So I skipped my first century and did a 200k instead
Yesterday I did my first 200k! And about 29 miles before the finish was my first century!
It was the Princeton Classic 200k with more than 8,000 feet of elevation gain and grades up to 21%!!!
My previous longest ride was somewhere around 65 miles.
But I'm young, ride everywhere in the city and it took me a bit under 12 and a half hours.
I had to take the train from Philadelphia the night before and stay at a hotel; the earliest train would get me there an hour late for the start. The Hotel was near the starting point but about 10 miles from the station, so I had to go off a cue sheet emailed to me by the organizer. Of course, I got lost, and rode almost 20 miles before finally making it to the hotel at 11 pm. And my light was barely adequate, but it was my first time riding on dark country roads (Philly has a lot of lights) so that was interesting.
I got into my room, took a shower and proceeded to have the crappiest night of sleep ever. Then, in the morning I thought there would be breakfast but it was too early and I didn't have time to wait, so I just rode down to the start of the brevet (which I now know has a silent t). I crammed a cliff bar in my mouth after registering and started the race. I felt good early on and was in the lead pack for the first 10 miles when they lost me in the hills. Around mile 15 I bonked from not enough food, pulled over and ate another cliff bar and a granola bar. I started riding again and caught up with a nice older guy and rode with him for maybe 10 miles until I bonked again! So, I stopped, ate another cliff bar and drank some more water. I then started riding with two older guys (I should stop writing older, I'm pretty sure EVERYONE was older) and they were nice enough to let me draft until the first control.
I was feeling better after having plenty of food and met up with two women I had met at the start so I started riding with them. We kept a pretty moderate pace and ended up having some great conversations and I rode with them the rest of the ride! Unfortunately around mile 60 my knees started hurting, but I kept going anyway; it hurts to go up an down stairs right now but I can walk just fine. Pulling up on the pedals helped, but another 40 or 50 miles and even that was hurting. But, the three of us made it through the remaining controls, up incredibly steep hills and through the nicest countryside I've ever ridden through. We also kept passing the same people as we rode a little faster but took our time at the controls. Towards the end of the ride my knees hurt so bad I wasn't sure how much further I could go, even though only 10 or 12 miles were left. Accelerating hurt bad but spinning around 100 rpm it was just bearable. Finally we got to the end, the feeling of being done was fantastic and everyone was extremely nice and congratulated me about a hundred times. Fortunately another woman was nice enough to drive me back to the train station.
Now I'm staying in bed all day. Well, maybe I'll take a hot bath..
I couldn't have done it without the people I rode with, especially the two women from NYC it was fantastic motivation and having other people that knew the route prevented me from getting lost. I was extremely humbled by people 20-30 years older than me finishing well before me. Everyone was friendlier than I expected and pending a professional bike fit, I'd like to do the (hilly) 300k in two weeks.
I will never underestimate a grey haired cyclist again.