The story of my first century

[Warning, long post. This is more for me to remember the experience and certain details than for you slog through. So, sorry. Kudos if you make it to the end. Yeah, you can log that on the TFK site. ;D ]

Well, as you know, I did it – my first century. After having ridden for what is now my 3rd season and never having previously accomplishing this goal, I was thrilled to put this ride on my calendar, and even more thrilled when a friend said she would join me.

My friend has been riding since the late 80’s but took about 10yrs off before starting back. She used to be quite fast “back in the day” but not so much, right now…at least not yet. That was a good bonus for me. Why? Well, at the moment, she’s slower than I am (but not by all *that* much). What that meant for me is I knew I would not burn myself out too early on the ride. If I had ridden by myself, this would have been a concern for me. However a week out, she figured out that her schedule was clear for the day and she was a go – Hurray! It’s always more fun to do a ride with a buddy. Plus, the ride becomes mentally not as long, as hard, as wet, as cold, as hot…etc. It’s just easier to ride with a friend.

So, the day dawns and with the ride not starting until 815am, I had calculated when I had to get up, take my morning supplement, wait until I could eat, etc. All my stuff was already laid out. All I had to do was fall out of bed, get dressed, grab my stuff and go. She offered to drive and pick me up, too. That was another plus for which I’m so grateful. [Oh crap! I forgot to pay her gas money. Will have to rectify that the next time I see her.] I ate my breakfast on the drive down (which is always a huge smoothie), and because the ride was a good distance away (about an hour and twenty minutes), we were fully awake, laughing, ready to go when we pulled into our starting point.

The sun was up when we got there…not that you could see it. It was cloudy. That meant the temps would be kept down. Good. Sure I’ve been doing rides all summer long in temps of 90+, but doing an epic ride in those temps is another story. Give me 70-something to start. Yep, that’s what we got. Nice!

I was surprised how big this ride was. I hadn’t heard of it before but apparently, it’s been going on for at least 15 years. They had a note about registration limited to 1400 riders. Oh wow. Good, I had hoped that meant we wouldn’t be alone on the century route (like it is for some other organized rides around). Well, not only were we not alone on the century route, we had a constant stream of riders. I figured that nearly half the field of overall riders must have been doing the century b/c I could always see riders ahead of us and behind us. That was actually a nice feeling. It’s another one of those add-ons that helps the route seem mentally not so far.

So back to those cloudy skies. Yeah. They were cloudy alright…and burdened with rain. The rain started just a couple miles into the ride. Thankfully, I had already warmed up, and the rain was quite light. I found it quite welcoming, at first. By our first rest stop (at mile 21 – yeah…that’s kinda a ways into a ride for the 1st one), we were starting to actually get wet. Hmmm. The next rest stop (at mm32) they seemed to have hidden fairly well b/c no one could find it. Oh well.

I think the hardest part of the overall ride was a certain road upon
which the route took us starting around mm 33 The road was not literally cobblestone but effectively it was cobblestone. O. M. G. The faster you went the more you were beat up by the stones. The fastest I managed to go was 16mph, and it was agony at that point. How on earth the guys do cobblestone on The Tour at speeds of 25+ is beyond me. (Sure a full carbon bike helps but not by THAT much on these kind of stones.) We ended up sticking around 10mph, as did everyone else. And crap…did it go on forrrrrrrrr evvvvvvvvvverrrrrrrrrr. Well, just over 5 1/2 miles of forever at that pace and that level of brutality. What were the organizers thinking? Had they ridden this road, themselves? IDK. When we finally got off that road, I couldn’t have been happier. At the same time, I wondered what the stint on those stones had done to my endurance when it was still fairly early on the ride. Hmmm. Well, I figured I couldn’t focus on that, and I’d just take what else the ride (and the weather) had to dish out as it came. I’m in for the 100. So be it.

Otherwise, we were fine as we rolled into the rest stop at mm50. So far, so good. I did some stretching, ate my half banana at each rest stop, drank my own home brew drinks. Except at this rest stop, I had to refill my bottles. (I make my “home brew” drinks plus have a small flask with my “base stuff”. So, all I have to do is split it b/t my bottles, add water, and I’m good to go, again. This stuff is rocket fuel for me – love it!) My other rocket fuel is (gasp!) a certain brand of potato chips. Yeah, the “eat clean” freak eats a piece of real garbage on really long rides but…I learned by accident [no no no, not a real accident] that this stuff is great on epic rides. I dug it out of my goodie bag, which was packed full of stuff. (B/c I can never predict was the SAG/rest stops will have on hand.) And I chowed down. Oh…and I had been breaking off pieces of a particular chocolate bar which has a fair amount of maca in it. (More chowage.) Don’t know what maca is? Well, perhaps I’ll have to post about it in more detail, later. Suffice it to say that this Peruvian root helps with energy and endurance. I can’t take caffeine…or anything that works remotely like it. Caffeine and all those “act-alikes” make me very sick, but maca? Yeah, that I can do. Good stuff.

We hit the road, again, and my friend had made some noises – jokingly – about the terrain and finishing the ride. Well, the terrain hadn’t even “hit my radar”. Sure, we’d had plenty of hills, but these hills I barely noticed. These aren’t like the hills upon which I regularly ride (which tend to be steeper). Ha, I could go all day on these hills. I love this kind of terrain! However, the hills for her were a different story. She was feeling it and getting slower. I’d pull ahead and then wait a bit or simply pedal slower until she caught up. She kept telling me to leave her and go on ahead, but that’s not how I roll. She’s my friend and came down here for/with me. So, I’m to leave her in the dust? Uh, no.

