Wow, what a century! First, I'm really lucky to have some awesome ride partners. Oliver, Cory and I met up at 5:30am and began our ride South. We were initially pretty leery of the wind, as it was coming out of the north from 15-25mph - awesome for the ride down, daunting for the ride home. With that in mind, the pace out was rather conservative. In fact, sheer irony, our pace out was the slowest portion of the trip - even though we had a nice tailwind and a relatively flat rail bed to ride on! Also daunting on the way out, nearing Cortland we saw some storms moving in from the west. A MTB racer who Oliver and Cory work with called around 6:30am to heckle us about the storms, and mentioned something about guys on steel bikes. I laughed, then looked at the two Scandium bikes that they were riding and realzed the joke... .
We made great time to Cortland, right as the rain started, so we opted to take a nice break at mile 25 to refuel. Here's my riding companions, and the steeds they chose for the trip:
Oliver chose to ride his race MTB, a Salsa Mamasita (Scandium/Carbon) frame with a slew of parts that would make any MTBr drool, with the substitution of his Brooks B17 for this ride. Oliver has quite a few very sexy rides, but as I told him, the Mamsita is my personal favorite. Cory's ride is equally very awesome, a Kona Kula 2-9 frame (Scandium) mated with a slew of drool worthy parts (XT, Thomson, you name it) - and is his only bike. As he said, he got 10,000 miles out of his $400 Rocky Mountain, might as well go for a nice ride! He commutes something like 30 miles a day 3-4 days/week on the Kona. NICE ride, I really dig how it's setup. Me? Of course I rode my LHT
First disaster struck around mile 30, between Cortland and Beatrice. I heard a "SPRRRONNNG" and realized immediately that a spoke had decided to leave me. Sure enough, one busted spoke. I had thoughts of quitting, but realized I was in this thing to finish. "Screw it, I have 35 spokes left, I won't worry until I break 3 or 4 more" I yelled over the noise of the highway. So I tightened the spokes around it, brought the wheel amazingly into true, and we were on our way.
We made good time to Beatrice, then set off in search of food. The first place we were sent, a local cafe, had no inside bike parking and no bike parking within sight of the windows. Seeing that we were riding a small fortune, we chose to move on. Beatrice is a smaller town, not terribly small, but ironically devoid of any local eateries. We gave up and went to the golden arches, where I purchased pancakes, egg-like-things, a biscuit, and a cup of coffee. Wow, that was the ticket! Likely it was the 48 miles under our belt, but it REALLY hit the proverbial spot.
Just about to leave.. we see a downpour. Second disaster strikes as I was trying to move through the small space between the bikes and the edge of the downpour to throw the cover on my brooks. I knocked over the Mamasita - pretty badly, in fact. The owner, obviously, was not happy and rightfully so. Tensions were also high due to the thunderstorm, so we called around and found out that if we left RIGHT THEN we would get some rain, but could probably avoid the bulk of it.
Fast riding on the way out of town, very fast. We made Cortland in record time, averaging 17.8mph on the 17.17 mile hilly highway trip there. We eventually did it "roadie style" and took turns pulling, which was the way to do it. We rode REALLY strong, fueled by pancakes, maple syrup, coffee and a desire to avoid getting rained on. Another stop in Cortland for some Fairbury Brand hot dogs and water later, everyone was feeling really good. We had knocked off a metric century, and everyone's legs wanted MORE and they wanted it NOW.
We REALLY kicked in the speed from Cortland to town, averaging 16.8mph combined highway and in-town riding - around 30 miles. Estimates of the highway speed being right around the 20mph mark are probably spot on, as we slowed it a bit in the city for a couple reasons. The primary one being the third piece of bad luck.
Oliver decided to "take off" on a hill that leads to the Rock Island trail through Dinsmore park. Well as he's sprinting I say to Cory "there he goes again.." no sooner than we see his bike violently swerve, and he's on the ground dragging across the pavement! Heart rates shot through the roof and we caught up to him, finding him trying to unclip and get up off the trail. His rear quick-release came free and his rear wheel moved forward, smacking into the stays and stopping motion, which ended in him dragging 15 feet down the trail. The bike looked like this:
And his arm looked, well, pretty dang raw. Aside from that and being, understandably pretty shaken up, he felt fine. We straightened the bars and did a mechanical check, finding that the rear der cable was pretty much a goner. He found a good gear ratio and "Single speeded it" downtown to the LBS for repairs. And no, it didn't stop him from further sprints .
After his LBS repairs, we headed off to my favorite LBS to get the spoke fixed. Both the wrench and I are optimistic that it was just a weak spoke, as this build has lasted about 800 hard miles, and the roadside repair held up beautifully for around 60 miles. That in mind, he cut a new spoke, replaced it, then spent a good 20 minutes tensioning and truing my wheel. I give a huge to Cycle Works, as they really are a awesome shop. We both agreed that if it pops another spoke I'm going with a new Salsa Delgado rim, and some DT Alpine III's.
At that point I also slugged a Monster Energy drink, two granola bars and two fig newtons, then we were on our way to build some miles in town. We headed out to the Mopac trailhead and saw the 93 mile mark pass, then back into town. At that point I definitely had slowed way down, I could have easily rode more miles, just not any speed. No sprints or hill attacks were left in my legs, just a good spin home. Cory departed us at the UNL campus, his century in the bag, and mine a mere 3 miles away. I told Oliver I imagined it would come at the "Sheridan bridge" on my favorite trail, so we headed that direction.
Sure enough, about 200 feet from the bridge, he called it! I was pretty dang happy and felt pretty dang good. Parted company with him and headed the 2 miles to my house. Showered, posted to BF, then collapsed into bed for a nice hour long nap .
All in all we averaged 15.1mph moving speed for the century, danged impressive for a fat guy on a touring bike and two guys on 29er MTBs! We rode really strong, and right now I still feel really good. I was pretty nervous going into today, to be honest, as my goal to ride the Dirty Kanza 200 next year would basically be shot if I couldn't complete a century in decent time this year. Rather, now I feel more confident than ever, Oliver said that during the DK they averaged around 11-12mph, opting to use the "spin to win" philosophy for the group of riders he hooked up with. When I got home I easily had another 25 miles in me, and probably even 50 if I pushed it. With a year left to train I'm fully confident that 200 miles on gravel is just waiting for me to destroy it.
Great ride, great companions, and a great day. Three years ago I was still over 500 pounds, now I'm riding centuries with an average speed of 15mph. I don't want to be an inspiration, I just hope that my example proves that YOU can DO IT. Don't stop riding.
(also, credit goes to The Historian, after the break of my spoke I had to think of several things to keep me going, after my children and wife all I could think about was the guy who rode 90 miles on a busted rib. That's when I knew that even if I had to walk it, was finishing the century today!)