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Failed first century attempt

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Failed first century attempt

Old 10-06-08, 02:08 PM
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DougG
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Failed first century attempt

Yesterday was to have been my first attempt at a century, but after riding the northern 55-mile loop of the Blue Water Ramble (St. Clair, MI) and passing the starting area, I decided not to do the 45-mile southern loop that would have completed it. Looking at it objectively, I had underestimated the effort required and made a few other rookie mistakes.

First off, I did more riding early in the year when an injury prevented me from running. But the last couple of months, I started running again and slacked off on my riding. My previous long ride of the year (and lifetime PR) was 72 miles, and that was in early June.

I was also very concerned about how long it would take to do 100 miles. My realistic average speed, riding solo, is about 15mph. Yes, I can do 18-20 under ideal circumstances, but when you consider different road surfaces, slowing for intersections, hills, headwinds, etc., it comes out to about 15. So that makes for 7 hours in the saddle, plus time for the rest stops and lunch.

This meant that I wanted to get as early a start as possible, which turned out to be a little before 7:30AM. The problem with that is that it was 34F at the start, and it didn't even get to 40F for the next couple of hours. Even though I was dressed for it, I've found that exerting yourself in the cold takes something extra out of you.

My obsession with the clock time led me to go out a bit too fast. I have ridden this event a few times before, but not the northern loop, and I was caught unawares by some significant hills about 30 miles out. So by the time I got to 40 miles, I was already rethinking the century attempt. I'll have to admit that riding alone for that long also makes for a long day in the saddle. If I try this again, I'll have to look for some company.

In any case, the lunch was very good, as always, and I got home in the early afternoon. My only regret was that I didn't enjoy the overall experience as much as in the past. If I had not been hyped up about the century attempt, I would have just taken the 65-mile route, started a couple of hours later, and had a nice relaxed ride.

Now that I'm able to run again, I will probably decrease my cycling (at least the long-distance stuff) and might write off ever doing a century. I can see that it takes a bit more dedication to the sport to be able to see it through.
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Old 10-06-08, 02:46 PM
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Pity about the failure- but was it? You learnt a lot of valuable tips for the next one.

First of all- don't do it alone. 100 miles is a long way in anyones book and it takes training to be able to go that long without some encouragement. Perhaps enter an organised ride at a future date. Company all the way at whatever speed you ride at.

Your speed estimation of 15mph is not bad for a " Novice". In fact that is my average for that distance and I have done a few in the past.

The early start and cool weather is not a problem providing you have the right clothing. I Take all my types of clothing with me to a ride and I have started rides at 25 degF- rode for 3 hours before it got above freezing and then started taking layers off. Lightweight clothing that will go into a small backpack or into its own pouch and then round the waist.

Prepare yourself to take it easy till you get comfortable. Extra clothing does slow you down so take the effort out. And take the effort out on hills aswell.

And in preparation for a ride like this- you get out and ride- and ride again and when you have done that- you ride some more. I doubt that I could do a 100 miler tomorrow- but I know that if I am in my normal fitness as I had last year- I could normally do one at the drop of a hat. Currently I could do a metric but for that extra distance- I would need some adjustment to my training.

And there is no need to worry that you failed- All this was -was a training ride for when you do the next attempt on an organised ride next year.
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Old 10-06-08, 02:50 PM
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I agree with Stapfam. Not sure it was a failure. No, I rather see it as a successful 55 mile ride.
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Old 10-06-08, 03:45 PM
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In my opinion, the problem was having the starting area so handy! If you were riding one 100 mile loop you wouldn't have had the easy "bail" option, and you would (most likely) have finished.

Yeah, ask me know I know! On the Death Valley Double, 2003, I bailed at mile 150 because I'd been cooked by the sun all day (106 Deg.F for eight hours), but to this day I wished I'd gotten back on the bike and finished. Still, having that "Start" area on the way to the last 50 miles did me in.

However, as Stepfam and NOS88 say, you learned a lot (as did I in Death Valley), which will likely lead to a wonderful success on your next attempt!