Onward. Together.

We rolled into the rest stop for mm66 just in time. We were already wet, again, but this time the skies opened up full-on, southern style. If you haven’t visited the south and experienced one of these types of downpours, let me try to explain what it is like. Imagine your bathtub faucet is the size of the sky. Open it up full blast to fill your tub. THAT’S what it is like. Stand exposed for a mere split-second, and you’re completely drenched.

We found cover and had to wait out the worst of it before getting started, again. I felt badly for the folks who pedaled into the rest stop in the middle of that drenching. Cold, completely soaked. If you’re tired or otherwise mentally weighed down, it can be a deal breaker. We were really lucky. We had gotten cold b/c of waiting, and the temps dropped during the rain, too. However, we weren’t through-and-through soaked. At least not yet. Anyway, I had grabbed my requisite half banana and chowed on two huge oranges. Ready! Let’s roll, again.

Well…this time the drenching left loads of water on the roads. Within a mile, my shoes were soaked and squeaking. Cute. I’d had enough of being wet, and my friend had nearly had enough, period. Next rest stop, mm74. No water…in the drink containers, that is. Hmmm, someone didn’t plan well. I was not going to experiment with whatever drink was in the other containers. Pass. Onward.

It was starting to dry up. Thank heavens! It was still cloudy but it was getting brighter. Good! Last rest stop, ~mm83. My hubby met us there. It was so nice to see my boys and him. I grabbed water to refill one of my bottles and was good to go, again. I still had plenty in my tank, but my friend “called it” at that point. She got in the vehicle with my hubby and the boys. She’d had enough of the hills and particularly the rain. As it turned out, not only did it dry up for the remainder of the ride but the sun actually came out (for a little while), too.

And damn. Now, I had to work myself into a tizzy about a couple of
hills my hubby decided to “warn” me about b/c he’d driven down that part of the route. (He’d stopped by the starting point to get a cue sheet in order to find me.) Wish he hadn’t told me about that.

So, I started back out, and this time the roads were quieter. Well, not by all that much but it was much quieter for me. No buddy with which to ride. Sure, we hadn’t exactly been shoulder to shoulder, but there’s a whole nuther mental factor when your buddy is a few feet behind you (or a whole lot more than that)…than when their wheels aren’t on the road, at all. Darn. I was going to have to slog out the hardest part of the century by myself.

Okay…so not entirely by myself. I wasn’t sure exactly how my hubby would escort me…or if he would just wait at the end for me. What they ended up doing was going ahead a mile or two and then cheering me as I passed by. He’d take video and pictures. It was nice.

My 12yo would climb to the roof of our SUV and wave heartily at me. My youngest would call out from his window – sometimes happily and sometimes upset b/c I was getting out of his field of vision. My hubby would be on the side of the road poised with one of the cameras. It was cute. It made me smile. :) …and it made the time go by easier.

…That…and the fact that I was now going much faster. I’d been holding back, staying slow; so, I wouldn’t drop my friend. However with her no longer on the ride, I turned on my legs. I started catching …and passing people “right and left”. That was a nice feeling. I even saw my average speed overall on my Polar HRM rise. Cool!

Then…at mile 94.5, my HRM watch beeps signaling that the memory is full. Aw dammit. I had forgotten to empty out 2 previous rides. So, that meant certain particulars of the last 9 miles wouldn’t be recorded. Those of you who’ve read some of my posts on the forum in general know I’m an info junkie and a geek for stuff like this. Crap. Oh well, I still have the Sigma bicycle computer. It doesn’t measure climbing and a few other things but does much of the other stuff. So be it. No point in getting all wound up about it. It just is.

Mile 97….mile 98…I’m starting to get worked up. Don’t pop! Don’t Pop! It’s almost here. OMG, it’s almost here! I’ve done a freakin century! I think it was the road for the 100th mile where that nasty hill was. Hah…really wish he hadn’t bothered to tell me b/c it took up time on my mental screen needlessly. I pedaled up it with no problems. There wasn’t a second one. (If there was, I didn’t notice it.)

Now, I’m grinning goofily and I’m all emotional. The last 3 miles passed quickly and slowly at the same time. How does one describe that?

IDK but I rolled back into our starting point with my boys, hubby and my friend all cheering me. I was thrilled and overwhelmed with emotion. I. Fracking. Did. It!!

Time: 6 1/2 hours
Climbing: 3350ft – now, I’m not sure if my HRM recorded all or just the 94.5miles. (There were several hills in the last 10 miles.) Still, that’s a figure I did not at all expect. I hadn’t paid attention to all the hills I had done. Mapmyride had shown the route to be fairly flat. (Well, compared to what I normally ride, that is.) One time, MMR said it was 1300 ft; another time, I logged in and it said the route was 1800ft. But 3350+? Wow…I’m still surprised. When I look back on it in retrospect, I guess there were many…but I like those kind.
Overall ride average: 15.9mph

I don’t remember the actual time I got in. It was around 3pm Maybe 330pm. I forgot to log that part. Oh well. So, total time out from starting was over 7 hours, probably closer to 7 1/2 when you include all the stops. Not too bad for my first one.

I was on a huge high for two days after the century. I did a recovery ride with my friend the next day. Ugh, boy were we sore – my butt, certain parts of my legs and my shoulders. Still, even that wasn’t as bad as one might think. Pretty good, actually.

Oh…remember that the sun came out during the last section? Yeah…I refreshed the shoulder colors in fine fashion. (See picture from earlier this spring showing off the cyclist’s tan. It’s even darker, now. LOL.)