sections of that route. He managed to ride really well, yet still took care of my needy self and all my whining for 5 days. Again, I don’t think we really ever had any arguments or disagreements. It was just a lot of hours of being on the bike, and another ton of hours being tired/hungry. Somehow, we manage our riding and our relationship pretty well. 

Between the Dalmac and our century ride was exactly 20 days. So, just less than 3 weeks for me to recover/taper all in one and time for Josh to get one last long ride in. He did his final training ride of 63 miles totally solo, on his own. While we did most of our training together, I think he really enjoyed that time out on the road in the SPEED by himself. Without me there to slow him down, that was probably the fastest 63 miles of his life. 

8 days prior to our Mountains to Desert Century ride, the event was cancelled due to unfortunate circumstances with COVID, staffing, people, and other needs that couldn’t be met. While we could have easily decided not to do it, we made arrangements to take on 100 miles from the Mountains to the Desert. We booked camping at CampV in Naturita and biked from there to Gateway Canyons Resort Coffee Shop in Gateway. 

Like all summer long, we carted the camper and our bikes out to Naturita. We spent the evening before getting the bikes prepped and ready. We filled our water bottles and packed enough food to do the full 100 miles solo, self supported. 

Day of: 

On the day of our century ride, we left at 7:15am – a very cold chilly morning in the canyons. It was so cold that we rode FAST. In the first 50 miles, we only stopped one time. We made it 50 miles to Gateway in 3 hours, 18 minutes. Coming back was a totally different story. It was hot, and mostly uphill back to CampV. 

It’s normal that Josh rides way ahead of me and occasionally waits.

And, since y’all ask for the real deal on how we ride together – this is the answer of where we ride apart. From miles 50-80ish we didn’t ride together a whole lot. And, if we did, it was pretty quiet.  Between it being hot, managing water, and just overall fatigue, we both struggled but at different times. While I was doing okay on the uphills, Josh was tired and his feet hurt. While he can haul on the downhills, my upper body was struggling. We did stop together at mile 80, where Josh declared he was “Low on attitude.”  Thanks dude, thanks for recognizing that you’re hangry, hot, and tired all in one. 

Mile 80 blessed us with a surprise aid station though. Even though the race was canceled, many people were still riding the course. So the race director organized for her and a couple others to be out there with water, lemonade and snacks. We refilled on water, food, and energy from seeing them. Off we went. 

Miles 80-100 weren’t all that great. It was in these miles we just wanted to be back to camp and probably felt annoyed with each other. While we enjoy riding together, 7.5 hours is a long time. Though, we still didn’t argue or disagree on anything. 

Our self-made finishers awards!

We finished up our hundred miles, had dinner at our camp, and enjoyed a bottle of wine. It wasn’t your traditional “end of the race” setting. There wasn’t a finish line or spectators, but it was quaint and cute for us. My mom had made us these super cute Cycopath Biking shirts and I had gotten some dollar store toy “medal” with some superhero decor. It was our own celebration of victory and accomplishment, and we fully enjoyed it. 

We weren’t there to just wrap up at 7 hour, 100 mile riding day. This was literally a summer in the making, possibly even years since that first bike temper tantrum at the Ridgway Reservoir. 

It’s been several weeks since our century ride, but you know it hasn’t stopped there. Being that we (surprisingly to some) still like each other and still enjoy our bikes, we’ve still carted our camper and bikes around the last few weekends. A few weeks back, we biked 70+ miles around Grand Junction, Palisade, and the Monument area. And couple weeks ago we biked 60+ miles around Canyonlands and Deadhorse Point. Just this past weekend, we covered 50ish miles in the Durango/Mancos areas. The adventures and views are endless. 

Since purchasing Josh’s bike in July, we have biked over 1,000 miles (1,200 miles for me total, not sure how many for Josh). Majority of our miles have been riding together. But even if not riding together, we have been the best crewing/supporting team for each other. Whether doing each other’s laundry, having meals ready before or after riding, or packing each others bike packs, we mostly share the biking tasks. And, by sharing I mean, he probably does 70% of the leg work, me 30%. I will absolutely be the first to admit I am the weaker link when it comes to the actual bikes. Josh is the mechanic who cares for the cleaning, tires, chains, and everything else that requires mechanic maintenance. 

I am no biking-marriage pro, but since friends and others ask how we manage it to enjoy it all…. I simply suggest knowing each other’s strongpoints, and slowly back away when you know it isn’t your expertise. While Josh is fixing bike pieces, cleaning chains, or checking tire pressures, I do my best to back away and try not to annoy his space. While I am getting our snacks, packs, and meals ready, Josh is pretty good at getting out of the kitchen area and letting me do my thing – whether it be at home or in the camper getting ready for a long ride. I highly suggest communicating very well the day before a ride of your plan of action, communicating who is doing what. I suggest having a checklist that you each have your own gear ready. Don’t assume other one has packed your items such as socks, shoes, helmets, gloves and whatnot because in that case, an item is likely to be left behind with the mentality “I thought you packed it….” Simpy communicate who is doing what, who is packing what. Discuss your route together so you know where you are headed and can mentally prepare for the terrain, climbs, downhills, and whatever else you may encounter.

Where biking may take us, I am not sure. When will we do another century? That I am not sure of either, but we are on the search for different bike events for 2022 – still hoping that Mountains to Deserts works out for us. While I am for sure NOT riding the Dalmac next year, Josh has full intentions of training and completing it.  I will be crewing him.

Like I said, back away and let the other person have their space while doing their part.

Like marriage, life on two wheels takes focus and balance. It takes hard work. It takes communication. It takes the right tools and proper gear. It takes dedication.  Enjoy the ride.

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