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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

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Old 04-02-12, 09:01 AM   #1
wkndwarrior
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100 mile ride report: hardest I've ever done

My first century.

Taking last week's lesson to heart, I drank lots of water leading up to and during the event... and boy I'm glad I did.

But, the day before, I had to go help a friend move to a new house. I knew that wouldn't help my performance during the century, but they've come through for me before, so it was the least I could do... friends are important, right? Then we had pizza and beer (I know, I know).

Got up at 5 am, got there early enough as to not rush to pick up my packet (it was an organized ride) and prep my bike and gear. Met up with my group. Nothing interesting in the beginning, except that my group decided to stay together and go at a 20 mph pace.

I was thinking, "WTF are they crazy? This is a 100 miler we're doing!" I was hoping we'd pace at 17 or 18 mph to save ourselves for the last 50 miles (this was basically an out and back century). We did have a minor tailwind though. 19.4 mph avg for the first 50 miles with 1 rest stop - just like the first 50 miles of that 75 miler I did the week before. I know, I know, I promised myself that I'll pace myself. However, I was in a paceline and had I solo'ed the first 50 miles, my avg would've been lower.

By 50 miles, I was already feeling a bit cooked, and the winds were increasing, gusting to 20+ mph. And it's time for us to turn around... into the wind. Never had done 50 miles with the wind in my face the whole way. 10, 15, maybe 20 miles into the wind - yes, but 50 miles of suffering? I was about to check that off the list that day!

At 60 miles with the group, the group leader kept accelerating and making us all suffer by us having to close the gaps he was creating, I decided, "Eff it, let them go, I'll go on my own pace", slowed to a 13-15 mph slog into the wind, or 6 mph up 6-8% climbs that seemed to go on forever. Against the wind.

Temps soaring into the upper 80s, humidity so thick you could slice through it with a butter knife. Thoughts creeping into my head about throwing in the towel and sagging it home. Negative thoughts about how I suck at cycling, that I'm not a good climber, that I'm just a lazy wheelsucker in my group, that my group has been getting faster and I'm getting slower, blah blah blah.

Then I told my voices to "shut the **** up and let me ride!" Kept going, albeit slowly. One rest stop at a time. Regrouped. Ate. Drank. Made sure I didn't get thirsty or hungry. Kept checking to see if my piss isn't getting a shade too dark yellow.

At 80 miles, thoughts about giving up intensified almost to the breaking point. The SAG trucks with riders and bikes filling into them became the Sirens as they were to Ulysses. The tug pulling me to the SAG trucks were ever so strong, and there was no tying me to a mast or telephone pole to keep me away from the SAG trucks. But I was stubborn.

At least there was one final and hardest climb and the rest of the way would be relatively flat. Figured if I did that one last climb, I'd just roll to the finish. No SAG. After that brutal climb, things actually became easier and I caught up with my group and we finished the 100 together.

Moving time read 6 hours 20 min (15.8 avg), total time a little over 8 hours including time spent at the rest stops. The hardest part of the ride was between 50 and 82 miles, that was when I was really hurting. Being with the group really made it worthwhile, too. Several people in my group actually took shorter routes, or took the SAG back to the finish, and yet others who had completed the full 100 said it was the hardest ride they had ever done.

Hey, it wasn't supposed to be this hard
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Old 04-02-12, 09:56 AM   #2
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congrats. your rolling average is not bad at all.
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Old 04-02-12, 09:59 AM   #3
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Congratulations!
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Old 04-02-12, 10:28 AM   #4
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Nice job! My first century will be sometime this year. Not sure when. Probably solo though...
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Old 04-02-12, 10:32 AM   #5
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Way to go...now you have a century under your belt! You need another
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Old 04-02-12, 10:35 AM   #6
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congrats!

did my century last feb and it was on hard mode. rain, gusty winds, and a little sandstorm by beach.
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Old 04-02-12, 03:37 PM   #7
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Nice job. I don't think your group did you any favors by making you a pace beyond your comfort level. My first century was with a friend 6 years ago and I let him ride off pretty quickly. He was nice enough to wait several times before he finally rode off to the finish.

I'm a big fan of really watching my effort for the first half of a long ride and then cranking it up for the second half "countdown". One thing I've found over the years is that I'm fairly good at metering out my efforts...no matter the length of the ride, the last 20% of the miles hurt.

Good job on hydration and nutrition. Hydration was nearly my downfall last year in Waco...I got to mile 65, went to go pee and nothing came out. I suffered the rest of the way in but was able to get enough salt and water on board to not collapse completely. It wasn't as humid as your ride but it was in the 90's.

I'll be doing my first century of the year near the end of the month and will try to watch my intake better.
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Old 04-02-12, 04:51 PM   #8
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Well done! Miles 80-90 are always the hardest. I was ready to drop dead at the 90-mile SAG at the Palm Springs Century a couple of months ago, and that ride is pretty flat. Headwinds always suck.
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Old 04-02-12, 05:00 PM   #9
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Awesome... I am planning a double metric this summer up in Idaho/Utah... I figure the suffering will be similar to that especially since I pick up 3k feet in elevation :-|
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Old 04-02-12, 06:45 PM   #10
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Good ride, man!! No way I'd get past the psych factor of starting that race...I mean, century at that pace and knowing full well you are going to face that wind for the ride home. But talk about blazing up the first half.

