=== The Short Story ===
I did my first Century yesterday. It was the Cactus Hugger Century near St. George, Utah. There was a 9600 Elevation Gain with the temperature at around 85-90 degrees. I was able to complete the course in 7:12 moving time and 8:43 total time. I was the 2nd to last to finish and it was one of the hardest things I have done. I plan on doing it again next year
You can view my ride at
and view it in the MotionBased Flash Player at
=== The Long Story ===
I have been lurking here for a few weeks and thought I would report on my first century I just did yesterday.
Before I tell you about it I will give you a little background. Road biking is very new to me. I am 34 years old and I have been mountain biking off and on for the last 20 years. I use to be pretty active when I was younger but I let myself gain a bunch of weight the last 10 years because of eating habits and found that when I tried to do outdoor actives that I loved I was having a hard time. I said screw this and finally decided to do something about it 3 months ago. After talking to my sister who is a fitness trainer she set me up on an eating and workout plan. This was in the winter and living in Utah it is pretty much impossible to ride during the winter months so I was stuck on an exercise bike.
As soon as the weather got better I broke out my 15 year Raleigh mountain bike that I would normally only use a few times a year and hit the roads because I was getting sick of sitting on that exercise bike. After seeing many road bikers (and having them pass me all the time) I decided I needed to get myself one. I quickly received sticker shock for a good road bike and I could not justify dropping some major cash for something I was not sure I was even going to like.
After looking around on the Internet I came across the bikes that people seem to love to hate on this board, our good friends at bikesdirect and their ebay partners. I dropped about $600 on what seemed to be a decent bike for what I knew at the time. The Taiwan Made Dawes Lighting 2100! (Complete with Red Maple leafs on each side of the name so people get the impression it was made in Canada). Hey, with the word "Lighting" in the name, it had to be fast! - I received my bike via UPS and spent a few hours putting it together and tuning it up. I learned a little about how to take bikes apart and fix them when I was a Mormon Missionary for 2 years (a story for another time). Where was I? Oh yes the Lighting 2100! So I put my bike together and I was off! I have not ridden any road bikes so the only thing I could really compare my new road bike to was my clunky mountain bike. It was a world of difference riding the roads compared to my mountain bike and I was becoming addicted (I think my Garmin 305 had some help in this). I started going further and further trying to do my usually course faster and faster. I did a local 25 mile bike tour and loved the thrill of riding with over 1000 people. For the last month or so I try to bike every other day.
I came across this message board a few weeks ago and read about centuries. It sounded like a lot of fun and was not sure if I could do it since the longest I have ever ridden was 38 miles and that was about 12 days ago. Was I really ready to try 100 miles? It was just 5 days ago I decided what the heck! I will give it a go. I mapped a course that started from my house that looped around a huge lake nearby that would put me at 105 miles. The next day I was doing a little research online and found out about a century that takes place near St. George in Utah called "The Cactus Hugger Century" that takes place every year. I looked at the date, April 28th. That was in 3 days! It was the exact same date that I was planning on doing my century. I called my wife and asked if she wanted to take a mini vacation to St. George. She said "When?" I said "In two days!". Being the good sport she is, she said Yes and it sounded like fun and our two kids would like to take a mini-vacation. I started to study the course and realized that this was not an easy Century ride. This was through many canyons and when all was said and done the totally elevation gain would be about 9600'. This was definitely not a flat ride.
So off we went starting the 270 mile car trip to St. George. I was keeping track of the miles as we went and when the car hit 100 miles, reality hit me how far 100 miles really is. People complain that they have to drive 100 miles and I am going to try it on a bike!
We arrived there Friday evening and I tried to get some good sleep but I kept waking up all night long. We had to wake up early and I felt pretty good and was pretty excited for the day.
The ride was going to start at 7am and I got there at 6:30am and still had to register. I just have to say that the people that run this event are top notch! Everything was very organized and I was able to get bib number very quickly and easily. As I was unloading my "Lighting 2100" I noticed everybody else's bikes. They were all nice top end bikes with high end components. The highest quality thing on my bike was my Shimano 105 Rear derailer (the rest is Tiagra crap). I do have Trek Water Bottle cages though! It is not a bad bike though. It weighs about 22lbs and I have not had any troubles with it. I told myself that if I stick with this I will reward myself with a nice bike next year.
