A few weeks back I did the Seagull Century - a very flat ride. The reason I drove 8 hours (each way) was to ride with my older brothers. My oldest brother (age 62) has been riding for a few years and very capable of a century. My other brother (age 56) just started to ride again this past summer. We thought we would set this goal so that he would decide to get in shape and quite smoking. Well he did neither, but he was committed to the century. His longest ride was 30 miles (and even then he had to walk up any hills) and I doubt his mist miles in one week was over 40. Many weeks he did not ride at all.
We all started out together, the first 18 miles went pretty well - we were doing about 16 mph. There is a rest stop every 20 miles so at the first rest stop he seemed OK but was already slowing down. During the next 20 miles I got bored and shot ahead, and then waited at the 40 mile rest stop. One brother showed up after a while and then after a long wait came the other, looking pretty tired. We asked if he could continue - the answer, "yes". At mile 60 (the lunch stop he pulled in pretty late, he looked awful, had something to eat and went off behind the bushes for a smoke He said he could make it. When he arrived at the 80 mile mark he was flush but still pedaling. I had gone ahead again (as I would continue to loose him no matter how slow I rode). When he showed up he said he had gotten off the bike a few times between the two rest stops. Finally - the last leg, when he crossed the finish line his eyes welled up, he was a little disoriented but he had finished the ride. Neither my oldest brother or I thought he would make it - we were both amazed. He was so emotionally charged after this ride that once he got rested he was ready to plan the next.
We all talk about how hard a century is - how we crushed other riders, what an effort we made. In my mind this took the cake. The effort was shear force of will, he was not going to be defeated.
The outcome if this - he is riding more and still talking about another century next year. I think he realizes that some things will have to change and we will need to train more, I only hope he gives up the cancer sticks.
If anyone out there thinks they can't ride a century - this story should set you straight. I would not recommend this approach - it's shear madness, but it is amazing what we can will ourselves to accomplish.
If anyone know of a century in South eastern PA or Mid Jersey that is fairly flat, well supported and late in the summer - that would give us a good goal to put out there for 2011.