Not long after I got back into cycling I joined a group and started learning from them. One of the better riders in our group told me that within the first year he expected that I would be doing my first century. At the time I thought he was nuts but sure enough I did my first century within a year and have been doing three to four a year ever since. Last year a city close to me came up with a new Century and I decided to sign up. The posted route went around a lake and then down to the Temecula Wine country and wound its way back. I made it for the whole ride the first year but I came in with not a drop left in the tank and the feeling that the climbs had kicked my bottom.
I planned on signing up again this year and all I could think of was how hard it had been the year before. I even pre-rode the ride in two parts just to be sure I was ready. Disaster happened on the second section where most of the climbing happens. I got a mild case of heat exhaustion and didn't make the last climb. Now the ride and the climb was in my head and I was worried about failing.
So I started working on a plan. I talked to a lot of riders I respect and after a careful description of my beat down they felt I was underhydrated but more importantly under fueled. So I developed a plan. Last year I chased the big dogs for the first 50 miles and in fact set a personal record for 50 miles. But it was there I had to pay the piper. The next 30 miles were pretty much all up hill with three pretty good climbs inbetween. Twice I had to stop and recover in my first two attempts on that section of the ride. So this year I decided to back off on the first 50 and save my energy for the climbs and the run back to the start finish. The ride was saturday October 6.
I was 2 MPH slower reaching the mid point. But for some reason my first two climbs were better than the year before and I wasn't pushing it. But I was sticking to my plan. As I got to the 56 mile mark the climbing started. But instead of attacking the first climb I started downshifting early and kept a spin going all the way to the top. At I crested I grabed a few swallows of electrolytes and braced myslef for climb number two. Like the first climb I decided to use my gears and try to keep the spin going. In fact if I found myself going too fast I backed off a bit and saved my energy. I was past by a few people but that climb was subdued as well. Now came the third climb and the one I dreaded the most. But I kept the spin going and finally got into granny but kept going. In fact I caught some of the riders than past me earlier. At the top of that last climb they had a sag stop where I downed gator aid and a Banana.
I ended up pulling one of our fellow club riders the rest of the way back to the start finish and took a look at the results between this century and the year before. I was 2 MPH slower on the first 50 miles. But I was 1.5 MPh faster on the climbing section and finished the ride a hour quicker than last year. The key for me, your results my differ, was staying within myslef and not trying to match the 20-30 and 40 years olds. Oh and telling myself all the way up that last climb, 'this isn't as bad as climbing to Idyllwild" over and over again. This ride is no longer in my head.