Doing a Century Ride

Century Logo.4

A century is 100 years in time.  A century bike ride is 100 miles.   I did my first training century last Saturday – the Ride Around the Buttes.  For those of you who know the area, the land is basically flat farmland, ranches and orchards.  One hundred miles on flat ground, how hard could that be?  Yes it is a lot of time in the saddle, but really, how hard can that be?

It was a beautiful sunny morning when I arrived in Sutter, California around 0700.  Sunny, cool, and WINDY!!! VERY WINDY!!!!   To a cyclist, wind is not usually a good thing, unless of course it is at your back.  In that case, one can cruise along almost effortlessly at a much higher speed than on the same route without the tail wind.  However, with a head wind, or a mixed head and cross wind, the going is slowed remarkably!!  Wind is NOT a cyclist friend in most cases.  For some reason there is this uncanny ability for the wind to be a head wind most of the way.  Even though the route does vary directions, the wind seems to be one step ahead, and it changes directions just about the time the route changes directions, so that it is once again, it is a head wind.

Suffice it to say, it was a long day.  I was riding with a group of about five others, and somewhere around mile 45-50 we took a wrong turn and went 4 miles the wrong direction before we realized it.  How depressing to not only retrace 4 miles, but to do it into the gusty headwind!!  Thank goodness for iPhones and GPS, as we were able to get ourselves back on track and make up the distance we lost with our cutoffs and detours, and found the rest stop at mile 71 without much trouble.

Did I mention it was a long day?  We were actually some of the last riders in, and nothing is more discouraging than to arrive at a rest stop to find out there is no water.  On a long hot ride, having to ration water is not a good idea for one physically or mentally, and I realized at the last rest stop, only 7 miles from the end, that I had not peed since the very first stop about 80 miles before.  When we finished the ride, my skin was caked in salt crytals, my lips were dry, my skin was dry and I wanted nothing but a cold wash cloth to wash my face and an ice cold drink to quench my thirst.

I struggled a bit with cramps in my feet during that ride and assume it was from dehydration. As I head out on another century ride this Sunday, I will not make the same mistake and keep myself better hydrated.  The ride this weekend is hilly – almost 5500 vertical feet of climbing over the 100 mile route. Terrain is a different kind of challenge than the wind.   You can read about that in a prior blogpost titled “Topography Says It All” from April 2012.  Temperatures are forcasted to be up around 90 degrees, so I will pedal along, drink lots of water, and as my friend Lynn told me……….”just take it 10 miles at a time.”

The scenery at this time of year here in California is spectacular.  Grasses are still mostly green, there are wild flowers, grazing sheep and cattle, and trees have leafed out.   What makes the rides for me though are the people I ride with.  We are all training for the same 4 day 330 mile ride – the NorCal Aids Cycle, now only 20 days away.  It’s been nice to get to know so many different people as I have been riding and training with them since about February.  Getting outside, being with other people and exercising has been the best therapy I could have asked for to get me through my long dark days after losing my brother in December.

If you want to know what the NorCal Aids Cycle is all about, check out the NorCal website, and if you would like to make a donation to this worthy cause, check out my donor page.

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4 thoughts on “Doing a Century Ride

  1. I really admire all of you kids out there contending with the various conditions as you prepare for the NACA. You all take care of each other! I want Janet back in one piece after all of this – OK?

    • Hey mom – I have an awesome group of people I ride with and we are all riding for the same reason and got each other covered! 🙂 This kid will be in good company and good hands!!!! 🙂 We have an awesome crew that works very hard to put things like rest stops and food in place for us, an awesome motocrew that rides the course to warn other drivers we are on the road and to help out with minor repairs of bikes and bodies, an awesome Medical staff roaming the course and available by phone to assist and help evaluate the “patient” when mishaps do occur, plus massage folks and chiropractors who volunteer their time to take care of each of us at the end of the day, AND a restaurant that caters are meals in camp and lunches on the road with wonderful food. How good is that???

  2. What a nice description of a century. I hope you guys drafted in the wind. I know all about being the last one to a rest stop and supplies running low. I keep a stash (usually almonds or a protein bar) in my saddle bag just in case. Still, no excuse for them running out of water! Boo.

    The past two years I’ve ridden back to back centuries Sat/Sun in the lovely Seacoast Century and didn’t find it to be that big a deal. Sure some saddle soreness, but as with many athletic endeavors, I think it’s more mental than physical. I know you’ve been training well so will be prepared for NorCal Aids.

    ps Hills are easier in some respects than flat & windy. Enjoy.

    • I agree with you Lynn – so much with biking is more mental that physical. Getting through the hills and on to the flats today and facing a head wind was especially discouraging after that ride last weekend. On the NorCal Aids Cycle we do 100 miles, 100 miles, 80 miles, and 50 miles, so I did do back to back centuries last year on the ride. Actually I found that other than the soreness, I felt better each day!! And the reward as we ride in to the Capitol together en masse is hard to describe – happy to be done, sad it’s over, emotional as I have ridden with and am standing on the steps of the Capitol with many who benefit from the services we raise money for. It’s just an awesome experience. Keep your bits of wisdom coming my way……..

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