Our 8 am century started at the bike shop so naturally, being an avid cycling enthusiast, I look at that as an opportunity for some bonus miles. It’s only five-and-half miles from my house…. Um, yeah.
In the history of Michigan cycling there may have been maybe four days as suited for a hundred mile bicycle ride. Four. Ever.
My first five miles and change were to the grocery store to pick up a couple of bananas. I’d forgotten to pick some up the night before, and I never start 100 mile ride without a spare banana in my pocket.
No wind, cool to start (enough that arm warmers were nice), but warming up to the low 80’s under impossibly sunny skies.
We rolled out, taking a few minutes to form up and all of a sudden it was on. We went from 18 mph to 22 and stayed there. For five hours. Until we had a 3 mph tailwind around mile 56… Then we wound it up to 23-25. At 65 miles we were sitting on a 19.1 average. Not bad for a Sunday ride. We pulled into the parking lot just under 19.8 (19.78).
I started struggling at around 85 miles. I was a mess at 92 and I wanted to lay down in the ditch and take a nap by 95…
Thankfully, Diane needed a restroom stop so Matt and I pressed on in the baby ring, spinning easy till the group caught us a few miles down the road. That was the break I needed and completed the ride with a smile on my face, and with the group between 20 & 24 mph.
I’d simply spent too much time up front.
For the final five and change home, I took the shortest route possible after taking a few minutes to compose myself. I shifted into the baby ring and took it real slow. First time I wished I’d driven to the shop.
I did sleep like a baby last night though.
I was going to leave this post at that but after thinking about it a little bit, I thought I would add some perspective to what I was thinking at certain times in the ride, before and after. My biggest mistake (in cycling) was in thinking that others don’t struggle like I do on a long ride. At some point over a century, most are hurting at one point or another.
I struggled at the 45, 80 and 90 mile marks. When the 90 mile pain hit, I almost sat up and soft-pedaled home. The group stopping couldn’t have come at a better time. My struggles at the 45 mile mark were due to an abundance of time up front. It was starting to get a little chippy at the back so I decided I wouldn’t drop more than four bikes back. Eventually, I had to make happy with going to the back. That last five miles really hurt. I just kept my head down and plugged away.
After a little lunch and a nap I felt right as rain…. A five hour century for us mere mortals hurts. It’s hard, and a lot of times we may want to quit. If, however, we either stick it out or take a few minutes to slow down and get our composure back, we find that we can come back and we have a lot more left in the tank than was thought. This is not the same as far as running goes – once you’re done, you’re done. There are extenuating circumstances, of course. Overheating, bonking, etc.. Those situations should never be taken lightly, but for a mild case of the “I don’t wanna’s”, that can usually be pushed through.
One final point… You might be wondering, “who in their right mind would ride bonus miles on a day they rode 100 miles?!”
This is a fantastic point. Next week I ride the same course, only with more people so the pace will likely be a little faster (but with a little more time in the draft). I’d rather go into that ride knowing I did eleven more miles just last week and survived that just fine…. It’s a mental game, and I guarantee you that I’d have a tougher time next week if I sat up yesterday. Instead, I’ll go into next week strong of mind. Sure I struggled a little, but that goes with the territory.