My buddy Mike had been chirping in my wife’s ear for two weeks… “We want a 20 mph on that metric, you’re gonna have to push it.”
She was cool as a cucumber in front of him but not so much at home. Let’s put it this way, I knew she could do it so that made one of us.
I gave her all of the tips I could think of and tried to pump her confidence up…
The kids were at friends’ houses so we fell asleep early after getting all of the gear prepped and putting the rack on the car. We woke up, showered, had some coffee and headed out the door.
It was a brisk start but the skies were fair and there was barely a breeze to speak of. It was one of those days where you have a tough time figuring out how to layer – or even whether to layer. I opted for a light base, jersey, arm warmers and long sleeve jersey. Just leg warmers and shorts for the lower half. My wife came close to matching me though she went for knee warmers and tights.
It was a mass start at 8 am so we took a minute to weave our way through all of the slower cyclists but within five miles we were, save those who left early, out front.
The next 32 miles were a blur. We had picked up several other cyclists along the way but only two managed to hang with our 21-22 mph pace into a mild, barely there cross headwind. We had skipped the first two rest stops and rolled into the one at the midway stop with a 20.2 average. With the vast majority of the headwind out of the way, we were sitting pretty.
If I had anything to complain about it would be that one of the guys we picked up was strong but small. Trying to hide behind him was like trying to draft a bowling ball… Rather than continually stay behind him I decided to take one full cycle behind him then shake up the order. Eventually I’d find myself behind him again and I’d do the same thing. One cycle then shake up the order. I could have tried to hold the order but I’d have paid a price for it. He was a lot of work to ride behind.
We kept a perfect pace and after shedding my arm warmers and stashing them in a back pocket I was much more comfortable. As we approached the 45 mile mark, my wife was showing signs of struggling. Our second rest stop was just up the road. I, on the other hand, was feeling pretty spectacular.
We pulled into the rest stop at 48 miles and some change… Only 14-ish miles to go and we were still showing a 20.2 average. Just 42 minutes left. I hugged and kissed my wife and reassured her that we were very close. I fired down a half a banana, topped off a bottle wirh Gatorade, used the porta-john and we were off.
About mile 52 with a cross tailwind (that was more cross than tailwind) I started showing signs of fatigue. My turns up front grew shorter, barely a mile, but remained fast between 22 & 23. After a particularly troubling pull I decided to fire down my last Gu. That was exactly what I needed – I could hear my wife barking when I got up front as I took the pace from 20-1/2 mph to 22-1/2. A minute later Mike hollered up to take it down to 21, which I did. The problem here is a question of gearing. My legs naturally spin better at a specific cadence. When I have to drop below that natural cadence, if I don’t have a gear to match the desired speed it can get a little messy. When I try to go under my little wheelhouse I find that pedaling the same gear actually feels harder at a slower speed – so that 22 feels easier than 21. Still, recharged from that last Gu I hammered through a decent turn up front. I headed back to find that we’d dropped the little guy and were down to just the four of us.
At about 58 miles we finally hit the much awaited full tailwind. There was a lot of uphill to it but it was mild so we were easily able to hold that 21 mph pace. At 62 miles we were back into the wind but charging hard for home. Then mile 63… and mile 64. Somewhere between 63 and 64 Mike and I were up front and I suggested that we let my wife pull us home. He agreed, so at about 64-1/4 miles we called her up to take us in.
My wife crossed the finish line third overall for the 100k. We did the 64.7 miles in just a few seconds over 3 hours and twelve minutes which gave us a solid 20.2 mph average – and that includes all of the slow rolling in parking lots, riding a sidewalk back to a bathroom at the first stop and some slow rolling at the finish.
All in all, it was an absolutely perfect 100k. It could not have gone better. My wife beat up on some of her anti-speed demons and Chuck, Mike and I got a fantastic workout.