As near as I can remember, my longest bike ride in my life - way back in my 20's - was a day I rode 112 flat miles outside Dallas, Texas. Today I improved on that by riding the High Pass Challenge, an organized ride billed as "very challenging" and "for experienced riders only" by the local cycling club. Though billed as a 113-mile ride, my Garmin tells me I rode "only" 112.1 miles, so I just squeaked over my lifetime best -- but the climbing was definitely my most ever in a day - 7,418 feet.
My goal was to finish in 10 hours (which qualifies one for a nifty baseball cap), and I ended up doing the ride in 8 hours 20 minutes (which includes time off the bike). My actual on-bike average was 15.2 mph, which I was happy with since my previous long rides this year have been a bit slower, and w/a lot less climbing.
The final elevation chart is here. A lot of the climbing was in the 8% to 10% grade range. My max speed (according to Garmin) was 47.5 mph, which was *way* too fast because in many places the road surface was horrible. On one of the big descents (around mile 65 to mile 78) we were all riding the brakes because of the potholes and fissures in the road.
The ride started in Packwood, Wa., at about 1,000 feet in elevation, and for the most part climbed lightly traveled US. Forest Service roads up to a spot called Windy Ridge, at 4,250 feet in elevation, overlooking the eastern side of Mt. St. Helens. The most interesting feature of the ride is about 20 miles of riding through the blast zone from the Mt. St. Helens eruption.
Unfortunately for the motoring public, the blast-zone road (the highest elevation mileage on the chart above) has been closed to car traffic for a couple of years because winter storms have chewed up the pavements. A number of big fissures in the asphalt were marked by the ride organizers with spray paint, and there were boulders in the road in some places. Still, it was nice riding without cars on a part of the ride. Here's the entrance to the "no cars" zone, at mile 40 of the ride.
This was what the blast zone looks like...these are trees that were blasted by the eruption of Mt. St. Helens:
Here's an image I "borrowed" from the NW forum (originally from website of Bicycle Quarterly); shows one of the boulders in the road in the blast zone:
Your humble servant at the top (that's Mt. St. Helens in the back; the barren parts are part of the mud flow after the eruption):
If you finished under 9 hours you got a medal at the finish line...I am figuring out an excuse to wear it to work tomorrow:
Though I have some other shorter organized rides planned for this Fall, that's my last Century of the year.
I wanted to thank posters in the 50+ forum for providing part of the motivation to keep going on to bigger challenges this year. I had originally planned to make the Tour de Blast my "big ride" of the year (that's the 82 mile ride up the *other* side of Mt. St. Helens, which I posted about in June). But your stories of personal bests (from VeloDiva's national championship to some double centuries to some of you just getting back on the bike for the first time in years) were definitely an inspiration for me to keep going and try another tough ride this year.
Also, I appreciated all the tips on training and preparing for century riding (also the stories of bonks, which were instructional as well). I felt great on the ride! I got a little tired around mile 105 or so but then caught a paceline for the last 6 or 7 miles; I ended up pulling the last mile at about 21 mph into the parking lot...yippee! I drank water like a fish and ate like a pig on this ride (breakfast was 3 muffins, a bowl of cereal and two bananas; as near as I can remember on the ride I had about 6 bagels with peanut butter, a dozen Oreos, 4 or 5 bananas, 3 energy bars, 3 regular candy bars, a bag full of beef jerky, a turkey sandwich...and then afterwards, a bbq brat at the finish line party).
Another change I made in the past 6 weeks was changing this bike from SPD pedals to Look - I was getting hot spots in my feet after about mile 70 on the Tour de Blast, and it drove me crazy. So my LBS recommended Look, and my feet gave me no trouble today.
Thanks for the push!
(FYI, for pics of the other side of Mt. St. Helens, here is the thread from June:
Riding up Mt. St. Helens: pics from Tour de Blast)