Monday, February 15, 2010

My first Century ride

I've done it - a full Century ride. Not a metric century, but a real one -- 100 miles! Here's the proof:

It's a good thing I took this picture, too, because I forgot to turn off my Garmin afterwards and ended adding another 19.5 miles of car travel to the record. Argh! Now I can't figure out my average miles per hour or cadence or anything like that.

But let's start at the beginning.
The beginning didn't get off to that great a start. We drove up yesterday and, first, I forgot my bike light. Since I was afraid that I'd come back after dark, that was bad. Then, the place we had dinner served us the greasiest omelette I have ever eaten and later on that night in the jacuzzi I started to get stomach cramps. (Hey, at least there was a jacuzzi!)

The next morning, I decided to ride my bike to the start since it was only 4 blocks from the hotel. But I got lost. So I road 3.5 miles before I even started my ride. Then, I took off around 7:40 am and was doing well until I got to the part where the 100 mile ride split off from the 60 mile ride. The arrows for the 100 mile ride were pink and the 60 mile ride had yellow. But I remembered it the other way around (yellow is a more studly color than pink; it makes no sense for the shorter ride to use it)!

As I got farther from town, I was riding through fog. There was a fierce wind too. Plus, even with my ski gloves on, my finger tips were freezing. So was my face and head and upper body. Oh and my bike seat was putting intense pressure on my girly bits. My legs felt heavy and unresponsive too. I was miserable.

Then, I got to a turn off and there were both yellow and pink arrows on the ground. But there was no place that the pink group could have merged back into our route. I started to suspect something was wrong. Plus, no one was passing me. Now, I didn't expect to get passed by everyone, but I figured a lot of people doing the Century ride would be strong riders and some of them should be passing me. I was contemplating this when I hit a patch of very rough road. I was trying to avoid the potholes, but I didn't want to ride too far out into the road due to the fog. Plus, they were deceptive because they didn't look as deep as they were until you were right on them. I was beyond miserable.

Finally, I listened to that voice in my head that was trying to tell me something was wrong and stopped and got out the directions. And read right there ... 100 miler, BE SURE TO TURN RIGHT ON W. BIGGS-GRIDLEY. I had gone about 5-6 miles out of my way! Now what? Should I accept my fate and just do the 60 mile ride? But I really wanted to do 100. It's been a goal of mine for a while now and this was my chance.

At this point, I actually started to cry. Which shocked me enough to snap me out of it. I immediately turned my bike around and went back to the split off point. I told myself that this was actually a good thing because techincally the Century ride option was only 94 miles long and I'd be pissed if I had come all this way and didn't ride a full century. Plus, if I was wrong and it was really 100 miles, I would have done 112 which is the same length as an Ironman -- so it would be good practice. Plus, the fog would be gone when I came back to the bumpy part.

So I toodled along waving to the friendly bicyclists coming in the other direction and headed out to conquer the 34 mile loop. I was still a bit worried about the state of my legs and my girly bits. I also realized that I had been dripping snot all over the right leg of my bike pants (ew) because it was so cold. But there wasn't anything I could do about that but just keep going.

My original plan -- since I was undertrained due to my injury -- was to divide the ride into a series of 30-35 mile rides. Tacking on an extra 11-12 miles threw a bit of a monkey wrench into that plan and I found myself at mile 34, not back at the starting point and the first rest stop but out in the middle of some orchards. I decided to make my own rest stop.

I also had to pee very badly but there was no hidden place to go. Luckily no cars came by while I was doing my thing because I could not have waited. After a short break, I headed back into town. At this point, I was a bit, shall we say concerned, as I was not going very fast at all. Instead of the 14.5-17 mph I had managed for the first 25 miles, I was having trouble going over 10 mph. I was worried I'd never make it the whole way, at least not before dark. But I shoved those thoughts aside as I got to the official rest stop.

Here I dumped my jacket and long gloves and switched to my fingerless gloves as it had warmed up a bit. I still needed my arm warmers and was glad I had on long pants though. I made this a quick stop as I'd just stopped already and headed out for the lunch spot.

I was a bit worried they'd pack up before I got there, but apparently there were people running SAG in unmarked vehicles and they told the lunch crew to stay until a blue Gios showed up. So they did. I was making much better time again on this part of the route and I think my problems at the end of the 34 mile loop were due to wind. It made me realize I had fallen into "the way it is now is the way it will always be" thinking. It was a good lesson.

