A Perfectly Ugly Century… 100 Miles of Bliss
Friends, in my years of cycling, I can’t remember a year with more than two or three perfect days. When it comes to great days, we get plenty. Perfect is rare.
Yesterday was another of the rare days, though not so rare for this year. Sunny, cool to start, and almost no wind (2-mph out of the… who cares?! 2-mph!).
We rolled out at 7 am and I was searching for the early morning sun right out of the gate. At 60° (15 C) it was a little on the brisk side and finding the sun through the early morning shade was a challenge in the first mile. Once we started east it wasn’t so bad, the long shadows couldn’t get us. Our third mile would be my last thought that could be construed as “complainy” the rest of the day.
Turnout at my house was a little sparse, but we picked up four along the way and ended up with a fantastic group. We had plans for a 65 mile ride, then Chuck and I were going to add another 35 and make it a cool hundred. We were the only takers for the century. Jonathan thought about hanging with us but couldn’t chance being late for a meeting so he backed out.
The route we picked led us through the blooming sunflower fields. They were spectacular in the early morning sunshine. This is one of my favorite times in summer.
Once past the sunflower fields we kept a wonderfully steady pace between 19 & 22-mph. Jonathan, Chuck or I would pick up the tempo every now and again but for the most part we were incredibly steady.
Two hours into our ride and that nice cool start was long behind us. It heated up in a hurry. With my Specialized team kit on, though, I didn’t really think about the heat much. I’ve got three full sets now, and, while they’re visually stunning, their best attribute is heat management.
Mike’s taking up the rear with his brand new Ican 38’s. Four in that group are running the 38’s and I’ve got the 50’s (and the 38’s on my other bike)… I think it’s time Ican start sending me free stuff!
This is a marvelous stretch of road along a route full of fantastic asphalt and chip-seal. We have some stretches that are pretty rough, too, but who doesn’t? We rolled on, talking and laughing, and basically just enjoyed being together. At 51 miles, Phill and Brad split off and headed home. The rest of us pushed on to the first stretch of road where I could have stood a faster pace. For most of us, we only had 13 miles to go so they were in “just get there” mode while Chuck and I were only halfway into our ride – we were still relatively fresh. It never ceases to amaze me how much “mental” goes into cycling. If I know I’ve only got a few miles left, I’ll allow myself to be tired and drag a little. On the other hand, if I know I’m only halfway there, I’ll still have a spring in my step.
Anyway, I don’t want to get lost in a cycling psychology discussion. Jonathan split off next and headed home, then Dave… and we were down to Mike, my wife, Chuck and I for the last five miles home. Mike had hoped Chuck and I would split along the way so they could soft-pedal home but we needed 35 miles somewhere, so we stayed with them to the homestead… and kept the pace up. When we hit the driveway, Mike lowered his shoulders and kept going to home. I dismounted and leaned my bike against a tree and headed inside to the restroom and a water bottle refill. Chuck unscrewed his top and handed his bottle to my wife who offered to fill it. Bottles topped off, we rolled out – no clue how we were going to fit 35 miles in. A friend of mine had dropped off a Garmin heart rate monitor that he wasn’t going to use anymore because he’d picked up a new one. So, for the first time ever, I actually rode knowing what my heart rate was. I probably averaged 110-120-something over that first 65.
We headed east, still barely a breeze and the sun shining brilliantly. We created our own breeze as we headed out for lunch. Chuck is a lot more daring than I am, even with my radar taillight. He’ll ride on roads I won’t go near due to traffic, and he kept extending the out portion to where we had to ride on some heavily trafficked roads… but we kept it to four or five lane highways so cars always had an extra lane to pass us. And it was better than a normal two-lane road. By a long shot.
We pulled into the local Subway staring at 75 miles on the Garmin. Our pace had stayed the same (20-23-mph) but my heart rate had gone from the mid-90’s – 120’s to 145-155 and I was HUNGRY. We leaned our bikes against the windows outside and went in to eat. We left our several thousand Dollar bikes outside, no lock, for the entire time we were inside (20-30 minutes) and nobody even looked sideways at them. Call it privilege if you’re an idiot, there are no rules governing who can buy or rent a house or apartment in our town… we are generally good people, though. We have a strong, supported police force and I am glad to live in a place where I can leave my bike outside, unattended, while I eat. That’s enough of that.
The next 25 miles were easy(ish). We tee’d them up and knocked ’em down. I ended up having to ride Chuck home to get an extra two miles – and those last two were s-l-o-w… but I pulled into the driveway with 100.44 miles and a smile on my face.
So, all of that, almost 1,000 words, and you’re wondering where the ugly part is?
There’s another 1,000 words… that route was fugly!