Ok, Ok, about the Cactus Hugger Century. It is actually called "The Cactus Hugger Cycling Festival" - You can choose between doing 42, 65, or 100 Miles. They over lap each other and I figured that if it was going to be to tough for me, I could fall back on one of the shorter rides. Complete info can be had at www.cactushugger.org
About 10 mins before the ride was going to start I realized that I left my iPod back at the Hotel. How was I going to perform without my tunes? I spent hours getting all the right music that I would need to get me through this ride. I figured oh well but then saw many other cyclist with their ipods and knew it was going to be a long ride without it. My wife said she would go back and get it but I knew it would be a good 30 mins or more before she got back. I showed her the course and told her to just follow it when she sees me to stop ahead of me somewhere and then I would get it from her. About 8 miles into the ride, the course splits for those taking the longer or shorter ride. I knew she would be very confused on where to go so I waited and after a while longer I was going to call her but my Cell Phone would not work in the area. I then biked back about 2 miles and was able to get a signal and called her. She got delayed a little and I waited for her to show up. During this whole time, everybody was passing me and she finally shows up just as the last person passes me who tells me they are the end of the line. So I got a late start but now I have my tunes to help me crank.
=== 12 Mile Mark ===
By this time it has been a little over an hour since I started and I have only gone about 12 miles. People that plan on doing the shorter 32 Mile ride go right, the rest of us go left and start climbing.
The next 7 Miles is a pretty good climb and I am starting to pass just a few people
=== 19 Miles ====
After climbing for the last 40 minutes I start going downhill and fast! I hit my top speed of 45mph and the next 9 Miles I drop 2100' and do it in about 16 minutes. About 4 miles into the decent I go flying right pass the aid station because I have only used up one water bottle so far. I pass about 10 people on the way down. As I am going down the entire time, people are coming up on the other side of the road so I am way in the back still. As I reached the turn around point I notice there is no water set up and I have to make it back up to the aid station before I can refill. Maybe I should have stopped and filled up both my water bottles?
=== 28 Miles ===
What goes down, must come up? Well that sure was fun coming down but now we must turn around (which is at the Utah/Nevada border) and start climbing back up. The sun is really out now and it is starting to get Hot. Normally the temperature is in the 80s this time of year but it just so happens that todays temperature is going to tie the current record as it reaches 95 degrees. It is a pretty good climb and I am starting to get Hot. I pass a few more people on the way up to the aid station.
=== Mile 33 ===
The first aid station. I reach the aid station that I flew past about 40 minutes ago. They have pretty much everything you would want and they did a great job! I put on some more sunscreen and ate a banana and some orange slices. I refilled my water bottles and dumped some Gatorade mix into them, used the bathroom they had set up and was on my way.
Just a few more miles to the summit and I get to go down the other side of the hill. I pass a few more others on the way up but mostly everybody is way in front of me still.
=== 37 Miles ===
Downhill again! WEEEEE!!!! I pass a few more people on the way down on the Lighting 2100! I sure hope this bike holds up. ON the way down I pass my current distance record of 38 miles.
=== 45 Miles ===
Downhill is over. Now it is a gradually climb up. The scenery is very nice and I am pretty much alone. I only pass two other people before I get to the next aid station.
=== 50 Miles ===
I reach the 2nd Aid Station. There are about 20 cyclist here talking to each other and refueling themselves. I take a much needed break and spend about 15 minutes here. I am a little hungry but nothing really sounds good. I eat a couple fig newtons, a bannana, and some orange slices. I fill up one water bottle with gatorade and the other one with just plain water.
I am now around half way through the ride. I am feeling pretty confident that I could make it. I pass a few people and then later on I have two guys pass me. I made it a small goal to try and stay right behind them. After being behind them for about a mile we came to a smaller but very very steep hill. They both had double front rings so they had to stand and really crank to get up. I have a triple so I was to put it in ultra low granny gear and stay seated and pedal up. One of them really slowed down and I passed him and caught up to the first guy. At the top of the hill he slowed down as I passed him as he waited for his friend to make it up.
=== Mile 57 ===
I ride up to 3 other bikers that are going slow and talking to each other and pass them. One girl breaks away and then passes me and she asks me if this is my first time doing this ride. I tell her yes and that this is my first century. She then tells me that coming right up is "The Wall" and is a really hard climb. She then just keeps going and I have a hard time trying to stay up with her and she just keeps getting further away. I slow down to my normal cadence and I notice a sign that says -Welcome to "The Wall"-.
It is a switchback road that is pretty steep. There are a few people climbing up and two others that are walking their bikes up. The Lady that I just spoke with is just cruising up like it was no big deal for her and passing a lot of people. She could climb!
