I needed some mental prep to get ready for the Hoppe 100. It’s not a supported ride, just a bunch of Genesee Wanderers and their friends who show up at one of the member’s house on the last Sunday in July to ride. My friends and I are the rare few who choose the century as a warm up to the Assenmacher 100. This year there were only eight or nine of us who rolled out for the hundred (three of which had planned to ride with us for the first 40 but roll back for the shorter metric century but decided to stay with us). We were looking at a whole lot of miles with a small group and a whole lot of work. I started psyching myself up on the 20 minute ride there. For fluids on this ride I was trying something new. A three-scoop Hammer Perpetuem/Water mix and a one-scoop Hammer Heed/Water mix. I had high hopes…
It was a foggy morning, upper 60’s to low 70’s, so we ended up putting off the start for a half-hour or so and that gave us plenty of time to get everything in order. It was still quite foggy when we rolled out (though improving rapidly)…
The first ten miles were all fun and games, Chuck went out on a mock breakaway, Adam sent me out to chase him down, and we kept Phill at the back with Paul because those were the only two with flashing tail lights. As we got further into corn country conditions deteriorated, the fog grew increasingly thicker to the point that I had to wipe the mist off of my sunglasses just so I could see. The sun was trying to break through the haze but try as it might, the fog won. We spent the first 30 miles battling that. As a respite, when I got to the front I’d take my shades off and sling them around the back of my neck (an amazing resting place for the glasses btw). I was too nervous to attempt this when I wasn’t lead bike though. My eyes are just a wee bit too important to risk a stray pebble messing up my eyesight. We also held a pretty decent (easy) pace throughout, averaging 19.8 when we hit the park that signified the split between the full century and the metric. We quickly dismounted, filled our water bottles, emptied our bladders, had a quick bite to eat (of on-board fuel). Then it was northeast over the South Fork Bad River Bridge, along a ten mile stretch of rail trail. That’s where we ran into our first spot of trouble that slowed us down. First, the rail trail was fairly busy even though we were about twenty minutes away from a scorcher of a day, so we kept it at about 19 mph to stay safe. Then our youngest rider hit a rock and immediately flatted. The sun and mosquitos were out in full force and it took fifteen minutes to get the flat fixed (older equipment, we had plenty of people, including a bike shop owner to work on it, it was just a tough one). We spent the next few miles getting wound up again but once we exited the rail trail and hit the road again, we put the hammer down. At 45 miles we got a little bit lost but “Ride With GPS” got us squared away within a couple of minutes and we were back after it. The next twelve miles were the toughest of the ride. No shade, lots of speed and it felt like it was uphill the whole way.
Entering the town of Hemlock, I saw something that perplexed me because I’d never seen it happen… Matt, the bike shop owner sprinted off the front and raised his arms as the road surface changed from chip-seal to asphalt. He never does that. I filed it away for later because I was too busy thinking about how hungry I was. We pulled into the Hemlock McDonald’s right at 57 miles.
Folks, I don’t advise this for anyone else, but if we’re not absolutely killing it (above a 23 mph average), I eat when I stop. Yesterday was no exception. A Quarter Pounder, some chicken nuggets and a fry, along with a medium Coke disappeared in a matter of minutes. After the Coke was polished off, I filled my water bottle with ice and Gatorade and we hit the road. The Heed/Perpetuem combo was paying off. I felt amazingly good after we ate (it also helped that it took us five miles to start breaking into the 21-22 mph miles) and that drink combo was exceptionally helpful. Normally I’ll knock back the Perpetuem before we hit the 50 mile mark of a century and by the time we hit 75, I’m smoked. Yesterday, however, I saved half of the Perpetuem for after lunch and took my time draining the bottle over the next 20 miles or so. At 70 miles, when we hit a hill, I had the energy to charge up it and I was able to spend an inordinate amount of time up front. I was seriously fired up that I felt so good…
Then, about five miles from Oakley, that same kid who flatted had a slight lapse in paying attention and bumped Phill’s wheel. Phill stayed upright but the poor kid went down instantly. His rear wheel, of all things took the brunt of the fall and he escaped with a few scrapes and a better understanding of what happens when we allow our attention to drift… His wheel had to be trued on the road though – and thankfully Matt fixed him up in a matter of a few minutes. We were off again. Before I go further, none of us were too tough on the kid. He’s brand new to cycling and his dad is an upstanding member of our group. When it comes to stupid mistakes, he gets a pretty big pass – we’re all willing to do what we can to help him. Truth be told, he got big points with me just for opting to do the full hundred on just his fifth ride.
We stopped in Oakley to refill our water bottles, I used a large grape PowerAde for that, then drank a can of Coke and had one of those sparkling waters just for fun. After, we got ready to head out… and the kid promptly tipped over because he had the wrong foot unclipped. He covered all of the bases in one ride: First century, first crash, first pedal-shoe interface error.
The last 23 miles were the best last 23 miles of a century I’d ever ridden. I won’t say that I felt good, because that would be freaking nuts, but I was in excellent shape considering that I’d already ridden 77 miles. I hammered up the hills, what few there were, and was breathing easy at the 21 mph pace we’d chosen. Then, all of a sudden like, Matt sprints off of the front and raises his arms… Right at a city limits sign. Sheesh, he’d been collecting City Limit points on us all day. Shortly thereafter the Adam, Diane and the kid dropped. I took the lead and picked up the pace, 22. Two miles… Phill took the lead, 23… Matt and Chuck dropped with somewhere close to ten miles to go. I dropped back to pick them up and they said they were good so I went back up to Phill and Mike. Mike asked us to keep the pace at 21 so we didn’t drop him too.
Five miles to go, we were between 21 and 22. I’d take a couple of miles, then Phill. I can’t remember why but we broke up for a minute and when we formed back up I was back up front… Three miles to go, I only lasted maybe three-quarters of a mile and headed back. Two miles, I recovered in that mile… One mile – I hadn’t realized how close we were, these things are never 100 miles even but now I began to recognize where I was. We started downhill and I knew we had a half mile to go. I could see the driveway. That’s when I decided to win the Hoppe 100. If Matt can take the points, I can win the whole ball of wax. I knew Mike was toast so I figured him for maybe 20% chance he could keep up with a sprint. Phill had been up front for about a mile so I knew he was hurting too. With a quarter-mile to go, I put the hammer down. After forming an easy gap I looked back and I was golden, hadn’t even moved.
I won a leisure ride. A leisure ride with my friends. Ah well, if Matt gets to sprint for points, I get to win the ride.
Best I’ve ever felt after a hundred miles. I finished with a smile on my face.