Mis-adventures with psycho cycling Laura

by Laura Spangenberg

June 3rd, 2001 was the 19th Peninsula Metric Century, and yet again dawn was greeted by the cycling psycho Laura.

yep I competed in yet another race this month, and this time, the distance was something that I have never done before.

100 miles, yep I said miles.. it gets better honest... 6000 feet elevation gain to boot, just in case the 100 miles didn't scare me off. in all there were only 10 people that chose to do this route, and last year there seemed to be only 13, guess three of those people learned their lesson huh.

Well.. the route would include the famous Fox Island, as well as Purdy (women's prison), Gig Harbor, Manchester (fueling station) and Port Orchard. this route would take us to the water, and along the water.

My mis-adventure started the night before when I informed my cycling partner on her answering machine that there was no way we were doing the 60 little miles, that 100 was what we needed to do, and it was not up for discussion. Yep I told my elder, (she is 51) that it was not up for debate. That message brought her right to the phone, or it could have been my whispering that I wanted to do the STP in one day. One of the two. Linda was cool with the 100 miles until she learned about the 6000 ft elevation gain, yep 5000 more feet then the STP. To say the least, she growled and took it as a challenge.

Sunday morning started with, of course, one of us forgetting something, it would be a long line of stuff that we would discover that we forgot, but of all the things a cyclist could forget, this ranked up there with "dud". Yep my helmet. So I was loaned a child helmet and needless to say my mood took a hit with that.. I looked like a little kid out riding with her mother. Linda laughed at me and told me I matched and get on the bike, we had riding to do.

The second mis-adventure happened around the 29 mile marker, on Fox island. might I say, this island is mis-named. should be called, "cycle-free island" cause I do believe many cyclist died doing this part of the course. Ugh. The first major hill greeted us with its protector, and I became the mountain's first victim of the day. This protector was like no other, and I swear, I won't mess with it again.

All white, big cuddly face, don't let it fool you, its all tongue. On my ascent to the first killer mountain, this loving pet, (someone's household guardian), decided I was moving at the correct speed and rate that it could greet me properly. With a well thought out plan and well placed paw movements, this beast attached two feet to the bar on my bike and brought me down. Landing on my left calf and left hand, I broke my fall with my wrist, when this guardian decided I was too cute to let go, landed on me, sending us sliding down the hill, my wrist gave out, thus landing me on my elbow. Trying to protect myself from the harsh reality of a soggy tongue, I was cleaned, de-salted, and chewed on while my cycling partner stopped traffic, waiting for my body to stop sliding down the hill. Finally reaching a stopping point, we tried to find an easy solution to remove me from the position I was trapped in. With the assistance of a car that had to stop from running me over, and my cycling partner, the wild guardian of the mountain was distracted from me for a few minutes. Trying to regain my bearings, I turned to see the now loving beast chewing playfully on my partners glove as she tried to remove him from her hand. The aid of the stopped car came in greatly here. He pulled the dog off and away from us, while Linda helped untangle my left leg from my bike.

After careful examination, my bike was fine.

The mountain beat us, and the guardian walked with us, making sure we didn't stray from our beaten path. Upon reaching the top, we once more mounted the bikes and were off.. at a very slow pace.

With a rest stop only 5 miles we drove on, stopping long enough for Linda to flirt with peacocks, and time enough to stop us from running over a deer. (just a note here, the peacocks really liked Linda. the male showed his feathers for her, but when I came back to see it, he hide them.. guess I smelled too much like the guardian.. oh well.) the deer, upon looking at us, ran straight for the trees. (yep we must have stunk).

Arriving at the first stop point, we took in water, snacks, laughter and of course our first port-a-potty break. We discovered then that only 10 had signed up this year, less every year. Placing anti sting cr�me on the leg, and after some struggles with my glove, on and off, we began again. The next stop would be the 40 mile marker and we would be set for the other half of our day. The rest of the ride on fox island was rather boring, but after the many misadventures of the morning, we enjoyed the silence the day brought. Riding along the water, getting sprayed from the water hitting the rocks, it was lovely and we crossed back into Gig Harbor, feeling good about what we had done so far, but then we looked at the time. It had taken over 4 hours to do 40 miles. We were behind.

