The Connection Runners + travel

0 to 25: Zoo-de-Mack 2012 Recap

"It's just like riding a bike," they always say.

Well, whoever "they" are, they sure are right.

But let's back up a scootch (is that how you spell that word?). As we loaded up the car on Friday with two bikes, 20+ diapers, and six pairs of shoes, I couldn't help but feel a bit anxious over the impending ride. In years past, we've ridden the entire 51-mile Zoo-de-Mack course without many problems, but the thought of hopping back on for even 25 miles made me nervous.

Add to that: taking a baby on the first road trip of her young life, a trip that involved her being stuck in a car seat for several hours and sleeping in a hotel and just generally being away from home, a place where butt creams and toys and any other emergency item is an arm's length away.

In my new mom mind, of course, I imagined all kinds of things going wrong. Bikes flying off the rack on I-75. Epic poop explosions requiring 30+ diapers. Charlotte realizing we were sleeping in a Hampton Inn and hating it (duh, she prefers Holiday Inns). On-the-course crashes that involved my clip-in pedals, flying headfirst over my handlebars, and a sad scene where doctors tell me, "We're not sure if you'll ever walk again."

However, as has been the case throughout much of motherhood, none of my greatest fears were realized. In fact, the traveling weekend went so smashingly well that I feel like I could suit up and sail the world like mother effin' Magellan right now.

So let's tidy up my Monday-morning-day-off-of-work recap and wrap this bitch up in a few parts.

Part 1: The Ride
We stayed in Gaylord Focker, MI on Friday night, about an hour away from the ride's start in Harbor Springs. Our usual plan of staying right on site (Boyne Highlands ski resort) was foiled by not booking a condo or room there in advance. No room at the Inn, Mary and Joseph.

With breakfast in our bellies, the five of us (friends Matt and Kara in tow) drove to Harbor Springs to deposit Matt and Kevin at the start.

They took off around 10:30, and we had plans to meet them at Legs Inn, the world-famous restaurant that all Zoo-de-Mackers pause at, 25 miles in, to eat a sack lunch and enjoy views of Lake Michigan.

While Kara and I sat with C and enjoyed a Summer Shandy, the boys rode the first 25 in record time. As soon as they arrived, we sat down for lunch, opting to order inside in lieu of the turkey-and-cheese sandwiches being passed around outside.

So we ordered other sandwiches on delicious pretzel rolls (everything in life should be served on a pretzel roll) before heading back out. Our original plan was for Kevin to hop back in the car with Kara and C, but since the weather was gorgeous, and another 25 miles waited, Kara agreed to hang with C while the three of us rode the back half.

Now, let's have a moment of truth, here: Putting on a very slim cut cycling suit of spandex post-baby is perhaps the most terrifying yet courageous thing I've ever done. I felt like a weinerschnitzel and hoped no one would try to put spicy mustard on me and eat me while I was pedaling.

Spandex aside, the rest of the ride felt amazing. Though my first few hundred feet were tentative, I eventually settled in to a rhythm and kept up with the boys for the majority of the miles. And by kept up I mean they rode really slowly with me and said encouraging things as I fumbled with my gears.

We stopped a few times to meet up with the girls and cool down in the car's air-conditioning. The 80-degree weather meant it was the hottest ride in recent history, so one of our stops involved the boys heading down for a dip in the still very cold Lake Michigan.

Just under two hours after we left Legs, we pulled into the finish. The course took a final turn down a shortcut path this year, making it a bit shorter than 51, at least by our count. (So really this post's title is a total fallacy, but 0 to 23.2 just didn't sound as cool).

It wasn't super easy, and my body hurts in weird places still today, but coming back from riding zero miles over the last year to riding 25 in a single swoop felt really, really good. So good that I think I'm going to join the rest of our friends in a metric century in September. So good that I think I'm going to sign up for another tri for sure this summer.

Part Two: Road Trip Baby
Charlotte did so well this weekend. If she wasn't full of smiles in between her car-ride naps, then she was talking to her carseat friends, Lila the Ladybug and Barbara the Butterfly.

Going into the weekend, I'd worried about when and how I'd feed her on the road. Cue more terrifying visions (i.e., having to nurse her at a truck stop while 57 scraggly truckers peeked in on me).

However, feeding sessions went just fine. If we were on the road, we'd just pull off to a gas station (not one trucker played Peeping Tom). During the bike ride, the timing worked out so that I could feed her just before and just after.

Although I didn't go all Time-magazine mom with her, I did have one in-public nursing session while we ate lunch at Legs. She started to get fussy, and I didn't want to trek all the way back to the car, so Kara loaned me her sweater, and that, along with the confines of a corner table, helped me to keep my boobs discreet.

Hotel sleeping was just fine, too. We didn't bring the Pack 'N Play because our car was already so packed, so we made a little bed on the floor of our room with some extra blankets, and C slept just fine.

She could've been sleeping in the middle of Korean missile testing and not even known it.

Part 3: The Verdict
So, in more ways than one, it really was like riding a bike. By the time the weekend ended, and we wearily unpacked the two bikes, the few remaining diapers, and the six pairs of shoes, Kevin and I high-fived over our parenting success and waxed poetic about how it actually all felt pretty easy, like we'd done it a million times before.

I'm assuming this feeling will last all of 2.4 seconds, or until the next time we embark on a new adventure.

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0 to 25: Zoo-de-Mack 2012 Recap + travel