I had done some calculations on the way and decided that, if I could get to the lunch stop by 2:00 pm, I'd be able to make it home before dark and I would keep going even after I reached 100 miles. (I had told Mr. Mac that I'd call him to pick me up at 100 miles or nightfall, whichever came first, when we met up at the first rest stop.)

I rolled into the park where lunch was served at 1:59 pm. Success!

At the lunch stop, I downed some food and talked to the volunteers and a creepy guy who wasn't with the ride but was drooling over my bike. Now, my bike is worth drooling over. That wasn't what made him creepy. He just was. I was afraid he was going to ride with me for a bit but he stayed at the park.

My legs were totally shot at this point. I had been doing the pedal a few turns, rest a few turns thing ever since mile 30, but at this point my quads were totally burning. I was thinking that, rather than Smucker's Uncrustables (which taste pretty good considering they are total processed garbage), I wish they'd had some of those "The Sticks" at the lunch stop. I would have rolled the crap out of my thighs, if one had been available.

So I set out on the last 30 miles of the trip. I continued to make decent time for most of it, even over the rollers that marked the pass between two buttes. (The rollers were fun, in fact.) I found, also, that even though your quads are killing you and burning like crazy, they can still be made to work. I just kept peddling and wasn't even slowing down for most of the way back. Another good lesson.

At one point, a lady in a mini-van came by to check on me. I told her I was okay and was trying to make it back before the sunset. She said they would hang out at the end for a while longer and should still be there when I got back.

I was very tired at this point and doing a lot of coasting. I had slowed down from the 14.5-17 mph that I had accomplished for most of the route and was down in the 11-12 mph range for a lot of the last 10 miles. But I knew I could keep going, if I had to, as long as I didn't stop. (Which meant coasting through a few stop signs, but I was honestly afraid I'd fall over if I unclipped.)

I got to within sight of the fairgrounds and had to stop for a red light. I saw one guy with a bike driving out and Mr. Mac standing by our car waiting for me. I almost walked the rest of the way once the light turned green but I was able to get back on the bike and clip in (though it was touch and go for a moment there) and so end the ride triumphantly riding in instead of limping in pushing my bike.

Here I am with Gia, the both of us a vision in blue and white with touches of red (ignore the pink Fluid bottle and go with me on this one).

I was the last one to return, but I found out the guy who left when I showed up was only ahead of me by 45 min. and I am willing to bet he didn't ride 105.9 miles but only 94 like you are supposed to. I had figured I was behind by 2 hours at this point and making everyone wait for me, so I felt better about that.

The volunteers were still cleaning up and had left some dinner out for me. It was stuff to make burritos but I just had it plain. It was yummy! So was dessert. I got full on the chicken and black beans, so I had t take the dessert with me. I took a lot of dessert.

Then we loaded up the car and headed home. I started out alert but quickly went into a coma and did that head-bobbling, sort of asleep, sort of awake thing most of the way back. When I got home, I tried to convince myself to have an ice bath, but I couldn't. I had a bubble bath instead. It was awesome!

My legs are pretty sore right now even though I've been running The Stick over them at regular intervals. But my girly bits survived. Plus, while I did feel my calf a bit at the beginning of the ride and again at the end, I really can't feel it much right now. So that's a relief. I really do think I am mostly over this injury at this point.

I learned a lot on this ride that is going to help me in my Half and Full Ironmans, too. 

I learned that I could keep going, if I had to. I learned that I can turn negative self-talk around into positive self-talk and salvage an experiencing going south. I learned that I have to stop trying to make this man's seat work for me, even though it fits the theme of my bike (it's Italian), and use my original seat from my first bike, which fits me perfectly. I learned that using a Camelbak doesn't cut it as it hurts my back too much, especially in the beginning when it's very full. I learned that I really need aero bars for long rides so I can give my hands a rest and that I need to work on my bike position some more as I'm putting too much weight onto my palms.

Finally, I think I've finally nailed down my nutrition for long rides -- Infinit drink with Powerbar Energy Bites and the occasional Gu Roctane when I needed a quick shot of amino acids and caffeine. I know you can use Infinit for everything, but I find I need to chew something to be mentally satisfied on the bike. Plus, the amount of caffeine I need varies so I don't want to put it in my drink. Having the gel packets gives me more control.
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