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Old 10-06-08, 03:54 PM
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Hey, you could have been at work instead.....

What is it that they say "the worst day cycling is better than the best day working".....

Ya did great.
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Old 10-06-08, 07:11 PM
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Congratulations on your 55 mile ride.
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Old 10-06-08, 07:30 PM
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"The problem with that is that it was 34F at the start, and it didn't even get to 40F for the next couple of hours. Even though I was dressed for it, I've found that exerting yourself in the cold takes something extra out of you."

Yes. I also have the feeling that cold just slows everything down. Others agree.

By the way - 55 miles is a great way to spend a day.

Congrats!
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Old 10-07-08, 08:22 AM
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Late August or early September for Michigan. Nicer weather and you'll have plenty of time to get conditioned for a long ride.
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Old 10-07-08, 08:36 AM
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Congratulations on a 55 miler!
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Old 10-07-08, 09:44 AM
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I did my first century in May '07. My friend who went with me sagged in at about 70 miles. (& she was just 23!).

Somewhere between the 90 mile mark and the end, I got totally lost. My feet were killing me, my tush wasn't in great condition and I was near tears. So I called my friend to come and get me. As we were figuring out were I was, she realized how close I was to finishing. So she wouldn't come and get me! I was glad I finished though.
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Old 10-07-08, 10:34 AM
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Congrats on the 55 miler.... I just completed a Century two weeks ago and felt much the same way as you describe between mile 50 and 65...Didn't eat enough early on (lesson learned)....But, after a good lunch, I was able to complete the 100 miles..... Keep at it.... One day you'll do it and will be surprised at how easily you finish.
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Old 10-07-08, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by DougG View Post
Now that I'm able to run again, I will probably decrease my cycling (at least the long-distance stuff) and might write off ever doing a century. I can see that it takes a bit more dedication to the sport to be able to see it through.
My life calls BS on this. I'm 42, obese, with scoliosis and knocked knees. I rode a century last year. I'd only learned how to ride ten months before. If a physical train wreck like me can ride a century, you should be able to do so, if you want to.
 
Old 10-07-08, 11:52 AM
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It sounds as if you had a good ride. It also sounds as if you have reflected on it and learned a considerable amount. So you certainly gained from the situation.

I will second the notion on the looping back to start. In my experience, it is very hard to continue a century when it loops back to the start. You come in and you are tired, parts are aching. You wonder if you can complete the century comfortably and there is the start. It is a golden opportunity to quit. Centuries that loop back to the start are very difficult.

The starting temperature sounds nasty too. There are not very many cyclists who have experience at 35 degree temperatures. You have to know what to wear and how to ride. I have found that the tights (I usually wear 2 pair plus shorts in those conditions) seem to fight the contractions of my muscles. Plus you get wind chill. So I take things slow when it is that cold.

You were riding under adverse conditions of temperature and distance and course set up. Try again on a nice summer day.
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Old 10-07-08, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Pat View Post
You were riding under adverse conditions of temperature and distance and course set up. Try again on a nice summer day.
Most of us on the 50+ accept "Failure" as part of the learning curve. 100 milers are tough. I know as I used to do a pretty hard one most years. Most years I managed the attempt but I have had a couple of failures. Mostly down to not being prepared enough- or thinking I was fitter than I was but checkout the posting below to see how things beyond your control can affect you. What gets me now is that I even attempted the ride this year. Anyone with any sense would have seen the weather the night before and stayed in the hotel for a decent breakfast at a sensible hour.


http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ht=south+downs
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Old 10-07-08, 01:25 PM
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I know this has probably been stated in the past but just making the attempt is success in my opinion. It would be failure if you did not even make the attempt.
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Old 10-07-08, 06:08 PM
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Thanks for coming back here and updating your previous post asking for advice Doug. I didn't realize you were doing this alone. I would NEVER ever try that. This is where runners miss the point I think, biking is more of a group sport then running and it's not always about how fast you finished but the camaraderie you had on the way.
Go back to your running and RTYP but your bike is there waiting for you and ready anytime you want to find some buddies to ride with, cross train with or just get out there and do some fun mileage.