Way to strap it on and finish strong!
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Old 04-02-12, 07:01 PM   #11
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Learning how to tell that little voice to shut the eff up is half the battle. Good job.
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Old 04-02-12, 07:02 PM   #12
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Learning how to tell that little voice to shut the eff up is half the battle. Good job.
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Old 04-02-12, 07:05 PM   #13
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Great job!

Being raised in Texas myself I know how the wind can suck it out of you.(Wichita Falls no less) For all non Texans, Wichita Falls, Texas is home to the mother of all summer blast furnace centuries:
http://www.hh100.org/

Anyway, way to go! I like the way you made the decision to go at it alone and then ground it out by yourself. You fought the mental demons and defeated them!
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Old 04-02-12, 07:06 PM   #14
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Great job!

Being raised in Texas myself I know how the wind can suck it out of you.(Wichita Falls no less) For all non Texans, Wichita Falls, Texas is home to the mother of all summer blast furnace centuries:
http://www.hh100.org/

Anyway, way to go! I like the way you made the decision to go at it alone and then ground it out by yourself. You fought the mental demons and defeated them!
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Old 04-02-12, 08:55 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wkndwarrior View Post
My first century.
.............
Hey, it wasn't supposed to be this hard
That was a pretty vivid picture you painted. Glad you made it all the way. Congratulations!

I'm pretty sure the next one will be easier...
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Old 04-02-12, 09:19 PM   #16
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Nicely done!
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Old 04-02-12, 09:21 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wkndwarrior View Post
Met up with my group. Nothing interesting in the beginning, except that my group decided to stay together and go at a 20 mph pace.
Quote:
At 60 miles with the group, the group leader kept accelerating and making us all suffer by us having to close the gaps he was creating.
Quote:
After that brutal climb, things actually became easier and I caught up with my group and we finished the 100 together.
Quote:
Several people in my group actually took shorter routes, or took the SAG back to the finish, and yet others who had completed the full 100 said it was the hardest ride they had ever done.
So basically, the ride leader didn't have a clue as to the group's riding level, convinced them to ride a faster pace than they were capable of*, kept accelerating off the front making them suffer, and many of the group SAGged it and others said it was the hardest century they'd done. And in the end your instincts about pace were better than the leader's.

Your ride leader is a complete dickweed.

*Okay, yeah I'm guessing at this part, but I bet I'm right.
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Old 04-02-12, 09:38 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by seypat View Post
Great job!

Being raised in Texas myself I know how the wind can suck it out of you.(Wichita Falls no less) For all non Texans, Wichita Falls, Texas is home to the mother of all summer blast furnace centuries:
http://www.hh100.org/

Anyway, way to go! I like the way you made the decision to go at it alone and then ground it out by yourself. You fought the mental demons and defeated them!
If you're used to the heat you're left with a pan flat century. Its really not that bad.
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Old 04-02-12, 09:45 PM   #19
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I'm definitely doing my first one at some point this year.....good read!
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Old 04-02-12, 09:46 PM   #20
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Well ridden.

And well written.
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Old 04-02-12, 11:01 PM   #21
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Good job!

Sounds like your ride leader was mad and wanted to dish out some punishment tho!
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Old 04-03-12, 03:58 AM   #22
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Congrats on your first century, and a tough one to boot!
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Old 04-03-12, 07:40 AM   #23
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For most of us amateur hacks, a 20mph pace is wicked over 100 miles. I did it once, and it just crushed me. But, I'm just a guy with a fun hobby.

Pizza and beer was my fuel of choice when I did RAGBRAI. That was also the ride where, on day 3 (?), I did my fastest ever 100 miles. (That's the one I floored it at the previously mentioned pace.)

Awesome job, my friend. You should feel really good about yourself. Go crack open another cold one, and enjoy the accomplishment.
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Old 04-03-12, 08:02 AM   #24
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Thanks for the kind words, guys! I do hope the next century I ride will be easier, and I will make it a personal goal to break 6 hours... or even do it in 5:45 or 5:30.

Regarding the comments about the ride leader, I should clarify something. I might have glossed over some bits of information in my original story and unintentionally made the ride leader look bad. There was more than one ride leader, actually.

In the beginning, I think everyone wanted to stay together at least for the first half, and the organizer of the group actually dropped back to stay with the folks who were struggling to keep up. The guys who continued to be in the front kept up the pace, but they did wait for everyone at the rest stops so it gave everybody a chance to regroup. Then after 50 miles, we split up into 2-3 groups... and after 60-70 miles, our pacelines fell apart and most folks were on their own anyway. We did arrange which rest stops we'd stop at so we continued to regroup at each stop.

They're actually great people and we're all friends here, and while our etiquette may not be perfect, we're all learning together and there's really no one else I would rather ride with.
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