Well, I managed to do it yesterday. It was quite an experience, the Mchenry County Bicycle Club's "Udder Century" typically draws around 1500 riders and it seemed like there were that many yesterday. The starting point was an utter madhouse of cars and bikes when I arrived at around 6:30. I got on the road by a little after 7 and went out at a blistering pace, for me. I was averaging over 16 mph for the first 40 miles.
Unfortunately all my training was in Illinois "spring" weather which meant wind, rain, and temperatures low enough to give you cold toes by the end of a ride and during most of it. Naturally summer hit us about last Monday and the temperature yesterday topped out at about 85F. I had no experience at riding so long in the direct sun at those temperatures. I had done an 80 mile training ride and arrived home feeling like I could do 20 more. Yesterday not long after I left the 40 mile rest stop I knew I was starting to have trouble. I felt ok at the 60 mile stop but in no condition to sass anyone! I was considering calling the SAG team before I finally limped into the 80 mile stop and I thought for sure that would be it for me. But I took a long rest (about an hour), drank plenty of Gatorade, and ate what I could. I decided to go for it and while I took it very easy speed wise and made a couple of rest stops in the rare moments of shade, I finished the 100 feeling a lot better than I did at 80.
Learning what to eat and drink in such temperatures is an individual matter, I suspect, and it is one that you just have to master to ride strong on a long ride in the summer. I am quite sure that if the temperatures had been in the 60's I would have turned in a strong performance (for me) and probably averaged about 15 or 16 mph. As it is I averaged 13.7 mph while actually pedaling and took 9:36 overall which is 10.5 mph including the stops.
The first 40 miles was like driving on a rush hour urban freeway with all the riders hitting the road at about the same time. The route was well chosen to avoid auto traffic and what there was was quite considerate of the cyclists. I wish I could say the same for the cyclists. I watched a group ahead of me blow a stop sign at a tee intersection where we needed to turn left in front of a woman driving a pickup truck. She was clearly so rattled by what they did that even though I stopped at the sign she would not go on until after I did. The only close call I had was when one member of one of these "peletons" very nearly sideswiped me. He, of course, was the one wearing the jersey that said -- wait for it -- "Share The D**n Road"! Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, eh? On the other hand I was greeted warmly by many of the riders who passed me and when I made one of my roadside rest stops I was always asked if I needed help.
It is hard to believe you could ride 100 miles in farm country and not be chased by a few dogs. I was chased by only one, an Australian Shepherd, and he was in a fenced yard and clearly just enjoying the chase. Probably good he was in a fence because Aussies work sheep by nipping them and they tend to play by doing the same thing. I know because I own one. Not long after that the faster group ahead of me was chased for a few miles by a horse running in the unfenced fields along the road. I am sure he was just enjoying the chase too and much newly sprouted corn was trampled in the process. I wonder if he ever got home? On the final segment I got scolded, but good, by a red wing black bird.
Most people were riding road or tri bikes of course. I was not the only hybrid by any means though and I passed several with suspension forks. There were a few recumbents. I think they all took shorter routes, save one. As I left the 80 mile stop I saw an arm powered bent pulling into the stop from the 75/100 mile loop with a woman on a normal bike right behind him shouting encouragement. I presume he was a paraplegic. My wife met me at the finish line with some cold cans of raspberry ice tea. So we took some pictures, sat in the air conditioned car, and mailed out a final update on my progress to my family. About the time I got out to ride the bike over to my car parked out in a field here comes the bent finishing his century ride. Kinda makes your own achievement pale in comparison but good for him!
I don't think there is any question you can ride your hybrid any distance you want to ride. My Fuji Absolute is a road biased hybrid and while that helps I could have used just about any hybrid. I have replaced the stock flat bar with an aluminum Jeff Jones Loop H Bar and I find that works very well on the road even though it is a MTB bar. I have a rack on the back with a trunk bag that I kept very well stocked with extra water and munchies, sunscreen and chamois lube. I bought a handlebar bag too for this ride for things I wanted handy and since it had a clear "window" on the top surface I was able to keep the cue sheet there. I did change out the tires for this ride, I used Michelin Pro3 Race tires, 25 mm. I do favor wider tires for many reasons but I wanted an efficient tire and the sad fact is that tire makers just do not make their most efficient tires wider than 25 mm. The Pro3 Race does plump out to 28 mm on my Velocity A-23 rims so it is almost as wide a tire as I would want. Maybe I will just run with them now, they handled the limestone portions of my training runs quite well. I did not have a flat, I did pass two or three riders who were fixing flats though so the hazards are out there. On the other hand the Vittoria Randonneur Hypers go up to 38 mm, are fairly efficient, and are much more bullet proof. We'll have to see about that.
I suppose I would do it again, it was a lot of fun until the heat began to get to me. So my mission now is to learn to deal with the heat and then I should be set for whatever I want to do next.
Finally let me just say that it is entirely feasible to do a century without shaving you legs. As you can see below, I don't shave much of anything....