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Old 10-07-08, 06:38 PM
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Another tip: Banish the word "fail" from your vocabulary. A totally useless word.
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Old 10-07-08, 07:25 PM
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Starting a century in near freezing weather is tough. Trying your first one in near freezing weather is crazy.
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Old 10-07-08, 08:33 PM
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Like others, I don't agree with that ride being a "failure". I define a failure as riding until you get sick, or pass out or hit a tree because your vision became blurred. Deciding the time was not right to pursue a longer ride is a decision to limit today's ride so you can ride harder tomorrow. Good decision! Besides, 55 miles is a VERY respectable ride.
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Old 10-07-08, 09:33 PM
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I once did a ride something like this -- it was 82 miles; an "end of season" ride for the local bike club, about this time of year.

It practically killed me - the weather had been difficult for several weeks, so I hadn't been riding much, and it was going to be my longest ride of the year. The day of the ride dawned nice and comfortable, but it got cold and blustery during the ride. I lingered too long at rest stops, and the ride just seemed to stretch out forever. I hated it, though was glad I eventually finished it. If it had been a century, I would not have finished.

The lesson I learned? On days with bad weather I will still ride but *well within* my comfortable mileage (example: last Saturday I wanted to do 40 miles or so, but it was raining, so I waited for the day to warm up a bit, and did 20...still better than sitting around at home).
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Old 10-07-08, 09:39 PM
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Someone always works a good hill into those centuries.
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Old 10-07-08, 09:58 PM
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I've been riding for 25 years and have tried to get in at least one century every year. I'm still a working stiff with kids at home so making time to train for the century is not easy. The last few years they have not been so enjoyable, so I'm going to rethink my annual goal and "ride metric" or "ride my age". I do not consider this a failure, but rather getting the most out of my rides.
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Old 10-07-08, 10:13 PM
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I've heard that European riders don't obsess over artificial indexes like "century", whether miles or metric. They just ride the course, assuming there is one. Its an American thing I guess to fixate on numeric goals. Any European riders care to comment? Have I got the wrong impression? I do hope there is a bike culture in this world that appreciates the quality of a ride instead of the quantity of its distance. Doug, your distance may have been shorter than your goal but it was not a failure.

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Old 10-07-08, 10:47 PM
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Originally Posted by stapfam View Post
First of all- don't do it alone. 100 miles is a long way in anyones book and it takes training to be able to go that long without some encouragement. Perhaps enter an organised ride at a future date. Company all the way at whatever speed you ride at.
So well said. I did my first century in five years this past year and I was thankful I had a fellow BFer, mattyknacks to ride with me. Having someone there, whether they're complaining, happy, sad, whatever keeps your mind off of yourself.

Riding longer distances has a good deal to do with your mental ability to ignore what your body is telling you (hydration and nutrition aside) and simply just push yourself further than ever.

One mistake that we made was counting off the last fifteen miles, which made it even more painful. I don't care what you have to listen to, music, comedy, learning another language, the other rider complain, whatever; just don't focus on the mileage and simply push on, keeping your speed.

Those handheld and bike specific GPS's like the Garmin Oregon can also help with giving you elevation profiles and a readout of your speed, but keep the mileage off the main screen!
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Old 10-07-08, 11:10 PM
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My first Century was actually 120 miles way back in 1973. It was the Tour of Lake St. Clair (TOLSC) put on by the Cycling Saddlemen of Dearborn, MI.
It was a 2-day event with 120 miles the first day and only 80 miles the second day.
Have ridden well over 100 centuries and half dozen double centuries since then.
Mainly the number '100' can be a mental block. You cut the ride down into 25 miles sections . . . very do-able!
Now get our there and start ride 10 loops at Stoney Creek Park!
Yup, you can do a century next year!
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