Not certain what got into me. Maybe it was my semi-devotion to cycling this summer, or maybe it was Dave Zabriske's suicide mission in the Tour De France the other day, but whatever it was I spontaneously decided to sign up for my first century on Friday (GULP!)
I signed up for the Akron Bike Club's Absolutely Beautiful Country Ride.
The weather looked to be near perfect on Sunday as long as I got rolling on time and no isolated thunderstorms crossed my path. I woke up at 5:30a and rolled out a little after 6:00a, only to have to turn around about 4 miles from home because I had forgotten my pump -- was it gonna be one of those kind of days? I had printed out directions that turned out to be inaccurate and didn't arrive to the start site until 7:30a (yep it was gonna be one of those days -- SIGH). Grabbed a bagel with peanut butter and rolled out solo at 7:45a. The sun was out, but it was pretty cool compared to the last few days. I started passing people right away on all kinds of bikes. One girl I passed on a Felt road bike with aero bars would go back and forth with me for a few miles ( I dropped her on the flats and she would power by me on the hills) the first hour before I lost her. I think she was doing the 50/60 loop so she turned left where I turned right. I don't really like leapfrogging with people but my plan was to keep my heart rate under 145 for the first 2 hours.
The first hour flew by as I detour from the orange/pink arrows to the first of 2 green loops the century riders were instructed to ride. The website advertised ample rest stops, but I hadn't bothered to check where they would be and after taking down my first water bottle and part of my second I really had to pee. I had an internal battle with myself if I should just pee on the bike, but the idea of urine down my leg and on my water bottle, just seemed too gross for a casual ride -- maybe if it was a race. I definitley have more issues with germs than ever before now that I am a nurse. The course reminded me of Muncie with open fields and no woods to jump off the bike and pee in the woods, but hillier. As luck would have it I rolled up on a porto-potty and Ahhhh, RELIEF.
Not even a mile from my rest stop I went over some railroad tracks and sent my aero drink sliding down the road in front of me. I jammed on the brakes and trotted over to pick it up. Luckily, it was just low enough with fluid I didn't lose too much. I reset the bottle and headed on my way. I completed the green loop pretty quickly and was back on the orange/pink loop again when I started to see more riders. I was pretty much out of fluid at 1:45 in and asked a gentleman on a hybrid if he knew where the first stop was. He indicated it should be up ahead in the next 2-3 miles. I thanked him and pedaled onward. Just like he said, I hit the first rest stop a mile or two later. I refueled quickly and met a nice CTC member, who also owned a Felt tri bike (She had a B16 though). We had a nice little chat about the aero bottle and it's splashing capabilities. She was only going 50 she said so I set out solo for the next part of my ride.
I riding about 16-19 mph and my heart rate average was under 145 bpm with 35 miles done. I had been a little tight in my quads at the start of the morning, but had loosened up. I spent the first 20 minutes out of the aid station trying ot ride super easy and stretch my neck and back as those have been the big factors on my long rides and surprisingly not my legs. An older gentleman named, Samon a nice Cannondale Slice caught up with me and we rode together chatting for about 10 miles. He owned a bike shop in New Franklin on the Akron border and was trying to stay ahead of his son (who was faster for as long as possible). He was in for the 100 too. We rode through a small little town and made a climb up a nice hill where the next rest stop was, indicative by the sign that said "ABC Rest Stop - LUNCH!!" He decided to stop, but I wanted to get done, so I split off.
A gentleman in some weird ultra runner's get-up was yelling "Miss are you doing the 100?" as I passed the aid station. I said "Yes." Apparently, this guy was lost and confused as to where to go. I slowed and gave him a chance to catch me. I whipped out my map and explained we were to follow the green arrows for the 2nd loop and then get back on the orange/pink loop. He seemed like he wanted to ride with me, but I was not really interested in his company and he was going slower than me, so I cranked up my I-pod, told him good luck and rolled out. The temp had definitley gone up and the roads were giving off some refractory heat. I was starting to get hot. I had rolled through the last section a little under 17 mph (a little slower than I had hoped), but between talking to Sam and the stops through town -- ehhh, whatever. I could tell I was beginning to feel the miles on my body around 65 miles. My neck, back and shoulders were getting pretty tight and stiff. I sat up and tried to ride and stretch for a bit, rehydrate and relax. I ran out of water and started looking for somewhere to refuel and then I popped back out at ABC (lunch) rest stop -- Hallelujah!!
Not only was I thirsty, I was starving. I smashed some trail mix and a small turkey sandwich done, ran to the bathroom, and applied some of my magic-crotch-saving bliss. I had about 30 miles to go and I was ready to geterdun.
The rest stop is on the middle of a steep hill and I couldn't clip into my look pedals and spin up it. I tried 2x and almost fell the second time. It was embarassing! I was too prideful to walk my bike up the hill to the clip in so I rode down to the bottom and re-climbed the whole freakin' hill. Now the rub was I forgot to start my Garmin for about a mile -- doh!
At this point, it was a matter of just finishing, but it was not going to be pedal, pedal pedal. I hit a long road that had gravel and bumps and slightly uphill. The punishment had begun. I made it to the top of a long climb and saw my friend who had updated me to the first aid station stopped on the side of the road. I begrudgingly stopped to see what the problem was with his bike. He had a gearing problem. I had no clue how to fix it. Another cyclist stopped, but no dice. The guy had no cell phone so I called S.A.G. for him and we waited for about 15-20 minutes. Finally, the S.A.G. van showed up and I pushed on. Stopping for that long had really tightened me up and holy moly was it hot! I had forgotten to stop my Garmin, so my time was officially screwed up. I could only split my watch and go from there. I had a decent headache starting and I needed this ride to end and soon. I started to feel like every road was uphill and bumpy. I even cycled down the middle of the road on many sections. I saw the last rest stop and opted to pass it, but realized there were no arrows about a 1/2 mile after, so I turned around and entered the park that you actually have to ride through and exit on the other side. I decided then to stop and get some more fluid as I was down to one bottle with 12 miles to go. It was the best decision all day. The lady at the aid station said "can I fill your bottle with ice?" Can you? (HELL YEAH and can I kiss you???) I have never been so excited to have ice. It was so refresshing.
I pulled out renewed and excited. I had no doubts in my mind I would finish my first century today. I squirted some ice water on my head and down my shirt and just jammed out to Pitbull, Flo Rida, Skrillex et. al all the way back.
I pulled into the school and after dismounting realized my legs still felt pretty good, maybe a little tight an tired, but not too bad at all. The most damage was my shoulders, neck and back. I have some terrible tan lines, that were a little painful and a whopper of a headache. I packed up, grabbed some food and drove home with an ice pack on my head - I'm pretty certain I got a little sun poisoning.
I took an Aleve in the car and stopped at McDonalds for some french fries and a small coke in hopes it would help -- it did a little. I ended up showering and dead to the world by 6:00p. No stage 8 TdF post century cool down for me. Just sleep, lots of sleep, but hey that's what 100 miles does to me.
Time: ~ 6 hrs
Ascent: 4746 (about 1100 feet in the last hour), oh how they punish you
Avg HR: 145
Max HR: 170
Overall, I thought the ride was well supported and well run. The food and aid stations were spaced appropriately. The ride was hillier than I had originally thought it would be, but it gives me confidence I can tackle any century in these parts. I would recommend the ride. There isn't a lot of shade and you can definitley smell the manure on some parts -- P.U.!!