Right now I am glad I have a triple because I have it in ultra low granny gear and have a pretty good cadence going. I am tempted to just walk my bike up like the two others currently doing but I force myself to stay on. I pass two people on the way up and one of the other guys that passed me before is passing me again. I can't kept up with him and I look behind me and his friend is way behind. He makes it to the top and when I finally get to the top I give him a smile as he waits on top for his friend to make it up. From that point on, I never saw them again.
=== Mile 58 ===
I am hurting. That hill about killed me. I started to have a really bad headache and my side hurts a little. The road has a very gradually incline but I am going very slow. I tried drinking some water instead of gatorade and I could not seem to drink it. For some reason my body just did not want it and then I tried the gatorade and was able to drink that a lot easier.
I took it pretty slow just trying to recover and started to pick up speed slowly and was able to pass a few others. I started feeling better but I was still pretty drained, I was really happy to finally reach the aid station.
=== Mile 60 ===
"The Wall" was out of the way but now I physically hit my wall at this point. It was very hot outside and I sat under some shade to try and get some strength back. They had all kinds of food there for us to eat. Banana's, Donuts, Cookies, PBJ Sandwiches, Chips, and more. Nothing looked good but I knew I had to eat something. I grabbed a bag of chex mix and forced myself to eat that but I only could eat half of the bag. I just didn't feel good. I then remembered I had some PowerGel with me so I ate one of those also. I rested for about 20 minutes there just trying to get my strength together. I was then faced with a decision. This ride had 3 different options, 42, 65, or 100 miles. At this point the people doing 100 miles would go up and down a road then came back to the aid station and follow the normal path back to where we started. I was tempted to just cut it short because it was mostly all down hill to the end since we were 1400' higher then where we started.
I finally told myself that I came to do 100 miles and that I was going to do it. I filled up my water bottles with Gatorade and started the climb on the 100 course which would take me up another 1400' in 12 miles.
I felt much better after the rest but my body was hurting. I started climbing and looking back I saw quite a few people behind. One guy passed me and only made it a little ways before his legs started cramping and he had to stop and turn around. As I head up there were many people already coming down. They were about 20 miles ahead of me and I am sure there where others who where even further ahead. Of course this is not a race but it is nice to know where you stand. The next 12 miles I noticed that the people behind me where getting further and further away. I was only able to pass 1 other person going up.
=== Mile 72 ===
Whew! I did it. I climbed to the highest elevation of the entire course. This put me at 2800' higher than the finish line. Now I have about 28 more miles to go and most of it is going to be all downhill. SWEET!
Coming back down was a blast back to the aid station 12 miles away. It is a great reward to come down the road you worked so hard to climb. I noticed though that when I started going down that only 5 people will still coming up. There was a lot more but they must have just turned around without making it to the very top. I know I was tempted to do just thought because the grade got steeper and steeper the closer to the top.
=== Mile 84 ===
Back at the Aid Station and there are just a few people getting ready to leave. I hang out for about 5 minutes, eat a banana (my staple it seems like on this ride), some orange slices, and refill my bottles with Gatorade and I am off.
Only 15 or so more miles to go and I am done! Before I can get to most of the downhill I have to climb a larger hill and then a long gradually one. I am determined not to be the very last person so I work hard and pass a few more people. At this point there is only about 5 people behind me.
=== Mile 90 ===
I am going downhill pretty fast and notice that my front time seems really soft. I look down and I am loosing air. I pull off to the side of the road and watch as my tire goes flatter and flatter. Within seconds it is totally flat. ARRGG!!! I have some tire levers and some patches with me but I don't have a pump. I was going to hook it on to my bike but ditched it to save some weight. I knew there were a few bikers behind me and figured I could patch it up and have it all ready to go so if somebody did have a pump, I could quickly pump it up. As I was taking off the tube a SAG vehicle came by and saved me. I was just going to patch my tube but they just said use this new tube and handed me one. I started working on the tire as the people that I worked so hard to pass came flying by and passed me. I thought for sure I was the last one now.
With the new tube, I was off and headed through Snow Canyon State Park which was the most scenic part of the whole ride. What made it even nicer was that it was all downhill. After coming out of the park I ended up back on street roads and was guided by people on where to turn.
=== Mile 100 ===
I finally made it back to park where we started and it was a pleasure to see my wife and my kids there waiting for me even though I was about 2 hours later than I told them I would be there. I thought for sure I was the last person to finish and then about 5 minutes later one other person came riding in.
It was a great feeling of accomplishment and I plan on being there again next year. By then I am sure I will have retired the "Lighting 2100" and have a better bike. Who knows, maybe I can get the "Lighting 2300"