A few months ago, I found out that the local bicyle club runs a couple of longer rides every year. I wasn't up for the first one (a 150 mile, two day excursion covering the two local mountain passes!), but the second was a century/metric century along the Missouri river along the old highway. Relatively low traffic and no really killer hills. I decided to go for it, even though I didn't have a road bike at the time; Heck, I'll ride it on the mtb if I have to! Fortunately, I got my road bike built a couple of weeks ago. My dream goal was to do the century, but reason won out over testosterone and I signed up for the metric.
This morning, the alarm went off and I did my morning routine, had a cheese, egg, and canadian bacon sandwich on a wheat english muffin, made sure I had everything and headed out. It's about an hour drive from my house to the town where the ride began. Check-in started at 7 and I was running a little late. Seeing bicyclists on the route as I got close got me wound up. Temperatures this morning were running right at 50, got up to 78 at the finish.
I parked and got checked in, then geared up and headed out. Well, I tried to! No one seemed to be leaving the park where the start was and I didn't know if there was a special way they wanted us to go or not. Yeah, I'm clueless. Finally I saw someone leaving and just followed them. I ended up in a group of six or eight other riders to start, but some pulled away and some fell behind; within 4 miles I was riding alone. The route was well marked, and there was usually someone in view in front of me, so I never got lost. Well, only once, but that came later.
The first part of the ride going out to the 1st rest station was horrible for me; I couldn't get and keep a pace going, I wasn't spinning well, no energy. What's going on? Maybe I just wasn't warmed up, although by the time a couple of miles goes by, I'm usually nice and loose. I wasn't at all happy and not looking forward to the rest of the ride. The first rest station came on me by surprise, 11.5 miles in. I pulled in and replaced the batteries in my gps which had chosen that moment to fail. I use the gps in lieu of a computer; it tells me pretty much everything but cadence and hr, but I can usally figure those out on my own. I ate a Nutri-grain bar (blueberry, I brought 4 of them along) and a handful of grapes from the table, washed it all down with water, and got back on the road.
For some reason, as soon as I got clipped in, I felt GREAT! I pulled up the hill and as I got out on the flat at the top I watched my average speed climb right on up to where I'd forecast it. Crazy, all that from 5 grapes? I was pretty much able to keep it up all the way to the next rest stop. I did notice that my rear derailer was not allowing me to shift into my small cog, I fought that almost all the way until I finally got fed up and fixed it. I pulled into the second rest stop (AHA - They have toilets!), ate a banana and drank some more water, then headed out for the turnaround point.
The road, as I've mentioned runs for long distances along the Missouri river, which is known for it's fishing along this stretch. The fish were jumping, and watching them almost had me go off the road into the water. Pay attention! I was still pulling along really well, and made it into the turnaround at 2:04 after my start (that's riding time, not overall). Stopped here, had another Nutri-grain bar and more water. Chatted with some folks for a bit, then headed out.
Heading back was fun. Instead of watching the riders going the other way and wondering where the turn was, I knew I was on the downhill. Still maintaining a good pace (I'm going to stop repeating that; after this point, it never changed) I got back to the rest stop, but I could tell I was getting tired. Some more grapes and a chunk of banana, more water. As I pulled out I whined "I don't WANNA get back on the road!" and got a good laugh from some of the other riders waiting there.
I could really tell I was getting tired now. Hills were not much fun. I did have to laugh at one point, two of the local female triathletes were coming up behind me and I could hear them chattering for a couple of minutes before they passed me. Nice ladies, I talked to them a little at the last rest stop, which came up soon after they went around me. More grapes and water...
Only 11.5 miles to go. Man, that was the hardest piece of the whole ride. About 5 miles out, my thighs started to let me know that they were not amused any longer. Nothin' I can do about it right now guys, stick with me for another 20 minutes or so. With 4 miles to go, the balls of my feet were hurting, so on downhills I'd unclip whichever one was worse and let it flop in the breeze as I wiggled my toes. Finally, there's only two hills to go, then a long downhill into town and lunch. On the first one, two guys coming around (I'm slow at this point and panting like a dog) asked if I was ok. Testosterone again; "Yeah, I'm fine." On the next one, the guy passing me kindly informed me it was the last hill - I hadn't been sure. "Oh, thank heaven!" Legs are NOT happy. They were so unhappy that with about 500 meters to go, they started cramping. The only way to make it not hurt so much was to keep pedaling, so I did. That's when I missed the turn going into the finish and had to turn around. It was only an extra 50 feet, so no worries. I pulled in next to my truck, got off, and just stood there. I couldn't move, my thighs hurt so bad. I finally got them stretched out enough to not make me walk like a zombie, and went over to get some lunch Whew! 63.1 miles in 4:03, about 4:30 overall.
Now, though, the fun really began. You see, my truck has a six-speed manual transmission. For a bit there, I wasn't able to push the clutch all the way in! I finally made it out of town and onto the interstate headed home. After a while, the pain started to go away and by the time I got home, I was only walking like a cripple.
Just for fun, I weighed myself when I got up this morning at 209. This afternoon I'm at 205.
I'm going to have to do this again next summer, and train up for it a little better next time. Overall, it was a fun experience, except for the pain part. I didn't care too much for that.
Hope you enjoyed coming along for the ride.