Day one was a story of fighting headwind for the majority of 100 miles. Thankfully, we weren’t talking about double digit wind. We also had a great group.
We had a better, bigger group for Friday, Day 2. And a tailwind. And a tandem piloted by an astonishing team. And several key pieces of a local masters pro team. I $#!+ you not.
There was no warm-up. No “hey, how ya doin’” phase. We rolled to the first intersection, got through the stop sign on a terribly dangerous intersection and hit it. There was zero letup for 32 miles. We were holding a 22-1/2-mph average by the time we stopped. I’d had to pee for about seven miles, but there was no way I was going to leave that draft go. For the first 12 miles I was about fifth bike back. For years, I’ve taken it upon myself to take the action shots for the group. I figure everyone would like to have a photo they can put on their desk or on the wall of them knocking the miles down on these adventures. I went up to the front and congratulated the tandem on an amazing lead out, then patted the girl on the back in second position who’d been there since we left, then I headed back to take a photo of our pace-line. It was long. I headed back up to take my spot at fourth bike and we rolled on. The couple up front on the tandem, though exceptional, was a (non-married) couple on a tandem. They were fast on the flats and downhills, but mercifully slow on the ups. That’s where we got our breaks.
Another half-dozen miles in, I took another series of photos. This time, one of each individual cyclist as I went up the line (at least the people I knew), ending at the masters pro who had been taking regular turns up front to give the tandem a break from time to time. I was gassed by the time I got to the front so I eased myself to the back of the train for a good rest.
We stopped for the first time at 32-miles at a small trailhead that had a couple of portable restrooms. I made a bee-line. A snack and some laughs later and we were on the road again. Lunch was in 12 miles. We hung on with the tandem and pros until the lunch stop. They’d already had their snacks at our stop but we’d been waiting for the lunch stop. As we pulled to the side of the road, they sped off in the distance. Mile 44-ish. As I walked up to get into the food line, I tried to channel the thought process that had me thinking, “wow, I can’t believe we’re almost halfway already”. It didn’t work. The second day is always the hardest and starting out that fast didn’t help.
After the lunch stop, without our train to draft, we set out on our own, our normal group of six, plus one. The pace cooled a little bit, but definitely in an enjoyable manner. I’m all for the fast rides, but staying within my wheelhouse makes for enjoyable centuries. Over the next 55 miles, our pace dropped from 22 to 20.5 where it stayed.
Toward the end of the day, around mile 80, the hills were a struggle to climb – and there were lots. Day Two has the most elevation gain of the four.
We pulled into a grocery store/restaurant shortly after mile 80 and I purchased a Starbucks Triple Shot French Vanilla. With 225 mg of caffiene, it quickly became my new “go to” caffinated beverage. After pounding one of those, the next 20 miles weren’t near as bad… till that dreaded last two miles where it seems everyhting is uphill, all the way home. I wanted to lay down in a ditch and take a nap, but the group trundled on, and so did I.
We ended up with 101 miles and some change and I was filled with a sense of satisfaction after that century. I had to dig deep a few times to get through that one. Unfortunately, our stretch of good weather was about to come to a close… Day Three’s forecast was not looking good…