Third mis-adventure was nearly too costly for both of us. Due to poor judgment on a drivers part, Linda was almost sandwiched between two cars, and I was forced to fishtail, scream, and wreck. Sliding on my leg again. The driver just looked at us, and kept going. He had blocked the intersection at the last minute, not looking at the sign in front of him saying "watch for cyclist". I was closing in on Linda and had to apply both breaks to avoid hitting her, fishtailing, I moved to the right of her and ended up taking a hit, falling and looking at the tire of the trailer the bronco was pulling. Normally I would be ashamed of my navy mouth, but it served me well when I let out a few choice words to the driver. He just looked and waved. if I see this man again.. I think I shall beat him or take him to the guardian of the mountain.

Again.. careful examination... my bike is still fine.

Rattled and shaken, Linda and I continued on our way. discovering we were way behind, tired and sore, we continued on cause our pride, or our psycho ness would not allow us to stop. That third mis-adventure would come back to get us later in the evening, and I would not enjoy its outcome.

We traveled rather well the rest of the trip, another stop, another port-a-potty, we continued on and had some fun. laughter and some complaints about "they said this was flat.. this is not flat" and we continued on. tired, and exhausted, we continued.. we hit the last stop at 75 miles and knew we could finish it. we were told by a lovely couple the hard part was over and we were there.. so taking in to account we needed to trust someone we trusted them and set out to finish our race. everything was closed up and it was 4 in the afternoon. What could happen. I asked.. I deserved it.

We reached a crest in a little hill and we were laughing at each other, and not looking straight ahead, and then.. we did. There stood before us, the largest mountain climb we had seen. Even worse then the killer mountain on Fox Island. Yes it was bad. It was high, long, and you could not see the flat part at the top. Linda being who she is, said this..."if we go down this little hill really fast.. we can get a little ways up that.. come on, lets do it.." she started and I watched her.. decided I to needed to finish what I started.. and I followed. Yeah if you go really fast down the hill.. you only go 400 feet up the other side. Yep it was steep. I could hear Linda's want-be-sailor mouth working.. so we continued, refusing to walk up it, to push the bikes, we did it.... we reached the top.. looking at each other, we shook our heads and were off..

The old saying... for everything that goes up... must come down, is so true and its a cyclist's happiest phrase...

The down side of that mountain was worth it, sort of.. I blew out my tire on that hill down, and rode down at half the speed, limping if you will. the hole in my tire, was on a sanded out spot from our mis adventure with the car early that day. glass slide into the tire at is weakest point. so I had a flat and Linda was off into the sunset. so I pushed the bike until I found a clearing and precede to look over the hole and what had happened. Was greeted by some rather un-attractive women in a four wheeled car, yelling things there mother should wash their mouth with soap for and several honks. Know those honks were for my bent over position and not my legs, since having placed the anti sting stuff on my leg, I had gathered all the dirt and bugs that could stick to it. Looked like a walking fly strip. (stop laughing, they were sticky and still alive) Linda returned, when she discovered I was not over taking her on the next hill. With much time and patience, and knowing we were 5 miles away from completing, we replaced the tube and were on our way. One more major hill and we where home free.

The hill crest at the women's prison, at the time they were allowed out for the last time that night. With cat calls and whistles, Linda and I smiled and continued on our happy way. We reached the car and both looked at each other. We had completed it, we did it.. we did 100 miles... over all..

100 miles in 8 hours and 5 minutes, and overall with all of our mis-adventures, we were out there for over 10 hours.

I now can show off the perfect cyclist tan, matching raccoon eyes, and shell hair. I completed my first ever CENTURY race. I AM THE WOMEN!!!!

Linda shakes her head and say, we can not complete the STP in one day, but looking back on it, I think we can. it took us 4 hours to do 40 miles of Fox Island, it took 4 hours to do the 60 miles of the rest of the trip. Fox Island is nothing like the STP, and the elevation gain of the STP is only 1000 feet. what do you think? crazy, strange, could be.. thought that pushed me now..

Only 8000 people can sign up to ride the STP. only 174 women last year... rode it in one day. I want to be one of those few women, I want to do it.

So I have completed my race, my bike is fine, my tire needs to be replaced, and I love food right now. But I am happy and alive.. We did what we set out to do, and for that.. I am proud.

PS? Honestly. the bike is fine. not a scratch on her.. good huh.

Laura Spangenberg
Issaquah, Washington, USA

Copyright ©2001 Laura Spangenberg. All Rights Reserved.