The RideOn women’s cycling team rode 100 miles Friday to commemorate the 100 laps they would have rode in the Little 500. The century ride is four times as long as the 25-mile women’s race, which is also divided among four riders.
Junior rider Brooke Doxtator took over IU’s Instagram page to document her seven-hour journey in her hometown of Covington, Indiana.
“It went great,” Doxtator said. “I say that meaning I finished.”
Doxtator said the last 10 miles were the hardest she’s spent on the bike, but her year of training for the race helped tremendously.
“It’s a mental game, being by yourself,” Doxtator said. “Just listening to your thoughts and your body telling you you can’t, but you know you have to keep going.”
Doxtator said she had never ridden a bike longer than 80 miles before this ride, and even that was indoors, without wind or distractions. Weather played a much bigger role outside. She said fog delayed the start of her ride by two hours.
She said she took plenty of breaks and made sure she wasn't off her bike for long. By taking too long of a break, fatigue catches up, and motivation disappears.
Doxtator came up with the idea to bike 100 miles and shared it with the rest of her team, who all immediately jumped on board.
“We were all looking forward to the race so much,” Doxtator said. “We were looking forward to that challenge, and we didn’t want to just sit around on race day without getting active, getting on our bikes.”
RideOn had high hopes for this year’s race. The team finished in the top 10 in 2017 and 2018. In 2019, two RideOn cyclers broke their collarbones, one became sick and the team wasn’t able to compete. This season was going to be their redemption — the riders were going to surprise everyone.
That opportunity was wiped out due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The team’s two returning riders, both seniors, saw their chance to finally ride in the Little 500 disappear. Doxtator was sitting on her couch in Bloomington when she got the email that it was canceled.
“I just started crying,” Doxtator said. “It was more out of frustration that I’d been training almost a year for something that isn't going to happen.”
Before any official word came out, the team was optimistic, believing Little 500 could still be held without spectators. Now, Doxtator realizes how unrealistic that was.
“We kind of knew it was coming, we just didn’t want to think about it,” Doxtator said. “We just wanted to keep training as if it was happening.”
Doxtator said the team lost motivation, but still tried to get on their bikes to stay in shape before coming up with the plan to ride the century.
Doxtator made a plan with her coach, Carl Field, for when to rest and what to eat. She carb-loaded before the ride and said she made sure to consistently drink water. She ate Clif Bloks every thirty minutes during the ride for carbohydrate fuel.
She kept in touch with her team to make the ride easier, talking to teammates Kelly Garrison and Karly Sutton on the phone. Her teammates finished before her and texted her words of encouragement while she rode her last 10 miles.
“It was the most grueling day on the bike that I’ve had, but it was also somehow the most rewarding,” Doxtator said.