First Gravel Ride in over a Year

In Blog by Eric BenjaminLeave a Comment

I started my back to school adventure to become a Physician Assistant (PA) just over a year ago . I thought I would be able to juggle training for the Dirty Kanza 200 and classes, but Organic Chemistry took care of any extra time I thought I would have. This would be my first gravel ride in over a year.

Getting my brain back into the swing of college was a challenge to say the least. But I knocked out my prerequisites and got all A’s in the process. The school I want to get into has 1100 applications for 60 spots so I need to look good if I am going to have a chance of getting in. In other words, B’s are not acceptable.

The PA application

I filled out the long, online PA application, did my best on the essay and I was invited to fill out a supplemental application for the school I want to get into! I was on pins and needles waiting and then I got the email. I held my breath as I read it. I was invited for an interview! My chances of getting in have gotten better. I need to kill it on my interview and have been preparing.

I was going to take another full load of classes this semester but they were classes I didn’t need but would be nice to have. Another $3,000+ out of pocket for nice to have classes didn’t seem fiscally responsible, and new things have popped up in my life so I decided to take my last required class, Biochemistry, online. I work part time as a phlebotomist at the local hospital, so a window has opened for me to ride!

First Gravel Ride

My bikes have been sitting for over a year. My fatbike needs new tires and has had sealant sitting stagnant in them so that wasn’t an option. I took the old reliable Trek XO1 off the trainer, changed the slick to a gravel tire and put it on the stand. She was still in tune. I lubed up the chain and got ready to go.

I ate a banana and filled the water bottles with water, since I was out of drink mix. I was only going 20 miles, I should be fine. My Garmin was dead. I put it on the charger while I got ready. It got up to 36% before I unplugged it.

The first few pedal strokes felt great. It was in the 80’s and not too windy. I had a little 20 mile, easy course to spin. It would be silly to push it too hard. My legs have been dangling from a chair as I have exercised my brain for the past year. They walk me from patient to patient and I have jogged a bit, but they are completely out of shape, not to mention my sitbones. I needed to ease back into cycling and not burn myself out with expectations.

The pavement turned to gravel after a few miles. She welcomed me back like a long-lost lover. The sound of crushing gravel was sweeter than Tim Mohn’s singing voice on a Saturday night. There is something about riding gravel that is cathartic to the soul. I’ve missed it.
First gravel ride-001

The legs felt good, for about eight miles. That was when I started to feel the pains of a new rider. My rear was beginning to get sore. My hands were going numb and my neck was getting sore too. But I was outside, riding my bike. All was good.

First gravel ride-002

My first ride was successful. My average speed wasn’t terrible. The aches and pains were expected. I will get over those soon. I did feel like I had ridden a century at the end of my 20. My neck is still sore from yesterday’s ride. But I am feeling good about being back on the bike. Now to get new tires for the fatty.

Future plans

As I rode I began to think about this window of time I have before I go to PA school (as long as I get accepted, of course). School starts in July of 2017. If I really wanted to, I could train. Perhaps I could do the DK200 in 2017 before school starts.

I do have major plans. Many of you saw on the Facebook that I got engaged. That’s huge and something I did not think would happen to me again. I am very happy and excited about that. A move is in my immediate future. My fiancé and the school I hope to attend are in Las Vegas. From Emporia, Kansas to Las Vegas. Wow! You never know where life may lead.

Las Vegas means road rides and also this mountain training route. I hope to find some mountain biking trails out there too. Things are changing and I need to see what I can do and if my body will respond well to training after sitting and studying for the past year. Thoughts of getting a road bike are even dancing through my mind. It would be pretty sweet to race the DK200 before I disappear for two years of PA school don’t you think? Hmmmm.