Yesterday I rode the Blood, Sweat and Gears Century ride from lovely Valle Cruces, NC. Billed as a 'strenuous century ride' it was by far the hardest ride I have completed.
This was my third ever century, all of them completed this year. My first was in April in Charleston on a fairly flat route which I rode in 5:08:09 for the 103.52 miles. This gave me the confidence to tackle my second, the San Diego Century in May, a much hillier course, which I completed in 7:08:31 for its 105 mile route. Total climbing was just under 6,000 ft for the ride.
So brimming with confidence I took on the Blood, Sweat and Gears course. This race/ride is extremely popular and all 750 spots for the century were sold in less than 7 hours. We started in damp, foggy conditions and the start was a zoo! 750 riders all bunched up trying to get through the chute and over the timing mats. Unscathed I got underway, the first 4 miles were easy, gently rolling hills then we had our first significant climb, a 6 mile ascent up Shulls Mill Rd which really got me warmed up . The next 15 miles were quite hilly and I registered just over 3,000 ft at the first rest stop at mile 25, so far so good. The next 32 miles were a mix of hills and some flats and by mile 57 I had registered over 6,100 ft of climbing. Then the ride really got hilly!!
First up was the 5 mile ascent up snake mountain. The first 4 miles were fairly easy but the last mile was brutal with long stretches of 18-20% grade! I saw dozens of cyclists walking up the hill. I'm very proud that I made it, even though I was barely averaging 3mph up to the summit! After a fun downhill the next 20 miles were fairly uneventful but quite beautiful. Next up was the ascent up George's Gap, a long , steep, winding road that was very tough coming after an already grueling 82 miles. Somehow I made it up George's and two more climbs and finally crossed the finish line.
My official chip time was 7:08:19 for 100.27 miles and 12,434 ft of climbing. I was exhausted but elated and enjoyed a fine celebration that night
Amazingly, the race winner's time was 4:52:20, to average over 20mph on that course is just incredible!!